- Driving Ettiqute: Orlando has a lot of foreign visitors from far-off places, like Europe, South America, and New Jersey. There is a reason why car insurance is so expensive in Orlando, and that is the number of rental cars driving around, missing their exit for SeaWorld. Protip: there are several exits for each theme park, so no need to slam in your brakes in the middle of I-4 rush hour traffic due to missing the first well-market exit.
- Highways and Turnpikes: Jumping on the Turnpike with your SunPass is the local way to avoid traffic and road closures. Also: thanks to the way Florida tourism sprawl has taken over the Interstate, paid toll roads are essential to cutting your commute in half. Although, this doesn’t solve every problem; just ask anyone who’s had to take I4 to the 408, and they will recount their story with horror in their eyes.
- Monuments to Failed Ideas: When I lived in Orlando, I toyed with coming up with a bus sightseeing tour that would show some of the worst of human ingenuity. Sure, the “I4 Eyesore” (pictured right) would be on the tour, along with Holy Land Experience, several hotels on the 192 tourist corridor, and the entirety of the Orange Blossom Trail.
- AMSCOT, 7-11, and Walgreens, Everywhere: I never really used these stores, aside from giving tourists directions. “Turn at the Walgreens,” I would say, “Past the Amscot. If you see the 7-11, you went too far.” With that sentence, I just described 80% of Orlando intersections.
- Publix Produce Section: Really, why is it so small? If not for the deli subs, I would have stopped going there years ago.
- Disney Skywriters: You may get the wrong impression from that label, thinking maybe they’d draw three concentric circles to form corporate big cheese Mickey Mouse in the ski, or something. But in reality, these are paid pilots who fly over Disney property and write things like “JESUS LOVES U,” “U + GOD,” smiley faces, and the like.
- Public Records of Health Inspections: Yeah, this list exists with that place you at at yesterday. This list got me to stop eating Hungry Howies, true story.
- Sweet Tea, Everywhere: With as many Northerners that have invaded Central Florida, you might find yourself forgetting this is the South. Until you have to ask for unsweet tea, that is.
- Iced-Over Windshields: It does happen, and usually once or twice a year for the time I lived in Orlando. And naturally, people would freak out and not know how to get the ice off. Not being a huge market for ice scrapers, once a year you hear about some poor soul who pours hot water on their windshield to melt the ice, and the story always ends with “…and it cracked on me!”
- Working on Holidays: It’s funny, but I spent years working all the major holidays, choosing to do alternative “staycations” in the generally slower times of the year. This isn’t really normal, unless you work for a service-oriented hospitality behemoth.
Always press “No” when asked if I want a receipt at the gas pump. My own bad habit is to drive off immediately after filling my tank. I’ve got places to be, presumably.
Expected time until the resolution is broken: one month.
Say what you want about this year… 2016 is going to fuel some truly hard-to-watch documentaries for decades to come.
Here’s some stuff I’d like to see change in 2017:
- Naming newborn girls names other than Olivia
- Stop people from trying to be realtors
- No more “surprise albums” from rappers
- Stop giving Pixar credit for being good (standout example: The Good Dinosaur)
- Stop bragging that you “brew your own beer,” because you bought a kit at Target
- Can we stop treating people from Reality TV shows like real people?
- Pollo Campero Chicken Restaraunts
- Law and Order’s first few “Ripped from the Headlines” episodes
- Irving Klaw Trio (band)
- Beto Carrero World
- The “For Dummies” books
- Word Up! Magazine
- Hollywood Fashion Center (Hollywood, FL)
- The 1992 Little League World Series Debacle
- An entire oral history of the year 1978
Video games based off movies must be a hard thing to do, especially in the 8-bit and 16-bit era. Music and voice samples were limited, if non-existent. Even actor likenesses were constrained or altered in many cases. But the biggest casualty at this time was obviously the storyline, if one existed.
Super Star Wars was a big draw (as anything with Star Wars gaming was in the early 90’s), but it left out so much of the context of the film, and added such over-the-top needless violence.
This JVC/LucasArts joint opens with logos, menu screen, and the classic fanfare. No “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..” text until you select “New Game” and hear Chewbacca’s roar. You then watch the worst Mode 7 interpretation of the opening crawl ever seen.
A brief “space battle” is seen from above, before you’re thrust into the shoes of Luke Skywalker. He’s on Tatooine just… well, not moisture farming, but killing scorpions and gremlin-looking animals. You will do a lot of shooting wildlife over this trilogy of games, so it’s good to get used to that first. The first boss of the game is a Sarlacc Pit Monster, which hurts rocks. Luke deals with it the only way he knows how to: jumping and shooting.
The next scene plays out as Luke finds C-3PO at the escape pod crash site, and the golden droid explains that R2-D2 was captured by Jawas. What are we to do but hunt down and destroy those creatures? I mean, that’s not how the movie went, at all, but my 8-year-old self wouldn’t have as fun if the player was Uncle Owen in a mini-game, haggling over the price of droids, I guess.
Instead, what we get is a Mode 7 landspeeder scene. Players have to balance jet fuel, firing weapons, and avoid obstacles, while heading toward the Sandcrawler. None of this happened in the movie, but Mode 7 “3D Levels” was de rigueur in those early days of the Super Nintendo. I guess we can blame Pilotwings and F-Zero for that. Moving on.
The next level is painful. Luke Skywalker has to ascend to the top of the Sandcrawler via platforms (with a few “leap of faith” off-screen jumps involved), all while blasting away Jawas, turrets, and panels that shoot flames. It’s a huge departure from the film, which has a few scenes and no violence toward the Jawas of short-stature. Luke Skywalker just run and gunning isn’t what I play Star Wars games for (hint: it’s lightsabers).
The next level is set inside the Sandcrawler. Keep in mind, the Sandcrawler is seen in the film for mere seconds. Why the designers thought it nessicary to drag out this section of the game, besides adding to “play time” and imaginary “Nintendo hard” metrics, boggles the mind. Shoot at more Jawas, jump on more platforms, and avoid turrets and flames, repeat. You even blow away a Gonk droid, which saddened me as a child.
The boss here is “Lava Beast Jawenko,” whatever that is. Looks like someone’s fan art envelope of Kraid from Metroid sent in to Nintendo Power. Then you find R2! The story advances somewhat faithfully here (though we are warped back to the Lars Homestead garage).
“Land of the Sandpeople” is the name of the next stage. Wait, are we killing Sand People now? In the film, they do attack Luke Skywalker. This is understandable. Still have to kill some more Jawas (how many are left?). Once we get to Sandpeople, they just run at Luke and are one-hit enemies… not as intense as the film makes them out to be. Occasionally, we get into a “fixed scrolling” portion (not our last), before Ben Kenobi shows up. By the way, somehow is is the graphics from the last cut scene with Ben added in.
BUT THE TIME HAS ARRIVED! Luke has a lightsaber! The game is 1/3rd over, but this is what you came for! Slay some more creatures of the Dune Sea, and the boss of the level appears. A “Mutant Womprat” is what the game calls this boss, but it looks like a Gremlin with big ears, to me. Slay the beast, as usual (Luke is a mass murderer, after all… just watch him blow up the Death Star).
And now that you have the lightsaber, what’s the next exciting level going to be? Another Landspeeder driving level. This time, you’re headed to Mos Eisley on now-flat terrain (a hardware limitation of the time). Drive/hover/fly in the same direction until you reach the goal or loose enough fuel. Simple.
The next level has Luke killing Stormtroopers… and more Jawas. Not quite Contra, but I will allow it. This level adds “sleeping” Dewbacks and crates that can be destroyed for no reason (really… all the pickups are just strewn about). Find Chewbacca at the end of the level and he becomes a playable character. Cool.
With a name like, “Cantina Fight,” you expect to be playing as Ben Kenobi or Han Solo. But nope, Luke or Chewie just shoot the place up (both didn’t participate in any of the violence in the film). Blast away Greedo clones, and other alien clones, until arrows pop-up on the screen, Double Dragon-style, to advance to the next area. There is some nice variety here, and even the Cantina Band show up in the background to cheer you on.
Best part? No Jawas (sorry, fans of the “Utinni” voice clip). There is a boss at the end of this stage as well, the imaginatively-named “Kalhar Boss Monster,” which looks like something rejected from Contra III. It’s out of place, to say the least. The game is half over, and it’s time to meet Han Solo!
Han Solo is now playable in the next stage, which feels like a retread of the first Mos Eisley stage… but now there is a droid factory. And what facility would be complete without Maintenance Droids and Hover Combat Carriers! And these guys are not messing around, with their own life meters and requiring multiple hits.
Now, we get to the Death Star, the Emprie’s ultimate weapon. In the film, Chewie growled at a Mouse droid, providing a bit of comic relief. But here, it’s a deadly antagonist you must not touch. Also, players have to make their way down a hangar with multiple TIE Fighters flying past them. Fight a boss droid at the end.
The next stage is a romp through the detention level of the Death Star. According to Wikipedia, the Trash Compactor level was cut from the game for memory reasons. Instead, we have doors/gates that fall and mimic the close-quarters peril. At the end of the level, we face the Detention Guard Boss. If you’re picturing a mechanical version of female anatomy, you’d be close.
“Use the Force” (voice clip included) as you try to disable the Tractor Beam Core. By the way, Ben did this on his own in the film, and our other heroes were in the (sadly deleted from the game) trash compactor scene. Also, strangely, you can play as Han and Chewie but hear the same voice clip, so…
This is a vertical-scrolling level, which is not fun. Taking out the level’s boss, the Tractor Beam itself, is actually simple, in that you can just mindlessly blast away if you have the right angle. This leads us to our first appearance of Darth Vader! And instead of a “Escape the Stormtrooper army” or “Fight Darth Vader as Obi-Wan,” we just leave the Death Star.
This abrupt transition doesn’t really resolve the lightsaber duel. It skates right past Darth Vader destroying his former BFF, shooting more Stormtroopers, and fighting TIE Fighters en route to the Rebel base. Instead, the game fast-forwards to the end climax, the epic space battle between X-Wings and poorly-constructed HVAC systems.
The Mode 7 level returns with a new coat of paint, playing almost exactly like the Landspeeder levels. After a few critical hits, the game switches to an in-cockpit mode where you have to deal the final blow with your torpedoes. Vader’ TIE will pop up, and you can strike it with laser weapons. It’s all over quickly.
Players are rewarded with the medal ceremony at the end of the game, along with a firm “Congratulations.” The text ends with, “But be careful for the Empire might strike back!” (Lack of commas, too). We get a credits rolling over a Starfield that dissolves into Vader’s helmet.
Next Time: We tackle The Empire Strikes Back (and continues kills more Jawas?)
Dear Movie Theaters of America,
Trust goes both ways. It is 30 Degrees outside, and I need a Wintery parka. Sure, it might be baggy on me, but that’s how I like it. It might contain a three-pounder, family-sized bag of cheese curls. It might be holding a 12-pack of Miller Genuine Draft. It might contain a network of woven cables, and that weave may actually be Red Vines. Or the coat might just be baggy.
And on subject of movie theater trust, what of me, the general viewing public? How do I know I’ll see all the best commercials during First Look, with the incomparable host with the most facebones, Maria Menounos? (My choice for a gender-bent Skeletor in a live-action He-Man flick, by the way).
Back to the trust with my own choices: when my ticket is taken (or, more accurately, ripped), you place the trust in me to go to the right theater inside the bustling metroplex. But if I watch a film and decide to stay, taking refuge in a Men’s room, I am in the wrong? What harm is this? These are questions that must be answered upon.
In summary, I reiterate that trust goes both ways. Also to be fully clear, I will continue to dispose of trash on the floor under my seat. I will not be changing my stance on that.