What on earth is this new hell! Before I explain why this game made me want to rip out my own spleen, a little back of background for you. Star Wars: Demolition is a vehicular-based combat game, much like Mad-Max set in the Star Wars universe. You choose a nondescript (Boba Fett aside) character and have to annihilate other nondescript characters to become the champion of Naboo or wherever.
Hold on, there is a plot: “the Empire declares a ban on Jabba the Hutt’s sport of podracing. To replace this lucrative enterprise, Jabba creates a more life-threatening contest where combatants fight to the death in or on vehicles. Several combatants enter the competition. Boba Fett enters, opting to use only his jetpack. Fellow bounty hunter and occasional partner Aurra Sing also enters, a swoop bike her vehicle of choice. Other opponents mount various forms of tanks, landspeeders, and even a rancor to compete in this battle to the death.” Thank you Wikipedia.
A lot of the game’s allure, and I use that word lightly, is the multiplayer online option which of course (17 years later) is defunct. So I’m basing this review solely on the one-player modes, of which there are a few. The presentation in the game is poor, it’s actually sub-Saturn standard even with the homage to the vertical scrolling recap at the beginning of every Star Wars film. There is Battle, which is much like an exhibition mode and Tournament, where you choose your character and do battle with four other contestants to…(see above). And away you go.
Luxoflux, who “developed” the game, have lifted the engine from the uninspiring Vigilante 8, a humdrum vehicular-based combat game. It was never going to go well. Star Wars is a humongous franchise, in fact I’m going to wager that it’s the largest movie franchise of all time. If you can find a bigger one I’ll buy you a drink. Getting the rights to it is guaranteed dough, bread, cash. Equals Demolition. The game does look better than Vigilante 8 in all honesty, which I’d expect given that it’s on a more powerful console and is newer. LucasArts have their name on more decent games that you can shake a stick at. If you ever want to get one over on them just show them this.
The arenas have static 2D backdrops but 3D arenas (of course) and the Dreamcast cannot load the entire play area which means as you zoom about the arena your’re in (which almost inevitably will slope upwards) will build itself, leading to some very odd visuals. The vehicles look decent enough although some are so ridiculously small (Mr Fett included) it makes you laugh out loud. The animation is poor, no more so than when your vehicle explodes leaving a burnt out husk, i.e. a bouncing black shell. Tractor beams move at about a frame per second and when there are multiple enemies seeking to blow one up the game suffers from distinct slowdown, which brings me nicely to the gameplay…
Which is yawn-inducing. One of the messages that appears when you load the game alerts you to the facility to switch off the auto-aim function. Don’t do it! I’ve played this game all day and haven’t won a single battle, even with it switched on. The d-pad is used to move your vehicle about which seems nonsensical as the analogue stick is right there! The buttons do nothing and the triggers fire your guns. Don’t bother with the right trigger as your standard gun is so paltry you might as well be smacking your enemies with a light sabre handle. Oh no wait, you need your gun to chase round these janitor carts that hold the good weapons. I say good, the tractor beam, heat seekers and rocket cannon all had next to no effect, on anyone. Energy shields also replenish with time, a bit like Halo, which is great for you. Sort of. This means that if you’re in a one-on-one battle in a massive arena, your opponent will run away. In turn, your good weapons will dry up and you’re back to square one.
The game has some of the worst AI I’ve ever seen in a video game. Your opponent will run at you, and actually over you making shooting them in close quarters extremely difficult. Hold on, maybe this is just really clever/difficult. No, it’s extremely annoying. The Battle mode where all and sundry are after you is farcical. You’ll get teamed up on to the point that it’s actually like playing online. Hold on, it’s happened again hasn’t it? This game is actually genius! No. What it is, is a game that without its multiplayer option means nothing in today’s retro gaming world. A small mention to the horrific music score, sound effects and speech samples (this is a console that did Street Fighter III for heaven’s sake!) just to put the icing on the cake.