Star Wars is arguably one of the biggest video game franchises of all time, with over 100 wildly different games published over a thirty-year period. With shooters, action platformers, real time strategy, pilot simulations and RPGS, there’s a Star Wars video game for just about every type of gamer. This week, EA and DICE released Battlefront, which puts players in control of Stormtroopers and Rebel Soldiers fighting epic ground and air battles. Not only does Battlefront feature battles made famous during the original trilogy of movies, players will soon be able to reenact the Battle of Jakku, an important battle linking past Star Wars movies with the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
To celebrate the release of Battlefront, here’s five of our favorite Star Wars games of all time:
One of the first games with 3D graphics, Star Wars: X-Wing allowed players to climb into an X-Wing and fight the Empire in the days leading up to the famous Battle of Yavin. Like many other pilot simulation games, Star Wars: X-Wing was a “first person” game, with players actually sitting inside an X-Wing cockpit, complete with console readouts and targeting. With advanced graphics and an immersive storyline, X-Wing was an instant bestseller and spawned several years of expansions, sequels and spinoffs. One (unofficial) sequel, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter introduced an early form of online multiplayer play, allowing thousands of would-be pilots to get their first taste of blowing strangers up on the Internet.
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
While X-Wing was a “flight simulator” style game, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron featured more traditional style of vehicle combat. The games follow Luke Skywalker and his infamous Rogue Squadron (a group of ragtag X-Wing pilots first introduced by Dark Horse Comics) as they completed missions in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. With challenging missions and plenty of achievements and vehicles to unlock, Rogue Squadron had a high replay factor The first Rogue Squadron game also had an amazing secret Easter egg. Game developers included the Naboo Starfighter from the Phantom Menace as an unlockable vehicle, but kept the ship hidden for months until the new movie arrived in theatres. Rogue Squadron became popular enough to justify two sequels, plus a spinoff game based around The Phantom Menace.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
One of the most popular Star Wars games of all time, Knights of the Old Republic was a turn based role playing game set millennia before the start of the Star Wars movies. Players controlled a fledgling Jedi trying to stop a powerful Sith army from overwhelming the Republic. As the game progressed, the player learned that he/she once was a Sith Lord, who the Republic captured and brainwashed after their apprentice (the new Sith Lord leading the attack on the Republic) betrayed him/her. Fans of the game loved both the gameplay and how choices made by the player could sway their character towards either the light or dark side of the Force. Knights of the Old Republic won countless awards and spawned two sequels: a second RPG game and The Old Republic, an MMORPG with over a million active players.
Super Star Wars
As with other popular movies of the time, Star Wars got its very own traditional “platformer” video game adaptation in 1991, featuring Luke Skywalker and Han Solo gunning their way through the events of the first Star Wars movie. LucasArts remade the game a year later for the Super Nintendo as Super Star Wars, adding several new levels and Chewbacca as a playable character. In addition to the traditional jumping and shooting found in platform games, Super Star Wars also featured several vehicle levels, where characters had to dodge and kill enemies while flying an X-Wing or driving a landspeeder. LucasArts later released two additional games based on Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, each adding with new playable characters like Leia or Wicket the Ewok and new powers and abilities. PlayStation recently re-released Super Star Wars on the Playstation Store, allowing fans to get a healthy dose of nostalgia before watching The Force Awakens.
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
In 1996, Lucasfilm flexed its merchandising muscles with the release of Shadows of the Empire, a multimedia extravaganza featuring a video game, novel, action figures, trading cards, comics and even a soundtrack of new, “original” music. Set during the year between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Shadows of the Empire followed mercenary Dash Rendar as he fought bounty hunters, raced speed bikes and helped Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia track down the missing Han Solo. An exclusive for the then fledgling Nintendo 64 system, the Shadows of the Empire game only had one problem: it peaked early. After an amazing opening level (Rendar battles through the Battle of Hoth, downing an AT-AT and then escaping the planet through the asteroid field), the rest of the game felt dull by comparison. Shadows of the Empire proved to be a popular choice for early N64 owners and sold over a million copies.