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Editorials

Star Wars Video Games: Memories On The 4th

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

We’ve seen so many video games come out based on movie franchises before, and a lot of them failed miserably. Lucky for us, however, Star Wars grew beyond just a simple movie franchise. The original trilogy of films created some of the most profitable movies ever seen, gave us the voice of the Joker and the whip-cracking Indiana Jones, and created one of the most gargantuan amounts of Expanded Universe material even seen, including some really great and influential video games. I wish that I could talk about all of them, but we’d be here forever then. It’s safe to say that everyone remembers the Battlefront games after the recent reveal, but let’s not forget the others. There’s a lot of Star Wars video games that really stand out, not only for their stories but the landmarks each game set.


SUPER STAR WARS

Why am I not mentioning the original game? Cause this one is SUPER! Obviously. Super Star Wars was the debut Star Wars game on the Super Nintendo, liberally telling the story of the first movie through lots of platforming and run-and-gun gameplay. We got to play as not only our favorite Jedi, but also as Han and Chewie, and the game featured vehicle-based levels as well. We got the Super Sequels as well, which stepped up their game with added characters, expanded level deviations (like Luke battling through the second Death Star in Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi), and force powers. Everyone loves force powers!

Look at those super fancy graphics!

Look at those super fancy graphics!

 

STAR WARS: X-WING

You know, maybe we don’t need your hokey religions and ancient weapons. We have blasters. The X-Wing games taught us a very important lesson about Star Wars video games: we don’t need to play as the characters from the movies to have a good time. X-Wing and its later sequels put players in a space simulator in one of their favorite worlds, managing force fields and allies and trying desperately not to make a mistake that would cost them the mission. It’s a series I’ve only seen played on Twitch, but it has always looked to be a stellar product. Of course, my time in an X-Wing was with a different series…but we’ll get to that.

 

SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE

Star Wars 2

Dash’s Outrider, which he claims is faster than the Falcon.

This was the first real Star Wars video game I played, so the rose-tinted glasses may be on, but it was a really neat concept. Shadows of the Empire was part of this awesome multimedia event with books, toys, comics, and this game, showing the events that took place between episodes V and VI. In the game you played as Dash Rendar (an expy for the out-of-commission Han Solo) in a 4 chapter narrative as a third-person shooter with some vehicular interludes. The controls weren’t the best, but exploring these semi-familiar characters and scenarios from a fresh perspective made for an intriguing experience. Be in the Battle of Hoth that Dash was drawn into on Solo’s request, hunting bounty hunters, searching for the plans for the second Death Star, or taking on the underworld’s fearsome Prince Xixor, Dash Rengar and the Outrider made for one hell of fun game. Just remember that the Disruptor will definitely kill you if you’re too close. I may have to go play this again.

 

JEDI KNIGHT

Whoaaa, lightning is not a blue-saber thing! Bad Kyle!

Whoaaa, lightning is not a blue-saber thing! Bad Kyle!

Despite the series beginning with a game that doesn’t have “Jedi Knight” in the title anywhere, this was the series that gave us Kyle Katarn. The Jedi Knight series’s biggest claim to fame could probably be how the character of Katarn was handled and evolved over the course of so many games. While Star Wars: Dark Forces, the first game in the series, portrayed Katarn as a mercenary working for the alliance, his later development into a Jedi, temptation by the dark side, and reaffirmation of his beliefs in himself and the force is a marvelous narrative that every Star Wars fan should play through. The series performed as a first person shooter with later third-person elements (easier for lightsaber duels), and the use of light or dark force powers gave an RPG element to Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II with a light or dark side ending. Give it a whirl.

ROGUE SQUADRON

Hell with simulator combat, I just want to fly around and shoot/bomb everything! Okay, so Rogue Squadron had a bit more to it than that. If X-Wing was more of a simulator style of combat, then Rogue Squadron is the Ace Combat variety of combat. Rogue Squadron took Luke Skywalker and gave him his wings back, as his piloting skills seemed less important after Hoth in the movies. With multiple spacecraft to pilot, as well as a flying black buick, players could take part in a multiple battles with the iconic Star Wars ships across a wide variety of environments. Utilizing the N64’s expansion pack for better graphics, the game also was visually impressive for its time. While Rogue Squadron had its own storyline, the game also allowed players to relive the iconic moments of the Death Star trench run and the always famous Battle of Hoth, as well as giving players a glimpse into the Expanded Universe with Wedge Antilles flying the new V-Wing at the Battle of Calamari. The game was successful enough to gain two sequels and another spiritual sequel, and showed that for all the power of Jedi and Sith, there’s still plenty of conflict going on without the Force.

KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC

And lo, then BioWare descended with Knights of the Old Republic, and the fans were mostly pleased. To be completely honest, I’ve never been able to get through this game; I found it too slow for my taste, despite normally loving RPGs. However, my opinion is only one against the overwhelming tide of support for the game bringing even more “long ago” into the Star Wars universe. Knights of the Old Republic took players way into the past for a galaxy spanning RPG that still gets rave reviews today. The game plays similar to the Neverwinter Nights games, including the D&D style of stats and character customization, and brings in some of the most enjoyable characters in the former Expanded Universe, like sarcastic assassin droid HK-47. I can’t really go enough into how successful this game was, spawning both a sequel RPG and a currently free-to-play MMORPG in The Old Republic (however, if you want to take your hood off, that’s five dollars), and finally giving an environment where the Force flowed freely, the Sith were an open threat, and everyone was on even footing as they explored this crazy new era.

THE FORCE UNLEASHED

Love it or hate it, The Force Unleashed was a massive undertaking for Star Wars. Much like Shadows of the Empire, it was part of a multimedia project depicting the events between movies, and with the cast and impressive graphics you could sometimes forget that it was just a game. The Force Unleashed finally gave every player the opportunity to  play a powerful Force user who wasn’t going to play by the rules of the Jedi. Whether it was picking up groups of enemy soldiers and  breaking their bodies against a wall, electrifying a TIE fighter and making it your projectile, or lightsaber duels against Jedi and Sith, it was something absolutely fun to play, including a single level as the man-in-black himself for your first playthrough. However, critics of the game disliked the main character’s outlandishly powerful abilities and being present for moments like the founding of the Rebel Alliance. The disappointing sequel and subsequent cliffhanger, which [SPOILER ALERT] left us with an absurdly Force-powerful, woman-obsessed clone that managed to kidnap Darth Vader [SPOILERS OVER] took what was a very interesting property and left us all with mixed feelings and unanswered questions. However, the gameplay was amazing if you were looking to just cut loose and be the ultimate Star Wars warrior for a few hours.

Okay, so yeah. That's impressive.

Okay, so yeah. That’s impressive.


Star Wars, man. There’s so many things with it, and we gamers got quite a good haul. I have barely scratched the surface, as Wikipedia will note. I’m sure everyone has a favorite game though, and the Armed Gamer would love to hear about it in the comments below. It could even be some Kinect dancing…

We don’t judge. Happy 4th, everyone, and of course, may the Force be with you.

About David A. Reeves

David is a 25 year old graduate with a BA in English, and he's wondering how all of this adult stuff crept up on him. He has a large love of Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy, a lack of budget sense during Steam sales, and is involved in an abusive relationship with the MMO genre. Outside of gaming, David can be found reading books with swords and magic, suffering from writer's block on that story he said he'd write, enjoying a hookah or a beer with friends, and trying not to say anything inappropriate despite the overwhelming urge. He's an odd fellow.

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