A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..
Those words we all know well from all six Star Wars films (Yes as much as we hate to associate the prequels with the originals, they do still count!)
For as much as we all adore the cinematic journeys in which Lucasfilm were able to welcome us, the immersion into the Star Wars universe provided by the films was not enough. Fans needed more, and in 1982 George Lucas created Lucasfilm Games which after a shuffle within The Lucas organisations, was renamed LucasArts and from this company spawned the most immersive ways to have adventures and live out your favourite Star Wars fantasies.
I am and always will be a LucasArts fanboy; however the recent acquisition of LucasArts by Electronic Arts (EA) hit me hard and I served up the same reaction Luke did when Vader told him he was his Father; as I almost knew playing Star Wars games will no longer have the same experience for me.
But I digress, with The Force Awakens around the corner and Star Wars Battlefront having just been released I thought I should take a look back at the games that made my love for Star Wars flourish. So without further ado, a long time ago in a bedroom not that far away sits a young boy playing Star Wars X-Wing. A game so simplistic and easy to play a 5 year old could; and did.
The graphics were simplistic but alas; it was the early 90s so they were fantastic for the time. You played the role of a Rebel fighter pilot and helped the Rebel Alliance take on the evil Galactic Empire.
The missions were simple but no clear objectives were set, I just blew everything up and hit Hyperspace to return to the fleet and hope for the best. The most exciting part came within the dog fights with TIE-Fighters, which if you didn’t have a tracker ball-mouse or joystick, would cause you to scratch the hell out of your desk from constantly trying to turn. No X-Wing combat simulator would be complete without the Trench run either; however we are not blessed with the force and required our targeting computer to make that final shot into the exhaust vent. All in all the game was a great combat simulator and kept me amused for hours.
In 1999 came the release of The Phantom Menace which was accompanied by a Video Game release. This game followed the linear story of the movie adding in extras for combat purposes, the best example being the Coruscant level which diverts you from taking the simple flight to the Republic Senate via ever possible bad guy and many hours spent trying to get Queen Amidala through the Naboo Palace gardens to her ship without her dying of blaster fire.
Unfortunately you don’t get to blow up any Trade Federation star ships but you do have to take on Darth Maul (who developed force lightning) after a lot of platforming and force pushing droids off of those platforms. Making your way through the game you had quests to complete to help get past areas of the game, and simple dialog selection between the characters. A simplistic game with an immersive feel but the bonus of being able to hit Jar Jar Binks with a light saber for as long as you wanted certainly made up for the lackluster movie.
Two years later saw the release of the only Star Wars game I own which to this day I have never completed, Episode One: Jedi Power Battles. The main reason for not finishing this game was that it ran on an arcade style credit system, and being me I need a lot of lives, but there was never enough. The game was a simple hack and slash through the Episode One story, and you could choose to play as various members of the Jedi Council; Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi Wan Kenobi, Adi Gallia, Plo-koon and Mace Windu (with a blue lightsaber as the purple Lightsaber didn’t appear until Episode Two) were all selectable.
The combat system was simple hit the button until the enemy dies. With added powerups which were specific to each character. Although battle droids developed melee skills somehow, as well as being incredibly deadly with a blaster, the main goal behind the game was to rack up points for a top score by destroying everything. Who knew Jedi were rewarded so much for destruction!
This game was set out to frustrate and punish the player, and if I ever feel the need to balance my karma I might play it again.