While the first of the Star Wars prequels might not have pleased everyone, back in 1999 it was big news at the box office and the Lucasfilm marketing machine was working in overdrive. The now sadly disbanded LucasArts software house produced and licensed several games based on elements or characters from the movie, including the official Phantom Menace video game for PC and consoles. It may not be the most critically acclaimed Star Wars game ever released, but this movie tie-in holds plenty of happy memories for those gamers who played it first time around. Time certainly hasn’t been kind to the game and its dated graphics and gameplay are unlikely to win it any new fans. Nevertheless, with new movies in the making, many nostalgic gamers will be dusting off their old copies and filling the boots of Obi-Wan Kenobi and his friends and allies again.
The Phantom Menace should install without any issues on 32 bit versions of Windows. Unfortunately, like many older LucasArts games, the game uses a 16 bit installer and is therefore not compatible with 64 bit versions of Windows. To solve this problem, we’ve produced a replacement installer that will allow you to install the game on more modern versions of the operating system. To use the installer, simply download it here (link broken? Let me know here) and then, with the Phantom Menace CD in your computers optical drive, run the installer and follow all the on-screen prompts.
There was only one patch released for the game which fixes issues with some sound cards. We recommend that everyone installs the patch before playing the game. If you have installed the game using our replacement installer, you do not need to install the patch as it is included in with the new installer. To download the patch separately, click here.
With the game installed and patched, you’re now ready to start it. Click on the “Play The Phantom Menace” shortcut on your desktop or Start menu/screen. Before you get started with the game though, there are several options you may wish to reconfigure.
Tweaking visual quality
The years have not been kind to the games graphics, so squeezing every last bit of quality out of the old assets is highly recommended. Start by loading the game and from the main menu, choose “Options” and then “General Options”. On this screen you can set the screen resolution. The highest resolution you can choose here is 1280×1024. Most modern PC monitors should manage this resolution just fine. Later in this section we’ll show you how you can add your own resolutions too.
Once you have set the screen resolution, you should head over to the “Performance Options” menu. On this menu there is a sliding control at the top of the screen that changes the computer rating. Make sure that the “Computer rating” is set to “Superior” by moving this slider all the way to the right. Any reasonably modern computer, even a more modest spec system, should be able to run the game at this setting.
It is also possible to play the game in modern high definition resolutions, such as 1080p or 720p. Remember that these resolutions are widescreen, although the game was released before widescreen monitors were commonplace, it scales surprisingly well to widescreen modes and the graphics do not appear to be stretched or out of proportion. To run the game in a custom resolution, you will need to edit a configuration file within the games folder. If you are unfamiliar with editing configuration files, see this tutorial.
The file we need to edit is called “obi.ini”. It is in the games installation directory at the very top level. Right click on the file and choose “edit” to get started making changes. To change the games screen resolution, find the lines “screen_width” and “screen_height” and edit them accordingly. For 1080p use the following values:-
For 720p use:-
Be sure to save the file when you are done editing it. If you make a mistake while editing this file and the game will no longer start, remember you can always delete it and the game will simply create a new one. You will of course have to reconfigure all of your options again if you do this.
Tweaking sound quality
The Phantom Menace supports DirectSound and EAX as well as several other now obsolete surround sound standards. Due to changes in DirectSound introduced in Windows Vista, most users will be restricted to the “Fast 2D positional audio” option. You can try the Dolby Surround options too, but there’s certainly no guarantee they will work.
On any computer running Windows Vista or later, the DirectSound3D options will not work correctly without additional software. If you have a sound card that supports Creative ALchemy, you can use this software to restore surround sound capabilities to the game. Start by exiting the Phantom Menace game and then starting the ALchemy tool. On the main ALchemy window, click on “Add”. In the window that then appears, enter “Star Wars – The Phantom Menace” as the game name and choose “Use Game Path”. Use the “…” button to browse to the Phantom Menace game folder then click on “OK”. Finally, select “Star Wars – The Phantom Menace” from the left hand side of the ALchemy window and click on “>>” to activate the profile.
With ALchemy configured, start The Phantom Menace again and go to the Options menu and choose “Sound Options”. You should now be able to select “Microsoft DirectSound3D with Creative EAX” and enjoy full surround sound in the game.
The Phantom Menace has limited support for game controllers. Although analogue controllers are recognised and can be configured, they can only be used digitally, that is, you need to hold a button down on your pad in order to run. You can configure controllers by starting the game, going to the Options menu and choosing “Control Options”, and then choosing “Game Controllers”.
If you have Xpadder, we recommend disabling controller support in-game (this can be done in the Control Options” menu) and configuring the controls entirely using Xpadder. Below is the Xpadder profile we created for the game, based on the controls for the Playstation version.
With our Xpadder configuration, the controls are mapped like this:-
|Left stick or D-pad
|RB or fully push left stick (with distance zone configured)
|LB (Hold) + Direction
|Alt (Hold) + Direction
|Right stick left
|Alt + Left
|Right stick right
|Alt + Right
|Confirm menu choice
To run in the game, you hold down shift. If you want your character to run when you push the analogue stick down, you will need to create a distance zone on the left analogue stick. There’s a tutorial on how to do that available here.
COULD NOT INITIALIZE GRAPHICS HARDWARE error – This error generally seems to happen on computers equipped with ATI/AMD graphics cards. Since we don’t have this kind of hardware in our test PC, we’d appreciate it if our readers would test this fix for us. Please download the zip file here (link broken? Let me know here). Once downloaded, copy ALL the files from the zip file to your Phantom Menace game directory, replacing the existing WMAIN.EXE file that’s in there already (you should definitely make a backup copy of the file WMAIN.EXE so you can undo the changes easily if necessary). Now, try running the game again and let us know in the comments if the problem is resolved.
If the fix above doesn’t work, you can also try dgVoodoo2, so long as your PC has a DirectX 11 capable graphics card or chip. Click here for a tutorial on how to install and use dgVoodoo2. When using dgVoodoo2, please use the original WMAIN.exe and not the patched version from the download link above (you did take a backup copy of your original WMAIN.exe didn’t you? If not you may need to reinstall the game).
Game crashes or glitches on startup – If you have problems starting the game, try editing the “Obi.ini” file and choosing a higher screen resolution than the default 640×480. See the instructions above under “Tweaking visual quality” for instructions on how to do this. If you cannot find an Obi.ini file in your games directory, download this one, unzip it and place it in the games folder. This ini file contains the default options for the game, except for screen resolution which has been increased to 800×600.
Problems saving games or settings – Like many older games, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace places its save game files and various configuration files in the same directory that it is installed to. This can cause problems on more modern versions of Windows as programs are not normally permitted to write to the program files directory. To avoid this problem, either install the game to an alternate location (e.g c:\Games\The Phantom Menace) or manually edit the permissions on the “The Phantom Menace” folder. If you used the default installation directory from the original installer, the games folder can be found at “C:\Program Files\LucasArts\The Phantom Menace”. If you used the replacement installer however, the default installation folder is “C:\Games\The Phantom Menace”. A tutorial on how to edit folder permissions can be found here.