Have you ever wanted to fly a spaceship?
Like all arcade buffs I was giddy with excitement when I heard the Star Wars Pod from Bandai Namco was landing! But once the excitement passed trepidation set in with that lingering fear of disappointment, that this could be just another one of those Star Wars fads.
From the outside it is clearly Star Wars, from its giant logo and its easily recognisable rebel and imperial symbols. Similarly too many arcade games lately this thing is big and loud but to be honest it is awesome! Once finding the door of the cockpit, I strapped myself in swiped my Intercard and was immersed into the universe and its many galaxies. The first Star Wars game I ever played was the Star Wars Racer where the graphics where much to be desired but enough to get by. However, Star Wars: Battle Pod’s graphics and sounds are so advanced that just like “Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon, made the infamous Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs” my memories of past Star Wars games a mere space dust.
The screen in front of you is no normal flat LCD but a cone shaped screen that absorbs you into the game. You are completely enveloped into the action, including your periphery and it takes a couple of moments to acclimatise yourself to the action unfolding in front of you in this galaxy far, far away.
The Star Wars Battle Pod sits you in the cockpit of your favourite and familiar trilogy scenes; the Battle of Yavin, Hoth, Endor, the 2nd Death Star Run and the “experts only” Vadar’s Revenge where you pilot his own special TIE Fighter and try to destroy an energy source inside of the original Death Star before the rebels can snag it for their own use.
Given my recent infatuation with the latest Star Wars movie: The Force Awakens, it only made sense to jump into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and team up with my mates Lando and Nien Nunb and attempt to destroy the Death Star!
I honestly thought I would be grumbling and groaning my way through the game, as much of a Star Wars fan that I am, you can normally smell gimmick from a mile off. But once I felt the blast of air and felt the resistance on the flight stick as I locked down on that TIE Fighter I was legitimately hooked. The rumble of the throttle as you move at max speed twisting and turning at the obstacles as you gun down the imperials; the jostling of the seat when you’re covered in oncoming fire and the complete immersion into the action is incredible.
The John Williams score, the 4D elements and the insane graphics all combine to create a sensory experience as soon as you enter the pod. The surround sound adds to the experience and allows you to orientate yourself even when the action surrounds you and the screen becomes rife with enemy fire. And when I thought it couldn’t get any more terrifying, a TIE Fighter blew to pieces mere meters from the pod and I was blasted in the face with a gust of air. All I can say was….. it was awesome!
Gameplay is reminiscent of Star Fox 64 or Rez. The key to Battle Pod is to lock onto a target and unleash hell with a spray of heat-seeking missiles, you can spray lasers in every direction but you will find you’ll eventually overheat and be left to zipping and corkscrewing your way away from enemy fire. The movement of the ship is distinctly cinematic causing you to forget you are merely at the Arcade center in a pod… I have never flown a spaceship before but if it is anything like the Battle Pod – I have found my new profession.
In the words of the CEO of Bandai Namco “The Star Wars universe is a vast galaxy of memorable experience and epic storylines and we intend to put that level of fun and control in the hands of the fans with Star Wars: Battle Pod.” This game is more than a game you merely play this is a game you experience.