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Star Wars: Episode One Racer
Platform:  Dreamcast
# of Players:  1-2
Developer:  Lucasarts
Publisher:  Lucasarts
Features:  VMU, VGA, Jump Pack, Limited Internet features
Ratings:  Teen
Memory Req.:  
Being a Star Wars fan is tough these days, especially if you're also into videogames. While PC owners have gotten some really great games expanding on George Lucas' saga, poor console owners have to contend with little more than reprogrammed versions of those better games squeezed onto a CD (Dark Forces), clumsy fighters that just happen to have Star Wars characters in them (Masters of Teras Kasi), or ridiculously difficult platform games (any of the Super Star Wars series). The best home title is still Rogue Squadron, a great game hampered somewhat by the hardware it was made for.

For all of you Dreamcast owners out there who passed on the N64 and PC versions of this game, Lucasarts has a little treat in store for you. Star Wars: Episode One Racer combines the best features of both, and provides a more than satisfactory speed fix for those of you out there who like your racing games fast. Some folks out there will whine like a laser-blasted droid that the game doesn't run at 60fps, but if it did, it would probably be very unplayable- it's fast enough as it is! If you're one of those who were waiting for this one to absolutely destroy the previous versions thanks to the power of the DC, you'll probably be somewhat disappointed at the lack of any new features.

But if you really think about it, why should you be? Amazing speed, sweet graphics, and some killer track designs await you, should you decide to take the plunge. The ability to post your best track times on the Internet isn't actually much of a selling point, in my opinion- but some of you out there will find a use for it. The game really didn't need any other options added, as it's already stretching the podracing sequence from the film to incredible lengths. Control is just fine, although some may prefer the alternate (Wipeout-style) control layout that uses the L and R triggers to bank their chosen craft. Even so, after the first few tracks, the game's difficulty becomes somewhat burdensome, and only the truly skilled speed freaks with the reflexes of Mercury will survive some of the later tracks. Just do the Gran Turismo (race the easier tracks over and over to bulk up your cash), and you'll be fine...

Graphically, the game is similar to the PC version, with only the smallest amount of pop-up. You probably won't notice this at all, as you'll be keeping your eyes whichever track you're racing on at the moment. I had a friend watching me play yell out "LOOK, I saw pop-up!", as I was negotiating one tough course, so I also recommend that if you have any friends watching you play this game, make sure they're not standing in range of a thrown DC controller. The assorted John Williams music is as great as ever, and only the annoying voices (which repeat way too much) detract from the overall experience. All in all, Episode One: Racer is a better than average Star Wars game, a really good racing game, and another solid Dreamcast title for those looking to expand their collections. Hopefully, Lucasarts will give us a new DC version of Jedi Knight, Rogue Squadron, or one of their other superior PC titles in the near future.

Greg Wilcox

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