Gameplay The Phantom Menace
is notable for its nearly top-down third-person perspective. This means that viewing distance is somewhat limited, although a cheat code will adjust the camera directly over the shoulder, allowing a more appropriate player view.
The gameplay is a mix of shooting action, puzzle solving and fetch quests. Full character speech is present along with a dialogue tree. John Williams' score for Episode I is also put to use, as specific locations correspond to the music heard in the film. The player controls one of four characters, depending on the selected stage. The Jedi Obi-wan
are joined by Padmé
and Captain Panaka of Naboo
in the character roster.
Force abilities for the Jedi are rather limited compared to later games, but make use of mind control during certain character dialogues. These special replies are highlighted purple instead of the standard yellow text. Padmé and Panaka lack the Jedi's ability to double jump, yet have access to a larger array of blasters. The game features two lightsaber battles against the Sith Lord Darth Maul
in similar fashion to the film. Darth Maul taps the Dark Side of the Force to attack with lightning in addition to being able to Force push and double jump.
The pivotal pod-racing sequence is experienced only through an in-game cut scene, as Lucasarts
did not want to interfere with Episode I: Racer.
Jabba the Hutt plays an extended role in the game, and Wookiees make an appearance in the Tatooine
Ahmed Best and Andrew Secombe reprise their roles as Jar Jar Binks and Watto, respectively. Jake Lloyd also plays Anakin Skywalker, as he did in the film. During play testing, Lucasarts created the limit of cheat activations in response Jake's continuous cheating while playing. The remaining cast members are replaced from their film counterparts, leaving the playable characters' voices to sound-a-likes.
Differences from the film
The Phantom Menace
film focused more on political maneuvers and sociological issues than the original trilogy, creating a need for the game to fill in gaps of action from the film. During the Coruscant scenes in the film, the Queen of Naboo visits the Galactic Senate without incident. In the game, however the Queen is ambushed by smugglers, causing Captain Panaka to jump into action and escort the Queen through the dangerous underworld of the city planet.
A similar situation occurs earlier in the game, when Obi-wan must also escort the Queen through the streets of Naboo, under the attack of the Federation Battle droids. In the film, however, no such sequence occurs, and the Queen leaves the planet with the Jedi swiftly. Obi-wan must also explore the depths of Otoh Gunga in search of a jailed Jar Jar Binks, an event which also does not take place in the film.
Qui-gon is prevented from entering the podrace stadium when he is unable to produce a ticket for the races. He is presented with an option to entertain Jabba the Hutt by battling a vicious beast that his protocol droid refers to as "his champion".
In return, he receives a podrace ticket, and the player is able to explore the arena area, and interact with various alien species. The Jedis are also often separated in their playable stages, which is another departure from the film, as the master and padawan fight side by side nearly the whole film.