We look at the very best, disputably great Star Wars game ever. This definitely isn’t a joke…
In this series we’ve covered some of the best Star Wars games ever made. Shadows of the Empire, LEGO Star Wars, Squadrons – we’ve featured a whole bunch. But we haven’t featured the best, and that changes today.
Yes, today we talk about the very best Star Wars game ever conceived. A game so good that not only did it inspire a generation of gamers to pick up a controller, but also one of the finest console exclusives of all time.
I’m of course talking about Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing…
Hey how’s it going guys, this is Tom from UDS and although I might be having a little bit of April Fool’s fun, I’m not kidding around when I say this is a really good game. But before I get into why this little known PS2 title is an absolute hidden gem, don’t forget to subscribe for more videos about games new and old every single week. Just pretend the sub button is Jar Jar Binks’ head and your mouse cursor is a hammer. I’ll let you work out the rest.
The late 90s and early 2000s were a great time to be a fan of both Star Wars and video games. To my count, there were at least eight home console games based on The Phantom Menace alone, not to mention pinball machines and arcade cabinets that were so cool, you often still see them knocking about today.
Within this veritable smorgasbord of choice, you had action platformers, flight sims and puzzle games, as well as two very different racing titles. We’ve already covered Episode 1: Racer and its Switch port on the channel, where we revealed why it was much more than a clone of WipeOut, and why it still has a cult following that persists to this day.
But the other game – 2001’s Super Bombad Racing, is much more obscure. Developed by Lucas Learning, a spinoff of LucasArts designed to focus on educational games, it wasn’t what you’d call a classroom classic. Instead, it was a kart racer in the mold of Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing. Not exactly Yoda’s Challenge Activity Center.
In fact, it would be the last game the short lived studio would put out before they’d shut their doors for good. This is probably a large reason as to why you don’t hear much about it anymore, or why we haven’t had a re-release on any other platform. But I’ll talk a bit more about the untimely fate of Super Bombad Racing in just a bit.
As I said at the start, this is a really solid racer, and punches above its weight in almost every category. You only need to look at the level design to get an idea of this.
Although 9 tracks might seem quaint by today’s standards, it was pretty much on par with most of its contemporaries, and what it might’ve lacked in quantity, it more than made up for in quality. Each track lovingly recreates a setting from The Phantom Menace, from the rustic streets of Theed to Coruscant’s grand skyline. There’s a huge variety in scenery, and with lots of diverging paths and shortcuts to discover, there’s a real incentive to revisit and master each course.
Personally, my favourite level is the Droid Control Ship, which serves as the incredibly challenging final circuit. It takes laser focus and real concentration to traverse, and it can become super addictive trying to top the podium.
That’s why it’s a good job that, for the most part, the controls are tight and responsive. Those of you who’ve been with the channel for a while will remember I recently talked about Muppet Racemania, a kart racer released around the same time. But while Racemania felt like controlling a bar of soap, Super Bombad Racing feels more like you’re at the helm of an actual speeder, albeit one about the size of your head.
But as with most kart racers, it isn’t just a case of being the fastest; you also have an arsenal of weapons and power ups at your disposal to give yourself the edge. Items like force field gadgets, photon blasts, tractor beams, and energy balls all feel true to the wider universe, but they all pale in comparison to the turbo boost. If you’re looking to finish ahead of your opponents, this is what you’ll want to grab.
Alongside the 9 racing tracks, there’s also four arenas for combat action. This is pretty much what you’d expect from similar modes in other games, but that doesn’t make it any less fun, particularly if you have a MultiTap for four player action. The only thing is, with more happening on screen at any one time, I did find the framerate suffered a bit. I’m not sure if this was an issue with the emulator or the game itself, but it’s never ideal suffering from some chug in those tense moments.
Yet overall, we’ve established that when it comes to gameplay, Super Bombad Racing exceeds expectations. But this is all more than matched by its aesthetics, which help to elevate the experience to a whole other level.
Although The Phantom Menace might be the butt of many jokes, one thing that’s widely accepted is that it has a killer musical score, and that translates to this game as well. Fun, almost cartoony reinterpretations of the different tracks help to add an extra veneer of quality and authenticity to everything. It fits the tone of the game perfectly, and will have you whistling along to a brand new version of Dual of the Fates!
The visuals, at least from a technical perspective, are pretty much on par with what you’d expect from similar titles from the time, but arguably the most defining feature of the game is its character design. It’s very like Marmite, you’ll either love it or hate it. Personally, the bobblehead caricatures are really endearing, particularly when coupled with the off the cuff references they make. Darth Maul’s arrogant boasting and Jar Jar’s Jar-Jarness never failed to put a smile on my face. Yes Jar Jar made me smile, what of it?
But if Super Bombad Racing was so good, why isn’t it spoken about anymore? In short, it flopped. Poor sales led to proposed Dreamcast and PC ports to be scrapped, and ultimately resulted in Lucas Learning shutting down. This is a real shame, as while this video might be a bit of an April Fool’s goof, I would genuinely play this again before I played Episode 1: Racer, and that’s saying something.
Yet, maybe it’s only fitting it remained a PS2 exclusive. In the same way Nintendo fans got Mario Kart, and even Dreamcast players got Episode 1: Racer, it’s kinda nice that PS2 players had their own kart racer to enjoy. I just wish, as is happening with other Star Wars games from this era, we could get a port for the Nintendo Switch, so a whole new generation of players can experience the bombastic fun of Super Bombad Racing.
And that’s a wrap on this edition of The Best Star Wars Video Games ever. Have you got fond memories of Super Bombad Racing? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe. As a small channel every interaction helps and hey, maybe you’ll enjoy what you see!
But most importantly let me know which Star Wars game to feature next. I promise there won’t be any more April Fool’s gags like this. Nope, nothing but the classics from now on…