Friday, April 19, 2013

32 BBY: Star Wars Episode 1: The Gungan Frontier.

 “Have you ever thought to yourself ‘I love Star Wars.  I love Star Wars games, but only if there was, like, Sim Earth meets Sim City, but with racist stereotypes hosting.  Well, lucky for you, some executive at Lucas Learning thought exactly the same thing, and, they made Star Wars Episode 1: The Gungan Frontier’”.  
This is the opening message to Star Wars Episode 1: The Gungan Frontier’s walkthrough by CybeargPlays on YouTube, which had me laughing right from the start.  With the spate of terrible walkthrough narratives I’ve recently put myself through it’s about time I came across a good one.  One minuet into the video and I like this guy.

But before I continue with my reactions to the game, it’s important to note that we’ve moved the chronometer.  We are now officially into post Phantom Menace material.  Naboo has been rescued, Maul is “dead”, and Anakin is now the apprentice of Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Take note, and take a deep breath.  We did it.

Now, on to my reactions.
The opening crawl of the game begins with its premise: the underwater city of Otah Gunga has become dangerously overcrowded, therefore the Gungans of Naboo need to colonize Naboo’s watery moon (Ohma D'un).  This task of colonization has been placed into the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Queen Amidala.

I know, pretty wild right?  Not scientists or trained intergalactic terra-formers, but a Jedi and a Queen.  Two minutes into the video and the game has become endearingly strange.
Then, the underwater craft from The Phantom Menace, the Tribubble bongo, comes flying overhead through space, enters the atmosphere of Naboo, and plunges itself into the water. That’s right!  It comes through space!  Though it’s clearly a submersible, it can somehow blast off into space as well.  Three minutes into the game and it’s just became absurdly fun. 

When the introductions are complete, and we get to the task of having to create an eco-system, CybeargPlays does a good job of explaining what everything does and how it works.  By video three he’s lunched into an actual game and is doing well sustaining a Nabooian environment, complete with nunas, hsuberry trees, and falumpasets.  However, by video four everything goes terribly wrong as he doesn’t keep an eye on his kaduu population while it begins to run amuck, and sadly, the kaduus destroy the bio-diversity of his little patch of Eden.
What I loved most about this game was the level of detail concerning the flora and fauna.  Created in 1999, I imagine this game had an impact on the developers of Star Wars Galaxies, as many of the plant and animal names rang a bell.  I think even I remember coming across hsuberry trees with my avatar while on Naboo.  The creating, naming, and designing of all the living things in this game had such minute detail; I liken the developers of this game to the people that create props for model train enthusiast.  Watching CybeargPlays create an environment for the moon of Ohma D’Un was like watching the work of an avid train modeller build his city for his train to run through. If you’ve ever been to a model train show I think you’ll understand what I’m driving at here.  A master train modeller will have a city filled with the smallest of details: milk men delivering milk to homes, workers loading the backs of trucks, mothers serving their family dinner through a back-lit window, a lone dog in a backyard.  I go to model train shows with my father not to look at the trains, but to be amazed at the level of detail the modellers put into their sets.

I’ve never played Sim Earth, but I imagine it to be as fun as something like Sid Meier’s Civ games.  The premise behind all of these activities is the same: to create a little world full of minute details, and at some point sit back and take in all your hard work. 
On a side note, at the end of video four CybeargPlays mentioned something called the Oracle VM virtual box.  He said it was a program he used to be able to play the game, since it originally ran on Windows 2000 and computers with Windows 7 can’t run old games (which I can attest to.  If I had known about this I wouldn’t have had to go out and get an N64 to play Battle for Naboo.  I know for next time.

For my next post I’m going to examine Star Wars Tales: #2: Incident at Horn Station. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

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