Title  : Super Bombad Racing
Platforms  : Sony PlayStation 2
Publisher  : Lucas Learning
ESRB Rating  : Everyone
Game Rating  : 5.2
Review by  : Ken Gagne

Star Wars video games just don't seem to "get it." Despite being set in the dark fantasy world that drew so many people to the movies, the games just don't have the same appeal. 

Super Bombad Racing is LucasArts' attempt to draw in a younger crowd. Based on Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Bombad takes familiar characters and super-deforms them, making them as silly and childish as possible, before putting them on a race course. Though it may be enjoyable to kids, neither racing nor Star Wars fans will find much to like in this PlayStation 2 title. 

One to four players can race on a variety of courses, or earn their victories with a show of Force in the battle arena. The courses vary in length and traverse deserts, jungles, and underwater mazes. 

The paths of the levels are confusing. Arrows try to direct players, but much wall-banging and retracing of steps are bound to occur. Equally confusing is the variety of weapons and power-ups scattered throughout the course. Over 25 items are at a player's disposal; learning to tell them apart and employing them effectively is half the race's challenge. 

Disorienting gameplay and courses aren't the only disturbances in the Force. The graphics contribute to the confusion: it is hard to judge how high to jump to get an item, or if a branch in the path is a shortcut or an invisible wall. The characters with their big heads are easily identifiable as Darth Maul, Yoda, Queen Amidala, and other icons from Episode I. Familiar extras such as Jawas, also super-deformed, inhabit the sides of the courses, either as decoration or to toss interference into the race. 

The audio is no cantina. The music is simple and repetitive, sometimes consisting of a looped audio only a few seconds long. The drivers taunt and curse each other in voices other than the original actors — yet Jar-Jar is as annoying as ever. 

At least the controls don't call for Jedi mastery. Digital and analog steering and gas/brake are available, with other buttons used for weapons, boosts, jumping, and honking. (kids love a good honk!) The finer controls of other racing games, such as leaning left and right for sharp turns, are absent here, as is expected in a game aimed at younger gamers. 

Though Star Wars games generally have issues, they've always at least been set in the same universe as their movie counterparts. Bombad Racing is too silly to take seriously, leaving it to stand as a game on its own – which it doesn't. Star Wars Episode I Racer is a better game along a similar vein. As for kart racing in the Star Wars universe — where's a Sarlac pit monster when you need one? 


This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 07-May-01