May 4 is Star Wars Day, in honour of, well, the fact “May the 4th” sounds a bit like “May the force…”. Silly, I know, but it also gives us a chance to look back on the amazing video games the sci-fi franchise has given us over the years. And by years, I should really say decades.
While movie tie-ins to this day remain something to generally be wary of, Star Wars – perhaps thanks to the fact it has a life well beyond the silver screen – is an exception, having provided not just some of the best film adaptations of all time, but some of the best games of all time.
In recent years the quality of Star Wars titles has slipped, a decline in the quality of development at Lucasarts coinciding with a new trilogy of films that was never the greatest source material for good video games. We’ve had some OK games – like Force Unleashed and Empire at War – but nothing truly great like some of the games in the gallery above.
Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends
Star Wars (1983) – The original Star Wars arcade game, released by Atari. It doesn’t look like much now, but back then, she had it where it counted. Namely, having cutting-edge vector graphics able of recreating a 3D space, something most other games could only dream of. It was followed by a slightly more absurd sequel, which had you shooting AT-AT walkers… in space.
Tie Fighter (1994) – There were four games in the X-Wing series of space combat simulators, and it’s tough choosing a highlight from the bunch. In the end, I have to go with Tie Fighter, because it took a little more imagination coming up with the storylines. That and it’s fun to be the bad guy once in a while.
Dark Forces (1995) – Before the Jedi Knight series got all obsessed with, well, Jedi Knights, the first game in the franchise had you playing as a dishevelled Rebel commando, running around shooting everything in your path. No lightsabres. Dark Forces was a great shooter, but what made it amazing was the fact it’s probably still the best realisation of the “feel” of the Star Wars universe in a video game.
Super Empire Strikes Back (1993) – History has strangely forgotten the three Super Nintendo adaptations of the classic trilogy, which is odd, considering they’re not just great Star Wars games but also some of the best platformers available for the system. Which is saying something. Empire is probably the pick of the three games.
Star Wars Episode I: Racer (1999) – I don’t think I like any game based on the new movies. With the exception of this one. And that’s because, when you get past the Phantom Menace adaptation, it’s a top-shelf WipeOut clone, and on PC was one of the slickest, fastest games around.
Knights Of The Old Republic (2003) – One of the only Star Wars games around that lets you actually live in the universe, instead of just whizzing through it in a ship blowing shit up. Marrying BioWare’s obsession with story-telling with a more action-oriented combat mechanic, it remains one of the best role-playing games ever made.
LEGO Star Wars II (2006) – If you only ever play one family Star Wars game (or one LEGO game), make it this one. Cute, simple, accessible and most of all hilarious, it’s as loveable a parody of Star Wars as you’ll ever see, especially since it keeps so much of the original trilogy’s spirit in tact at the same time.
Rogue Squadron III (2003) – Did you know this GameCube title was the first time anyone had seen Star Wars footage on a disc-based media format since the 1980’s? Well it was. It was also a great game, some forgettable on-foot sections more than made up for by the series’ best ship combat sequences. Though really, you can’t go wrong with any of Factor 5’s space (and air) combat games.
Republished from Kotaku