Star Wars Day 2018 - The Ten Greatest Star Wars Games of All Time

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May the Fourth be with you! As we celebrate National Star Wars Day 2018, in an era of actually good Star Wars films, I thought it’d be an appropriate time to run down ten of the greatest Star Wars games and arcade games of all time.

The very first Star Wars game came out in 1983, the same year as Return of the Jedi, and LucasArts produced games based on the series for a long time after. With their acquisition by Disney, that's no longer the case (EA have taken over instead), but for those looking for their digital fix in a galaxy far, far away, there are so many options that you’ll still be busy by the time Episode IX and Solo: A Star Wars Story are released in cinemas.

Practically every gaming system since the 1980s has had at least one Star Wars game on it, from the mainstream Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony consoles to the obscurities such as the N-Gage and the 3DO. However, we’re not looking to cover all the bases (sorry, N-Gage fans), just the very cream of the crop. So without further ado, these are my very favourite Star Wars games ever.


Star Wars (1983) (Arcade, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Commodore 64, Atari 8-bit family, ColecoVision, BBC Micro, ZX Spectrum, Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Apple II, DOS, Mac OS, Amiga, Nintendo GameCube)

While it doesn’t hold up by today’s standards as well as some of the other games on this list, the original Star Wars arcade game was a mind-blowing piece of technology in 1983. Players are tasked with dogfighting TIE fighters, taking out towers on the surface of the Death Star, and then flying down the famous trench from the end of the original film to fire torpedoes that will blow the entire station up before it can destroy the Rebel base. Once this is complete, you go immediately back to the start and repeat for as long as you have lives remaining, which isn’t very realistic (they couldn’t build another one that quickly), but is unashamed fun.


Star Wars The Arcade Game


Star Wars was a huge success in the arcade and was ported to practically everything that was capable of displaying graphics (as the list above will attest). It maintains popularity even today, with players still trying to set high scores and endurance run records.

With digitised voice clips from the film and incredible 3D vector graphics, Star Wars was a technological marvel of its time and had players coming back to pump 20p coins in and destroy the Death Star one more time.

If you fancy having a quick stab at this retro Star Wars game you can do so here.



Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II (2001) (Nintendo GameCube)

When Nintendo’s GameCube launched in 2001, gamers were worried that the lack of a Mario game might mean they had nothing of substance to play. Super Monkey Ball and Wave Race were fun games to play with friends, but for a great single player experience, it looked like there might be nothing to keep them engaged. They needn’t have worried, however; Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II simultaneously showed off the power of the system and gave fans an amazing Star Wars game to boot.


Star Wars Rogue Leader


The first Rogue Squadron game had players flying a variety of ships from the films, and Rogue Leader expanded on that by offering more than ten different craft with varying armaments and control schemes, including the iconic X-Wings and (of course) the Millennium Falcon. Missions included destroying the first Death Star (again!), the battle of Hoth, and flying into the second Death Star to blow up its power source from the inside. The cinematic nature of the game left fans feeling like they were really in the films, and Denis Lawson (who played Wedge in the films) recorded new lines of dialogue for a sense of continuity.

A further sequel followed (also on GameCube) but wasn’t quite as popular or technically amazing, and Factor 5 (the creators of the game) made only one more game before closing down for good.



Star Wars: Battle Pod (2015) (Arcade)

For a truly immersive Star Wars experience, the Battle Pod is the ultimate way to experience the galaxy far, far away. It might not have the depth of some of the more complex games in this list, but as an arcade shooter, it’s one of the best out there.


Star Wars Battle Pod


Star Wars: Battle Pod follows a familiar formula of putting you in charge of vehicles during key moments in the Star Wars saga - you get to destroy the Death Star (yet again!), fly a snowspeeder on Hoth, and fly a speeder bike through the forests of Endor, among others. The key difference is in the presentation; Battle Pod is a literal pod that surrounds you with a screen that fills your vision, and encloses you in a bubble of sound, putting you as close to the action as is possible without programming your own Star Wars virtual reality game (which I can assure you won’t be as good as this).

Although there are only six levels in the game, there are varying skill levels and high scores to come back and beat, so the Battle Pod taps into that “just one more go” feeling that gamers know so well. Everyone should have one in their own home, though taking a stack of coins to an arcade that has one is almost as good.



Star Wars: Republic Commando (2005) (Xbox, Windows)

Based on characters from Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Republic Commando is a first-person shooter that puts you in control of the eponymous clone troopers during the Clone Wars. Surprisingly, it’s actually pretty good.


Star Wars Republic Commando


The game is squad-based and gives you basic control over your fellow clones, ordering them to take up positions, hack through doors, or employ simple combat tactics. While the story is nothing to write home about, the gameplay makes up for it with exciting battles, a good variety of enemies and decent graphics (for the time, at least). The main draw of the game is that it feels like being thrust into an all-out galactic war, and being only a small part of it. This may not appeal to purists who only love the original trilogy of films, but if you’re prepared to allow the prequels a place in your heart, Republic Commando is a decent addition to the canon.

It also benefits from a total lack of Anakin Skywalker moaning about how much he hates sand.



Star Wars Episode I: Racer (1999) (Nintendo 64, Windows, Mac OS, Sega Dreamcast, Game Boy Color)

The first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace, was awful. There’s no escaping that fact, and anyone who has watched it several times and convinced themselves otherwise is (in my opinion) suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. However, it did provide us with one saving grace: the fantastic Episode I: Racer, which echoes the podracing segment of the film.


Star Wars Episode I Racer


It could be argued that the podracing was the most exciting part of The Phantom Menace (it certainly wasn't all the talk of trade negotiations), so a game that emulated the high-speed, high-risk racing was all but inevitable. A whole selection of tracks are included, culminating in the tricky course seen in the film, and the sense of speed is tangible throughout. Players have to balance boost with risk of crashing or overheating, and can effect repairs along the way at a cost to their speed. This management gives the game a tactical element while also recreating the repairs that Anakin does to his pod while racing, so those of you who enjoyed the film and the exploits of an irritating child can pretend they’re really there.

Episode I: Racer really shone in multiplayer, as smashing your friends into stone walls or pushing them into lava pools is one of the most satisfying experiences an N64 can provide.



Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (2002) (Windows, Mac OS, Nintendo GameCube, Microsoft Xbox)

Confusingly, Jedi Knight II is actually the third game in a series that follows the exploits of Kyle Katarn, after Dark Forces and Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight. Numerical conventions have never been the Star Wars saga’s strong point, however (as evidenced by having to clarify, when someone mentions “the first film”, whether they mean Episode I or IV), so we’ll let it slide.


Star Wars Jedi Knight II Jedi Outcast


Having become a Jedi in the previous game, Kyle Katarn has conveniently forgotten all of his force abilities and how to use a lightsaber, so as a player you get to learn everything again from scratch. The game starts slowly, and as a first-person shooter the Jedi stuff doesn’t come in for a while, but once it does you’ll be decapitating stormtroopers and duelling with Dark Force users three at a time. Revisiting old locations and familiar characters such as Cloud City and Lando Calrissian is just the icing on the cake.

Like many other games, the multiplayer aspect of Jedi Knight II is where it really shines, with online servers still active today and allowing for 16-player lightsaber fights. Be warned that people take one-on-one duels very seriously on the internet - any cheating or interfering will probably get you banned from a server. It seems like the sort of thing a Sith would do, though.



Star Wars: TIE Fighter (1994) (DOS, Mac OS, Windows, Linux)

If you’ve ever thought that the Empire were in fact galactic peace-keepers and that the Rebellion were just terrorist scum, then TIE Fighter might be the game for you. You play as an Imperial pilot who has to take on missions destroying X-Wings and protecting Star Destroyers, and the change in tone makes for a game that is still treated with reverence by fans more than 20 years later.


Star Wars TIE Fighter


The first X-Wing game blew everyone away by letting you take on the role of a Rebel pilot, but graphical upgrades and more varied missions (as well as the ability to be really, really evil) made TIE Fighter the superior game. The game takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, when the Empire is at the height of its power, but you’ll still have to destroy a lot of fighters and fly with the expertise of a top pilot to prevail. Optional secondary objectives are provided by a mysterious member of the Emperor’s Inner Circle, giving you the chance to earn favour with the most evil person in the galaxy. Who wouldn’t want that?

TIE Fighter was followed by a few more sequels, but they never matched the quality of the second game in the series. Sometimes it pays to be the bad guy.



Star Wars Galaxies (2003) (Windows)

While many Star Wars games give you the chance to be a Jedi, a bounty hunter or an ace pilot, only Star Wars Galaxies gives you the option to play as a doctor, a dancer or a barber.


Star Wars Galaxies


Star Wars Galaxies WAS a massively multiplayer online role playing game (or MMORPG, to use the catchy initialism), set shortly after A New Hope. Players could choose from a variety of iconic Star Wars races including humans, Wookiees and Twileks, and were then free to choose a career path that could be changed at any time. Limited skill points meant that only a handful of professions could be mastered at any one time, so players could become great with a rifle but unable to heal wounds, or excellent at making food but terrible at building droids. This, combined with the fact that every item in the game was crafted by players, meant everyone depended on each other and the in-game economy, rather than playing alone. While the combat was decent (if not fantastic), many players would play as non-combat roles, changing the looks of other players or making in-game money by mining for resources.

Sadly, Sony Online Entertainment made several unpopular changes to the game that led to players leaving in droves, and the newly-launched World of Warcraft (you might have heard of that) killed any chance the game had at a resurrection. However, unofficial servers still exist (that emulate the game from before the terrible changes) so you can still get your fix of dancing in Jabba’s palace and hunting womp rats.



Star Wars: Empire at War (2006) (Windows, Mac OS)

Most Star Wars games concentrate on a single character or small group in the conflict between the Rebellion and the Empire, but Empire at War takes a larger view and gives you control of entire armies at a time.


Star Wars Empire at War


Players take on the role of leading one faction or the other, controlling squads of troopers, land vehicles, space fighters, capital ships and even the Death Star, trying to wipe their enemies from the galaxy. The sheer scope of the game is its main selling point - sometimes in Star Wars games it’s easy to lose track of the bigger picture as you get involved with individuals, but Empire at War reminds you that these are meant to be Star Wars, not Star Small Skirmishes or Star Individual Duels.

As always, multiplayer is the main draw of the game, and seeing your opponent panic as he realises you’re about to blow up his Star Destroyers or kill one of his main characters is a joy.



Knights of the Old Republic (2003) (Xbox, Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android)

While most Star Wars games expand on events from one or more of the films, Knights of the Old Republic is set almost 4,000 years before The Phantom Menace, giving developers BioWare a lot of freedom in both the story and setting, while still remaining true to the ethos of Star Wars.


Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic


The player takes control of Revan, an amnesiac who has come up against the evil Sith Lord Malak and survived, but must now track down Malak’s source of power and ultimately defeat him. Where Knights of the Old Republic really shines is in the writing; as a role-playing game the story takes precedence over the action, and BioWare were true masters of the genre in 2003 - before the dark times. Before the EA acquisition.

Recently ported to iOS and Android, gamers of 2003 would be shocked to see such a top-rated game playable on a phone, but the game still holds up today and is worth downloading for any Star Wars fan.



So, those are my top ten Star Wars games of all time. I hope you agree with most of them, but I’m sure some of you think this list needs some refinement. Do you think I should have included Shadows of the Empire or Battlefront? Should Masters of Teras Kasi have been on the list? No, no it shouldn’t. But I promise not to tear your arms out of your sockets like a wookiee if you disagree. Let me know! You can get in touch with me through the comments below, via Facebook, Twitter, Google +, or email [email protected].

Written By: Dave Morgan

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