May the Fourth be with you.
It’s going to be a huge year for Star Wars fans. The Force Awakens trailer already has fans planning their cosplay camp outs in December and there’s content dropping in every type of medium from spin off movies, comic books and yes, more Star Wars games. That trailer for new Battlefront is looking mighty sexy, isn’t it?
But before we hold our collective breaths in anticipation, hoping so dearly that the new movie and latest EA/DICE title are actually as good as their trailers, on this annual day of Star Wars geekery we take a look back at some of the classic video games in the beloved sci-fi franchise.
5. Super Star Wars (SNES, 1992)
Many will tout X-Wing as the first great Star Wars video game, but back in in the early ’90s, run and gun platformers were all the rage on 16-Bit platforms. Super Star Wars and its inevitable follow ups of Super Empire Strikes Back and Super Return of the Jedi didn’t really break any new ground – they were just really fun shoot ’em ups set in the Star Wars universe. Cutscenes had a few lines from the movie scripts, but the developers took creative liberties and let you blast Jawas inside the sandcrawler to save C-3PO and R2D2, rather than simply buying the escaped droids from the hooded creatures. Heedeep!
4. TIE Fighter (PC, 1994)
One of the first true space simulators I ever played, TIE Fighter polished the X-Wing formula with better graphics, an enhanced control scheme and a multi-layered narrative. Riding shotgun with Darth Vader himself made it all the more awesome, but the greatest thing about TIE fighter was that it was the first game to mythologise the Empire as the good guys. Bringers of peace, fighters against a band of violent, lawless terrorists. That’s the Empire you come to know and love throughout a deep and compelling campaign. Oh, and here’s the TIE Fighter recreated as an anime.
3. Star Wars: Dark Forces (PC, 1995)
While it may look like Star Wars pasted into a Doom engine, Dark Forces actually had an engine designed specially for itself (aptly named the Jedi game engine) which allowed level designs with multiple floors and the ability to look up and down. There was no Force mechanics in Dark Forces, just lots of good ol’ fashioned blasters at your side. Levels also had many utility items to find such as ice cleats to increase traction on frozen surfaces and air masks to get you through areas with toxic gases. Your mission was to infiltrate Empire base, save defector Crix Madine from a traitor’s execution and put a stop to the production of the dreaded Dark Trooper. A gritty and exciting Star Wars FPS.
2. Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox, 2003)
How do you creative a Star Wars universe that let’s you write your own story? Simple. Set the universe thousands of years before all the other interfering lore of the Star Wars Holocron. This was the quintessential Star Wars RPG, based on traditional D20 rules from the Third Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. It was also when BioWare came into its own, paving the way for such epic space adventures like Mass Effect. Light or dark depending on your actions in the universe? The choice is yours.
1. Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast (PC, 2002)
Jedi Knight 2 was the first Star Wars action game that actually made light saber duels feel like real light saber duels (or at least what I imagine them to be). With the powerful Quake III engine, JK2 was my favourite of Kyle Katarn’s adventures, mixing in blaster fire with three styles of light saber combat for mowing down enemies. Dueling with force-adept mini bosses was one of the most Star Wars-feeling moments I had in any video game. Letting loose in multiplayer was just craziness. One for the ages.
Happy May the 4th, everyone.