Star Wars Game Developer Reveals Why Darth Vader Turned Into a Scorpion

When it comes to Star Wars video games, Lucasfilm works closely with developers to make sure that the finished product is faithful to the license. While that's true now, it was not always the case! In 1987, Namco released a Star Wars video game for the Japanese Famicom that was... strange to say the least. The game greatly differed from its source material, most notably in its depiction of Darth Vader. Players encounter the villain multiple times in the game, and the boss fights see Vader transform into a scorpion, a shark, a pterodactyl, and a Wampa! 

Over the decades, the game has become infamous for these deviations to the source material, and an interview conducted with Yoshihiro Kishimoto gets to the bottom of how that happened. Speaking with by Time Extension's John Szczepaniak, Kishimoto reveals that the limitations of the Famicom hardware forced the team to get creative.

"When I was first told to work on Star Wars as programmer, my reaction was, 'What am I going to do? How can that be done?' Because it was just not possible," said Kishimoto. "[Shinichirou] Okamoto was the planner, and three years my senior, but I remember thinking I was at a loss. There was nothing else that could be done, so we came up with this idea of Darth Vader turning into a scorpion. Looking back, it's a mystery why the licensor allowed us to get away with that!"

Of course, a lot has changed since those days! Games like Star Wars Jedi: Fall Order are not only faithful to the source material, they actually have a direct impact on Star Wars continuity. Things were a lot different four years after the release of Return of the Jedi, and developers had to be a lot more creative with the hardware available to them. Namco's Star Wars game remained exclusive to Japan, and a different Star Wars game was released by JVC on the NES in 1991. Despite this, Namco's game has become something of a legend because of its unique nature. Maybe one of these days the game will get an official release in North America!

Have you ever played Namco's Star Wars game? Are you surprised Lucasfilm allowed the game to release? Let us know in the comments or share directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!