Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (video game)
|Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace|
|Developer(s)||Big Ape Productions|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation|
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is an epic space fantasy action-adventure role playing video game released by LucasArts and based on the film of the same title. The game is set in several different settings seen within the film, and contains heavy RPG elements alongside its largely adventurous action-oriented game world. More open-ended than the majority of 3D games at the time, the project was notably innovative for its decade. The game is set during the timeline of the film, with players taking on the role of Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and several other characters from the film. Each playable character has a unique weapon and ability. The game also features open environments to explore at the player's leisure, and dozens of NPCs with unique dialog.
The game was a commercial success, selling over 337,866 copies of the PC version alone by 2000. The game received high praise for its RPG-style gameplay, appealing graphics, and story, however, criticisms for its camera angles and voice acting were prevalent. Featuring varied environments, expansive character feedback and development, and a decent artificial intelligence system, The Phantom Menace is considered to be a 'gem' in the classic gaming community. For its time, the game managed to attract a cult following.
The plot closely follows that of the film, although it expands on some minor events that were not present in the original film, or shows them from a different character's point of view. For example, it follows Queen Amidala and Captain Panaka's journey on Coruscant during Anakin Skywalker's interview in the Jedi Temple—something that is never shown or mentioned in the film since the film follows Anakin's point of view.
The storyline mainly surrounds Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The story features several boss fights, such as a Tusken Raider Chieftain, Jabba's Pit Beast, and Sith Lord Darth Maul.
The Trade Federation, led by Viceroy Nute Gunray, has established a blockade of the planet Naboo in the midst of an intergalactic trade dispute. Hoping to resolve the conflict peacefully, the Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, Finis Valorum, sends two Jedi, master Qui-Gon Jinn and his padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to negotiate with the Viceroy.
However, after they arrive on Gunray's ship, the meeting room begins to fill with poisonous gas. Realizing that Gunray plans to assassinate them, the Jedi escape the room and fight their way through the ship, battling the Trade Federation's army of battle droids. They reach the hangar bay and escape in separate ships to the swamps of Naboo.
There, Obi-Wan meets with Jar-Jar Binks, an exile of the Gungan city Otoh Gunga, who reunites him with Qui-Gon. Upon travelling to Otoh Gunga, Jar-Jar is imprisoned, leaving Obi-Wan to navigate through the city to rescue him while Qui-Gon attempts to negotiate for his release with Gungan leader Boss Nass. Qui-Gon manages to convince Nass to spare Jar-Jar's life and they depart for Naboo's capital, Theed, where Obi-Wan is again separated from Qui-Gon and Jar-Jar, forcing him to navigate his way through the Gardens of Theed. Upon doing so, he finds Qui-Gon and Jar-Jar with Queen Amidala and her entourage. He is then required to safely escort the group through the city as an invasion commences. Along with Captain Panaka, they flee the besieged capital and make an emergency landing on the desert planet of Tatooine.
Qui-Gon scours the market of Mos Espa for the vital ship parts needed to escape the planet and encounters child slave Anakin Skywalker, who helps him find the parts in return for help finding components to fix his racer. Following a deal struck with crime lord Jabba the Hutt, in which he had to kill one of Jabba's beasts in exchange for a sum of money, Qui-Gon uses it to make a bet with Anakin's master Watto and wins his freedom.
As Qui-Gon escorts Anakin back to the ship, he is attacked by a mysterious Sith warrior, Darth Maul, who was seen earlier watching Qui-Gon prior to the pod race in which Anakin's freedom is won. Qui-Gon fights him off and escapes with Anakin. The group returns to Coruscant so that the Queen can meet with her ally Senator Palpatine and plead Naboo's case to the Chancellor and the Senate. After Panaka escorts her through the dangerous under-belly of Coruscant (foiling several attempts by bounty hunters to capture her in the process), she decides to return to Naboo and retake Theed while Palpatine arranges for the Chancellor to be removed from office when he proves unable to handle the crisis.
During the attack, Darth Maul reappears. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan duel Maul, pursuing him into the generator complex, while the Queen and Panaka invade the throne room and defeat Gunray. Obi-Wan becomes separated from Qui-Gon and Maul, allowing the Sith to impale Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan then attacks him and finally defeats him, killing him atop a scaffold above a pit (in contrast to the film, in which Kenobi cuts Maul in half). Qui-Gon makes Obi-Wan promise to train Anakin as a Jedi before he dies of his wounds. The game ends with a celebration on Naboo.
The player is able to control either Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Queen Amidala or Captain Panaka, depending on the level. If the player is playing as either of the two Jedi, they can use a lightsaber or execute a Force push in addition to using blasters, proton missile launchers and explosives (which are available for Amidala and Panaka). The player may also encounter and interact with other non-player characters for directions, advice, trade, side missions (such as rescuing a captive or stopping a mugging) or to access otherwise locked areas. Throughout the game, the player fights against Darth Maul, Trade Federation battle droids, AATs, Tusken Raiders, Jawas, and various alien thugs and droids. The game was among the first 3D Star Wars games to feature lightsaber duels as a combat feature.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace received generally positive to mixed reviews, with Gamepro giving the game a 4.5/5 rating for the Playstation version and GameRankings giving it a score of 62.28% for the PC version, and a 54.39% for the PlayStation version.
In the United States, the computer version of The Phantom Menace sold 337,866 copies by November 2000, according to PC Data. The game was a bestseller in the UK. Its PlayStation version received a "Gold" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 200,000 copies in the United Kingdom.
Blake Fischer reviewed the PlayStation version of the game for Next Generation, rating it one star out of five, and stated that "If you are not afraid, you will be. You will be."
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