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Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire

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Released: 1996

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Nintendo 64

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: LucasArts

Submitted by: Brendan Jones

Three years before 'The Phantom Menace', LucasArts released the 'Shadows of the Empire' series.  A combination of comics, novels and this game told the story of events between the Battle of Hoth and Han Solo's rescue from Jabba's Palace from the perspective of  new character Dash Rendar.

Dash is a variation on Han Solo – a fellow smuggler with a robot offsider, LE-BO2D9, or LeeBo) – and this allows the story to take new directions without messing about with established continuity.  Thankfully, the character is clearly differentiated from Han, meaning he's not just a carbon copy.

The game proceeds mostly as a third-person shooter, with Dash equipped with a variety of weapons and, in time, a self-recharging jet pack.  Whilst the controls can be a little clunky at times, it's perfectly playable, and quite a lot of fun to boot.

Other levels take the forms of space battles and on the rails shooters, and the controls are a bit more successful here.

The music is a step above the typical synth soundtracks of the cartridge world, and fits in beautifully with the world of the films.

Overall, this is a highly enjoyable game, but not a perfect one.  It acted as a great powerhouse to show what the first generation of N64 games were truly capable of, when developed with time and care.