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STAR WARS: YODA STORIES

It's time for a Star Wars adventure break!

Grab your lightsaber and get ready for terrific Star Wars adventuring in Yoda Stories, the newest in a series of easy-to-play Desktop Adventures from LucasArts. Join Luke Skywalker as he trains to become a Jedi with Yoda, then harness the Force and cross the galaxy to meet exotic aliens, collect strange devices and weapons and deal the Galactic Empire one crippling blow after another - all within an hour!

About LucasArts' Desktop Adventures...

Yoda Stories and Indiana Jones and his Desktop Adventures, make adventure gaming fun and easy. Innovative world-generator technology means you'll never get the same game twice. And with each game averaging under an hour, there's always time for a Desktop Adventure break!
  • Easy to load, easy to play!
  • Games average under an hour!
  • Infinitely replayable (goodbye Solitaire!)
  • Convenient On-Line Manual
~ from the back of the box

When LucasFilm decided to re-release the Star Wars trilogy as Special Editions in 1997, there was a glut of promotional tie-ins everywhere. You couldn't walk into any supermarket, toy shop or games store without seeing lightsabre-wielding robed monks or alphabet-shaped space ships. Designed by the legendary Hal Barwood, Yoda Stories came out smack bang in the middle of this boom but unlike many other Star Wars-themed multimedia, this one failed to make much of a long-lasting impact, killing the "Desktop Adventures" line after only two instalments.

Part of that failure may be down to its core concept. Like Indiana Jones and his Desktop Adventures before it, Yoda Stories isn't supposed to compete with the Jedi Knights, the X-Wings or the TIE Fighters. It was supposed to compete with that Solitaire game that came with every version of Windows. It was a lunch-break time-waster with a small technical footprint but ultimately, it sits in a no-man's-land between the two gaming extremes; neither simple enough for Solitaire-nuts, complex enough for X-Wing enthusiasts nor exciting enough for Jedi Knight junkies.

The landing port in each location has a shot to buy items with junk, or a medical bay to heal (left).
You can jump between the Dagobah swamp and the landing port using the X-Wing (right).

I would argue, however, that this placeless oddity has some merit to it, and LucasArts must've thought so too by providing a truncated port to the GameBoy Color two years later (though there, it had to compete with Zelda and Pokémon... Ouch!). I'd say that with the rise in casual gaming, time has been kind to Yoda Stories. The quick nature of the game means you are into the action almost straight away, and with little consequence to failure, you can explore and experiment as you wish. Each time you play, the stages are randomly generated. As Luke Skywalker, you will begin on Dagobah where R2D2 will join your inventory as a help guide and Yoda himself will issue you a mission. Hop into your X-Wing and head on over to your designated planet, be it the ice worlds of Hoth, the desert planet of Tattooine or the forest moon of Endor.

Regardless of your mission, each game plays roughly the same, regardless of its objective. Search the land to get the Locator digital map, then kill all the bad guys, pick up all items not nailed down and use them in their respective places. Doing this will allow you to rescue that hostage, destroy that base or find that lost artefact. Yoda Stories adds a bit of complexity over the previous year's Indiana Jones entry. The puzzles are a little more involved while dialogue and story elements are much more prominent. It's not the biggest of upgrades - barely noticeable even - but even if you cannot pinpoint it, you can feel an upgrade in there somewhere.

You find the Locator in a randomly accessible place near the beginning of each game (left).
It gives you a useful map of the area detailing unfinished tasks in each (right).

That being said, what I wanted to be improved hasn't been. Sprite work is laughably bad, with the cute chibi representations of Star Wars characters moving one square at a time with little animation. Because of this, fighting enemies is more annoying than it should be. They move erratically being impossible to predict and with a much better understanding of their attack abilities than you do. Once defeated, the do often drop weapons such as blasters or thermal detonators, so there is a risk and reward element, but unless they're really in my way, I just ran past them most of the time.

You do get a generous amount of health as represented by the bottom right circle on the game window. Slices will chip away at it upon every hit until it turns from green to yellow to red. To the left of this is your currently equipped weapon and its ammo. You equip a weapon, just drag and drop its icon from the inventory and you're good to go. Simply tap the right mouse button to attack with it.

You can alter the combat difficulty and size of each new game's world.
The smaller the size, the shorter the game.

As you can probably gather, the game is played entirely with the mouse (though there keyboard alternatives for movement). Holding the left mouse button will guide Luke to its pointer, though he will stop if any obstacle gets in his way. The screen will scroll, but only a quarter of the 40x40 grid is seen at any one time. Some of the edges do lead to another area, as indicated by the green arrows lit up on to the left of the equipped weapon, but some may be blocked requiring an item to open up. This is where the puzzling mostly comes in, but you'll also get a few block-pushing puzzles, lock doors and peeks into presently unreachable areas. Once you have the Locator, a full overview of the map will be available to you, telling you of locations you've visited and if there's anything left to do in them.

Even with Hal Barwood's insistence that Yoda Stories is a casual game, I can't quite shake aside my wish for it to be more. Remove the MicroSoft Entertainment Pack vibe, polish the graphics and controls, make it run in fullscreen and not a tiny 525x360 window and up the Zelda-esque puzzles and you'll have a game far more in my wheelhouse. As it currently stands, Yoda Stories is not quite a waste of time, but what it is, is a decent enough time waster.
 

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber runs natively on Windows. The game runs natively under Windows with compatibility options applied when launching via the batch file. It changes the desktop resolution to 640s480 while playing for better visibility. Manual and converted Help file included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 6.44 Mb.  Install Size: 11.7 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download


Star Wars: Yoda Stories is © LucasArts
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me


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7 comments:

  1. Finally! I've been wanting to play this for years. Thank you.

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    1. You're welcome. I did go round in circles wondering how to re-pack it. It plays natively, but the window size is fixed and won't scale for higher resolutions. I did think about using a virtual Windows 95 using DOSBox or PCEm which runs well, is perhaps visually cleaner but increases the size a massive ammount. In the end, I stuck to native with a batch file forcing it to run in a 640x480 resolution.

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  2. Best Christmas present this year so far! Thank you so much!

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  3. Dare we call this the first of the roguelites? The procedural generation was kind of mind-blowing to my kid self, I thought I'd be able to play it for literally ever.. of course after a week or so the formula grew tiresome. But quite a fun little casual experience, for the first few runs at least.

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  4. My friend, I was just going through my once-every-5-years craving for this game. This is a godsend and you are awesome for doing this. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete