Review by Mark Issacson
I love kart racers. Ever since the great Mario Kart, I have been a sucker for them. And now, I'm glad to say I can share that joy with my other personal favorite, Star Wars, thanks to the 'not so well known' boys at Lucas Learning. After this, though, LL will never be forgotten.
No, I'm not making up another story (like I did with Star Wars Monopoly). But what I can say is this: you choose your character, and beat the heck out of the rest of the field, using any Force weapons you can.
When first shown off at E3 last year, some people weren't very happy about seeing the classic SW characters in a cartoon like environment. But I can guarantee you that you will not be disappointed with Super Bombad Racing.
Let's put it this way. Although the likes of Darth Maul and Anakin look more like deformed alternatives to the real thing, you won't really care, because the game as a whole is a wonder to watch. Each character in the available list has a unique craft design (ranging from Sebulba's pod racer, Anakin's N1 Starfighter and that little seat that Yoda sits on during the Jedi Council scenes in Episode 1). Yet all craft are easy to control, and have a great range of weapons and defense systems, which can defer depending on which character you play. For example, Jar Jar can stick out his tounge and grab on to the nearest vehicle to help catch up, while Darth Maul can throw out his double edged lightsaber to catch a foe. Other weapons, like the homing missile and seeker drones, can be used by all and can come in handy when a dog fight is at hand.
It's this level of detail that is the most enjoyable aspect of Bombad. Even if you have played the likes of Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing to death, you can find many new areas of gameplay in Bombad that sets it apart from the rest.
The actual courses themselves are amazing. They remind a lot of SSX (and EA Sports Snowboarding title on the PS2) in the fact that they are so huge, and incredibly detailed. Levels like the Droid Control ship and Theed City has so much going on in the background, it can sometimes make you stop your ship just to take a look. I suggest taking a good look during the open space sections in the Droid Control Ship level, as you may see the blockade, working like clockwork above Naboo.
Something that isn't really strong when it comes to Kart racing games is the soundtrack. Most of the time you'll get kiddy tracks that represent the young nature of the game, while there are a few voices thrown in for bumps and thumps. For Bombad, Lucas Learning have 'learnt' from the masters (namely Factor 5) and has added a great musical score, combining most of the tracks from Episode 1 with an added dose of Ricky Martin. Now, that may sound dumb to some, but you really have to listen to it to understand it. I actually enjoyed listening to the Sith Lord re-mix, it made me laugh, and enjoy the game even more. Character voices are a charm as well, with each one exclaiming joy, sorrow and madness every time something happens on screen. My personal favorite is Darth Maul, who exclaims the great power of the Sith while waving his fists around in triumph. And, for the first time in ages, I actually liked listening to Jar Jar bumbling about.
Every kart game mainly relies on it's multi-player modes to keep it from slipping into the unknown. Thankfully, Bombad has the same fun 4 player action. It's much like Mario Kart with its battle modes, where you simple choose your fighter and remain alive, while blasting the others into oblivion. The great range of weapons help to improve the action, otherwise it would be a pointless exercise.
Sadly, there are a few areas that let down the overall quality of Bombad. The main problem I had was the slow down in the 4 player Arenas. The more that happens on screen, the worse the frame rate becomes, which in turn slows down the action. This can become annoying at times, although it doesn't slow down to a snails pace, so you can continue without really noticing it. But you will notice the sudden lack of frames in the characters.
Another major hassle can be the glitches in the levels themselves. At times you may find yourself flying through objects like they aren't there. Either that or finding that your craft simply sinks into the wall (something that doesn't happen that often, thank the mighty Jabba)
I also found that the camera might hinder your progress, especially turning sharp corners. The camera simply gets stuck at the wall or building at the corner, and you can't see where you are going. This can get annoying, but again it doesn't happen too often.
I agree with Josh (read his review here) in the menu screens looking awful. But the load times are nothing compared to Quake 3, on the same system, so I can't say that is a big problem. But, as a PS2 may said here about Q3, which again can be said here: when you have so much detail in characters and backgrounds, long load times can be forgiven.
Finally, that darn music score. Yes, I did say I enjoyed it, but after a while it does get repetitive. I give credit to Lucas Learning for trying something different, but I would have liked some normal tones here and there, just to balance it out.
Super Bombad Racing is well worth the price, and is great fun with a few fellow Star Wars fans. The single player games will be forgotten for most of the time, but I suggest you do go through it, so you know where all of the important passing spots and upgrades are. Still, the above bad spots may hamper your enjoyment, and if you prefer the real life characters to these cartoon alternatives then stay well away.
All in all, a great first up attempt by Lucas Learning in the console generation.
88 out of 100
Joshua Griffin's Review of Super Bombad
TFN's Interview with Lead Artist Todd Reamon
Super Bombad Official Site
Lucas Learning Official Site
Daily Radar Review
For comments or questions email the TFN Games Staff
and thanks to Mark for the review!