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Star Wars Battle Above Coruscant

For: Mobile

Shoot your way to Jedi immortality whilst Anakin throws a temper tantrum

Product: Star Wars Battle Above Coruscant | Developer: Universomo | Publisher: THQ Wireless | Format: Mobile | Genre: Action, Arcade, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 160KB | Reviewed on: 6680 other handsets
Star Wars Battle Above Coruscant Mobile, thumbnail 1
Whatever your opinion on the third of the Star Wars prequels, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith did pack a heavy visual punch. While the final 30 minutes tied up all the storylines in a most satisfying manner, segueing neatly into the original trilogy, it was that space battle at the very beginning that did it for us. You remember it; you see Anakin and Obi Wan gliding serenely into view in their cute little spaceships before the camera does a 180-degree flip, revealing the chaos of the combat taking place below. Top-flight entertainment, we’re sure you’ll agree, and brilliantly executed.

So we were properly excited when we heard that the next game to roll off the Star Wars spin-off conveyor belt was to be Battle Above Coruscant, involving that great inter-galactic dogfight preceding the Jedi’s attempted rescue of Palpatine from General Grievous. You play as one such Jedi Knight, and it’s a case of “bring him back you must”. Thus you take control of Anakin and head for the cloudless vacuum-black skies known as space and must confront the enemy in this vertical scrolling shoot ‘em up. Which rapidly reveals itself to be little more than a basic take on space invaders, except with vaguely-recognisable craft (there’s nothing as disctinctive as a TIE-Fighter or X-Wing here).

As you progress, the enemies get bigger, badder and downright meaner. Strapped into your trusty A-Wing which is equipped with a range of lasers, you have the daunting task of making it through each level. This is the point at which Coruscant gets a tad tricky and highlights a teeny, tiny, ever-so-slightly (alright, blinking huge) drawback to playing the game.

By including lovingly-animated stars and debris in the background, which happen to look the same size and colour as enemy fire and move in the same way, you can imagine there may be some difficulties in dodging actual danger. This is truly bizarre, as this kind of shoot ‘em up game requires very precise manoeuvring around objects and enemies, but as it’s so difficult to distinguish between them, you’re frequently struck down by fire coming seemingly out of nowhere. So be prepared for endless explosions as little Darth is blown up by unintentionally-camouflaged baddies. This doesn’t give you a chance to develop your Jedi skills in any way whatsoever, and even Master Yoda might take exception to such an impossible challenge.

The overall presentation of the game is more than acceptable and, as you’d expect, on the opening screen there’s a bold rendition of the Star Wars theme, though sounding somewhat like John Williams is having his underpants ironed whilst still wearing them.

When it comes to the visuals, they’re spectacular. The backgrounds in particular are rich and full of detail. It’s just a shame that whatever you do, however good you think you are at these games, the visuals are going to kill you. Not literally of course; we’re not talking video game violence here, but when it comes to navigating the levels, you’re a goner. This is a shame as the control of the craft is otherwise well balanced and gives you a great degree of free movement across the screen. Shooting the enemies is quite good fun, too; it’s just that blowing up yourself, isn’t.

The sad truth here is that less would certainly have been more. Battle Above Coruscant has tried so hard to impress us and our eyes are still recovering from the aesthetic high. But the rest of the game suffers as a result, leaving you with an experience that's in turns frustrating and awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, when the dust settles it's the former that you're morely likely to be left feeling.
Star Wars Battle Above Coruscant
Reviewer photo
John Thomson | 7 February 2006
Looks great but plays bad, it's an unsteady balance between the light and dark sides...
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