Star Wars star wars star wars. You’ve seen Star Wars merchandising on everything from coffee creamer to tampons. But how about something useful? I’ve written a list about a few of my favorite Star Wars games.
X-Wing / Tie Fighter
The early days of computer games coincided at the early days of my life. I remember back when PC games came in the biggest boxes imaginable, not because of marketing at this point, but because they were full of floppy disks. Real five and a quarter floppies, and about 10 of them. Remember having to take a floppy out and flipping it over? Remember the grindy goodness of a floppy drive?
X-wing was also released in the days of early copy protection. It was easy to copy games back then, especially if you had 2 drives. X-wing had a trump card though, and actual goddamn decoder page. The game would shoot out some random Imperial letters (not standard, nerds) and you would have to answer back based on corresponding codes. Lost the card and wanna play the game? Tough shit. Now you have about 15 pounds of useless floppy disks.
So why should you even bother? The entire X-Wing series has been re-released by Good Old Games aka GOG.com, a company whose sole mission is to re-release classic awesome games that you can play today. Of course they charge you and sure GOG is owned by CD Projekt, but the point is you get to play X-Wing in all its glory for ten bucks. And Honestly, thats what you wanted.
The games in this series still hold up well today. They were graphically impressive for the time, and while you cant count all the windows on a Star Destroyer, you can still engage a Star Destroyer while fleeing from TIEs and dodging laser fire. X-Wing is also a “resource” game, forcing you to toggle power between lasers, shields, and engines. You can change your shields to double front, or if you’re feeling lucky, drop all your power into the engines.
X-Wing is a near perfect flight sim. There is something amazing about jumping into an area with your wingmen to rescue a shuttle, and something terrifying to see several Star Destroyers jump in to intercept you. The game bring so much freedom that you can fly where ever you want. There are no level limits, though obviously you will lose if your allies are all destroyed. It’s a great experience and one you should definitely own.
Rogue Squadron 2
Take a look at this video:
This is what the masses saw during the unveiling of the Gamecube. Rogue Squadron 2 was a launch game, and it probably sold more systems than any other game.
In Rogue Squadron 2, you get to relive the original trilogy from the view of the cockpit. All the standards are here: Death Star attack and trench run, Battle of Hoth, Battle of Endor, Asteroid field escape, etc. The game also gives you extra missions in between to create a story line. One of my favorites is Razor Rendezvous. Under the protection of the Redemption, your squadron is supposed to meet with a Corillian Corvette. However, a Star Destroyer gets there first and a full blown battle ensues. I’ve played it a million times.
Like other games in the Rogue Squadron series, this one pushes you to play over and over again to complete achievements and discover secrets. Using the Gamecube’s internal clock you could find yourself playing a night or day time mission, each with its own set of objectives. The game also utilizes sound clips from the movies, and interjects them nicely during game play. There are a few moments where video is actually interjected as well, though the game does a nice job of rendering most of the objects.
Super Empire Strikes Back
Back in the good ol days, video games were made as marketing promotions. Now, developers sell ad space INSIDE of games (but thats none of my business, sip). Most of those games were garbage, but every once in a while you got a classic. Super Empire Strikes Back definitely breaks the mold.
During the early days of the SNES games were developed across multiple platforms. Star Wars was made for the NES, SNES and Gameboy and released all at the same time. The same was done for Jurassic Park, although those games had stronger differences. “Super” was the designation of the SNES release of the Star Wars series so you knew exactly what you were getting. A Star Wars tape, right Grandma? Eesh.
Super Empire Strikes back is my favorite in the series because it takes the absurd platforming of Super Star Wars and tones it down while upping the flight simulator levels. Super Star Wars plays like Contra, if there were 4 million paths to take. Super Empire gives the levels more focus and allows your pain to have a goal. You get to play as all the iconic characters (good guys of course) and as Luke, you learn more and more force powers. Force Push and Lightsaber throwing included.
There are several flight levels as well, and while on the Super Nintendo they play pretty good. There is a Hoth Battle of course, as well as an Asteroid Escape and Bespin battle. Because games need more action than movies. Still, piloting a Snow Speeder, X-Wing, and Millennium Falcon are all pretty good bonuses to an SNES game.
Super Empire and the rest are all on Virtual Console now, so you really should do yourself a favor and try this one out.
Empire at War
This game mixes two of my favorite genres. Star Wars and real time strategy. Empire at War lets you choose a side and battle it out for control of the galaxy (I think thats what the box says) but really it lets you create some pretty epic space battles. The game is just a little bit of a resource gatherer where ultimately your base size is the driver for cash flow. This set up allows you to focus on fighting and battles and it is superb. Units built go to a store room and aren’t automatically placed in the field until you decide. Timing the placement of units is a huge strategy booster and adds a bit of flair when your reinforcements “jump” into the area. A cinematic camera is included as well, so you can watch your battles in a way that looks filmed.
Of course land battles are here too, though they play a bit differently. You can only supply units to the field as long as you have checkpoints in your possession. As a bonus, you’ll get to see Lambda class shuttles and Rebel transports landing and dropping off units, as well as special ships such as the Millennium Falcon or Slave 1. Holding these checkpoints increases your unit cap as well, so land battles are a game of territory.
The story mode of Empire at War, as well as the long game, allow you to take control planet by planet. Different scenarios arise based on the planet type, but flow generally follows Space Battle followed by Ground Assault. You’ll have to balance your fleet though as the more territory you gain, the harder it is to maintain its security. And nothing is worse than having your ground assault team ambushed by a fleet of star destroyers.
Empire at War also had an expansion pack that included a 3rd faction, basically space pirates and bounty hunters. More units were included in all sides, but my favorite is the Rancor trainer who straps bombs to Ewoks. Poor guys. You should check this game out, it’s now on Steam for little to nothing.