Since its release in 1977, Star Wars has been a pop culture juggernaut, influencing every form of media including video games. The first Star Wars game was released in 1982 for Atari and Commodore 64 computer. Ever since, games have been released that either retold the story of one of the movies or was part of the extended universe. There different types of Star Wars games run the gamut from action to fighting, racing to role playing, aerial assault to adventure, collector card and even pinball.
Here are some of the most notable games on a variety of console generations.
1985 – “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” for Atari / Commodore 64
This was was the first Star Wars side scrolling shooter game for Atari 2600. It featured Luke Skywalker flying an A-Wing shooting at AT-AT Walkers during the battle of Hoth. At the time, the sound and graphics were first-rate.
1992 – “Star Wars” and “Empire Strikes Back” for NES/SNES
These two side-scrolling action games were similar because they featured Luke Skywalker. They were straight forward: run jump and shoot. “Super Star Wars” for the SNES was more graphically advanced and had more lightsaber action, sound effects and a few movie scenes from the game. What made the SNES version special were the flying segments where you controlled a desert speeder and got to do a trench run from the original Star Wars movie.
1996 – “Shadows of the Empire” and “Rogue Squadron” for Nintendo 64/Playstation
This generation had the first 3D games in the series. It’s one of the first Star Wars extended univers games; not based on a movie. The story is about a rogue Dash Rendar helping Luke and Leia. This was the most graphically stunning game of the series and it had a memorable Hoth mission where you could fly a snow speeder with tow cables to take down the walkers. Throughout the game, you run into several characters from the movie and it is a fun continuation to the story. During this same console generation time came “Rogue Squadron,” an aerial space combat game that lets you sit in the cockpit of an X-wing and take down Imperial forces. For PS1 there was a game based on the first prequel movie, “The Phantom Menace” and an interesting fighting game called “Masters of Teras Kasi (1997 release).”
2003 – “Rogue Leader” and “Rebel Strike” for Gamecube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox
These two games are continuations of “Rogue Squadron.” This generation also brought us the beginning of the “Battlefront” series which was a multiplayer shooter which let you relive all of the biggest battles from the movies.
2003 – “Knights of the Old Republic” and “Jedi Academy” for Xbox
Some of the best games were on the original Xbox, the most notable were “Knights of the Old Republic” games which were massive open-world RPG games where you could decide if you wanted to be a good or evil. The game would change based on your actions. One of my favorites were the “Jedi Academy” games which were set after the last movie where Luke had his own school for Jedi.
2008 – “Star Wars: Force Unleashed” for PS3 / Xbox 360 / Mobile
The highlights here are the “Star Wars: Force Unleashed” games. They were a new tale about Darth Vader’s secret apprentice named Starkiller. The graphics were stunning but what made this game great were the realistic physics and the incredible feel of all The Force powers you could learn to use. The Wii and Xbox Kinect ushered in motion-control games with interesting representations of lightsaber fighting and Force powers. Although a bit frustrating, they were fun.
2015 – “Star Wars: Battlefront” and “Disney Infinity 3.0” for PS4 / Xbox One
The newest generation of consoles have the some of the best Star Wars games including Disney Infinity 3.0 and Battlefront. Since Disney acquired Lucasfilm, it has done a good job with new content. It looks stylish and cartoony but the action is great. There are lightsaber fights, flying and all The Force action you could ask for. If you want something more realistic “Star Wars: Battlefront” is the closest thing you will find. The graphics and sounds are the most realistic and true to the movies than anything ever created. Battlefront suffers from not having a single player mode but it is a great multiplayer shooter thanks to its visuals and attention to detail.
Star Wars impact on video gaming is immense. It has games ranging in every genre from action, platforming, racing, fighting, shooting to some motion control games. If you are a fan of the movies and a gamer, chances are you have played a Star Wars game. If you haven’t, you should try at least one.
Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.