Star Wars: Flight of the Falcon (Game Boy Advance) Playthrough – NintendoComplete
The Rise of Skywalker releases today in theaters, so it seemed like a good time to address one of the least known Star Wars games out there. Flight of the Falcon is a fully 3D shooter that puts you in the pilot’s seat of some of the most iconic craft from the Star Wars franchise, flying missions loosely based on events from the original trilogy.
If you’d like to skip to a specific section, here are the time codes:
1:00 Episode IV: A New Hope
28:10 Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
39:15 Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: Flight of the Falcon is nothing if not ambitious. The sheer scope of some of these action sequences rivals that seen in many console-based games of the time, and though they all boil down to the same basic objectives (“Kill X enemy fighters” and “Get from point A to B before time runs out”), there is a lot of variety in how they are presented.
Over the course of the game’s 14 missions, you’ll get to fly the Millennium Falcon, the X-Wing, and the speeder bike, and these missions all take place in fully 3D environments. At first glance, the game seems to have pulled much of its inspiration from Wing Commander, but everything is completely on rails. You can move across the playfield, but you have control over little else but your aiming reticule and your ship’s speed.
So far this all sounds great, right?
But then we come back to one of the game’s main selling points – it is a fully 3D action game on the Game Boy Advance. The handheld proved it was fairly capable of doing 3D in the right hands – Asterix and Obelix, Monkey Ball, Driver, Star X, Stuntman – none of them were runaway hits, but they proved that the machine had the chops to pull off a decent 3D experience. Given Star Wars’ unusually good track record with games, I remember seeing this game advertised and really hoping that it would be yet another good (or at least decent) tie-in. Oops.
I bought the game not long after it was released, and it didn’t take long before I regretted the decision. While the concept was a good idea, the 3D graphics end up being the game’s undoing. They looked good (relatively speaking, for the hardware) in screenshots, and the write-up made it sound somewhat similar to Sega’s Star Wars Trilogy arcade game, but it seems as though the developers’ ambition far exceeded both the capabilities of the GBA hardware and the skill of the programmers that worked on it. To be blunt, Flight of the Falcon is a complete mess.
It doesn’t take long at all to realize that the game’s challenge directly correlates with the 3D engine’s performance. Everything is so low-resolution that seeing what you’re supposed to be shooting at becomes nigh impossible, and to say that the framerate chugs would be the ultimate understatement. As nice as some of the backdrops look, the flow of any mission that doesn’t use the basic star field as the background layer is utterly broken by a framerate that gracelessly swandives into the pavement at the slightest jump in scene complexity. The problem is at its worst when you have to race to an end goal within a time limit – the tight time limits require that you spend most of those missions at your ship’s top speed, but at that speed the graphics update so slowly that you’ll inevitably find yourself crashing straight into objects that you couldn’t see in time. The poor performance also directly impacts the controls. The worse the game runs, the more choppy and imprecise your movement and aiming becomes, making it virtually impossible to finish many of the missions without playing them again and again until you’ve all but memorized the stages, which by the way, all go on for far, far longer than they need to.
The sound is pretty good, at least. Some of the songs sound a bit flat, but for the most part, the sound effects and the music are close enough to give it the Star Wars feel.
In the end, I can’t say I’m surprised in the least bit that the critics ripped this one apart. I did enjoy it a bit back in the day, but it quickly became too hard and awkward for its own good. Nearly twenty years later, I can’t say my opinion of it has changed too much.
If you really want an on-rails Star Wars experience, there are many better options, including the Sega CD port of Rebel Assault. Yeah. Ouch.
*Recorded using a Retroarch shader to mimic the look of the original hardware.*
No cheats were used during the recording of this video.
NintendoComplete () punches you in the face with in-depth reviews, screenshot archives, and music from classic 8-bit NES games!