May the Force Be With You.
On this fourth of May, 2016, the fan-dubbed Star Wars day had me thinking all things Jedi and lightsabers. I’d venture to guess most gamers have likely seen all of the movies and know a think or two about the Force and what have you. The blending of interest between the sci-fi film genre and video games makes a lot of sense, so I’d also guess a lot of gamers who’ve seen the films may have dabbled in a few Star Wars video games as well. When discussing with a coworker today I discovered I’ve actually played a good amount of Star Wars video games! More than I had actually thought, actually! And you probably have too! I started thinking about all the games I’ve played in the Star Wars universe, and decided to reminiscence with you all! Here are my favorite Star Wars video games from decades past!
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (Nintendo 64)
When my eldest brother brought home a Nintendo 64 from work we were lucky enough to have three games right off the bat: Super Mario 64, Killer Instinct Gold, and Shadows of the Empire. While all three would go on to shape my gaming habit immensely it was Shadows of the Empire that opened me up to the awesomeness that is space themed combat. Talk to anyone that played this game and they’ll instantly bring up the opening mission on Hoth. Hell, sometimes I forget there’s an entire other game outside of that level it was so damn good! Even though it had plenty of problems (anyone remember those god awful swoop bike levels?) there was still a huge amount of charm in Dash Rendar’s adventures to help the Rebels! And with the most impeccable timing, the game released today on PC!
Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer (Nintendo 64)
Podracing was a big part of what people disliked about the first movie in the prequel trilogy (among a lot of other things), but damn if it didn’t make a fun racing game on the N64! Episode 1 Racer captured everything the movie failed to about Podracing. It was difficult, dirty, dastardly, and full of death! This isn’t a game for the casual racing fan: if you don’t bring your A-game you’re gonna fail. Worse yet you’re almost set up to lose as the computer AI is relentless when racing against you, and jerks like Sebulba have freaking weapons on their Podracers which you can’t even get until later in the game (the cheat!). With upgradable vehicles, pitstops, and a great variety of levels set in new and familiar Star Wars locations, it’s easy to see why Episode 1 Racer has a much better legacy than the movie that spawned it!
Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi (PlayStation)
Remember when I said we had three games with our N64 and one of them was Shadows of the Empire and another was Killer Instinct Gold? Well my young self thought all fighting games were awesome and found out there was a Star Wars fighting game on the PS1 with full 3D visuals and even lightsabers! While I was overall disappointed by Masters of Teras Kasi as was the entire Star Wars fanbase, there were some redeeming factors. This was the game that let me know there was an entire expanded universe for the Star Wars series by featuring badass characters like Arden Lyn, Mara Jade, and even a freaking Tuskan Raider named Hoar who went on to do some other fun stuff in the EU! Sadly I never read any other novels for the Expanded Universe, but now I knew it existed and saw how even the video games could tie in! And if you were wondering, Masters of Teras Kasi has not aged well!
Star Warped (PC)
My mom brought home this budget PC title from the grocery store one day. It’s a parody game using lots of Star Wars lore, merchandise, and fandom to tell jokes. It’s silly, for sure, but I had a blast with this point-and-click “game”. Two super nerds, Aaron and Brian, discuss all the stuff you click on in humorous fashion. I can still remember some of those quotes:
“Aaron, did you put mouse ears on Darth?”
“Yeah! I thought it would be the ultimate humiliation!”
“*Scoffs* Vader is pure evil. PURE. And now you’ve tainted that!”
The irony of course being Disney now owns the Star Wars franchise! Seriously though, if you find this game on YouTube or anywhere, it’s absolutely worth it for any series fan! Lots of laughs!
Star Wars: Battle for Naboo (Nintendo 64)
Yeah, I played a lot of Star Wars games on the Nintendo 64. Somehow I skipped out on Rogue Squadron, which released years before this one from the same team (the now defunct Factor 5), but I would later get back too. Battle for Naboo takes you through the battles on the land, in the air, and even underwater on the planet of Naboo, the home of Jar Jar Binks and one of the new worlds from the recently released Episode I movie. The controls were good and the combat was fun, but really I’ve just included this game on the list to preface the next one…
Star Wars: Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II (Gamecube)
Oh man, talk about an absolutely amazing launch game! To this day I still call Rogue Leader the best Star Wars game I’ve played! Stunning visuals aside (and they’re still stellar today) this game has a ton of variety! Remember that Hoth level from Shadows of the Empire I talked about earlier? Yeah, they redid that stage here and it’s even better! The game’s opening stage is a brilliant fight on the surface of the Death Star where you get to fly an X-Wing and blow up the base with a well timed photon torpedo. And those are just the first two stages! There’s a fight on Bespin near Cloud City, an epic battle taking down Star Destroyers, and the Battle of Endor to name a few! Perhaps best of all there are spin-off side missions where you get to play as Vader and the Empire and see what happens if they had actually won some of those fights! In short this is, to me, the pinnacle of Star Wars dogfight games, and simply one of the best games in the franchise!
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox)
My middle brother gave me an Xbox late into the life of the original Microsoft console (and really early into the life of the Xbox 360) and the sole reason I was excited to have one was to play Knights of the Old Republic. Arguably the game that made BioWare an RPG juggernaut (sorry, Baldur’s Gate!), KotoR was a masterpiece in gameplay and storytelling. It successfully captured the essence of Star Wars despite being set so far in the series past and having little connections to the characters from the films. The Light Side/Dark Side morale system made each decision feel like it really mattered, and watching your Jedi save or rule the galaxy is an experience any Star Wars gamer needs to have. Also worth nothing, this game set the groundwork for BioWare’s future RPG series, including Dragon Age and, of course, Mass Effect.
Atari Star Wars (Arcade)
Have you seen this gem of an arcade game still floating around in some places? Its dated vector graphics a stark comparison to the bright lights of the Dance Dance Revolution and House of the Dead III machines situated right next to it? The reason it’s still there is because it’s addictive as hell and still amazing to play! While games like Rogue Leader let you pilot a X-Wing, it was Star Wars by Atari that first set you up as the next member of Rogue Squadron! The simplicity of the gameplay, the controller emulating the cockpit of an actual X-Wing, and the screech of TIE Fighters looming in the distance all make this one of the arcade’s all time classics! If I see this machine floating around on my journeys I always pop in a quarter and relive the past!
Star Wars Trilogy Arcade (Arcade)
Taking every battle that made the original trilogy memorable and putting them into one huge arcade cabinet seemed like a dream, but dammit if Sega didn’t do just that! Star Wars Trilogy Arcade combines all kinds of aspects from other games on this list like the battles of Rogue Leader and the on-foot mission of Shadows of the Empire, and even throws in some lightsaber duels for good measure! If you could find the massive sit-down cabinet (and no one was already playing it) you were in for a treat, as the has amazing visuals and sound! While it’s tough, forcing you to cough up the quarters at times, it’s always fun. The best part about this game is that there’s been no home console port: The only way you can experience this amazing game is to go out to an arcade and play it!
Those were my Star Wars gaming memories. I’ve definitely played more games in the franchise as well, including the funny LEGO series of games, as well as the shooters like Battlefront (both old and new) and Republic Commando, but these specific games had a lasting impact on my gaming career. Have you played any of these games? What are your favorite Star Wars video games! Let me know!
May the Force Be With You,