Why am I playing it?
I spotted Star Wars Racer Revenge on sale a while back on the PS Store and I remembered how cool the control scheme was. It is a PS2 Classic and back in the day it was a sequel to Star Wars Episode 1: Racer. I believe Racer was released around the time of the Phantom Menace and then Racer Revenge was released to coincide with Attack of the Clones. What made it stand out is that you could race by using the two analog sticks on the Dual Shock controller as throttles for the two engines on your Pod – thus being able to control speed and steering with the same method, just like the ‘real thing’. Push one stick or the other forward to turn, or push both forward to accelerate in a straight line, as I’m demonstrating here:
How well does it hold up technically?
No effort has been made with these PS2 Classics to update things like the graphics – this is not backwards compatibility like you get on Xbox One. As a result, this game just looks bad but I guess no worse than it did before. Controls are responsive and smooth once you are used to how unusual they are (or use more standard acceleration and steering inputs, but why would you?). Unfortunately it shows it’s age with some dodgy collision detection at times, particularly with some lo-res walls. Perhaps this was just what racing games were like in those days?!
Has it stood the test of time?
Not well. I would definitely consider Star Wars Racer Revenge poor if it came out now. Really all it has going for it is some Star Wars nostalgia and the interesting controls. Even things like the menus and everything built around the game is poor compared to what we have even on cheap indie games nowadays. Upgrading your pod racer is a very basic affair and even the very concept of the story – 8 years later Anakin comes back to pod racing to face a Sebulba looking for revenge – needs a lot more backing up than just the usual Star Wars scrolling yellow text at the beginning to make it believable.
Should people go back and check it out?
The control scheme is genuinely great: it’s unique, at least to my knowledge, and it would only work on a Playstation controller as the analog sticks are next to each other, not offset. But, where that was enough to make up for it’s shortcomings when it first came out, now it’s little more than a quaint interest-piece. I’d love it if a new racing game came out making good use of twin analog sticks like this but for now, this one is probably not worth your time.