It was recently mentioned on an Arcade Heroes podcast that I was going to be getting my hands on a Star Wars Battle Pod. As with many of these new big games, it wasn’t something necessarily planned from the get-go (especially due to the very high price tag) but things worked out in a way that it is now at my arcade. As I have done with other arcade games, here is the “unboxing” of the game but now in video form. For previous unboxings: Jurassic Park / Star Trek Pinball / Allied Tank Attack / Transformers Human Alliance / Batman / ReRave / Pac-Man Battle Royale / Friction / Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition
Thoughts on the game: I never got a good chance to spend time with the game at trade shows since they were constantly shuffling people out so that everyone could get a turn. Now that I have been able to play it some more, some quick thoughts. I have software Rev. 1.01 which I assume is the latest build. I have heard that it will be getting a software update at some point but what that will entail, I do not know. If you are used to games like Star Wars Trilogy Arcade then this takes getting used to as this is much more like Mach Storm, which is a faster paced on-rails roller coaster type experience. Perhaps they will tweak the pacing and the paths some in future builds – One area that comes to mind is the Death Star trench battle, is much shorter than I expected, lacking that cinematic build up which made that piece so iconic in the original film. That said, the average play time is a little over 3 minutes according to the bookkeeping features. For big deluxe games like this, that is typical and longer than many of your normal skill based games. If you enjoy a technological experience with your games that is where this really packs that punch. So far I found Vader’s Revenge level to be the most enjoyable although it is the most difficult.
Namco – please, please, please fix the attract mode. It is the most annoying attract mode I’ve ever had to sit next to, with the grand Star Wars theme repeating itself every 10-15 seconds or so. I’m sure the developers don’t have the game sitting there with the attract volume up but they should so they could design a better attract sequence. But its more than just the same song stuck on a fast loop… That mode could use some cutscenes and especially it could use the high score table screen to see how you compare with other players. Without being able to see who has the high scores unless you get in the top 5 on a stage, that takes the fun out of it. The camera also needs to be utilized – at the moment it doesn’t seem to do anything which is very odd (it works in the camera test but I got 1st place in Vader’s Revenge; made various placements on the other levels and it never took a picture. I recall the pictures in Mach Storm showing up frequently). Having a high score pages with avatars of the top players would be a nice touch to drive repeat play – same with a bonus round or two.
Overall, it is a deluxe arcade experience, the hardware draws a lot of attention to itself (the Star Wars name certainly helps) as a big package of tech. It should be interesting to see how Namco handles it with Episode VII coming up and whether or not we might get an Ep. 7 stage. What are your thoughts?