This may well have been the very first game I ever bought for PC, I honestly can't remember. It was almost certainly this or some other LucasArts game like Sam and Max or TIE Fighter, because back when I got my first rig those guys pretty much defined PC gaming for me. So yeah I think there's a fair chance I'm going to be incredibly biased by nostalgia here, but then again it's been a few years now since this disc has been anywhere near a disc drive.
Wikipedia claims that the game also came out on Mac, 3DO and Sega CD, and I can believe it. This is definitely one of those interactive multimedia kind of action game experiences only possible due to the power of the compact disc (ie. it's got a lot of video in it).
Though things may not be what they seem, as the utility actually recommends dropping the frame rate down on faster machines. I'll leave it at 15 for now though and set my input device as 'mouse' to avoid getting caught on any calibration screens. I'll get the joystick out later if necessary, I'm just curious about how it flies without one.
You'd think this would have some Star Wars music in the background taken right from the movies, and it does, but it also has narration. It's got someone reading out the opening crawl from Stars Wars: Episode IV, because crawling is just too slow for Rebel Assault. The end result though is that I feel like I'm watching the start of an episode of Battlestar Galactica or something. The OLD Battlestar Galactica.
Elite Force II and retroactively determine that the hero was always a guy. So I've decided to play as a female Rookie1 AS A DIRECT VIOLATION OF THE CANON.
Hang on, is that a broken C-3PO lying in the background?
Rookie1 is a pilot of mystery; all I know about her is that she's on planet Tatooine, she's eager to fly as a pilot for the Rebel Alliance, and today she's "embarking on a crucial training flight".
Oh by the way, even if you're a fan you might not recognise this thing I'm in now, but it was actually referenced in the movies at least twice.
|Star Wars: Episode VI - A New Hope|
Plus he doesn't want to fly that piece of crap anyway, he wants to be out flying for the Rebel Alliance against the evil Empire! And when he finally does manage to join up with the Rebels they let him fly their most advanced space fighter right away without any training, because he told them that he used to bull's-eye womp rats in his T-16 back home... well that's what we're flying right now.
I'm steering my little aircraft across a pre-rendered video of a canyon, trying to keep it away from the walls and failing really badly. It's not what I'd call responsive, though I've got a whole set of other names for it and I've been yelling them out as I go.
|Sega Mega CD|
I'm flying through Beggar's Canyon right now which is another thing mentioned off-hand in one of the Star Wars films. Yep, there isn't one bloody line in the original trilogy that hasn't been used as inspiration for a book, comic or video game. Every background character has their own novel, every single location mentioned in them has been visited by five different games. Six hours of cinema used as the blueprint for an entire expanded universe.
1. Nothing's there but sand and people whining about sand.
2. Everyone wants to leave.
There's only six Star Wars films in the world at the time I'm writing this (and man that's going to seem hilarious a few years from now), and five of them spend time on Tatooine. The only one that doesn't? Empire Strikes Back, considered by many to be the best of the whole series.
The other pilots inform me that the right hand path is for heroic hotshots and the left path is for cowards and folks who are crap, which is a bit of a problem for me as I'm struggling to get the thing to pull to the left without throwing it full force into the canyon wall. Then I overcompensate just a little bit late and slam it into the opposite wall as well.
Okay, I think this is the part where I restart and figure out where I put my joystick.
SOME CALIBRATION LATER.
One feature I didn't really notice at first is that I have regenerating health. It sure takes a while, but I can recover from early mistakes if I have a good run, which is smart game design in my opinion.
Now I'm flying from top view, trying bull's eye
I was expecting the game to have FMV characters, but it doesn't really (besides some clips taken from the movies). There's plenty of voice acting though, and the game's by LucasArts so you can probably guess that it sounds fantastic for 1993. Well the acting does anyway, the actual sound quality is terrible. All your favourite tunes from the movies, in glorious low bitrate mono, over and over and over again.
This stage is all about making the tough choices: do I keep firing at ice asteroids a little longer, or do I swerve hard to avoid the rock asteroid coming dangerously close? Getting hit by ice asteroid I failed to shoot down is going to hurt just as bad and it's hard to tell which of them are heading directly at me while they're at a distance.
The 3DO loves games like this, so it's not a big shock that it runs as fast as the PC version and is very nearly as pretty. I mean relatively speaking. The game only really uses four directions and a fire button so both consoles are overqualified when it comes to controllers.
This is Commander Ru Murleen, performed by 'herself' according to IMDb. I don't remember any of these other characters making a reappearance in Rebel Assault 2, but I'm pretty sure she returns as a major character (and probably has a whole comic series and action figure or something as well).
I'm not sure why there's so much delay on my controls, but I've started trying to play as if I were controlling Ru's fighter instead: making moves a half-second earlier than I should. It's been working pretty well right up to the point where I inevitably hit something and start pinballing from rock to rock trying to get back on track.
Thankfully I don't always have to replay the asteroid stage if I fail here, but if I run out of lives I get kicked back to the title screen, and man that gets old fast. There's no continues or saves, but there are passwords and I'm a little annoyed that the game hasn't been giving me any yet because I'm getting sick of replaying the same four stages over and over. On easy mode.
So what I'm going to do here, is I'm going to put a cheat code in, give myself invulnerability, then I'm going to play like this just long enough for it to give me a password. Then I'll restart without cheats in the hope that we can continue in a more civilized manner.
Still, I've got myself a password for once, and now I can quit out and continue playing it properly.
Incidentally, the 3DO and Sega CD versions are more generous with the passwords; not that I ended up needing to use them as I made it through the training stages with barely a scratch. At this point I'm starting to think that DOSBox either hates Rebel Assault or my joystick, or both.
It's fine though, as this Imperial Officer has dropped by his cyber egg throne chamber to give him updates. It's a bit of a mismatch of styles to have live action Vader in the same game as the illustrated Rebels, but it kind of works as long as they don't show anyone's face.
Actually, now that I think about it, that doesn't happen in Star Wars at all! But it's gonna happen here.
TIE Fighter and they're marked as targets, so I'm gonna wreck them with my lasers.
|(Sega Mega CD)|
The Sega CD version pictured above embraces the arcade feel a bit more by flashing up points for every gun I blow up. Though it's also confiscated all my cockpit LEDs and I'm not sure it's worth the trade off.
It's hard to tell because of the early 90s CD quality video, but I believe that's actually footage of a physical Star Destroyer model we're flying past right now, and if that's true then I feel sorry for the people who had to map all the little guns onto it. They did well though.
But with Darth Vader's Star Destroyer destroyed... or damaged at least, I finally get to go to some other planet in the universe and do something else!
Now that the Imperials are moving against us in force I suppose we're just going to have to leave Tatooine forever. At least I hope so, as it'd give me a good point to quit playing.
It's pretty similar in gameplay now that I think about it to Nintendo's flashy space-themed rail shooter Star Fox, which came out earlier the same year, but this is a pretty dull experience by comparison. Star Fox has attack waves flying onto the screen, robots walking off with buildings, rabbits telling you to do a barrel roll, and flashing weak points all over the place. Rebel Assault on the other hand has the Star Wars license and... CD quality visuals. Oh, and a crosshair, I definitely appreciated the crosshair.
It's rare that I'd ever tell someone not to play a game, but I will say that you shouldn't get your hopes up about this one as it'll just let you down. I can't even recommend watching it on youtube as even though you're basically steering a sprite over video clips, there's not much of a story being told here and most of what's there seems to be a retelling of Star Wars except with you in the hero chair, stealing Luke Skywalker's destiny. Which is a bit of a dick move really.