Star Wars: Battle for Naboo Q&A
We talk to the designers at LucasArts about the PC version of Battle for Naboo.
In 1998, LucasArts and Factor 5 released Rogue Squadron, a first- and third-person flying shooter set in the classic Star Wars universe. The game appeared on both PC and Nintendo 64 platforms, and it received critical acclaim for its relatively simple yet highly addictive gameplay. Late last year, LucasArts and Factor 5 teamed up again to release Episode I Battle for Naboo, a Nintendo 64 flying shooter built on the same gameplay design of the successful Rogue Squadron. The game puts you in the cockpit of a number of Episode I vehicles, including some that weren't featured in the movie, as you do battle with the Trade Federation to protect your home planet of Naboo. Recently, LucasArts announced that it would be bringing the game onto the PC. We took that opportunity to sit down with Brett Tosti, the project leader on the PC version of Battle for Naboo, and discuss the game in more detail.
GameSpot: In Rogue Squadron, players assume the role of Luke Skywalker. Who will they play in Battle for Naboo?
Brett Tosti: In Battle for Naboo, you play a character named Gavyn Sykes, a member of Naboo's volunteer Royal Security Forces based in the city of Theed. The security force is the equivalent of a local police force, and they are not really equipped to deal with an invasion army. You and your commander are initially caught off guard by the invasion, and you must flee the city of Theed to regroup before the droid army completely takes over the city. Gavyn Sykes is idealistic and brave, and he spent much of his youth flying local transports before joining the Royal Security Forces. Whether driving a Flash speeder or piloting a Naboo starfighter, Sykes is efficient and resourceful, ready to defend his commander, his wingmen, and the citizens of Naboo.
GS: Does the game take place during the actual events of Episode I?
BT: Yes, the events in this game take place during the same time frame as Episode I. Battle for Naboo begins when the Trade Federation invades the planet Naboo and concludes when (and if) the player succeeds in helping to liberate the planet. After watching the movie, it struck me that a great story could be told about what took place on Naboo while the queen was away. During the movie, we hear that the people of Naboo are starving and suffering and that the Trade Federation is doing evil things, but we don't ever see those atrocities. In Battle for Naboo, you see firsthand what the greedy Neimoidians are doing to the people and planet of Naboo. As a resistance fighter, it's your job to help the people--and whenever possible, stop the Trade Federation.
GS: How many vehicles will players be able to control in the game?
BT: Battle for Naboo features seven different vehicles (plus three bonus vehicles).
GS: Which one is your favorite?
BT: The heavy STAP is my favorite vehicle to drive because it is very quick and maneuverable. However, the N-1 Naboo starfighter is still my favorite vehicle for mass destruction. And the N-1 is particularly lethal and fun to fly once you have obtained some of the power-ups.
GS: Are there any vehicles that you've included in the game that weren't featured in the actual movie?
BT: Five of the seven vehicles are not featured in the movie. The new vehicles include a heavy STAP, which is mix between the STAP and the AATs from the film. The player drives the heavy STAP in the farmland just outside of Theed and on another later level. The player can also steal and then pilot the enemy's Trade Federation gunboat. Another new vehicle is the Naboo police cruiser. The police cruiser is basically a heavily armored but less maneuverable version of the N-1 starfighter. You fly the police cruiser and N-1 over a variety of landscapes on Naboo, including swamps, rolling hills, tundra, and mountain regions, to name a few. Finally, the players will also get the opportunity to fly a Naboo bomber armed with a single laser cannon and plasma bombs.
GS: Do all the missions take place around Naboo, Tatooine, and Coruscant, or are there other areas in the game that weren't in the movie?
BT: All of the core missions take place on Naboo or in space above the planet. Of the 15 missions, three missions take place in areas seen in the movie. The other 12 missions take place in regions of Naboo that did not appear in the film--and these areas are consistent with the planetary conditions on Naboo. For example, we know that Naboo is a very wet planet; therefore, many of our missions occur on or around water. We also saw a small section of swampland when the queen and her party visited the Gungan ruins. In Battle for Naboo, we expanded the look and feel of those swamps and created two levels that are new; yet, they build upon the look and feel established in the film.
GS: Rogue Squadron had a variety of mission types, including attacking ground forces, escorting, and air-to-air combat. Will Battle for Naboo have the same mission types? Are you adding new ones to the game?
BT: We share some of the same mission types with Rogue Squadron, but we also introduce quite a few new and fresh mission types. The ground-to-ground combat alone has introduced a whole set of new mission types and gameplay perspectives. Battle for Naboo features escape missions, stealth missions, rescue missions, seek-and-destroy missions, escort missions, and sabotage missions. In some missions, we mix together different kinds of objectives.
GS: How has the graphics engine been enhanced for the move from the Nintendo 64 to the PC?
BT: The enhancements we made to the PC version are consistent with the approach that we used with the adaptation of Rogue Squadron PC from Rogue Squadron N64. First off, the entire game is running in much higher resolutions on the PC. We have also exchanged many of the N64 textures with improved textures. Input device, controls, and the front-end options screens have all been customized specifically for the PC.
GS: Will there be any other changes that take advantage of the PC's hardware capabilities, like multiplayer, for example?
BT: The higher video resolution referenced above is made possible by utilizing the features and memory available through the PC 3D accelerator video cards--providing the ability to display very high-quality graphics. Note that the PC version will require a 3D accelerator card. Like the N64 version, Battle for Naboo PC does not support multiplayer gaming.
GS: How do you think fans of classic Star Wars flight sims will take to Battle for Naboo, the first such game within the Episode I universe?
BT: Battle for Naboo certainly has flight-sim qualities, but, at its core, it is a straightforward, vehicle-based action game. If Star Wars fans are looking for a fast-paced, high-action game with a unique story, then they should enjoy Battle for Naboo.
GS: Rogue Squadron actually had a Naboo fighter Easter egg that became available to players after Episode I hit movie theaters. Will Battle for Naboo have any Episode II secrets?
BT: All I can say is that Battle for Naboo contains a ton of cheats, secrets, and bonuses.
GS: Thanks, Brett.