Star Wars Episode I: Racer is a downright classic. Launching on the N64 and PC nearly 20 years ago, the game was a brilliant realisation of one of the most compelling scenes from the deservedly lambasted The Phantom Menace. That doesn’t necessarily mean it would stand the test of the time, but luckily -- and with the help of some more contemporary ideas -- the game has made a triumphant return on PS4.
Unless you're an octopus, the N64 didn’t have the most comfortable controller. So it’s with relief that the biggest change made to Racer is its control scheme. The new controls bring the title up to speed with what games can offer now, and it works a treat. The bones of the game were already solid and these new controls make everything shine just that much brighter. Allowing for precision and responsiveness, the new controls are so wizard.
What’s not wizard is just how short the title is. As kids, we remember playing through this game for hours, but we were probably just really bad at the game; the entire tournament mode can be beaten in about two hours. Comprising three seven-race tournaments, and one “invitational” with the four hardest tracks, there’s just not much here. Once you power through those, all that’s left is free racing, local multiplayer -- no online multiplayer, sadly -- and time attack.
We'll never in a million years grow tired of hearing the announcer's ecstatic “IT’S A NEW LAP RECORD”, but the main draw after finishing off the tournament mode is the tracks themselves. The tournaments start you off on relatively simple circuits, but each time you revisit the planet, new elements are introduced. It's a brilliant approach to level design that allows to you carry forward your knowledge of a track while adding new things to ensure you’re not just on autopilot. Throw in the ludicrous number of shortcuts on each track, and it’s possible to have an almost entirely different experience on each lap. More than anything, this game being both 20 years old and incredibly fun is a clear sign that a modern Podracing title should absolutely be a thing.