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Star Wars Episode 1: Obi-Wan's Adventures
(Game Boy Color)
Review by Mark Isaacson

Recently THQ inked a deal with Lucasarts to develop Game Boy titles based on the Star Wars and Indiana Jones universe. This is the first of the coming titles, loosely based on The Phantom Menace, that has Obi-Wan as the lead character.

The trade federation has set up a blockade around the planet Naboo, halting any ships to come in or out of the local system. In hoping that the blockade can be stopped, the Senate has sent two negotiators. When the federation find out that the negotiators are, in fact, Jedi Knights, the talks are halted, and the invasion of the planet begins. It is up to Obi-Wan Kenobi to destroy the federations' plans of invasion, and save the Queen of Naboo.

There haven't been many exciting times for Star Wars fans on the Game Boy Color. In the last few years, there have only been two new titles, Yoda Stories (conversion of the PC title, and a fairly good game) and Episode 1 Racer (neat, but disappointing in places). So Obi-Wan's Adventures will come as a welcome addition to the small stable.

Just to add a bit of maths to this review, roughly 30-40% of Game Boy Color games are, in some form or another, platform games (the rest either puzzle, sport or RPG). Keeping this in mind, Obi-Wan isn't an original title, but it scores highly on the presentation side of things. Graphics, although very simple, are highly effective on the small screen. The sprites are a little smaller than usual, but this allows for more enemies on screen at one time. And even with Obi-Wan looking a little on the thin side, enemy characters, especially the Destroyer droids, are perfectly animated. The amount of detail in certain backgrounds is at times amazing. You'll also get a few stills from the movie itself to help explain the story as you go along.

Much like Factor 5, Lucasarts has done wonders with the music score. Just about all the Game Boy games of the past have struggled with this area, but Obi-Wan handles the limitations well. The Duel of Fates track sounds just like the real thing (except in an MP3 like format of course). Some sounds like the lightsaber as it swings from left to right, and certain background sounds, are standout achievements.

Obi-Wan plays much like the Playstation/Dreamcast game Jedi Power Battles, in that you can use your lightsaber to deflect enemy fire. Obi-Wan also has a faithful blaster to use when the going gets tough. And, of course, you can use the force to control items and enemies. This range of weaponry, although not huge, is basically all you need to complete the missions. The lightsaber may be the primary weapon, but you may find yourself using the blaster more often (I'll explain later). You'll also get to pilot one of the Gungan's craft through the swamps of Naboo, adding a nice diversion to the lightsaber wielding levels. It just ends too soon.

I mentioned above that OWA plays much like Jedi Power Battles. It seems that OWA also has the same flaws. The controls just don't feel right in places, and this can come down to the animation of Obi-Wan himself. Sure, you can deflect enemy fire easily enough, but when you get up close and personal, you'll find it hard to catch up with the enemies on screen. I used the blaster for closer combat sequences (or the force, either will do) and used the saber for deflecting attacks. It all comes down to how well you can control the character on screen, and your reaction times. Moving Obi-Wan is also a problem, especially when jumping from level to level. You may find yourself trying a few times before actually making the jump. This comes from the slow animation sequences (in other words, Obi-Wan is one slow moving Jedi) and can really effect the enjoyment factor. I just didn't like the way the game panned out. It took me a few cracks at the whip before I could get past certain obstacles, and it really lowered my enthusiasm to get to the end of the game. I did in the end, and in some ways I feel happy that I did, so I didn't have to move that blasted Obi-Wan anymore.

The animation is great, but the first few levels are very bland. I also found the colors to be a little on the light side (as in not very bright). This isn't a big problem, I just thought I'd mention it.

This is a tough one. There are so many things to be pleased about with this game, but it's the control system that really lets it down. If only Obi-Wan moved just that little bit quicker, I would have enjoyed this more. And considering the lightsaber is a Jedi's favorite weapon, you'd think it would be easy to use.

Ultimately, I rate this low because there are so many other games that are similar in style to this that attempt the genre much better, and handle much easier! However, if you can take the above problems, then there is plenty of enjoyment to be had with Obi-Wan. Enjoyment that eventually saves the game from falling into the Dark Side completely.

71 out of 100.

For comments or questions email the TFN Games Staff and thanks to Mark Isaacson for the review!

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