Wednesday, February 27, 2013

32 BBY: The Phantom Menace video game (PS1)

The Phantom Menace video game left me in a moral dilemma.  I didn’t complete the game on my own merits, and I’ve decided that I’m no longer going to playing the video games for the project; rather, I’m simply going watching other people’s walkthroughs on YouTube.  The benefits of watching walkthroughs are obvious (here comes my rationalization):  it’ll save me much time, money, and frustration.  For example, the time and trouble it took for me to get my hands on an N64 for The Battle for Naboo game was a little too much.  Moreover, for this game I had to dish out 50 bucks for a PS2 (plus 10 bucks to get the PS1 disc on EBay) which was ultimately neither fun nor enjoyable to play.
The Phantom Menace video game was mostly terrible, and in response to its terribleness I doubly cheated my way through it, and my “completion” of this game feels empty.  Yes, I’ve “walked through it”, but I don’t feel victorious.  Ultimately, I don’t like that I cheated my way through it.  After cheating I wish I hadn’t.  I wish I had finished the game on my own merits in order to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a video game.  I’m at the same time glad that I “finished” the game so I can move on to the next source (yet another video game), but sad that the game beat me.

Like I said, my cheating was two-fold.  Firstly, I cheated by using an actual cheat code.  The Escape from Theed level was so terribly difficult I broke down and looked for a way out.  I kept dying at the end of the level, where the tank guards the gates.  I came across IGN’s list of cheats and promptly entered in the invincibility code by highlighting the Options at the main menu, then pressing: Triangle, Circle, Left, L1, R2, Square, Circle, Left. When the tone confirmed correct entry, I held L1 + Select + Triangle.  Voila!  I was invincible, and oddly, felt like an actual Jedi when facing off against the battle droids in the subsequent levels.
Secondly, my other method of cheating was watching some Australian fellas play through the game (the PC version) on YouTube.  I became so confused with who I had to trade what with in the Mos Espa level, I broke down and watched a Phantom Menace walkthrough.  After watching the Mos Espa level I didn’t stop, and continued viewing right to end.  Needless to say, I don’t feel the need to complete the game now.

The reason I’m bothered by this can be summed up in one word – authenticity. 
The purpose of this project is to ‘authentically’ engage with all Star Wars material pertaining to the historical events of its universe, and in my opinion, a YouTube walkthrough is not an “authentic” engagement with the source.  It’s like reading the Coles notes of a book – it’s just not the same. 

So here I am, decidedly sure that I’m just going to watch walkthroughs of the video games for the SWCP on YouTube from here on in, yet unable to fully accept that I’ve sundered the original intent of this project (because I have). 
Ultimately, I think it’s a feeling I’ll get over.  Basically there is not enough incentive for me to make the claim “I’ve played all the Star Wars video games” considering all the time, money, and frustration it will take for me to actually play my way through them.  The books, RPG sources, short stories, audio dramas, movies, shows, and any other bits of media I’ve forgot to mention are all sources I can handle.  This experience has taught me that I am unable to properly engage with the video games.  Also, with the new baby my wife and I now outnumbered, and what little personal time I did have to devote to this project needs to be allocated to my home life.  I know there will be a bitter-sweet moment in my future when my children will start to ignore me.  On the one hand, this will allow me to pursue my hobbies once again, but on the other hand, in the eyes of my children I’ll  be transformed  from that super-fun guy who chases, tickles and plays action-figures into that uncool guy with all the rules who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

As it is, when I complete the Star Wars Chronology Project, I think I might start an offshoot blog and do my own video game walk throughs on YouTube.  That’ll be in about ten years (at the pace I’m going), so my children should be sufficiently independent enough to pick up and focus on their own hobbies allowing me to focus on mine.
Like I said above, the game was mostly terrible to play.  I had fun at the start playing Obi-Wan and fighting my way off the Trade Federation ship.  There was a neat cut-scene at the end of this level where Obi-Wan emergences from the water on the surface of Naboo.  It’s a scene not found in the film, and I thought there would be more of these throughout the game, but there wasn’t.  The only other original cut scene in the game was towards the end, where Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Amidala, and Anakin are about to infiltrate the Royal palace.

My most enjoyable moment in the game occurred while I was paying the Mos Espa level (ironically).  As Qui-Gon, if you bump in to one of the ruffians, he shouts at you “Hey!  Watch yourself!  I have the death sentence on 5 systems!” or something like that.  As I was playing, my wife asked how Yosemite Sam got on Tatooine.  I was like, ‘what?’, and she said ‘bump into that guy again’, and we both laughed.    
So, I’m a little sad to say that I’ll no longer be playing my way through the games.  They’re just too much.

For my next post I’ll be watching a walkthrough of the Obi-Wan video game (any recommendations of a particular walkthrough that I should watch?).  Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. I've had to resort to walkthroughs, too, since I'm a terrible game player. The drawback to this is that there are no available video walkthroughs (last time I checked) for games played only on cell phones or portable devices, which is a shame since some of them contain significant stories (e.g., Lethal Alliance, Jedi Alliance, Renegade Squadron, The Clone Wars phone game, Elite Squadron). I've read Wookieepedia entries for these games, but that's not always good enough. :(

  2. It makes me really sad that you decided to stop playing games right before Obi-Wan. It has a... certain charm that only comes through by actually playing it. It's not a good game by any means, but it's one of my favorites, and I was looking forward to seeing your reactions (which I guess I can still do, but hopefully you know what I mean). :<

  3. LM, if it's any consolation I did play through the first level and all of the tutorials. The graphics are much better than The Phantom Menace, but the controls, especially on the X-Box controller, were a little tricky (especially coming from the PS controller - the X-Box controller is so bulky).

    I'm sorry I let you down. Playing all the games was one of the things I wanted to accomplish. I hope I will in the future, but it's a goal I need to set down for now.

    Plaristes, I didn't even know there were cell phone Star Wars games. Oy Vey! Is there a walkthrough for the Obi-Wan Gameboy game I'll be covering soon?

  4. I'd say just take the games on a case-by-case basis. You could cover a lot of them with walkthroughs and Let's Plays, though I'd recommend trying some of the more "major" story-focused games, stuff like Bounty Hunter, Republic Commando, Force Unleashed, and the Rogue Squadron and Kyle Katarn games. As well as maybe Shadows of the Empire and the flight sims, though the sims and the early Kyle games may be hard to get and run on your comp. And if you're considering a playthrough, you might check beforehand for cheat codes. It'll lessen the challenge, but you'll still get the story and the feel of the games. Also don't forget you've got some more Galactic Battlegrounds coming up in the Clone Wars, which I'm looking forward to.

  5. I don't know of any walkthroughs for the Obi-Wan gameboy game, but it's been a couple years since I looked, so there might be something available now.

  6. I think this is a good decision. I only use walktroughs myself since I don't own any gaming platform except Pc and I'm not much of a player anyway. But I'm glad that you played through KOTORs, since they are the primary sources of that era. I don't think there are any other video games that do as much world-building in Star Wars (RPG:s are a different animal entirely)

    I think there's only one complete walkthrough of Obi-Wan. It's made by YoshisHide and is good enough.

  7. Looking back I'm glad I played through both of the KOTOR's as well.

    Nesis Vod, I might take your advice and play through games like The Force Unleashed and the Kyle Katarn games. But I'll see when I get there. As it is, thanks to all my readers and commenters for sticking around this long.