Jedi Power Battles Hands-On
We got our hands on an early build of Jedi Power Battles - the walk-and-slash Star Wars: Episode I adventure that's being ported to the Dreamcast.
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Perhaps I had set my expectations a little too high, but I was hoping that Jedi Power Battles would be more than just a port of the PlayStation version with a few revisions here and there. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case - with the exception of some nice graphical improvements and some minor tweaks, the game is exactly like the PlayStation version.
The basic premise of Jedi Power Battles is that you take control of one of the Jedi Knights and guide him through levels that mirror Episode I's storyline. You spend most of your time slashing through enemies with your lightsaber, jumping from platform to platform, and deflecting laser shots back at their sources. This basic formula would add up to some fun gaming if it weren't so damned difficult to pull off. Most of the enemies take an extremely long time to dispatch, even with the Jedi's weapon of choice. Somehow monkey-men and Trade Federation droids are able to "block" a beam of focused energy without suffering much damage. Additionally, most areas bombard you with tons of laser fire, leaving you the fun task of holding down your block button until all the shots strike back at their shooters.
Even still, the game has been improved over the PlayStation version. The camera angles aren't as horrible, and the producers said they're working on making the platform jumping a little less tedious. Another tweak they mentioned was that the hidden Darth Maul character will actually use both his lightsaber blades like he does in the movie, instead of only using one end like he does in the PlayStation version.
The game is still in its early form, but you can tell that the graphics have been drastically refined. The game now runs at a solid 60 frames per second and has some amazing visual effects. The characters animate in a realistic manner and look like their movie counterparts. Unfortunately, the sound wasn't in the build we played.
While the Dreamcast version of Jedi Power Battles doesn't come off as being a horrible game, it still feels somewhat limited in scope and execution. While it's good to know the producers are doing all they can to improve the game over the PlayStation version, one can only wonder how much of the game they'll improve before it ships this holiday season.