Super Star Wars

1994/1995 - Converted by Brain Bug; Produced by Softgold

Introduction

This well-known Super Nintendo game was also ported to the PC. The PC version had some really nice improvements, but it never hit the shelves due to management changes inside LucasArts. The game followed the plot of the first Star Wars movie (that is Episode IV) very closely, so there is no need to explain it. Since there are some rumours about this game, which must be cleared up, we contacted the programmer and he kindly wrote down the story behind the development. Now the true story is finally being told!

Creator Speaks

The story behind the creation of Super Star Wars for PC

Written by Sam Nova for pcGTW, January 2005

It all started back in 1994 when I was working for a Danish games company called “Brain Bug”, founded by a friend of mine. Most of the guys were busy working on our own title, a game named “Lollypop”. I was not directly involved in this project, so I was doing some research. One day I came up with a way to do the Mode-7 effect (a 3D-like gfx mode first introduced on the SNES console) on PC’s. I think I was one of the very first who did that, but we didn’t release a demo of it. Instead, we showed it to Softgold, a German based company which was publishing our game, Lollypop. Back then, Softgold had a close working relation with LucasArts and was responsible for German localizations of their highly acclaimed adventure games.

It has to be said that one of our favorite Super Nintendo games at that time was Super Star Wars, so the demo we showed to Softgold had graphics that looked similar to the Mode-7 level which was used in the game. We quickly came to the conclusion that it would be great and possible to port Super Star Wars from SNES to PC, so Softgold contacted LucasArts and told them about the idea, and they gave the green light to proceed.

What we received from LucasArts was source code and some binary files, all from the SNES version, obviously. We got a few graphics files, but nothing that we could really use, and no sound files at all. So my first hard task was to learn how the SNES worked with its display/graphics, and also what kind of compressions they had used for the data. So I had to learn how to code for the SNES as well, there was no way around.

The Trench

Based on this, I was able to create many tools that could convert the compressed data we got into useable data. All graphics were then redone, as the SNES was very limited regarding colors, this included going over all levels in the game and make it all look better. If people see two screenshots next to each other, one for SNES and one for PC, they will be very impressed.

I then moved on to porting the actual game itself, this was written 100% in assembler. Basically, I had to take the SNES code, part by part, and port it over to the PC. But that required that I had a full understanding of how the game code worked and how they used their scripts. We had the game up and running pretty quickly, so that the graphics could be tested while I was finishing all the other levels. For the very last level (The Trench) we created a very nice fake 3D effect. It was just too bad that it was first being used in the very last level, so only a few would actually see it. The same with the Death Star explosion, which was a huge, but well compressed SGI animation.

All music was redone to use AdLib, MIDI and WAV’s. We improved the quality compared to the limited SNES version here as well (even the SNES version was very good). Keep in mind, this game was written for 386/486 with a Tseng 4000 and 4 to 8 MB of RAM. No graphics acceleration was used, as there were no standards at that time. The setup program made it possible to change the refresh rate of the display to any value between 50 and 60 Hz. The game would then run 100% smooth, unless you had a very bad graphics card.

All this was done while we worked in Denmark, but in March 1995 the team moved to Germany to work for Softgold, in-house. The work on Super Star Wars continued there, and we got testing done by their in-house QA department. We also got feedback from the testers at LucasArts. When the game was close to been final, with only a few possible bugs left, the communication to LucasArts came to a halt. We asked many times what the status was, and when we finally got the reply from them, it wasn’t a nice one.

LucasArts had been changing management, and they had decided that the game didn’t fit in with the other Star Wars games they were working on. This came as quite a shock, and especially because the game was almost done. But unfortunately, there was nothing we could do to change their decision. We didn’t get into any financial problems because of this, as we were being paid by Softgold for the development. But it was a huge disappointment to see a brilliant game, that we spent so much time on, not getting released. We then stopped all development on Super Star Wars.

Super Star Wars is probably the game I’m most proud of. But I will not take all credits for it myself. I was doing all the programming of the game, but graphics, level design and music were taken care of by the other Brain Bug members. Without their help, Super Star Wars would not have been that good. I know that there is a version floating around the net. This is, as far as I know, one of the very last versions that were sent over for final testing to LucasArts. I would have liked to finish the game, or just use the last version I did, and release it to the public. But the copyright is of course at LucasArts, and we did not even approach them regarding this.

Game Credits

Producer Ole Mogensen, Søren Lund
Programmer Samuel Sebastian Nova
Graphics Artist Jørgen T. Ørberg, Bjørn Næsby Nielsen, Søren Lund
Music Artist Thomas Egeskov Pedersen
Sound Programmer and Sound FXJesper Olsen


Comments

By Darth Darthy on 09.06.2008 05:35 IP: 68.104.203.194
It was brilliant on the SNES but it doesn't work on the PC. Technically, it works fine in DOSBox, but the lack of the SNES's midi board (which is far superior to Adlib) and limited SFX make it fail on the presentation level. The controls are not suited to the PC - PC joypads are and always were a bit crap and the keyboard is useless. It's an impressive port none-the-less but LucasArts should not have given such false hopes to the developers. And the developers should have known the PC has never been suited to this type of game.

By windowskiller [admin] on 22.02.2008 10:47 IP: 217.87.230.194
There's no demo, but a leak of the full version. However, since it's Star Wars and LucasArts, I can't tell you where to get it. Google is your friend. :-)

By Max on 21.02.2008 17:29 IP: 87.170.97.1
This looks awesome! Is there a playable demo or something?

By Jason on 17.01.2007 10:37 IP: 144.136.146.170
port SNES version Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi > Sony PS2 and Microsoft Xbox 3 games on 1 disc

By Jason on 17.01.2007 10:08 IP: 144.136.146.170
why did PC version get cancelled ?

By NEo on 23.11.2006 18:27 IP: 86.125.3.19
Yes i also got the leaked finished version. Nice platformer...

By windowskiller [admin] on 08.10.2006 11:32 IP: 84.168.109.87
There's a difference between "released" and "leaked", you know?

By TheORi on 08.10.2006 11:29 IP: 85.108.191.109
this game is released...i played it...

By Womprat on 05.06.2006 10:48 IP: 84.217.66.238
Too bad that Lucasarts didnt release the game!
It was so good!

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games/starwars.txt · Last modified: 26.02.2008 15:50
 

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