Star Wars video games
The Star Wars franchise has spawned over one hundred computer, video, and board games, dating back to some of the earliest home consoles. Some are based directly on movie material, while others rely heavily on the Star Wars expanded universe.
In 1978, Apple Computer produced an unlicensed Star Wars game on cassette tape for its Apple II. As a "space pilot trainee", the player destroys TIE fighters using a first-person heads-up display. The first video game cartridge bearing the name Star Wars appeared that year on the RCA Studio II clones Sheen M1200 and Mustang Telespiel Computer.
The first official licensed video game bearing the name Star Wars appeared on Kenner's table-top Star Wars Electronic Battle Command game in 1979. The game had three levels of play (basic, intermediate, and advanced). Players took turns examining star systems with the aim of avoiding black holes, locating enemies, and searching for MAGNA, "the FORCE-giving star". The game was billed as "the most exciting computer game you will ever play".
The Atari 2600, beginning with The Empire Strikes Back (1982) in which the player piloted a snowspeeder during the Battle of Hoth, destroying AT-AT walkers. Several other games appeared, such as Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle (1983), where the player controlled the Millennium Falcon in a mission to destroy the second Death Star, and Jedi Arena (1983), the first game to attempt to simulate a lightsaber battle (in this case, clearly inspired by the Star Wars scene, where Luke Skywalker trains with a seeker). In 1983, the Star Wars arcade game was released by Atari based on the 1977 film. In this game (featuring color vector graphics and the first ever digitized speech from a film) the player enters the seat of Luke's Red Five X-Wing fighter, battles waves of TIE fighters led by Darth Vader, weaves through towers across the surface of the Death Star, and plummets through the battle station's trench in an attempt to destroy it. The sequel for the game, The Empire Strikes Back, used the same technology to re-create scenes from the second film, including battles with AT-AT walkers and an asteroid field.
Due to the video game crash of 1983, which temporarily killed the home console market, no further games based on the franchise were released until 1987 when UK software publisher Domark released several 8-bit versions of the Star Wars vector arcade game, followed by similar conversions in 1988 of The Empire Strikes Back machine. In 1987, Namco developed a Star Wars game for the Family Computer for the Japanese market exclusively, based on the 1977 film, but with several liberties taken with its storyline.
In 1991, the platformer Star Wars was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, Game Boy and Game Gear, and one year later, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back covered the plotline of the fifth episode of the saga. Also in 1992, Super Star Wars was released for the SNES, followed by the remaining games in the trilogy: Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1993) and Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1994), the latter also receiving conversions for the Game Boy and Game Gear in 1995.
At the start of the 1990s, the Star Wars franchise began to move away from the official films and began to focus more on the Expanded Universe. The first, X-Wing, released in 1992, started the X-wing computer game series, which would prove itself to be one of the most popular space flight/combat simulators series ever. X-Wing was followed by several sequels and expansions. Other titles such as The Software Toolworks' Star Wars Chess were published or licensed by LucasArts, who also used the first "multimedia explosion" to release Rebel Assault (1993), which used FMV and photos extensively.
However, the first step towards modern games was done with Dark Forces, a 1995 first-person shooter that put the player in the role of Kyle Katarn. The 1996 Nintendo 64 title Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was part of a LucasArts attempt to create a story between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of Jedi, putting the player in control of mercenary Dash Rendar. Shadows of the Empire featured fan-favorite parts from the Super Star Wars line, such as another reanactment of the Battle of Hoth, piloting a snowspeeder and tying a cable around AT-ATs legs. After the Special Edition original trilogy re-release in 1997, LucasArts published two other novelty titles, Star Wars: Yoda Stories and Star Wars Monopoly, sequels Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II and Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, and a Star Wars themed fighter, Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi.
As The Phantom Menace release approached, dozens of licensed titles appeared, from the praised expansion to Jedi Knight, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith and the first game in the Rogue Squadron series and even educational titles, the market was flooded with several games, most of them of questionable quality.
Modern era games
After the release of Episode I in theaters in 1999, an onslaught of games from the prequel trilogy began to be released for most major platforms. The first was Star Wars Episode I: Racer, based on the podracing sequence in movie. Others, including Battle for Naboo and Jedi Power Battles, were released, but with little success. The first strategic game in the Star Wars expanded universe was titled Star Wars: Rebellion and broke new ground in that it incorporated ships and planets not found in the original canon, such as the Rebel Assault Frigate and the Bulwark Cruiser. But for all its ground-breaking new looks, it was not as successful as would have been hoped. The second strategic title, Star Wars: Force Commander was also released, but failed to keep up with other RTS games, since it was more focused on battling (no resource gathering) and used a primitive 3D engine. About a decade later, resource gathering lost popularity in favor of faster-paced combat-centric RTS games.
In 2002, Attack of the Clones premiered in theaters, and another wave of Star Wars based games, including The Clone Wars, Star Wars Racer Revenge, and Bounty Hunter were released, this time focusing on events and characters from Attack of the Clones such as bounty hunter Jango Fett and the Clone Wars.
Also in 2002, Jedi Outcast was released and gave players the first chance to experience advanced lightsaber duels, and it also detached itself from the usual idea of movie tie-ins. Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter was released, allowing the player to be a Jedi Master flying a Jedi starfighter. A third RTS game with a much more conventional approach to the genre's norms and using the Age of Kings engine, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, offered a better alternative to those seeking strategy in the Star Wars universe. One year later, the last game in the Jedi Knight series, Jedi Academy, was released, as well as Knights of the Old Republic, a BioWare RPG that debuted on the Microsoft Xbox and PC. Knights (also known as KotOR among fans) was critically acclaimed, even winning "Game of the Year" at the Game Developers Choice Awards, (along with many other critics) in 2003. The first MMORPG, titled Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided, was also released in 2003 and was subsequently followed in 2004 by its first expansion Jump to Lightspeed.
Adjoining the release of Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Battlefront, Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (both in 2004), Star Wars: Republic Commando, Star Wars: Battlefront II, and Lego Star Wars (2005) were released. A sequel to the latter, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy was released during 2006. Two more games, Star Wars Galaxies: Episode III Rage of the Wookiees (a second expansion to Galaxies), and the Episode III video game (action) were also released close to the premiere of the third movie, with various degrees of success.
After the films, more Star Wars titles continued to be developed and released. Empire at War (an RTS), was released in early 2006. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii, uses a new, detailed graphics engine. The Wii version utilizes the motion sensing and accelerometer capabilities of the Wii Remote (simulating the ability to swing a lightsaber) and its Nunchuk attachment (used to perform Force powers). Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Lightsaber Duels is also available for Nintendo DS and Wii, being the first Clone Wars game. It is also to be noted that Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron was released on November 3, 2009 for the Nintendo DS and the PSP. This is the first Battlefront game to offer a transition from space to ground battles at the players choice. Another MMORPG titled Star Wars: The Old Republic was developed by BioWare, which released globally on December 20, 2011. Pre-orders went up for sale in July 2011 and open beta weekends were confirmed for September 2011.
Angry Birds Star Wars was announced in October 8, 2012, and was released on November 8, 2012. The game is a crossover with the Star Wars original trilogy, and casts the Angry Birds as the Rebels and the Bad Piggies as the Empire. Merchandise related to the game will be released on October 17, and October 28. It is a puzzle game and the fifth game in the Angry Birds video game series. It is developed and published by Rovio Entertainment and is based on the franchise. A sequel, Angry Birds Star Wars II was released in 2013.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, Star Wars Republic Heroes, and Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars were released between 2009–2012, and at E3 2012, EA with LucasArts announced Star Wars 1313, which focuses more on the life of a bounty hunter as he descends to the level 1313 on Coruscant to unravel a criminal plot. The game focuses more on gunplay and bounty hunter gameplay rather than the Force users and lightsabers combat. It was set to release in Fall 2013 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows. 1313 has subsequently been cancelled by LucasArts following its purchase by Disney.
On May 6, 2013, Disney revealed that Electronic Arts has the rights to produce Star Wars games for consoles and PC, while Disney will handle the games for other platforms, such as smartphones, tablets and browsers. The EA fee companies who will be responsible for creating games for the franchise will be DICE, BioWare and Visceral Games.
On October 30, 2013, Dan Connor and Kevin Bruner from Telltale Games expressed an interest in making a Star Wars adventure game. Bruner said that "I'll also say a Telltale Star Wars game would make me VERY happy!" with Connor saying that "Coming from LucasArts we have so many people here that love Star Wars and have worked with the license so that would be a great fit and very cool."
On May 5, 2015, Disney announced a follow-up game through Game Informer, Disney Infinity 3.0, for release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, iOS, PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in 2015, featuring characters from the Star Wars universe.
- Paltridge, Peter. "Apple Cassette Games". Applepalooza. Platypus Comix. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
- "Kenner Star Wars Battle Command". Handheldmuseum.com. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
- Coopee, Todd. "Star Wars Electronic Battle Command Game". ToyTales.ca.
- Dyer, Mitch (October 30, 2013). "Telltale Games Talks Star Wars, 'Dream IP', and Its Future". IGN. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
- "June Cover Revealed – Disney Infinity 3.0". www.GameInformer.com. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
- Star Wars games at MobyGames
- UGO article on the history of SW games
- The 8 Most Lackluster Star Wars Videogames in the Galaxy