I assume you know about Disney buying LucasFilm. I could talk about how Walt Disney is controlling the global economy, its superheroes, and Tom Hanks’s facial hair from the grave on his way to a monolithic monopoly; but I’m keeping MYOB about games.
More specifically, I want to talk about Star Wars games. The brand’s games, much like its films, have run the gamut from game-of-the-year shoo-ins to insta-coaster. I want to talk about my five favorite games with Star Wars in their title. And spoiler alert: I never played any of the X-Wing games. There are multiple X-Wing games, right?
5. Episode I: Phantom Menace (PSone)
I know this is a controversial pick. However, let me explain: I moved from Richmond VA and my job with GWAR to Minneapolis MN and a gig with Game Informer magazine. I may not have had anywhere to live – and, in fact, I spent several nights in a hotel and one awkward (showerless) night at a fellow editor’s – but I did have a sweet stack of games that served as a welcoming gift. They were Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Final Fantasy Anthology, and Episode I. The first two are all-time favorites. But Episode I surprised me with its action/adventure retelling of the (awful, in hindsight) film. I remember lying on my inflatable mattress, talking to the impoverished NPCs of Tatooine. It was not a bad game (though it was ugly), and was a friend while I was a stranger in a strange land. So cut me some slack!
4. Dark Forces (PC)
I’m a sucker for DOOM style games. I feel like limiting things to branching corridors kept the gameplay tight and the level design honest. While I completed Quake and played my share of Duke, I feel like going 3D kind of messed with a good thing. It became more of a slog than a fast-past puzzle game with guns. Admittedly, I didn’t play a ton of Dark Forces, but I remember it being about as good as one could hope for a Star Wars DOOM.
3. LEGO Star Wars (every system ever)
Traveller’s Tales struck gold, melding two things that everyone loves. It was quirky, it was faithful to the franchise, and most importantly it was fun. I hope whoever came up with this became set for life. It’s up there for the best multiplayer series in video-game history. Remember how Eidos published the first one? Now, you can buy the whole Star Wars saga in one package for about $20. Steal!
1. Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox/PC)
If you notice, I went from #3 to #1. That’s because if you’d seen #2 first, you’d have known this was coming anyway. KOTOR is one of my favorite RPGs of all time. It expanded the Star Wars universe. The gameplay was amazing, finally making RPG battles worth watching. And the story? The stuff of legends! When this came out, my Xbox was on the fritz. Every time a load screen came up, there was a 50/50 chance the system would crash. I still played through the whole thing and didn’t once complain. The game was worth the wait. I’m pretty pissed they went the MMO route for the pseudo third installment. In hindsight, I bet Bioware is, too. Those meatbags.
2. KOTOR II (Xbox/PC)
Anyone who expected this to be better than the first KOTOR is ignorant. It was done by a totally different studio, in much less time. All things considered, it turned out pretty awesome. Sure, it didn’t have the twist its predecessor did, but I did not regret my time spent with it. I should probably play it again sometime.
Honorable Mention: Star Wars Rebel Command
I have yet to play this, but it’s supposed to be pretty dope. I’m sure the teammate AI has long become inferior, but my shrinkwrapped Xbox version has sung me its siren song several times since I procured it.