Monday, December 5, 2011

A Galaxy of Gaming

With Star Wars: The Old Republic releasing in a matter of weeks (days for some), I began to notice the huge impact Star Wars has had on gaming. With such a successful franchise, video games were bound to follow. A handful have been some of the most unique and incredible experiences to date, while others have fallen prey to the typical movie adaptation. Yet, this franchise has had its fair share of solid hits.

Super Star Wars Trilogy  (1992-1994)
Developer: Sculpted Software / Lucasarts
Publisher: JVC/THQ

The trilogy that started it all had movie based games on the SNES that were surprisingly fun. Taking you from the original title all the way to Return of the Jedi, the game combined platforming and combat in a simple and enjoyable format. The most memorable aspects came from the huge boss fights and easy to pickup gameplay, with the occasional horrific vehicle mission. I can't be the only one who suffered loss after loss trying to escape the Death Star explosion in Return of the Jedi, can I?

X-Wing/Tie Fighter (1993)
Dos - Macintosh
Developer: Totally Games
Publisher: Lucasarts

A flight simulator like no other, X-Wing put players behind the pilot seat of their favorite Rebel vehicle. Featuring the first actual 3D dogfights, players were able to be part of the Rebel Alliance, shooting down Tie Fighters in asteroid fields, with a later sequel that allowed you to assume the role of the Empire.

Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995)
Dos - Macintosh - Playstation
Developer: Lucasarts
Publisher: Lucasarts

Taking on the FPS market, Dark Forces took a great spin on the franchise. You assume the role of the mercenary Kartan, working on behalf of the Rebel Alliance. It was uncommon to have the ability to look up and down or even traverse multiple floors at the time, but Dark Forces utilized both. A sequel would later introduce multiplayer.

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (1996)
Nintendo 64 - PC
Developer: Lucasarts
Publisher: Nintendo/Lucasarts

The third person shooter that kicked off the launch of the N64, Shadows of the Empire let you assume the role of the smuggler Dash Rendar. Dash's journey led to battles in snowspeeders, space, and even a toe to toe with the deadliest bounty hunter of them all; Boba Fett. Backed by the classic score and some memorable boss battles, it was an enjoyable title from beginning to end.

Star Wars: Masters of the Teräs Käsi (1997)
Developer: Lucasarts
Publisher: Lucasarts

Taking the franchise to the fighting world, Masters of the Teras Kasi allowed players to take control of their favorite Star Wars characters and settle fights like real men do...with fists. It was an interesting experience, and match ups like Boba Fett vs Darth Vader were interesting scenarios to play out.

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron Franchise (1998/2001/2003)
Nintendo 64 - Gamecube
Developer: Factor 5
Publisher: Lucaswarts

Creating a flight sim tailored toward the Star Wars universe was right up my alley, and Rogue Squadron delivered in full. Recreating some of the most infamous space battles in the game including the Death Star trench run and the battle over Endor, no other title could capture the feel of the movie like this one.

Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer (1999)
Nintendo 64
Developer: Lucasarts
Publisher: Lucasarts

A racing game was the last thing anyone expected from the Star Wars franchise, but after Episode 1's podracing sequence inspired a game it was found to be an enjoyable experience. Allowing you to customize your own racer and compete on various tracks from the Star Wars universe gave a thrilling feel.

Star Wars: Starfighter Series (2001)
Xbox - PC - PS2
Developer: Lucasarts
Publisher: Lucasarts

Following in Rogue Squadron's footsteps, Starfighter took place in the latest trilogy. Offering a unique story and piloting the Naboo Starfighter among other vehicles, the game was an addictive experience as you retried a stage multiple times for gold medals. Followed by a Jedi Starfighter game, the gameplay was even more expansive as you could use the force from the safety of your ship.

Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (2003)
PC - Xbox
Developer: Raven Software
Publisher: Lucasarts

Offering the first tease of Jedi customization, Jedi Academy let players create their own Jedi equipped with a lightsaber right from the start. Featuring your rise in the Jedi order, you were sent on missions spanning multiple planets and outcomes. With a slew of options to customize the Jedi to the player's content, there was also a multiplayer that allowed you to take lightsaber melees online.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003)
Xbox - PC
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Lucasarts

The Star Wars game to rule them all, Knights of the Old Republic amazed everyone when it was released back in 2003. The action RPG allowed users to craft a Jedi or Sith player, with multiple moral dillemmas branching out their path to take over the galaxy or save it. Backed by a stellar voice cast, the story was one of the best offered.

Star Wars: Republic Commando (2005)
Developer: Lucasarts
Publisher: Lucasarts

Taking another stab at the first person shooter market, Lucasarts delved into the untold story of Delta Squad in Republic Commando. Offering tactical FPS gameplay with the ability to issue orders to squadmates, the game was an explosive rollercoaster with some truly memorable encounters. The ending was abrupt, and left me pining after a sequel that never came.

Star Wars: Battlefront Series (2005-2006)
PC - Xbox - PS2
Developer: Pandemic Studios
Publisher: Lucasarts

Battlefield made a perfect mix with Star Wars in this multiplayer experience like no other. The series made its mark as players assumed the role of various troopers from the Republic and Empire, duking it out for control points. The second installment added in Heroes that could appear to turn the tide of battle, and made for some of the most fun I have had in a multiplayer experience to this day.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Series (2008-2010)
Xbox 360 - PS3 - PC
Developer: Lucasarts
Publisher: Lucasarts

Taking a spin on the canon story, Lucasarts gave use this third person action platformer to answer the question; What if Vader had an apprentice? The physics system in place made using force powers a blast and the intriguing story drove players forward through two installments.

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