By: Mike “The Birdman” Dodd
Edited by: Cameron Allan
With another May the 4th concluded, we’ve been reminded of how Star Wars has become the new modern myth, cementing its place as a pop cultural and video game historical phenomenon. The Star Wars experience began for many of us when we first experienced the VHS at home. For others, it began with a controller, some simple graphics and neat sound effects.
Some of the games that most can recall are the Atari 2600 games based on The Empire Strikes Back film, and the port of the arcade game, which had you piloting an X wing against the first Death Star in “A new hope.”
Tons of games followed, with each allowing us to do many things like race Pods across the sands of Tatooine, or fly speeder bikes across Endor, or even have a lightsaber battle against the Dark lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader.
There have been many Star Wars video games spanning from arcades to home consoles and PC’s, and with the promise of an upcoming theme park attraction from Disney, Star Wars hype has reached its very pinnacle.
With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at a few of the classic Star Wars games that are certainly worth your time and money and can be hunted down with little to no effort. I will try and mention several that find themselves severely underrated so NO Knights of the Old Republic or anything that immediately comes to mind. We’re going to have you search your feelings and feel the force for these classics. Will these games aid you in your quest to become a powerful Jedi, or will they encourage you to give into the corrupting powers of the dark side?
Super Star Wars series (SNES)
A lot of people in my age range will be beyond familiar with these games and rightfully so. They were a fantastic and challenging experience back in the days of cartridge based fun. The SNES series of games would span the original trilogy, and emerge as one of the best movie adapted games of their time. It marked the beginning of the first games to really breathe life into the Star Wars universe in an action packed way.
The games would take advantage of the best graphics of the time, such as mode 7 graphics, which would allow for scaling and other motion based effects. Playing as Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and Han Solo, you were thrown into battle with all sorts of creatures from Jawas to giant imperial droids in the Death star.
The games would draw upon familiar elements from the Star Wars universe, but also used material from the expanded universe as well.
One of the things that made this trio of games particularly successful was the amazing challenge that each game presented. The challenging engagements from huge bosses that filled every inch of the screen with wampas, to duels with Darth Vader, still remain tough and hard to beat to this very day. Memorable levels and engaging vehicle sections make these some of the best licensed games that would appear on the SNES during it’s lifespan. They are absolutely worth your time to track down either on the SNES, Wii virtual console or even on the next generation of consoles on PS4.
Star Wars: Republic Commando (Xbox / PC)
Imagine a game where you have the tactical gameplay of Rainbow six, except with thermal detonators and DC 17 blaster rifles, that’s Republic commando. Republic Commando sees you take control of an elite squad of four clones at the battle of Geonosis and follows them through to Kashykk in order to capture the Jedi killing droid, General Grievous.
The game made use of squad based commanding features with various Tom Clancy-esque orders, but with Star Wars flair. It was an amazingly good FPS game for console, and it was decent at best on PC as well. The game helped expand upon the Clone wars era in the canonical Star Wars universe and give a little more heart and depth to our favorite Mandolorian clone brothers. You were equipped with specialists in hacking, demolition and sniping and having them obey you as “RC-1138” or “Boss” was something that gave the game a more hardened military feel in comparison to traditional Jedi action adventures.
The game was certainly a risk taken in the right direction, exploring a side of the universe that largely went overlooked. Without Dark Forces, we didn’t have any Jedi or named characters from the canon, notwithstanding a few bad guys like Poggle the lesser, but to everyone’s disbelief, the game actually worked. There was even a tie in novel series, which provided more character background and backstory. Wars are fought and won by the soldiers on the front line, and Republic Commando gave us an insight into these unsung heroes of the war effort.
Star Wars Episode I: Racer
Yes, you read that right; something good actually came out of episode one besides Darth Maul and his badass double bladed light saber. Star Wars Episode I: Racer was a racing game that expanded upon a single pod racing scene from the Phantom Menace with Anakin Skywalker.
Imagine literally riding a super powerful jet engine with basically a set strapped to it and going at speeds well over 600 km/h without having your skin blasted off. This Episode 1 racer for the Nintendo 64 and Windows was such a fun experience to be had. There was an arcade version of the same game, but let me tell you from personal experience, its hard to have an arcade cabinet in your house. I’d recommend a home version instead if possible.
You would have a variety of pod racers and pods to choose from with a variety of customization options available. Not only do you improve your pod, but you also get new pit droids and unlock new racers. It made a cool scene in a lackluster movie a little bit more exciting when you got to actually play it for yourself.
You could play as characters like Ben Quadinaros, ducking and weaving at incredible speeds across alien worlds, and have it be just as fast as anything you’d experience in a game like say F-Zero or Wipeout. Hyper, tight turns and boosting past someone on the inside of one, is just one of those great moments you’ll experience in this game, and its totally worth it too if you can get someone to dig out an N64 controller and play with you.
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron series (n64 to Gamecube)
It’s time to set aside the lightsabers. Forget all that Jedi nonsense for a bit and strap into the cockpit of an X wing fighter where you can take it to the Empire one proton torpedo at a time. The Nintendo 64 was of those consoles we all had in our dorm rooms in college for endless nights of Goldeneye or Mario Kart contests, but there were some fantastic Star Wars games for that system. The forefather, and the one that began the legacy of N64 star wars games, was the Rogue Squadron series.
Rogue Squadron saw you complete a series of missions across the whole of the galactic battleground that is the Star Wars universe in a variety of different vehicles. Some of the missions would feature the familiar X Wing and A wings but others may see you take on some exotic speeders like the V wing or the iconic Snowspeeder. The game would also take you to locations that were only briefly mentioned in the movies such as Sullust or Mon Calamari.
The series would continue on the later Nintendo consoles with the Gamecube and would once again blend dogfighting with stellar visuals for the consoles era. Wedge Antilles and Luke Skywalker would lead missions ranging from defending the Rebel convoy from Yavin 4, to the new base on Hoth, to various plights against the Imperial war machine, leading up to the series climatic battles against the Death Star. Fast paced combat and tight flight controls made these games something to behold for console gamers since we did not receive ports of the fantastic PC games X Wing or TIE Fighter.
Flying through TIES as the Millennium Falcon or even ships like the Naboo Starfighter or weirdly enough as a flying car too, were quite enjoyable. Very few experiences can match up to the thrill of lining up the perfect shot with your cannons, and watching the bad guys vaporize as you whip through the debris field that used to be them a moment ago.
You’re all clear kid! Now let’s blow this thing and go home!
Kinect Star Wars
Yes, we went there…a Kinect Star Wars game, and is it stupid? Well to put it lightly, it might be more enjoyable to let Chewbacca tear off your arm or perhaps clean Jabba’s throne room with nothing but your tongue.
This was when Microsoft wanted you to believe that Kinect was the future of motion gaming, when in reality, we just wanted to maybe swing a light saber around and have it be actually cool like that SEGA Star Wars Arcade experience. What we got though was…less then stellar.
So what was Kinect Star Wars? It was a series of mini games set in the Star Wars universe, and the idea was actually promising with light saber duels, pod racing and even a chance to be a Rancor but then…dancing.
Yes, most people unfortunately more so remember the infamous “Galactic dance off” songs then anything. Most of the songs are actually poppy 90’s covers with some Star Wars lingo thrown in…yes, you read that right, so you get Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera classics like Stronger and Genie in a bottle and more.
You also haven’t lived until you’ve seen the Emperor Boba Fett and Darth Vader in a dance off.
However we’ll leave you with this. Just try and tell me that if isn’t catchy as Hell on some level
Seriously, can we get a Kickstarter up to get Harrison Ford to actually do this?