Star Wars Episode I: Racer
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Star Wars Episode I may divide the opinion of Star Wars fans, but the fast and furious pod-racing scenes from the film remain a highlight. Of course, it didn’t take long before LucasArts gave us the chance to try our own hands at pod racing from the comfort of our PCs or games consoles. A long long time ago (well okay, only back in March 2013), we reluctantly told you that Star Wars – Episode 1 Racer didn’t work on modern systems. Now we’re back again with a possible fix for this old game, as well as an updated 64-bit compatible installer. However, Star Wars Racer is a game fraught with strange complications and problems and may not work on all PCs. Our only advice is to try it and cross your fingers!
While Star Wars Episode I: Racer will install without any issues on a 32 bit machine, if you are running the 64 bit version of Windows then the installer will simply not run. There is a replacement installer on the internet but it is rather over complicated to use and in our tests it didn’t work either. Help is at hand however, as we have written our own 64-bit compatible installer. The installer will also copy the fan-made patch, which makes it possible to run the game on (most) modern PCs. You can download the installer here. We have tested the installer on several PCs but of course there could always be bugs. If you have any issues please leave a comment at the bottom of this article and let us know. The installer was updated on the 12th January 2015 with an updated graphics patch (see below).
Running the game
After installation with our new installer, you have two options for starting the game. You can use the “Play Star Wars Racer (Fixed EXE)” link to launch the fan-made patch version or you can use the original executable on its own or in conjunction with DXWnd. Only by trial and error can you find out which method (if any) works best for you.
Episode 1 Racer graphics patch
Thanks to an anonymous contributor (and to Patryckpo in the comments) for bringing this to our attention. The original Star Wars Episode 1 Racer game would not run on most modern PCs at all. The game had corrupt graphics throughout, making it totally unplayable. By using our replacement installer, the fan-made patch is installed automatically, correcting problems with the games graphics. The game should now run on the majority of PCs. Please read the troubleshooting section if you have any issues. 12/01/15 update – We’ve just pushed a significant update to this patch. The patch now uses the updated version of WineD3D as compiled by dosse91. This significantly improved the games start-up time on our PC.
To start the game using this patched version, use the “Play Star Wars Racer (Fixed EXE)” shortcut on your Start menu/screen or desktop. Be patient when starting the game as it can take some time. If the game simply won’t start for you even after you follow all the troubleshooting steps, you can try the DXWnd method detailed below.
Since it was brought to our attention that the original executable file actually works better than the fan-made patch for some people, we’ve changed the installer so that it now installs both versions. If you need to run the original, unpatched version of the game for any reason, use the “Play Star Wars Racer (Original EXE)” shortcut. On a small number of machines, this original un-patched version may work without any additional steps.
Alternative method – DXWnd
Thanks to the community on Vogons.org for bringing this to our attention. This method of launching the game may help some of you that cannot run it using the provided patch. As stated above we have updated the replacement installer so that it now installs two versions of the game, the original version and the fan-made patch. To carry out this procedure please use the original version (SWEP1RCR.EXE) of the game.
Before you get your hopes up too high, we should point out that we have NOT been able to get this technique to work at all. We have tried three different PCs, two with Windows 8 and one with Windows 7 and it did not work on any of them. The game simply crashed as soon as we started it with DXWnd. Nevertheless other users around the internet claim it works for them, so if you are determined to try, here’s how to do it.
Start by downloading DXWnd. You can download DXWnd here. Click on the green “Download” button to get the file. The file is downloaded as a .rar archive. If you don’t have any software that can open this kind of file, we recommend 7-zip. You can download 7-zip here. Tutorials on how to use 7-Zip can be found here.
Once you have downloaded DXWnd, extract all the files from the rar archive to a folder on your PC. Now, run the DXWnd program by clicking on the “dxwnd.exe” file. A small window will open on your desktop. From the available menus, choose File->Import. A file requester window will now appear. Browse to the folder where you installed DXWnd and open the “exports” sub-folder. In this folder there are several files, find the one called “Star Wars Episode 1 Racer” and double click on it.
If you completed the above steps correctly, you should now see “Star Wars Episode 1 Racer” has appeared in the DXWnd window as per the picture below.
You should now right click on “Star Wars Episode 1 Racer” in the DXWnd window and choose “Modify”. A “Target” window will then appear. Make sure the “Main” tab is selected. You need to check that the value entered in the “Path:” box is correct. This needs to point to the SWEP1RCR.EXE file within your Star Wars Racer game directory. If you installed to the default location, the path to the file will be “C:\Games\Star Wars Racer\SWEP1RCR.EXE”. Either manually edit this line or use the “…” button to browse to the correct folder. The screenshot below shows an example of a correctly configured path.
Click on “OK”. You can now start the game by right clicking on the “Star Wars Episode 1 Racer” entry and choosing “Run”. If you are lucky, the game will now start and run without graphical glitches. If you don’t want to run the game in a window, right click on “Star Wars Episode 1 Racer” and choose “Modify” again and this time deselect “Run in Window” on the “Main” tab.
Tweaking visual settings
There are some basic visual settings you can tweak in the game. To do this, start the game and from the title screen, go to Video settings. On a modern PC you can turn on all options. Leave “Lens Flare” off if you are tired of fake lens flare effects (who isn’t these days?). We’ll look at some advanced, hidden settings later in the article.
Star Wars Racer supports modern controllers, though configuring bindings is a bit of a bind in-game. From the games options menu, you can configure controller settings, though you can’t clear bindings and you can only invert the first three axes on your controller (inverting all the axes is required for Xbox 360 controller). If you installed the game using our new installer, it should have been pre-configured for Xbox 360 controller use (hint – pull back on the right stick then click it down to boost). There are several controller settings you can configure by manually editing configuration files too.
Manually editing settings
The in-game settings menu leaves a lot to be desired. True Jedi masters will want to delve into the games configuration files and edit them manually for best results. To access these options, browse to the games installation directory and look for a folder called “Data”. Open this folder and look for a sub-folder called “config”. Inside this folder there should be another sub-folder called current. Inside current are the games configuration files. You can edit these manually. Unfortunately, doing so in the standard Windows notepad tool proved exceptionally difficult since the files formatting became corrupt. We recommend you download and install the Notepad++ tool here. With this tool installed, simply right click on any of the files in this folder and choose “edit with Notepad++”. The files we are most interested in are current_control.map and video.cfg.
By editing the file called “current_control.map” you can change joystick bindings. The easiest way is to edit as many bindings as you can in-game then tweak the file here. To delete a binding simply delete the entire line in the text file.
By editing video.cfg you can enable some hidden graphics settings. For the highest quality video, set the following options in the file.
VIDEO REFLECTIONS=ON VIDEO ZEFFECTS=ON VIDEO DYNAMIC_LIGHTING=ON VIDEO VSYNC=ON VIDEO LENSFLARE=ON VIDEO ENGINEEXHAUST=ON VIDEO TEXTURE_RES=1 VIDEO MODEL_DETAIL=3 VIDEO DRAWDISTANCE=3
If you choose “Enable undocumented graphics enhancements” when using our custom installer, these options will be set for you already. If you find these enhancements don’t work well for you and you want to go back to the default, simply delete the entire video.cfg file. The game will create a new one with the default settings the next time it is started.
Supposedly, it is possible to run Star Wars Racer in widescreen by hacking the executable. However, in our tests this simply did not work. For anyone who wants to try the widescreen hack themselves, the details are available here.
This game is extremely problematic and may require Jedi levels of patience in order to get it working. In testing and configuring we found the following additional issues.
Corrupt videos:- Happens particularly on Windows 8 machines. Sometimes setting compatibility options to run the game in reduced colour mode (16-bit 65535 colour) can help.
Game takes a very long time to start:- This can happen if your game CD is dirty, damaged or the PC is having a hard time reading it. Be patient when starting the game! On some machines it takes several minutes to load.
Game freezes on or before the intro:- Be patient when starting the game! On some machines it takes several minutes to load. If the game locks up before the intro plays, or as the intro is playing, try restarting your PC. Make sure that no other applications are running that could overlay graphics onto the game. Disable as many other programs as possible (instant messengers, web browsers, e-mail programs etc). Add the game to your Windowblinds exclusions and disable/hide Stardock Fences and Stardock Deskscapes if installed. Disable any secondary monitors, if present. The slow startup problem should be significantly improved with the latest version of the Episode 1 Racer graphics patch.
No sound card detected:- Sometimes the game will play audio just fine in the introduction, then fail to play any sound whatsoever in the main game. Going into the audio settings, the game displays a “No sound card detected” message. To solve this problem, you will need to run the game as administrator.
Configuration tool doesn’t start on some PCs:- To set the games screen resolution and various other options, you need to start the games configuration tool (which we called “Configure Star Wars Racer” when using our new installer). However on some machines this tool simply will not launch. We found that the configuration tool would not run at all when we were running Windows 7, but a switch to Windows 8 on the exact same hardware and the tool ran without a problem. On other Windows 7 PCs it ran just fine too. If you cannot start the tool, you can run our installation utility to set the screen resolution.
Configuration tool doesn’t allow screen mode changes:- Instead of being given a list of available screen-modes, the configuration utility just shows an empty list. Use our custom installer to set screen modes instead.
Game defaults to 800×600 or 640×480 resolution:- Possibly related to the above, on some machines the game will not run in any other resolution. Try restarting your PC and then running the game as administrator. You can also try clearing the virtual store section in the registry (a tutorial on how to do this is coming soon).
Problems saving games and configuration files:- Like many old games, Star Wars Racer saves configuration files to the same directory as it is installed to. That means that if you install the game to your program files directory, you may have trouble saving your progress. Either install the game to a different directory (e.g C:\Games) or configure the permissions on the games installation folder to give you read/write access. A tutorial on how to do this can be found here. When using the games configuration tool, run it as administrator to ensure that changes get saved properly.