“Luke, I am your father.”
Even if you’ve never seen a moment of the Star Wars movies, you have probably heard this famous line enough to pinpoint its cinematic origin. Let’s face it; Star Wars has transcended the geek culture that carried its popularity for so many years. The cult phenomenon has now engrained itself into normal society and is expanding its fan base at a rapid pace. The most recent proof of this expansion came with the promise of a new trilogy after the bombshell announcement that Disney would purchase Lucasfilm.
Even though its theme parks already allow die-hards to build their own lightsabers, Disney isn’t alone when it comes to “using the force”. Popular shows like Family Guy have garnered main stream reception through its ability to recreate the famous Star Wars stories while mixing in pop cultural references. Other shows are finding amazingly creative ways to exploit the cult following. Recently, the reality show Ink Master is even showcasing tattooing of permanent Star Wars images on fans, after making the artists practice on a bunch of clone troopers first, of course.
Star Wars has also moved into the world of athletics; with fans being able to hear the imperial march at many sporting events. Recently the popular podcast Fantasy Football Focus (06010) adopted the phrase “Fantasy Ackbar” to help people avoid picking up certain players because, “IT’S A TRAP!” There was even a 2001 census in the UK that showed 390,000 people recording their religion as Jedi (although this was most likely due to an unfavorable response to the question even being asked). Don’t forget about Star Wars Day either. May the 4th be with you!
Star Wars is everywhere. The most popular iPhone game in history has even undergone transformation with the recent release of Angry Birds Star Wars. Gaming has been a staple in expanding the Jedi and Sith culture; providing experienced fanatics with new endeavors into geekdom while reaching out to an extremely open and youthful generation. Starting with the 1983 dawning of Star Wars in arcades, there have been a multitude of video game releases that have changed the way the growing phenomena is experienced.
So what games have fans of the great series missed out on? What game could a Star Wars fan like yourself be playing that has magically eluded you during your gaming lifetime? With an arsenal of over 100 games spread throughout arcade, console, and mobile systems, here are 10 of the most entertaining games (in no particular order) that the Star Wars franchise has given fans over the years.
10. Jedi Star Fighter (PS2, Xbox)
When someone says Star Wars, most people immediately think of space in some way. Jedi Star Fighter gives players the perfect opportunity to experience that setting. The game gives fans a way to control a handful of space vehicles. This list includes favorites from the movies such as the X-wing, TIE Fighter, and even Slave I - the ship belonging to the famous bounty hunter Jango Fett. The basic concept is that players will protect friendly ships while destroying enemy ones. Each vehicle differs in speeds, stats, abilities and weaponry; so the game provides a handful of ways to experience it. Fans can even share enjoyment in a unique co-op mode that allows one player to pilot a craft while its gunners are controlled by a friend. There have been many games before (Star Fox 64) and after (Halo: Reach) that have succeeded in utilizing similar space combat. Although each game has differed over the years, the one thing they definitely have in common is succeeding at bringing entertaining flight simulations to space geeks worldwide.
9. Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (Xbox, PC, Mac)
Not the most difficult game but easily one of the most entertaining. My favorite thing about video games is how their series tend to get better with each sequel, even if we all have some stubborn nostalgic attachment to originality. Jedi Academy is the final game of the Jedi Knight series and fills in all the missing pieces missing from previous installments. In this game players embark on a journey under the tutelage of a Jedi Master. The storyline is fantastic and gives fans many paths to choose from, including if they want to turn to the dark side in the end. Jedi Academy gives big fans of the series more control over their characters appearance and outcome. The coolest and most important aspect is the focus on lightsabers. Players will select different weapons including single, dual, and double-sided lightsabers. Each saber includes a different combat stance, completely changing the way the game is experienced. With the ability to customize the color and hilt, the Jedi experience is complete. The game utilizes the Quake III engine and provides multiplayer modes where players can just unload their lightsaber rage on each other. Even with a dead online multiplayer presence, the mostly third-person action game has such a wide variety of story paths and character choices that it will always have some level of replay value for a Star Wars fan.
8. Racer Arcade (Arcade) / Episode 1 Racer (N64)
This is one of the few Star Wars games not based around killing enemies (even if you still can). It may just be a racing game but it’s a great one, putting some of the famous Phantom Menace characters into player’s hands. The controls in the game are extremely unique due to using hover vehicles instead of normal grounded racing games. What could be comparably to something like F-Zero actually goes much further, especially for true fans. The game immediately throws the player into the famous pod race on Tatooine. The Nintendo version is rendered very well, but the arcade system really puts you in the movie. In my life I only saw one Racer Arcade and it disappeared when the last arcade in town did. It would be hard to ever get your hands on such a bulky and rare machine, but don’t pass up the opportunity if you get one. It’s just a unique experience to sit in a pod, moving the two levers, while scrambling to cool down your sabotaged engines the way Anakin did as a boy. Most will have to settle for the N64 version of the game to see all the wonderful racetracks that clearly existed but went unseen in the movies. The game may seem a bit short or limited, but that’s just because it emulates the already successful aspect of racers that countless other games have used to succeed.
7. Galactic Battlegrounds (PC, Mac) / Empire at War (PC, Mac)
Star Wars made its splash in the RTS genre by releasing these two titles. Overall the games are more about the Star Wars experience rather than a flawless RTS. Galactic Battlegrounds is the older game but gives players the perfect opportunity to see their favorite alien races and characters in RTS style scenarios. The game provides a number of campaign settings and multiple outlets of achieving victory; ranging from using troops to forcefully destroy all enemy units, to more passive approaches like the acquiring and protection of artifacts (Holocrons). Galactic Battlegrounds is essentially a Star Wars themed Age of Empires. The more original game is Empire at War, an RTS that brings fans a mix of land and space battles that are sure to keep gamers hooked. With a sandbox campaign that utilizes famous Star Wars characters as heroes and a skirmish mode giving classic multiplayer feel, this is a game that can’t be missed by RTS fans. Whether you are a hardcore gamer needing a deep campaign or someone looking for quick fights of adjustable difficulties, these two games are worth the look. At the very least the two creations successfully throw players into their heavily desired universe while ensuring balance and replay value that many other cult sci-fi adaptations lack.
6. Knights of the Old Republic (XBOX, PC, Mac)
Although the sequel was viewed as incomplete due to a rushed deadline, the original paved the way enough that both are worth the buy. Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) is a must play for fans of the Star Wars universe. The title was voted game of the year by IGN, PC Gamer, Xbox Magazine, G4, and at the 2004 Game Developers Choice Awards. This is one of those games that prove why its creator, Bioware, is a gaming giant. IGN even voted it #3 on the best game of the decade (2000-2009). To this day the game stands as a staple in video games; being featured on Time Magazine’s the top 100 video game list of all time just this month. The game itself was derived originally from the famous d20 tabletop game, Dungeons and Dragons. Choosing from different character classes, players have free will to add stats to their character where they see fit, along with waiting to unlock feats at specified levels. Best of all is that players get to unlock their force powers to reenact fighting styles specific to their favorite Jedi. KOTOR boasts a great dialogue menu system along with an assortment of mini games and quests to supplement an amazingly written storyline. There are so many customizable factors in this game that fans have almost endless replay value in character build. With the ability to control different powers based on the decision to follow the light or dark side of the force, the storyline even presents different replay capabilities. This is a ‘game’ after all though, and the most entertaining factors usually come from the game play itself. The battle system in KOTOR is tremendous having built its Odyssey Engine to mirror the success of Neverwinter Nights. The game seems to play better on a console using a controller, but both versions are sure to please avid gamers. With a mix of RPG gameplay and balanced fighting, it shouldn’t take the Jedi mind trick to convince Star Wars geeks that they are missing out on one of the best experiences a fan could have.
5. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Xbox 360, Wii, Playstation 3, DS, PC, Mac)
It may be steered toward a younger generation, but when you combine the aspects of all six Star Wars movies into one game, you will succeed. The compilation exists on pretty much every platform a gamer would own so you don’t need to search for extra machinery like you may need to for some older games. Many past and present day children partake in the using Lego’s so it makes sense that the Lego video games are actually becoming a staple in today’s gaming community. You could skip what seems like a game with a simple design, but you’d really be missing out. Sometimes simple goes a long way, and this game is a perfect example. The key is to build a simple action game that’s easily controllable and uniquely appealing to gamers, while delivering a scenario that most people will flock to. Lego Star Wars truly brings a level of nostalgia. The game grants players the ability the play as main characters from every movie while exploring famous planets like Endor, Hoth, and Naboo. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy a recreation of such a magnificent series. Plus, where else can you see Darth Vader’s head get chopped of like it did on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back? There are just too many favorite moments and characters from the movies that are playable in this installment. The biggest reason this game makes the list is because of how sure I am that many older gamers don’t give it the chance it rightfully deserves.
4. The Force Unleashed ( Xbox 360, PC, Mac, PlayStation 2 & 3, Wii, PsP, DS, iPhone)
For many hardcore Star Wars fans, it’s hard to introduce new characters that match up to the heroism of Luke Skywalker or the intimidating villainy of Darth Vader. The Force Unleashed successfully introduces a new anti-hero protagonist with an overwhelmingly accepted back story. Galen Marek (a.k.a. Starkiller) is most commonly known as ‘The Apprentice’ for his morally conflicting storyline as a disciple of Darth Vader. Like many newer Star Wars creations, players are given the ability to choose their paths and decide where a love stricken, anger prone Jedi will end up. Although the sequel to the game fails to bring the same originality, both provide a wonderful hack and slash experience that give players the freedom of power promised in the games title. The games lack replay depth, as most of it focuses heavily on play rather than NPC interactions and cinematic entertainment. Quick story aside, it is original and interesting. Plus, let’s be honest. People looking for entertainment in video games are ultimately looking for something that they can ‘play’. The Force Unleashed will provide just that. The third-person action game puts the player right into the role of a Jedi. Players will custom build The Apprentice while trying to find the right balance between their ability to use force powers and their proficiency using a lightsaber. The lightsaber battling can be repetitive if you’ve mastered the game as some enemies can be predictable and have obvious weaknesses. Overall though, the increased volume of enemies as the game progresses present plenty of difficulties to keep any fan occupied with the initial play through. Players will have a difficult time mastering a game with such a high number of battle combos, especially when needing to mix drastically saber abilities with force powers to accomplish many. Players are even forced into being creative in each battle as move sets can get stale with repetitive use on countless enemies. The Force Unleashed proves its entertaining brilliance within the first minutes of playing. This game clearly achieves something great for fans, as players get to test the full range of Darth Vader’s abilities on an army of Wookies in the tutorial. It may be a morally geeky faux pas, but something about force choking a bunch of Wookies as you send them hurling off a cliff is easily one of the most disturbingly entertaining things LucasArts has ever created. You may be one of those fans who tend to enjoy the non-violent side of Star Wars, but that’s only because you haven’t had the opportunity to play this game yet.
3. Galaxies (PC)
Good luck trying to experience this gem. Last December, Sony Online Entertainment shut down the servers for Star Wars Galaxies, ending years of obsession and entertainment for many gamers worldwide. It’s a sad truth in the gaming world but some creations have life spans, so it’s good to enjoy them while they last. Galaxies was a Star Wars MMORPG that followed a storyline taking place after the movies. Just like most MMORPGs, Galaxies also released expansions during its run, presenting an even greater change throughout the universe and overall gameplay. With all the other game releases during its run, the RPG accomplished something unique by bringing players into the Star Wars universe instead of bringing the universe to them. What that means is - where other games present an unchanged and replayable storyline that is followed by general progression; Galaxies presents a universe that continues to change whether you are logged into the game or not. Players were finally given their own vehicles to maneuver through space, rather than travel cut scenes like in most games. Players were also part of a virtual Star Wars economy for the first time. Galaxies put huge emphasis on character customization and PvP capabilities, things that now seem required in a successful RPG. These were all true accomplishments, as Star Wars fans could expect something different to look forward to each time they went to play the game. The ideas were first of their kind in the Star Wars universe and fans have proven that the game would still be alive and well if it weren’t for current competing endeavors by LucasArts.
2. Soul Calibur IV (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
It makes sense that third person mechanics work very well in the Star Wars universe. With so much close combat fighting though, how can there not be a Star Wars themed arcade fighter? LucasArts took a stab at the genre by implementing a multiplayer system that allows lightsaber fighting between famous movie characters in their game, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The game ultimately fails but definitely gave fans a chance to face off with their favorite lightsaber wielding warriors. After all, how many other chances would you have at taking a 4-saber wielding General Grievous into battle? It’s a shame the game never took off, but luckily Namco existed to take the idea to the right place. One of the biggest selling points in Soul Calibur IV was the ability to control three Star Wars characters. Three may seem like a low number, but no one can really argue when those characters end up being Darth Vader, Yoda, and the newly established protagonist Galen Marek of all people. Soul Calibur has established itself as a reputable fighter that focuses on the weapon each fighter is using. Most fans of Star Wars know how important a lightsaber is for a Jedi, so their storylines fit perfectly with this games unique universe. This game gives a fan the perfect chance to tear into enemies in a visually satisfying way they have always wanted. Controlling Darth Vader does justice to how a clunky caped giant maneuvered so well in situations that requires such dexterity. Watching Yoda jump around an enemy’s attacks while landing blows of his own is eerily accurate to his performance in the Episode 2: Attack of the Clones movie. The Apprentice even controls similar to the way he does in The Force Unleashed, giving gamers a rare and almost seamless transition across game genres. If you are looking for the best way to visualize and experience a lightsaber battle between a Jedi and their enemy, this is undoubtedly the way to go.
1. The Old Republic (PC)
With 1 million subscribers in its first three days of launching, Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) is the fastest growing MMORPG ever made, and probably the most expensive. If you like Star Wars and have the time to play a video game, this needs to be the one. Prior to November 15th, players would have needed to pay a monthly subscription fee. Now people can just purchase the game itself and play free of charge each month going forward. With The Old Republic going free to play, there really isn’t anything more satisfying when it comes to Star Wars in video games. Like KOTOR, players are part of a storyline that takes place thousands of years before the movies where Jedi and Sith openly dispute their differences. This is the most current and true of Star Wars experiences when it comes to being part of a lifelike universe with social and economical implications. Customizing their characters toward a Jedi or Sith lifestyle, players will experience one of the most in depth and brilliant storylines ever created in gaming. The MMORPG landed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest entertainment voice over project of all time. The game features open and closed storylines that boast over 200,000 lines of quest dialogues. There is tremendous interaction with NPC’s as players explore a vast universe and experience missions that could each lead to a variety of outcomes. The Old Republic provides options of play for every type of gamer. Unlocking skills, taking down enemies, developing companions, space combat in your very own starship – the list goes on. There isn’t enough time to express the hundreds of hours of content this game provides in one article. No review site or magazine gave The Old Republic less than an 80% out of 100 score, which proves just how successful it is across all fields of gaming. The thoroughly satisfying battle scenarios and prodigiously captivating storyline promise to bring a one of a kind adventure to any Star Wars fan looking to indulge in their passion entirely.
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