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Star Wars Video Games Through the Years

Article posted on 5/7/2020

Monday was Star Wars Day, and as I’m writing this it’s currently Revenge of the 5th, so...I’m just declaring that this week is “Star Wars Week” and so you’re getting a Star Wars blog. Yub nub!

I am prone to nostalgia, I fully admit this. Star Wars, in and of itself, is full of those old, wonderful memories for me - my Dad raised me and my sister on the movies, and our favorite Friday night ritual consisted of tackling him when he got home from work, popping popcorn, and settling in for one of the films - if my sister and I had our choice, it was almost always Return of the Jedi. Dad also was pretty quick to pick up one of those “newfangled Nintendo systems” when they came out because he’s an engineer who loved to mess around with new gadgets.

I think my Dad found a particular joy in finding games that he could play with me and my sister jointly (we played a lot of Contra), so when he found Star Wars: A New Hope for the system he picked it up for us.

Seriously, I know there’s a small subset of the population for whom old school Nintendo games are and were no big deal, but holy cow - that game was hard. It took my 8-year old self years to be skilled enough to even get off of Tatooine, and even then I’d make it to the Cantina, get Han, and then promptly bite it.

I’m not sure that’d fare much better these days, to be honest, which is why YouTube is such a gift. In case you’d like to squint at a screen for 30 minutes and see someone blitz the game with no deaths, here’s the link below.

Man, old Nintendo games are nothing like games nowadays. Graphics aside, there’s no mini-map and virtually no guidance on where to go or what to do next. In fact, the entire game relies completely on you having knowledge of the movie in order to piece together what’s happening. 

Originally, this blog was going to be called “(Some of) The Best Star Wars Games ever,” and then when I realized I was going to talk about the NES Star Wars: A New Hope, I...had to change the title, LOL.

What got me thinking about Star Wars in the realm of video games, actually, was a happy memory I had regarding my grandfather. He and my grandma used to live around the block from us, so I’d spend many school afternoons over at their place until mom and dad got home from work. In the mid 90’s, home computers were becoming a thing, and when my grandpa got his it came with an assortment of games (my favorite of which was Monkey Island - incidentally also LucasArts - but that’s another blog entirely).

Included among the games (or honestly, perhaps he got it later, it was over 25 years ago so my memory is hazy) was the 1993 X-Wing game, which I seem to recall he specifically bought a joystick to play. Neither of us were particularly good at it, but it was one of the first truly immersive video game experiences I remember, where we were the pilots aiding the Rebels in fighting off the Empire. To an 8 year old, it was pretty damn cool - for my grandpa’s part, I think he enjoyed the game, but loved watching his grandchild be excited even more.

I went and looked at a list of Star Wars video games in Wikipedia because I wanted a full scope of what was out there (because I knew I hadn’t played them all). As it turns out, I’ve played a healthy fraction, but that’s all it is - a fraction. I could write whole paragraphs on the Jedi Knight games (I played a lot of Jedi Academy in college), Rogue Squadron (I, II, and III), or on Battlefront. I also could find a fair amount to say about the LEGO Star Wars games (which, while clunky in their controls at times, I totally adore).

Knights of the Old Republic deserves more than a mention, but this blog is already long. This game was revolutionary, bringing us deeper into the Star Wars lore and providing an immersive and emotional story and series of choices (which later, as it turns out, would turn out to be a hallmark of most BioWare games). In fact, thinking about it, I’m due to play it again soon.

To round this out, I feel obliged to mention a little game that came out around the time all those motion-censored dance games were a “thing” called Kinect Star Wars: Galactic Dance Off. I fully admit to having played this - I’d say I have no shame here, but honestly, there’s definitely a little shame. I can’t have been the only one who was entertained by the swapped lyrics and themed names for the dance moves!

Talk about a great disturbance in the force. 

What’s your favorite Star Wars video game? Share with me!