Growing up in the 90s meant many things: the rise of boy bands, the OJ Simpson trial, Power Rangers, and the release of the prequel Star Wars trilogy (among many, many other things). One of my obsessions on my Nintendo 64 was Star Wars Episode I: Racer, a racing game based on Episode I’s Podrace scene. A decent game and racer in it’s own right, the game actually spawned its own unique Arcade game about a year later.
Cleverly dubbed Star Wars: Racer Arcade, this version of the game featured the core gameplay of the console version, but truncated down to a more bite-sized play style. Gone are the story modes and customizable Podracers. Your racer is also indestructible in this arcade version, taking away a very key element to what made the console game so memorable. Still, even with some of the best features stripped away, Star Wars: Racer Arcade is a pretty fun game.
The tracks are long and varied (which is good because there’s only a small handful of them). Kind of similar to another arcade racing game, Hydro Thunder, Racer Arcade features really fast paced games. You really get a sense of speed racing through Tatooine’s canyon’s, seeing the super-blurred surrounding fly past you. Thanks to the cabinets relatively large screen and blaring sound (at least at this location) you can really get absorbed in the game.
Speaking of the cabinet, most versions of Racer Arcade feature a sit-down seat modeled after Anakin Skywalkers Podracer from the series. Best of all, you actually have some throttle controls to work with, just like in the movie! This is, oddly enough, also kind of like Hydro Thunder, and is something the arcade game emulates better than the home console versions (for obvious reasons).
While doing a bit of research for this piece, I discovered this was Sega’s final Star Wars arcade game. Sega was responsible for some truly amazing Star Wars titles, including the amazing Star Wars Trilogy game, as well as the super rare Sega Star Wars. Though I don’t think this is nearly as memorable as those two games, this one is still a really fun game, that fans of the racing series should definitely check out!
*Played at New York, New York Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, NV 2019