With the latest Star Wars movie nearing release this May, you can expect a veritable flurry of games based on the eagerly anticipated flick to descend around the same time. A smaller member of the throng of titles is Ubisoft's Game Boy Advance game, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. We had the chance to try a work-in-progress version to get a feel for what to expect from this portable game.
Episode III on the GBA will let you play as either Anakin Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi in both single- and multiplayer modes. You'll be sent on an adventure through the key events that make up the closer to the Star Wars saga. The single-player mode will basically offer two perspectives on the story, as once things start to go poorly for the pair, you'll find yourself playing for either the side of good or evil. There will be a branching level system that will offer decidedly different experiences depending on which character you choose to play as during this mode.
The game will use a traditional 2D side-scrolling presentation that works well with its beat-'em-up gameplay. But, before you think the game is just a mindless button masher, we should note that Episode III is more of an action RPG, as you'll earn experience points you can use to improve your Force powers and learn new combos. When you finish each mission you'll also be able to upgrade your character's strength, stamina, and intuition, which each yield significant performance enhancements.
The multiplayer component of Episode III will feature two modes, one cooperative and one competitive. The co-op mode will require you and a friend to have two copies of the game and a GBA link cable in order to play. If you have that sorted out you'll be able to play unique missions that are based on events that take place in the time between Episode II and III during the Clone Wars. To make things a bit easier, you'll be able to upload your character from your single-player game into the co-op mode for some extra muscle. For those who are fiendishly longing for a more competitive multiplayer experience should try the last Jedi standing mode, which will drop you and a friend into an arena flooded with enemies. Whoever makes it out in one piece is the supreme Jedi master.
The graphics sport more of a cartoonish look than Ubisoft's last few Star Wars offerings, which leaned toward a more realistic look. This game is more along the lines of the stylized look seen in the Clone Wars animated series on the Cartoon Network, and it ends up working very nicely. The characters sport a detailed appearance and animate very smoothly, which makes for a very sharp visual presentation.
The audio in the game is solid, and it works well within the limits of what's possible on the GBA. You'll hear a smattering of good sound effects and capable re-creations of familiar themes from the films.
All told, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is looking like a solid little action game that should be a nice portable fix for Star Wars fans as they wait in line (hopefully at the right theater) for the upcoming film. The solid gameplay and assorted modes are complemented by well-done visuals that make the most out of the Star Wars universe. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is currently slated to ship early next month for the Game Boy Advance.