Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike Bonus Disc Impressions

We check out the upcoming bonus disc for Rebel Strike, which features the original Star Wars arcade game.

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Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike
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LucasArts recently announced a bonus for those who preorder the forthcoming installment from its Rogue Squadron franchise for the GameCube. The bonus disc contains a collection of demos and trailers. While the big draw of the disc, for some, will be the playable Hoth level from Rebel Strike, old-school gamers will likely be drawn to the disc for another reason. In addition to the Rebel Strike demo, the bonus disc will feature the original Star Wars arcade game--in all its vector graphics, five-color glory. We got the chance to try out the disc, and we have to say it's one of the coolest bonuses we've seen since Nintendo's Wind Waker disc.

How do I get myself into these messes?
How do I get myself into these messes?

The Hoth level in the demo is similar to what's been shown at E3 and LucasArts' recent press event. The level begins with actual movie footage from the Imperial assault of the Rebel base on the ice planet Hoth. The clip is a tight edit of ground troops catching sight of Imperial walkers and the squads of snowspeeders dispatched to stop them. The movie footage ends with Luke's speeder crashing on the battlefield. This sets up the beginning of the game. You are given control of Luke shortly after he escapes from his speeder. You are then charged with taking down two Imperial walkers by using your grappling hook to get underneath them. You must then puncture an access hatch with your lightsaber and toss in a grenade. Following your AT-AT slaying, you make your way toward a tauntaun, all while firing at enemy Imperial troops and probe droids on the battlefield. After nearing the end of the battlefield, you must man a turret and take out arriving Imperial transports and ground troops to buy time for the fleeing Rebel forces. Another movie clip transitions you from ground combat to the cockpit of Luke's trusty X-Wing as you're asked to provide cover for the remaining Rebel transports. The air battle is set above Hoth and pits you against various model TIE fighters. You are mainly concerned with attacking the TIE bombers that are pummeling the fleeing transports with their charges. If you manage to keep the transports safe, which is no cake walk, you'll be rewarded with a final movie clip that features Luke heading out with the rest of the Rebel fleet. You'll also be shown a tally screen, which should ably deflate your sense of accomplishment as you realize your heroic efforts earned you a bronze, or, if you're lucky, a silver medal. The chaotic level is a fairly solid demonstration of what to expect from the basic structure of Rebel Strike, although it's not entirely representative of the final game experience. From what we've seen of the game, there's quite a bit more variety to it that should keep the action from getting stale.

AT-ATs aren't as tough as they look.
AT-ATs aren't as tough as they look.

As far as the graphics in the demo go, the Hoth level has been tightened up and polished considerably since we first saw it in May. The frame rate is solid, and detail is very high. The graphics benefit quite a bit from the new graphics engine's lighting effects--which add a host of subtle touches to the game.

The Star Wars arcade game is a fine example of the addictive gameplay indigenous to the long-gone days of the arcade era when players had to take flying leaps of faith across massive chasms of primitive graphics and sound. The game's vector graphics have aged pretty well and help give the game a classy retro look. The game is a solid conversion of the old shooter and handles pretty well, although the GameCube pad took a bit of adjustment since we were used to the arcade's controller.

A blast from the past comes to the GameCube.
A blast from the past comes to the GameCube.

Overall, the bonus disc is a nice little extra that Star Wars fans will want to look out for. In addition to the two game demos, the bonus disc also contains trailers for Rebel Strike and Gladius as well as a Rebel Strike art gallery. The only catch is, it will be available only to those who preorder the game, and it will be manufactured in limited quantities. For more on Rebel Strike, check out our previous coverage as well as our new gameplay movies and exclusive video preview.

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