We take a trip down memory lane
With the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga about to roll out to cinemas this weekend and decimate everything in its path, we thought it might be a good idea to recap on the digital adaptations of George Lucas’ sci-fi juggernaut.
As with any major media property, Star Wars has seen numerous video game outings, some notably stronger in the Force than others.
Here we present the best and worst of those adventures, so you can choose which ones to embark on prior to watching The Force Awakens, and which ones to avoid like a dinner date with Jabba the Hutt.
First, here are some of the best Star Wars games…
Super Star Wars (SNES, PS4)
Released during the era of Super Mario World and Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Star Wars is – perhaps unsurprisingly – a side-scrolling 2D action platformer where you assume the role of various characters from the first movie, including Luke, Han and Chewie.
The visuals are amazing, even after all this time, and there are bonus levels which use the Mode 7 mode of the SNES to deliver a convincing semi-3D effect.
However, you really had to be there first time around to experience the fuss this game caused – it was arguably one of the first Star Wars games to deliver an authentic rendition of John Williams’ famous tune. Super Star Wars has just been re-released on the PS4 to coincide with the launch of Star Wars: Battlefront.
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Star Wars: X-Wing / TIE Fighter (PC)
We’ve cheated a bit here by including two games, but these PC-based combat simulators use the same game engine and have a direct connection with one another, so we’re sure you’ll let us off.
While the 3D visuals might appear crude by today’s standards, the dog-fighting action is just as arresting and enjoyable, and we’d even go as far to say that they’ve never been bettered, even after all this time. Animated cut-scenes between each mission enrich the experience further.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC, Xbox, iOS)
Taking place around 4,000 years before the events seen in the prequel and “classic” trilogies, Knights of the Old Republic is the work of famed RPG maker BioWare, and is considered to be one of the studio’s most accomplished titles. It offers a massive game world to explore, and a surprising amount of freedom and player agency – something BioWare would expand upon in its subsequent titles, such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age. An iOS version has since been released, which is best played on the iPad.
Related: Star Wars Battlefront Weapons Guide – Blasters, Star Cards and Vehicles
Star Wars: Battlefront (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
The most recent offering in this list, Star Wars: Battlefront features massive, pitched battles in the “classic” movie trilogy, and is total fan service for Star Wars followers.
You can “be” Luke Skywalker, fly an X-Wing, speed through the forests of Endor on a speeder bike and gun down Stormtroopers in epic online battles. Arguably one of the best-looking Star Wars games ever made, Battlefront is truly impressive stuff – even if the armies involved are somewhat smaller than the ones we saw in previous Battlefront titles.
Related: Can you beat our ultimate Star Wars quiz?
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (GameCube)
The Rogue Squadron series began life on the Nintendo 64, but it’s this GameCube launch title which is perhaps the best known entry. The opening Death Star attack sold Nintendo’s consoles to many players, and at the time it felt like you were actually “in” the movie, such was the quality of the visuals.
Naturally it has aged a little over time and the occasionally awkward controls can annoy, but Rogue Leader is still one of the most impressive representations of being in the cockpit of an X-Wing (and several other famous Rebel craft, for that matter).
And here come the worst Star Wars games…
Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi (PlayStation)
You can see where the developers were going with this one. At the time of release, 3D fighters like Tekken, Soul Blade and Virtua Fighter were all the rage, and the idea of taking a beloved property like Star Wars and allowing the characters to duke it out in 3D arenas must have sounded like a licence to print money.
However, the resultant game is a mess, not just in terms of visuals but also in how it plays. While the aforementioned one-on-one scrappers had nuanced gameplay, Teräs Käsi was awkward to control and jerky to behold. A right royal disaster, it’s hardly surprisingly that most people have chosen to forget it ever existed.
Star Wars: Rebel Assault (PC, Mega CD)
The dawn of the CD-ROM age meant developers were blessed with untold amounts of storage, but in the early days few knew what to do with it. We were cursed with hordes of Full Motion Video games, which used heavily-compressed footage and attempted to construct some kind of game around it.
To be fair, Rebel Assault was one of the ones which at least tried to give the player something to do, and you could never accuse it of lacking variety – one moment you’re attacking a Star Destroyer, the next you’re on foot, exchanging blaster fire with Stormtroopers. However, the interaction is limited – backgrounds are simply grainy video – and the action is painfully limited.
Rebel Assault made quite an impact at launch, but that was largely because CD-ROM technology was still so fresh and new – it’s now seen as a bit of a dead end, and a PlayStation sequel didn’t really go anywhere, either.
Star Wars: Obi Wan (Xbox)
The prequel movies gave us some of the most crushingly mediocre Star Wars games ever seen, including this limp and lifeless attempt to expand the backstory of the young Obi Wan Kenobi. The concept is sound – you follow Obi Wan as he grows as a Jedi Knight, with the story culminating in the titanic battle with Darth Maul at the end of The Phantom Menace.
However, the poor controls, terrible camera and bland visuals conspire against it.
An early Xbox exclusive, Obi Wan is the worst kind of Star Wars spin-off – totally disposable and instantly forgettable. The only way it could have been any worse would have been having Jar-Jar Binks in the lead role.
Star Wars: Demolition (PlayStation, Dreamcast)
Similar to Masters of Teräs Käsi, Star Wars: Demolition is one of those instances where the developers have unwisely decided that the licence should be applied to a totally unrelated genre.
In this case, it’s the art of vehicular destruction, as popularised by Sony’s Twisted Metal franchise. The story is pure silliness – the Empire bans Podracing so Jabba the Hutt comes up with arena-based combat as a replacement. It’s painfully clear that this flimsy plot exists only to justify the fact that the Snowspeeder from Empire Strikes Back can duke it out with Trade Federation Battle Tank from the prequels.
All of the vehicles control pretty much the same – despite the clear differences in size and weight – and it’s hard to take the whole thing seriously.
Star Wars: Yoda Stories (Game Boy Color, PC)
Part of a “Desktop Adventures” series which Lucasarts hoped would become a valuable money-spinner but didn’t, Yoda Stories features cute, dumpy visuals and procedurally generated levels – back when procedurally generated levels were a big deal.
It also contains an almost complete lack of plot – despite the misleading title – and is basically a series of annoying fetch-quests and ponderous puzzles which becomes boring incredibly quickly. The PC version has relatively high-resolution visuals, but the Game Boy Color port is a lot more basic graphically, and even more annoying to play.
Which is your favourite Star Wars game?
Your favourite not in the list? Share your no.1 in the comments below