One of the marquee titles for the launch of the 32X was Star Wars Arcade, a conversion of the Sega coin- op game. Based on the climactic Death Star battle of Episode IV, it set players in the role of Luke Skywalker as he made his classic run to destroy the massive battle station. The game was an ideal choice for showing off the 3D potential of the 32X hardware, giving Genesis owners a true polygonal title that could definitely not have been done on the stock 16-bit console. At a time when most games were two- dimensional and utilized a mostly side- scrolling perspective, a fully-3D game in the Star Wars universe could potentially be the game that sold the system. Star Wars Arcade was popular and new, and the popularity of arcade titles can be a fleeting thing. It was therefore critical that Sega be able to strike while the iron was hot and port the game before it was overshadowed by newer games.

Unfortunately, bringing the arcade experience home wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Pressed for time to assemble a launch library for the 32X, Sega brought the idea of making a home version of Star Wars Arcade to Sega Interactive Development Division (SIDD) in May 1994. It was clear there was a small window of opportunity, so a port would be consid- ered only if SIDD could do it in four months. If it couldn’t, then the idea would be scrapped. Technical Director Christopher Warner, who created the 32X version’s polygon engine, viewed the challenge as an opportunity. He enjoyed developing game engines for new hardware, and he had experience doing so for the Genesis. He had already created an engine on the Genesis, and after reviewing the initial specifications of the 32X, he felt that a port of Star Wars Arcade was possible on such a tight schedule. He pitched the idea to Rod Nakamoto, who accepted only if Warner would write all the 32X code himself. Warner accepted.

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Ken Horowitz Ken Horowitz (8 Posts)

Dr. Kenneth Horowitz is an English professor who has taught research and writing for 20 years. He has been writing about video games for well over a decade and is the author of Playing at the Next Level: A History of American Sega Games by McFarland & Co, which chronicles Sega of America’s game development history. His work has also been featured in numerous video game publications like GamesTM and Hardcore Gamer Magazine and several enthusiast websites (GotNext, The Next Level). Ken has also published academic articles about using video games to teach English as a second language in professional publications that include Language Magazine and the Hispanic Educational Technology Services Journal. His next book, The Sega Arcade Revolution, will be published in 2018 by McFarland.