Top 5 Star Wars Games, part 4
Another shoutout to The Speed Gamers, they are still going at it. Unfortunately, every time I dial in to the feed, it feels like they are playing either KOTOR or Force Unleashed, both great games, but there are just so many more. Briefly it was Lego Star Wars, but their game selection appears to be getting stagnant. Still, they are maintaining the marathon, people are donating for charity…all good things.
So here we are at the last of the Top 5 Star Wars games. I’ve been asking friends who are into video games and Star Wars to see what their top choices are, and the answers have been a little surprising. It has been a good reminder that there are quite a few Star Wars games I have not played, mainly on the PC, and certain Star Wars just never grabbed me as they had grabbed others; for instance, people are more likely to love Shadows of the Empire more if they had never played X-Wing or Jedi Outcast, two games I adored that separately did what Shadows of the Empire did combined (just not as well, in my mind).
So so far on this list of Top 5 Star Wars games, we have Rogue Squadron, Knights of the Old Republic, Jedi Outcast, and X-Wing Alliance. To round out this list, there are three games fighting for placement, so two will have to be honorable mention, along with one other that I loved years ago which I think inspired in large part the current Star Wars series, The Force Unleashed. (Now, Force Unleashed is not a bad game, I think it’s a pretty good game, with a really good story, but at times it feels like the game cheats, is ridiculously unfair by taking cheat shots, and can sometimes be buggy as heck, all of which make it fall out of the Top 5. I loved the game, sure, but not as much as others.)
So, without further ado, the last of my Top 5 Star Wars games.
Star Wars Trilogy Arcade(Arcades, 1998). You all have seen this game in the arcades or at the State Fair, I’m sure. The first time I was exposed to this game had to be the year it came out. Growing up, my parents kept a “one year birthday party, one year just family” rule, and 1998 was a year I had a birthday party, and we went to this arcade place that boasted a 3D helmet area, laser tag, the whole works. And at one end of the vast room was Star Wars Trilogy Arcade, and a line of kids watching others play it. I waited my turn patiently, and when I sat down, my mind was blown.
The game was like an arcade, on-rails version of X-Wing and TIE Fighter, but more linear, yet just as intense. Flying at the original Death Star, shooting down TIE Fighters as they screamed toward you, flying through the Trench Run, all as you are sitting in a big chair, sound effects going off and the joystick rumbling slightly in your hands. But then, you are on Hoth, on foot! With a gun! And stormtroopers are everywhere! And then! AND THEN!! You are Luke Skywalker, with a lightsaber in your hands (the joystick), deflecting blaster bolts back at Boba Fett!! And then your are flying through the forests of Endor, again fighting with a lightsaber in your hand as you block then slash at Darth Vader, and finally fighting through waves of Imperial forces as you attack the second Death Star. To say this game was one of the highlights of my childhood is to do it an injustice.
And surprisingly, this game has stuck with me over the last decade plus. Nearly every time I see this arcade cabinet, either the standup or the sitdown version, I have to inspect the screen for burn in damage, and test the joystick to see if it’s still tight or loose. And I play this game still all the time. For years it was a ritual with a friend of mine to play this game at the Minnesota State Fair, but we haven’t seen it in a while. I’ve gotten to the point where I know where every TIE Fighter, every stormtrooper, every enemy will be coming from and can anticipate it, yet I’ve still never completely mastered the game. Something always gets me at some point, no matter how well I play.
I love this game. If I ever owned my own arcade, it would be in it. And it’s easily one of the Top 5 Star Wars games for me.
And now we come to the Honorable Mentions for Best Star Wars Games. These three titles have their moments, and may even be better than my Top 5 in some ways, but yet fell short for one reason or another.
Lego Star Wars. Lego Star Wars is a fun game. It made many people’s Top 5 list. I bought the original when it came out on GameCube, and it’s now one of those casual “when I’m super bored with nothing to do” games I play on Xbox 360 (The Complete Saga version). It’s very good, very fun, has a ton of unlockables, great moments of humor, and is a tremendous co-op game. Yet it’s still just the game I play when I’m bored, have time to kill, or whatever. It doesn’t hold my attention long enough to warrant more than a level or two. Yet it’s a really, really great game.
Star Wars: Republic Commando. Of all the games I’ve mentioned, if I had to choose one that is most deserving of a sequel, it is Star Wars: Republic Commando. I posted a link to the theme song yesterday, and my that song alone you can tell this game stands differently amongst all other Star Wars games. It’s epic squad based tactical shooter combat action set in the world of the clones. If you play this game in conjunction with the Republic Commando/Imperial Commando novels, it can be life changing. These characters stand on par with any of the X-Wing characters. You truly feel like a brother in arms. What keeps this game from being in my Top 5 is that I played it years after it came out, and it was one of a handful of games I beat after working a 4 am to 1:30 pm shift each day, so I was always dead tired and having to put up with people asking me why I was wasting my time sitting around playing videogames at that time of the day (because I had been up since 3 am!!). But the game was awesome and very fun. Also very tough. I felt at times it lacked a bit of polish, and it was easy to cheat the system, but I still treasure this game.
Jedi Power Battles. I’m probably one of the few who remember this game, and I had to remind both my brothers about it, and one was quick to add it to his Top 5 list as soon as he remembered it. It’s a very arcadey, brawly type of Star Wars game, set during The Phantom Menace time frame. You pick a Jedi, you go to a stage, and you hack and slash using different combos. That’s it. And it worked, really well. It was first out on Sony Playstation but then rereleased for Sega Dreamcast, and while there were differences (on PS1 you could destroy consoles for points, on Dreamcast…you couldn’t, but everything else was better), it was still great, multiplayer Jedi fun. The combo system in particular later went on to inspire games like the official Revenge of the Sith game (honorable mention for two facts – 1, the storyline had extra scenes (and real movie clips) that would have made the actual movie far better, and 2, Anakin was motion captured by the actor from the movie) and Force Unleashed.
BONUS HONORABLE MENTION
Remember when I said that every time I tried to put this list together, I’d remember yet another great Star Wars game? This is a perfect example. Star Wars: Battlefront I and II took the amazing Battlefield 1942 engine and made it Star Wars, so you played infantry, soldiers, medics, Jedi, pilots, droids, etc, all on a vast battlefield. The first game had it’s moments and was fun to play with friends. The second game added space flight, Jedi, Sith, and so much more. These games were fun and I played them for hours when they came out. Yet they remain an honorable mention because I was always playing against the computer or with a friend; the series was cancelled before the third game came out and took it onto Xbox Live. Second Star Wars game most deserving of a sequel.
Plus the games were fairly buggy at times…but we forgive the flaws in those we love.