The lights are on
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Statistics would suggest that if you are a gamer that frequents GIO, then you know what Star Wars is; and if you have heard of and know what Star Wars is, then there is nearly an equally good chance that you know that May 4th is the unofficial Star Wars day because of the similarities between the expression “May the 4th” and “May the Force” as in May The Force Be With You.
Well, if you’re wondering how or why I am talking about Star Wars at a video gaming site…(I’ve previously mentioned this before) let me just say that I can’t think of another series that has spawned as many games as Star Wars. Not Call of Duty. Not Final Fantasy. Not Mario. Star Wars literally has dozens and dozens of games ranging from real time strategy to first person shooters and everything in between. (Please note I did NOT say they were all good).
So, in honor of Star Wars “May the Fourth Be With You” Day, I will give you my (keyword “my”) top ten list of the most influential (or at least entertaining) Star Wars games ever created. (In no certain order of preference or significance).
1. Arcade – Return of the Jedi
Back in the old days…we had arcades. Coin operated machines that introduced some of the greatest classics known to mankind. And while Return of the Jedi was not one of them, it still gave me (and others like me) the opportunity to relieve one of the coolest moments of the original Star Wars trilogy movies – racing speeder bikes through the forest moon of Endor. The graphics were sketchy and the game play was merciless (those dang Ewoks and their log trap seemed to get me every time). Still though, it was fun and the source of many fond arcade memories.
2. Arcade – Nintendo 64 – Racer
While the name may have been racer, perhaps a better name would’ve been Pod Racer, as it emulated the racing action from Star Wars Episode I. The game was available on various platforms, but I played it first on Nintendo 64 and eventually stumbled upon the arcade version at the local ice skating rink. The cool thing about the arcade version was it slightly resembled Anakin Skywalker’s legendary pod racer from the first movie, right down to the controls. The game was very much like the racing action, including the ability to flame out your engines. I actually found it quite entertaining.
3. SNES – Super Star Wars, Super Empire Strikes Back and Super Return of the Jedi
I know I have listed 3 games in this category, but they were all very much the same and loosely based off their respective movie counterpart. The “run and gun” action was very entertaining and actually gave you the opportunity to play through various scenes from the movies. Very cool! Tons o’ fun.
4. PC – Dark Forces
Dark Forces really kind of changed the traditional First Person Shooter with features kind of uncommon to the genre, but the feature that impressed me the most was it was a shooter based in the Star Wars universe. I almost felt like Han Solo as I encountered various denizens associated with the Star Wars universe. The game really did a great job immersing you in the universe with the sights and sounds one would expect. Indeed one of the classic Star Wars titles and most well received in the series.
5. PC – X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter
First came X-Wing, then came TIE Fighter, both great games…but the successor to both was X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. The game didn’t have the story line reminiscent of the first two, but it gave you the opportunity to engage in some epic space battles in a more refined and polished game with updated graphics and sounds, which were quite convincing. There’s nothing as intimidating as hearing the menacing roar of those Twin ION engines on your six right before the pew pew pew of laser cannon fire. Dang I loved that game.
6. PC – Star Wars Galaxies
To be honest…I’ve only played Galaxies briefly. I played through the trial version and I used to watch my son play it. Still though, there’s no denying the influence and impact it has had on the Star Wars gaming community. Often controversial, but always drawing a crowd, Galaxies was the Star Wars equivalent of World of Warcraft. I think I never let myself get too attached as I was afraid it would consume me. My journey to the dark side would have been completed.
7. PC – Knights of the Old Republic
Knights of the Old Republic is one of the crown jewels of the Star Wars video game universe and really solidified Bioware’s reputation in the world of gaming.“This game's system is based on Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Roleplaying Game, which is based on the d20 role-playing game system derived from the Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules. Combat is round-based; time is divided into discrete rounds, and combatants attack and react simultaneously. However, the number of actions a combatant may perform each round is limited. While each round's duration is a fixed short interval of real time, the player can configure the combat system to pause at specific events or at the end of each round.”KOTOR had an entertaining story and splendid game play; perhaps one of my favorite and most memorable Star Wars games of them all.
8. PC – Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
While technically it was an offspring of the original Dark Forces, in my opinion Jedi Outcast finally got the force powers and light saber action right and really empowered you to be that Jedi you always wanted to be. It had solid single player and multi player action which resulted in it being perhaps one of the best Star Wars first person shooters in the history of the franchise.
9. PC – Republic Commando
The game was received with mixed results, but I liked it because of its bold and unique approach and engaging characters. Then of course there is that gripping ending.The game is set during the events of the Clone Wars that started at the climax of the movie Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. In the game, the player is expected to take command of a Clone commando team, made up of elite Clone troopers. These "clone commandos" have been specially bred at the clone factories on Kamino. The commando team will travel to various locations in the Star Wars universe, including Kashyyyk, Geonosis, and the derelict spacecraft, The Prosecutor.
Not the best of the first person shooters, but certainly memorable.
10. The Old Republic
Yeah, I know…this isn’t out yet. But given that Bioware is behind it and it’s going to be a MMORPG, this game is going to be a huge success and have a dedicated following. Enough to unseat World of Warcraft? I doubt it…but enough to line the pockets of all those involved in the endeavor who profit off of its success? Absolutely.
Feel free to comment on your favorite Star Wars game…and May the Fourth be with you…always.