Wednesday 8 September 2010

The Worst Games I Have Ever Played: Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi

In the late/mid-nineties, Star Wars was huge. With all the hype surrounding the Special Edition re-releases of the original trilogy with all their new CG stuff, deleted scenes and what-not, Star Wars was the biggest it had been since the time the movies originally came out. In terms of the support products, the books were tailing off a little, but the video games were massive. Titles like Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, Rogue Squadron and Shadows of the Empire were both popular and good (a rare combination in any field).

Then, LucasArts struck out in the worst way possible with Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi. Whereas the aforementioned video games worked off of what were essential elements of the Star Wars movies (lightsabers, Force Powers, spacecraft dogfights, laser gun battles and X-Wings), Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi just said “Bollocks” to that, and instead created the first (and, “strangely”, only) Star Wars themed one-on-one beat ‘em up.

Okay, let’s hear LucasArts’ own explanation for this mess of a concept:

“The 3D fighting genre fulfills its ultimate destiny with Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, an intense one-on-one combat experience for the Sony PlayStation. The story revolves around the mysterious Arden Lyn, a master of the ancient art of Teräs Käsi , as she leads a group of the most feared champions of Galactic Empire to eliminate the leaders of the Rebel Alliance. Join Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Boba Fett, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, plus a few surprise characters in a Star Wars environment like you've never experienced.”

So, the story goes that shortly after Episode IV, Emperor Palpatine has contacted this Arden Lyn bird with a view to taking out the key members of the Rebel Alliance through the deadly method of hand-to-hand combat. Presumably Palpatine has conveniently forgotten that he already has his own top-bollocks personal assassin in Mara Jade.

Oh, no, wait. Mara Jade is an unlockable character in this game. Forget I said anything.

See, the concept itself isn’t too bad. The concept of a ninja infiltrating the Rebel Alliance with a view to assassinating the main leaders has legs – if only because there are few things in life more cathartic than pummelling Mon Mothma to death with your bare hands.

Unfortunately, rather than being a pretty awesome stealth-em-up, what you’re left with is the cast of Star Wars (plus a few unimportant characters) in a really shitty Tekken knock-off.

Eight characters were playable from the start, only five of which was it truly possible to give a toss about: Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie and Boba Fett. The other three were the aforementioned Arden Lyn and...


Hoar and Thok.

The hilariously named “Hoar” was a Tusken Raider, and the just as hilariously named “Thok” was a Gamorrean guard. So, really, the opening cut-scene should have looked something like this:

Palpatine: Go, my trusted assassin, and bring me the heads of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance!
Arden Lyn: Yes, my Master.
Palpatine: Without using any weapons.
Arden Lyn: Uh...okay.
Palpatine: And don’t succumb to the “stealth gaming” fad. I want you to kung-fu fight them.
Arden Lyn: You want me to kung-fu fight the leaders of the Rebel Alliance?
Palpatine: And Boba Fett.
Arden Lyn: Wait...what?
Palpatine: And a Tusken Raider. And one of those green, pig looking ones. And make sure they have humorous names.
Arden Lyn: Is there someone else I can talk to?
Palpatine: No, I'm afraid not. Go, my most trusted and bestest apprentice!
Mara Jade: Dude...
Darth Vader: We’re right here...

In case you’re wondering, the other hidden characters were a Stormtrooper, Darth Vader, Leia in the metal bikini, and Jodo Kast.

Jodo Kast is “famous” for “not being” Boba Fett. Don’t worry; I had to look him up as well. This is from a time back when LucasArts honestly believed that mainstream culture gave a fuck about the Expanded Universe.

Of course this “story” only worked if you played through the damned thing as Arden Lyn. Otherwise, you were treated to another one of those mystic martial-arts tournaments that video game developers seem to think counts as a story for any fighting game, ever.

“Oh, you want revenge on your friend who was killed by M. Bison? You enter a martial-arts tournament with a view to fighting him.”

“Shao Khan wants to break through from another dimension and take over our world. The only way to stop him is to enter this martial arts tournament! Army of monsters? Yes, some. Here’s your seedings.”

But in Star Wars it makes even less sense. Why would Han kung-fu fight Chewie? Why wouldn’t Luke use his lightsaber? Why is Leia kicking Han in the face? Why can’t I be Threepio? That’d at least be funny.

Perhaps all of this bollocks could have been forgiven if the fighting game itself were any good, but the fact is it wasn’t. The collision detection was awful, the moves repetitive and...oh, for fuck’s sake, the Tusken Raider’s name is “whore”...

Words: Brad Harmer

Square Enix Ltd., the publisher of SQUARE ENIX® interactive entertainment products in Europe and other PAL territories and Disney Interactive Studios, will be releasing Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep on 10th September exclusively for the PSP.

With more than 14 million copies shipped worldwide, the Kingdom Hearts series is one of the most beloved RPGs in video game history. With Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Disney and original characters for Kingdom Hearts characters unite once more in a brand new magical game world, set to engage players with its gripping storyline and action-packed gameplay.

Turn back the pages of time in this earliest chapter of the Kingdom Hearts saga that explores the origins of the series. Showcasing all-new characters and brand new but instantly recognisable Disney environments from the worlds of Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, the game boasts exceptional graphics making it one of the most beautiful titles ever to be released for the PSP.

In addition to new characters and environments, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep features three new battle systems and four different multiplayer modes.

Thanks to our friends at Square Enix, we've got a copy of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep to give away to one lucky reader. For your chance of winning, send in your name and postal address to before midday on Wednesday 15th September. The first name pulled out of the electronic hat will win a free copy of the game, and a load of rare Kingdom Hearts merchandise!

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