Growing up with the Star Wars movies (the original ones) was a blessing for sci-fi nerds since it gave fans a galaxy of adventures and action where the lives of millions depended on the destiny of a single farm boy. Yes, Star Wars was amazing to watch, but it was even better to play in a video game. Over the years, Star Wars has released dozens of games ranging from RTS to fighting and RPG to adventure. Of course there have been some bumps in the road, but overall one can find hours and hours of good gaming with the Star Wars games.
1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2004, Xbox, PC)
An obvious choice to show off the greatness of Star Wars video games, because of the combat system and great story line; it made Star Wars video games live up to the epic feel of the original trilogy. KOTOR was excellent because of the Sith/Jedi decisions that would affect the outcome of the game, it was an interesting turn of events since all other star wars games were based around being either a Rebel or a Jedi. It also gave Star Wars fans the chance to check out the history and mythology of the Star Wars universe since it took place thousands of years before the original trilogy. Released in 2004 for the Xbox and PC, KOTOR has been a best seller and a critical success and has been well liked by loyal Star Wars fans.
2. Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (2002 PC, Xbox, GameCube)
What do you get when you put the awesome-ness of Han Solo and the Jedi abilities of Luke Skywalker? The answer is Kyle Katarn, and his exploits are downright incredible since they span several games. Katarn was first introduced in the game Dark Forces and his character was developed from a simple gun toting merc to a clear minded Jedi Knight. Jedi Outcast made gamers feel that Jedi powers could be both powerful and not limited to just the light side. But an even more powerful subject is the fact that even though Kyle is a Jedi, he is fighting his way through this game mostly for revenge, which is an interesting subject for a force sensitive person to deal with since it can lead to the dark side. In the end, however, it gave the Star Wars universe a powerful Jedi and an interesting story.
3. Galactic Battlegrounds (2001 PC)
Real time strategy games were never my bread and butter, and although I played games like Age of Mythology and StarCraft, I would have to say that Galactic Battlegrounds did a more than decent job of bringing together my mutual love of Star Wars and RTS. Galactic Battlegrounds wasn’t as good as StarCraft (obviously), but it was so fun to have armies of Jedi leading rebels into battle against your friends or against the computer AI. This Star Wars gem was a bit under the radar, but it should have gotten a bit more recognition since it was a respectable counterpart to the original and second trilogy.
4. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (2003 PC)
The expanded Star Wars universe gets a little play with Jedi Academy and the story of the new generation of Jedi as they begin their training under the guidance of Master Katarn and Skywalker. You play the role of a Jedi hopeful and your adventures take you all over the galaxy from well known planets like Hoth or Tatooine and not so well known ones like Bakura and Tanaab. I always like the expanded universe stories and this was a great adaptation to the ongoing adventures of Skywalker and the return of the Jedi order. Also, Jedi Academy had some pretty gnarly levels like lightsaber fighting on a hover train on Corelia.
5. Super Star Wars series (1992-1994 SNES, Game Boy, Game Gear, Virtual Console)
This is where Star Wars games became an addiction to me; the Super Star Wars series (which consist of Super Star Wars, Super Empire Strikes Back and Super Return of the Jedi) was 2-D action platforming goodness and is infamous for being heartbreakingly difficult. It was one of my best gaming achievements to have taken down the Emperor in Super Return of the Jedi, but that’s neither here nor there. The Super Star Wars series was a slight departure from the movies, but it expanded on certain scenes that were given a small amount of attention like Luke’s fight through Jabba’s palace, the Empire’s occupation at Cloud City and turning off the first Death Star’s tractor beam and also giving the player a choice of using one of three characters in certain levels. Playing as Luke isn’t mandatory in certain levels (except during Jedi fights) so that meant mixing up things by playing as Han, Leia or Chewbacca in certain levels. Insane diffuculty? Platforming and side scrolling? Jedi fights? Who could ask for anything more in an SNES series?
Check out part 2 coming soon as G3 lists several other great Star Wars games and a couple of not so great Star Wars games. Until then, may the force be with you and good gaming.