Star Wars games hold a unique place in the halls of gaming history. Where many license tie-in games are hastily assembled packages with a loose connection to their source material, Star Wars games reign supreme. Lucasfilm has dedicated multiple in-house studios and publishers to bring the famous galaxy from far, far away to everything from the Atari to the PlayStation 5.
With such a vast library of games, who would be crazy enough to rank them all? Probably not the same guy who didn’t give Silent Hill 2 the top rank in a Silent Hill rankings list. That man is nothing but a string of thought crimes.
The games are ranked worst to best. I’m sure there will be no controversies about this one! *wink*
Bantha Poodoo – Attack of the Clones for GBA
There are many questionable Star Wars games. Some of them are famously bad, yet none are quite so awful as Attack of the Clones for GBA. To say it’s “developed” by David A. Palmer Productions feels… generous. Despite attempting to be a detailed 2.5D brawler, it’s an absolute wreck from start to finish.
Many environments and enemies don’t even look like they belong in Star Wars. The gameplay is about as deep as Anakin Skywalker’s flirting technique. Worse still, Anakin’s controls and animations are stiffer than C-3PO without an oil can. Everything is just walking from left to right, bashing enemies like a nervous ten-year-old. Outside of the odd tedious vehicle sequence, that’s it. The platforming mechanics are as non-existent as the storytelling.
To the game’s credit, those on-rails vehicle sections do feature some basic polygonal environments, which was rare for the time. They don’t play well at all and are hideous to look at. If nothing else, at least try to push the hardware. Everything else might as well be any of the hundreds of shovelware sidescrollers of the SNES era.
It’s for all these reasons that Attack of the Clones ranks so low on this list. Other bad Star Wars games have some interesting or laughable moments. All Attack of the Clones has is the privilege of being one of Palmer Productions’ last three games.
How Did This Happen Twice?? – Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith for Java
Now you’re probably thinking, “Surely, Lucas Arts would learn from Attack of the Clones and not make another terrible 2D platforming brawler.” You’d be wrong! Some great games are based on Revenge of the Sith. This isn’t one of them. It’s essentially the same mediocre game as last time, but for Java phones.
At least now there are no nauseating attempts at 3D graphics, and ironically the field of view is larger than before. However, it’s even shorter and more frustrating to play. Who kept greenlighting this exact style of game? Why are there two of these things? Who were these meant to appeal to? People, who miss really bad SNES tie-in platformers?
Wait, This Exists? – Star Wars for Apple Ii
“Elijah, what the hell is this?” you’re probably asking. Well, friend, it’s Star Wars… for the Apple II. This game was unlicensed but did receive a commercial release. And… what you see is what you get. This is quite possibly the most repetitious Star Wars game in existence. With only a single animated sprite of various Tie-Fighters and roughly two sound effects, it’s about as thrilling as trade disputes in the Republic Senate.
The only reason this ranks higher than Attack of the Clones? In terms of technical accomplishment, Star Wars for Apple II was still at least somewhat impressive for its day. It also rightly predicted that space dogfights would be in high demand by fans. It wouldn’t be until the Atari 2600 that we’d actually see an official Star Wars game on home systems though.
But Why Though? – Star Wars Battlefront: Mobile Squadrons
The Battlefront games are beloved by many. They’ve got huge battles that let you relive the classic Star Wars battles however you please. Mobile Squadrons isn’t that. Mobile Squadrons is whack-a-mole. If this is an FPS, then Where’s Waldo is a Sniper Elite sequel. There’s a reason you’ve never heard of this entry, and it’s best to leave it in the past.
The Force Leashed – Star Wars: Jedi Arena for Atari 2600
Okay, hear me out – what if Pong, but we made it clunkier and more passive-aggressive. Now make it about two Jedi Knights waving around phallic lightsabers to deflect blaster bolts. That’s Jedi Arena in a nutshell. It features multiple difficulty settings and both singleplayer and multiplayer. Unfortunately, Parker Brothers forgot to factor fun into the equation.
Oh Gosh My Eyes Hurt – Flight of the Falcon for GBA
Wow, there were a lot of Star Wars games for GBA, weren’t there? At a certain point, they stop being terrible, I assure you, just not yet! We still have to talk about Pocket Studios’ Flight of the Falcon! Which, confusingly, isn’t actually just about flying the Millennium Falcon. Instead, you’ll fly and drive everything from landspeeders to X-Wings besides the iconic Falcon. It’s all wrapped up in on-rails dogfighting action that… if you really squint, you might be able to comprehend.
Flight of the Falcon is attempting a true 3D flight game on the GBA. Sadly Flight of the Falcon also demonstrates how utterly nauseating that can be. There are frequent bright flashes on top of the eye-straining visuals. The framerate dips into what feels like the single digits, chugging along like a diseased bantha. Not to be outdone, the audio is also incredibly grainy, compressed to the point that familiar sounds are crumpled beyond easy recognition.
The worst section by far is a speederbike sequence that’s practically unplayable, but that implies that other sections actually are. Despite being only roughly an hour-long, you will doubtless spend a few hours trying to merely parse apart what’s happening on screen. Or, better yet, don’t! No one should suffer through Flight of the Falcon, no matter how morbidly curious you may feel.
Oh Gosh My Ears Hurt – Episode 1 Racer for Gbc
Did you think the thing the pod racers were missing in The Phantom Menace was ear-splittingly unpleasant audio that sounds like someone violently smothering a dial-up modem? Then you’re in luck! If you’re literally anyone else, then my goodness, don’t even press start on the video above. It’s abhorrent. This sound design is so terrible it might rip the fabric of reality apart!
Melted Plastic – Lego Star Wars Ii for Ds
You’re probably wondering how a LEGO Star Wars game ranked this low on the list. I mean, come on, it’s LEGO Star Wars, what’s the worst that could happen?
…You haven’t the faintest idea, padawan.
Initially, LEGO Star Wars II for DS seems like an improvement over the home console version. Vehicles are no longer constantly hurtling forward but instead move around like their Minifigure counterparts. Levels are better paced, with less enemy spam.
Yet things start to get weird before you’re even finished with the empire strikes back.
For one, the game is overloaded with technical glitches. The final battle over Endor is such a mess that you can fly outside of the skybox. It’s possible to force vehicles as playable characters inside the lobby cantina area without issue. The game’s AI struggles at many points to be a real threat. You can tow-cable enemies besides the AT-ATs on Hoth. The Endor speederbike level is such an unmitigated disaster that I can’t believe it shipped in this state.
Playing LEGO Star Wars II is like watching a game collapse as you play it. The further you go, the less functional it becomes. Then later sections similarly layer on tedium in addition to the glitches. The Jabba Sail Barge sequence might be one of the most frustrating platforming sequences I’ve ever endured in a kid’s game.
The Empire’s Call of Dooty – Star Wars: Imperial Academy for iPhone and iPad
A long, long time ago, the mobile gaming scene finally embraced touchscreen controls. With this revolution came twin-stick experiences like first-person shooters boasting feasible controls. One of the earliest attempts to create an FPS experience for Star Wars was none other than Imperial Academy. Which, if this is how the Empire actually trains its soldiers, leaves a lot of questions in mind. For instance, how are they covering up all these dead bodies?!
Players would engage in a 4 player deathmatch straight out of Goldeneye 64, each as their customizable Stormtrooper. And… that’s it. There’s no nuance to the combat – your blaster fire is very sporadic – and no co-op or campaign. Though the maps were creative reworks of key areas from various famous planets, the gameplay is just a poor man’s Quake. Except you can’t even pick up power weapons or modifiers. You’re stuck with whatever loadout you chose to spawn in with.
Though it was an impressive technical accomplishment for its day, there’s little here to hold nostalgia over. It was delisted years ago from the App Store as well. As such, it’ll only be missed by Stormtroopers.
Strange Wars – Namco’s Star Wars for Famicom
Believe it or not, there was once a time when Star Wars wasn’t everywhere. So, for certain regions, particularly East Asia, you got some odd… I want to say “adaptations” but I feel like that’s being generous. To Namco’s credit, their Japanese, NES exclusive Star Wars game isn’t a terrible platformer or anything. Much like Attack of the Clones for GBA, it’s a fairly standard sidescroller with some vehicle sections in first-person.
Unlike Attack of the Clones, Star Wars for NES is actually competently designed. It’s absolutely bonkers. Darth Vader repeatedly duels Luke Skywalker, only to turn into various animals, including a wampa on Hoth?! Then there’s the ability to play as either Han or Leia besides an inexplicably brunette Luke. R2 and C-3PO can provide support while in certain areas. Chewbacca will even take over flying the Falcon if Han dies in your playthrough.
While the game is certainly creative, it’s far from a super accurate tie-in game. Worse still, the game is far from gentle with players, happy to maim you without hesitation. Despite being an impressive feat of its day, only those obsessed with cultural oddities and NES-era platformers need to look this one up. Still, it’s at least fascinating to look back on.
Monochrome Dreams – The Official NES Star Wars Games for NES & Game Boy
However strange Namco’s take on Star Wars may have been, it’s more focused than the official NES games. Featuring only A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, the duology is a frustrating nightmare of old-school gaming. You’re required to know things you wouldn’t guess at first, everything is trying to kill you constantly, and the best way to succeed is to cheese every threat.
Don’t get me wrong, Super Star Wars wasn’t a walk in the park either, but these games are just brutal. The first sees Luke handling like a floating Princess Peach and twice as vulnerable. To make matters worse, most environments are so bland that you’ll be numbed into a stupor of waiting for the painful experience to finally end. You can tell it really wants to be an epic adventure, but instead, it’s an exercise in frustration.
Then when you get to the Empire Strikes Back, Luke’s leapfrogging everywhere across non-linear, maze-like sidescrolling environments. To the sequel’s credit, there’s a significant increase in detail and authenticity. There are vehicle sequences that aren’t terrible, and you use your Force powers more like in the Bandai game. It’s still a tedious experience due to how fidgety Luke controls. It doesn’t help that the sound design in each game is pretty darn awful. Your blaster in Empire especially displeases, howling like an overclocked GPU fan scraping.
Most notably, both games would be re-released for Gameboy, which was an impressive feat for the time. An even more impressive feat would’ve been an experience still worth engaging with today, but these games are definitely better left to the NES-era enthusiasts and speedrunners of the world.
The Obligatory Tower Defense Game – Star Wars: Battle for Hoth for iPhone
You don’t remember this game. I barely remember this game. Even the people who made it can probably barely recall this forgettable cash-in. The premise is actually a solid basis for a tower defense, but the gameplay is just… I mean, look at it. There are free tower defense games on New Grounds with twice the action-packed excitement. Even the music sounds like a discount version of the themes fans know and love.
There’s plenty of room in the galaxy for a great Star Wars tower defense game, but this isn’t it.
Dance Dance Murderlution – The Force Unleashed for N-Gage & iOS
For a series with only “two” entries, The Force Unleashed is surprisingly expansive when it comes to reinterpretation. Lucasfilm commissioned demakes of their 7th gen classic for everything under the sun. It’s frankly amazing there isn’t a Force Unleashed port for smart fridges, though honestly, you could easily make the case for this version to do just that. Released for a variety of smartphones, most notably early iPhones and the N-Gage, The Force Unleashed’s mobile port is astonishingly bad.
For one, it’s an action-brawler that’s entirely on-rails and rhythm-based. Even the DS port was more technically complex than this version. Instead of 3D environments, you’ve got pre-rendered backgrounds. In lieu of player-driven combat, the most unique option afford you is to counter an enemy’s attacks instead of using whatever prescribed power is required.
That’s it, that’s the entire game.
Sometimes there’s at least an impressive amount of action on the screen, but the cumbersome inputs negate any potential rhythm-game fun. But hey, if you really want to torture yourself, there are some arcade survival arenas to mash your fingers against.
As if this weren’t bad enough, the game takes extreme liberties with the game’s story, cutting Master Kota almost entirely, and wholly removing Raxus Prime’s levels entirely. Many of the coolest moments are excluded, such as Vader faking Starkiller’s death, Shaak Ti’s duel by the saarlac pit, and PROXY’s escalating tests against Starkiller.
The only remarkable inclusion is a reused idea of Maris Brood being fought aboard a ship, as she was originally planned to be a Jedi leading a pirate crew. And don’t even get me started on the “dialogue”, half repurposed out of context, half nonsense. Less a port, more a xeroxed abomination, only those most morbidly curious should ever endure this experience.
…And Another Thing! – The Force Unleashed for Java
Just a quick aside, if you really, truly, absolutely need a Star Wars rhythm game, the better version by far is ironically the 2D Java version of the game. It still has the weirdly rewritten story, but at least the writing makes a modicum more sense to explain the changes. You also have a slight bit more control over how Starkiller moves around, and the levels are at least blissfully shorter.
There’s still no good reason to play it, but at least a somewhat functional version of the mobile game exists.
They See Me Scrollin’ – Star Wars: Battle Above Coruscant and Grievous Getaway for Java
Is your dream gaming experience a pair of slow-paced sidescrollers you have to play on your phone where you live out the same three to five-minute scene over and over? Is your dream to also have games with next to no sound effects? Well, have I got two games specifically for you and literally no one else!
Mission: Unplayable – Star Wars: Republic Commando: Order 66 for Java
Republic Commando is one of the highest-ranked games on this list, with good reason. It’s for just as much good reason that this game isn’t. Less a Republic Commando game and more an evolution of the other Revenge of the Sith sidescrollers, you command the remaining three members of Delta Squad executing Order 66. Except, this isn’t Delta Squad on their own adventure, but instead them literally going around and personally killing Jedi Masters from key moments in the Order 66 climax.
How does this work? No idea. Yet out of all the THQ mobile Star Wars games, this was actually a step in the right direction. A step, but not quite the leap certain other games would prove to be.
Wow There Are a Lot of These – All the Other Star Wars Mobile Games for Java, Ios, and Android
Okay, so, there are a lot of half-baked Star Wars mobile games. We’re gonna try and address as many of them as warrant mention. However, for everyone’s sanity, we’re gonna just say right now – there’s everything from a shameless Diner Dash clone to some super janky early 3D mobile action titles. Some augmented reality stuff too. Even a game starring the cast of Star Wars Rebels in the vein of Super Star Wars.
Most of it is delisted. Even more of it is pretty darn boring and/or terrible. That said, out of the piles of mobile mediocrity let’s not forget-
Bricked Upon Arrival – Lego Star Wars Games for Java
Yep, LEGO Star Wars had Java ports! Are any of them good? NOPE! They’re as exciting as watching paint dry. Is there anything impressive about them worth discussing? Well… they exist? There’s no co-op, no real sense of humor, and they tend to only focus on a part of each trilogy rather than on the greater scope of the saga. The art assets barely resemble LEGOs to boot, plus the difficulty is inexplicably higher than for some reason.
Is there a decent 2D version of LEGO Star Wars? Funny you should ask!
It’s Not Lego Star Wars Ii for Ds at Least! – Lego Star Wars Games for GBA
Now, I want to be fair here – LEGO Star Wars on GBA is a genuinely impressive accomplishment across the two GBA ports. Despite massive technical limitations, Travelers Tales did manage to create a somewhat reasonable approximation of the home console experience.
You can swap between party members, there are cute wordless cutscenes, and the visuals are crisp despite the blurry low resolution. It seems reasonable to assume that a number of these animations were rotoscoped from the 3D versions given how fluid they are. Even the vehicle sequences are included for The Original Trilogy, though they’re replaced with new on-foot levels in the Prequel Trilogy.
The problem is, despite the best efforts of the developers, the games are really dry and boring to play overall. Platforming is iffy, the presentation limitations are obvious, and though more characters can defend themselves, this leads to more drawn-out battles as well. Perhaps worst of all though, they inexplicably have a playable level where you actually execute Anakin’s murderous rampage of the Tusken Raider camp, which is, uh… that’s an interesting choice for a kid’s game.
As a result, the only real hook to playing this version is that there are some unique mechanics for characters, like R2 getting the ability to plant mines and Jar-Jar having booma bombs to toss. A few unique gags to the GBA’s cutscenes might be worth looking up on YouTube, but I can’t really see anyone going out of their way to play these games to completion nowadays.
Are You Bricking Kidding Me – All the Other LEGO Mobile Games for iOS & Android
Wow, there are a lot of these too. Most of them… are not very good either. I mean, they’re adequate to distract a five-year-old for a few minutes. They’re infinitely better than some of the mainline Star Wars mobile games. Still, yeesh, they have been cranking these out without much quality control.
Now, to be fair, the most recent efforts have been better. There’s Castaways, which is a Diablo-style action-RPG with decent, if not innovative, gameplay. Meanwhile, the RTS LEGO Star Wars: Battles was high profile enough to add to the Apple Arcade library. The vast majority of them though? Not destined to be played by many, that’s for sure.
There Was an Attempt – Kinect Star Wars for Xbox 360 Kinect
There’s been a lot of mockery of Kinect Star Wars over the years. It is, without a doubt, one of the most underbaked, unfocused Star Wars games ever made. To be fair to developer Terminal Reality, besides one horror game, no one had really figured out how to make a proper AAA Kinect game at this point. Combined with the Kinect’s downscaled hardware capacity, the early days of Kinect were rough. I mean, they didn’t stop being rough thereafter, but gosh you can feel the struggle when trying to play Kinect Star Wars.
To their credit, Terminal Reality didn’t put their eggs all in one basket. Besides a fairly barebones arcade brawler campaign, you’ve got pod racing, dancing, and a rancor rampage mode.
The trick is getting virtually any of them to work right.
While you’re effectively on-rails in every mode besides the rancor rampage, you otherwise have full freedom of motion. This leaves the Xbox 360 frequently struggling to piece together if, say, your leg raise means a jump or a kick, or if you’re slashing or deflecting blaster bolts. Dancing works far easier because it’s simply mimicking poses. Pod-racing is so sluggish that, despite being a great idea on paper, it has all the energy of an old bantha. Playing as a rancor, devouring random citizens is initially fun, only for the more complex actions of throwing and charging to fumble fruitlessly.
This isn’t even getting into some of the more tedious aspects like QUICKTIME EVENTS IN A GESTURE-BASED GAME! Yes, that is a thing that they programmed in! Though it was incredibly ambitious, even when functional, the gameplay is incredibly basic. Those who appreciate motion gaming might be tempted, but you’d be better served with Kinect Star Wars’ gorier peer, Rise of Nightmares. At least then you get electric brass knuckles that reliably hit your enemies.
The Worst Fighting Game – Star Wars: Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels for Wii
With an emphasis on duels and dashing and knightly heroics, you’d think a Star Wars fighting game would be a cinch. Yet, it’s taken many attempts to produce a Star Wars fighting game worth anyone’s money. Lightsaber Duels, based on the then brand new The Clone Wars movie and TV show, isn’t one of them.
The only remarkable aspect to lightsaber duels isn’t its gesture-based combat that barely engages, but instead just how incredibly short the game is. For a franchise packed to the brim with fully fleshed-out experiences, it’s astonishing how threadbare Lightsaber Duels is. I can’t even make a joke, it’s that barren of content or meaning. Before launch, its biggest selling point was reusing some cut content from the theatrical movie. Fortunately, its developers at Krome would go on to much greater things at a later time.
Cooler in Concept – Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series for PCVR, Oculus Quest, & PSVR
Vader Immortal sounded amazing when it was announced. A fully canonical VR experience where you got to see Vader in the early days of the Empire. You’d also learn more about the history of Mustafar, and eventually, fight the Dark Lord himself! Except, there’s a catch – Vader Immortal isn’t a traditional game. Not even a traditional VR game. It’s an “experience” with almost no risk of failure and very half-baked combat.
So, instead of an epic quest, you’re looking at a couple of hours standing around in a theme park ride that tells a tepidly dull tale. The most interesting moments rarely involve your participation, and the overall experience is so restrictive that a more traditional screen-based game would’ve been preferable. The tech on display is impressive, even on the lower resolution of a PSVR headset, but boy did this underdeliver for anyone expecting a VR Jedi Knight game.
A Literal Amusement Park – Star Wars: Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge for Oculus Quest
Can’t afford to go to Galaxy’s Edge in person? Yet still have enough money to afford a standalone VR headset? Well congratulations, ILM has the VR “experience” for you. Is this basically just Vader Immortal but now with more varied objectives? Pretty much. Like Vader Immortal, only ultra VR enthusiasts and fans of the new Star Wars timeline really need to bother.
A Hard Crash – Star Wars: Racer Revenge for PS2
Star Wars: Episode I: Racer is by far one of the most celebrated games in the entire franchise. This is why I’m so surprised to report that the sequel is utterly terrible. Designed by Rainbow Studios, who typically design dirtbike and ATV games, where once the emphasis was on, you know, racing… now it’s on vehicular combat. Don’t get me wrong, you still are racing, but it’s made abundantly clear that ramming your opponents into dust is the core focus.
Everything that worked in Episode I: Racer is broken here. Death is permanent now, so vehicles tend to run slower. Course layouts are wider as well, even though the AI tends to all follow the same route. Most of the immersive bits have been stripped out and replaced with generic menus. There are new bonus objectives, but getting the biggest payout in the initial tournament comes from wrecking at least three other podracers.
To top it all off, there are oddly far fewer podracers overall, with the supplement of more gag racers to be unlocked through the bonus objectives. Want to see Watto, Darth Maul, or Darth Vader in a podracer? Well you’re in luck! Do they warrant playing this game? Oh gosh no! The new alien racers are also hideous in design – both their bodies and their pods.
It’s truly confounding that this received two different remaster re-releases on PS3 and PS4 in 2015 in lieu of many other, better Star Wars games. While yes, you can play this game on many different iterations of PlayStation these days, that doesn’t mean you ever should.
No – Bombad Racing for You Don’t Want to Know What Systems Its On, or You Might End up Playing It.
Nope. Nuh-uh. No. Not going there. We all agreed to never speak of this again. Never again!
Still better at racing than Racer Revenge at least.
Wii Would Like to Skip – The Force Unleashed Ii for Wii
While the original Force Unleashed received the lion’s share of ports for everything from the N-Gage to the PS2, The Force Unleashed II only ever received DS and Wii ports alongside their HD counterparts. We’ll be getting to the DS entry later, as it’s actually quite good!
The Force Unleashed II for Wii, is not. Oh Force above, it is not a good game.
Despite developer Redfly showing promise with their work on the Wii port of the Ghostbusters videogame, this mediocre assemblage of mechanics is laughable. The visuals have been downgraded to a cartoonish extent, with oddly worse-looking pre-rendered cutscenes as well. While it does boast several cut sequences from the HD version, none of them are all that enjoyable, and it similarly lacks some of the HD version’s highlights.
Worst of all though, the combat is just terrible. Almost everything right about Krome Studios’ port of the first game is absent here. You mash a single button for the majority of your saber attacks. There’s even less enemy variety than the HD version. The mere act of using Force Throw literally demands THRUSTING your Wiimote at your TV, an action that necessitated the inclusion of wrist straps during the console’s earliest years.
The Board Games – Star Wars Monopoly for PC and Chess for PC & Sega CD
I mean… *gesticulates* besides some unique animations and clip usage by each game, and Anthony Daniel’s narration of Monopoly, these are just board games. Not bad boardgames, mind you, but it’s not like Star Wars Chess lets you perform an orbital bombardment, or Monopoly involves the Galactic Senate making treaties over your purchases.
Truly the only novelty of either is how Chess has an elaborate series of death animations for all your favorite Star Wars characters – well, besides Han Solo, who is strangely absent.
Ever wanted to see Yoda get shot to death then trampled by an AT-ST? Then this is the game for you!
The Minigame Mmo – Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures
Fun fact, there have actually been more than two Star Wars MMOs. The reason you’ve never heard of the third one is that you essentially had to be a kid obsessed with The Clone Wars to be invested in a thinly veiled set of microgames. Rhythm-based lightsaber duels. Basic tower defense. On-rails flight sequences. Card games. All of it is made to run on virtually any computer.
To Sony Online Entertainment’s credit, they really did try to make it a full-fledged MMO, boasting a majority of the series’ cast and above-average animation work for a budget free-to-play experience. Yet, that wasn’t enough to really wow anyone not enamored with the show. Tons of cosmetics featuring in-universe references plus the greater efforts to make players feel like they were part of an actual story were great touches.
There are those who remember the game fondly enough that they’re working on a fairly functional emulator, so if you do have nostalgia for Clone Wars Adventures, you can rekindle those memories. For anyone expecting a more traditional online experience, Clone Wars Adventures just doesn’t have enough to warrant going through the workarounds to experience it.
The Bad Fighting Game – Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi for PS1
The main antagonist was set to feature in one of the next major novels, characters from the Expanded Universe would appear in the game, and early screenshots looked “impressive, most impressive” for 1997. Yet, Lucas Arts’ Masters of Teras Kasi is anything but.
The real shame of it all is that Capcom was actually interested in creating a Star Wars fighting game. Lucas Arts eventually passed on their pitch, only for Capcom to take the pitch and release it as the much better reviewed Star Gladiator. By contrast, Lucas Arts had to learn how to work with the PlayStation from the ground up, as well as how to design a fighting game. The turmoil behind the scenes seeped into the game’s execution.
There are some who defend Teras Kasi as being simply misunderstood. A few deeper cut nods like Jodo Kast make their way in, and the game’s antagonist, Adren Lyn, also featured in a full-length novel around the same time. While it’s cool to be able to finally duel Darth Vader as Mara Jade, the controls are infuriatingly difficult to learn. Plus, no one was asking to play as a Tusken Raider named Hoar. It’s hard to look at the game favorably in light of much better executed Star Wars fighting games that came later.
Much as it may be noteworthy for trying so darn hard, Masters of Teras Kasi is far from the best Lucas Arts project on PlayStation going forward.
A Study in Durasteel – The Edutainment Games
Okay, there’s a lot of these things, and almost all of them were hypothetically for learning. In reality, the only ones to encourage kids to learn were Gungan Frontier and Pit Droids, the former about appreciating nature, the latter about logic puzzles. Gungan Frontier also has the rare distinction that its events later came up in Dark Horse’s Republic comics storyline. A story where-in all the player’s hard work is… demolished by a bioweapon terrorist attack by the Trade Federation. Oof.
Anakin’s Speedway, Early Learning Activity Center, Jabba’s Game Galaxy, Jar Jar’s Journey Adventure, and Yoda’s Challenge Activity Center were more just very basic adventure games for kids. I remember them being cute and amusing as a kid, and the art style is pleasant, but very few players are going to intentionally seek these things out. They’re an artifact of a bygone age when edutainment games were common enough even Lucasfilm saw a point investing in the market.
Oh, and yeah – there was that weird Falcon playset/keyboard rhythm game thing. I’m not even sure you could get that running on a modern keyboard, but that doesn’t really matter seeing as it’s not good. It is very weird though. Still not sure how that was supposed to be educational or entertaining, but it exists!
It Beats Playing Minesweeper – Yoda’s Stories for PC
Yoda’s Stories is one of two Lucas Arts auto-generated adventures meant to kill time like Minesweeper but with a tad more storytelling and meat to the gameplay. Except that the majority of that autogeneration starts to repeat itself in no time, resulting in a repetitious mire of isometric adventure. It’s inoffensive and did try to push the boundaries of casual PC desktop games, but ironically made itself less appealing to most by nature of layering more context onto the simple framework. I guess that means we’re never hearing the epic story behind Solitaire either, eh?
The Legend of Zelda: Skywalker Sword – Star Wars: The New Droid Army for GBA
Have you ever heard the tragedy of The New Droid Army? It’s not a tale a Lucas Arts executive would tell you. Initially planned as a Diablo clone for GBA set during the Clone Wars, even featuring the ability to take to the dark side rather than stay in the light as a young Jedi Knight, things took a turn. However, George Lucas decided the project should focus on Anakin Skywalker, leading to a late pivot into an entirely new direction.
The result is more in the vein of Legend of Zelda gone isometric, with Anakin running around three worlds, interacting with friendly NPCs, and dueling all manner of natural and mechanical threats.
Despite having to essentially rebuild most of their game from scratch, the developers at Helixe rose to the challenge and crafted an impressively animated, fully realized adventure. There’s a rather Dark Souls-like approach to how your Force stamina meter works, combined with acrobatic combat in the vein of the Jedi Knight games.
There are several significant connections to the expanded universe as well. Yet, Lucas also insisted they write in Count Dooku’s death two years prior to Revenge of the Sith, leading to a lot of eyebrows being raised until scribe Abel G. Pena was able to create an in-universe explanation.
Despite all the drama surrounding the title, the biggest shame is it’s simply not as exciting as the original premise. What came out is fine, but nothing you need to dig out your GBA or an emulator for. The GBA is far from the ideal platform for this sort of lightsaber combat. It’s a far more interesting game to hear about behind the scenes than to actually play.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for Java
Okay so, picture Heavy Rain meets WarioWare, but it’s a Star Wars game. Pretty weird, right? But, this led to one of the better THQ mobile games. Essentially a series of interconnected minigame stages, The Empire Strikes Back’s mobile phone incarnation tries to fully adapt the cinematic experience of the beloved film into mini gameplay experiences. And you know what? It’s not terrible! Which at this point for THQ mobile Star Wars games is sadly high mark of quality.
With a little more depth and replayability, this could’ve easily been a proper GBA game. There’s a lot to comment on, but neither is there much to complain about. It’s a perfectly adequate mobile tie-in game. The real question is – why only The Empire Strikes Back? We may never know.
The Angry Birds Star Wars Games for *inhales* PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, Wii-U, 3DS, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Fire OS, & Roku
I’m not saying it was any different than usual Angry Birds save for some Star Wars theming, but if nothing else, you gotta acknowledge the absolutely absurd amount of platforms these two games were ported to. Even by Star Wars standards, this was a bit much. There was even a Facebook version, but that’s been disabled for a few years now.
Too Many Subtitles! – Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes for PC, Wii, PS2, PSP, PS3, & Xbox 360
A key part of what makes the best Star Wars games so great is how they buck the trend of the cheap tie-in game feel. Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes decided to buck that trend by being a twin of barebones arcade experiences. You know a game is aiming for the lowest common denominator if dying doesn’t even restart a checkpoint but instead respawns you where you just died. Whether you’re slashing through Separatist droids as a Jedi or blasting them as a Clone Trooper, you’re in for an extremely threadbare time.
It’s not that the ideas for Republic Heroes are terrible or anything. Taking control of droids with your saber piercing their brain is a cute concept that fits the cartoon’s tone. The story introduces Cad Bane before his grand reveal later in the show. Levels are rapid-paced, presented like playable lost episodes from the TV show. All the cast return, in addition to Troy Baker as a new antagonist exclusive to the game.
The problem is none of that comes close to mattering.
With such basic controls, unchallenging enemies, and basic scenario design, even a five-year-old would be hard-pressed to call the game engaging. While it’s truly remarkable that the HD console experience was fully ported to Wii, PS2, and PSP, it’s not a journey worth taking. The only truly impressive aspect of the game is its visual presentation, which is just like the show, with arguably at times better lighting than the episodes coming out around release.
The biggest insult done to Krome Studios’ efforts here? The PC version, the only port still purchasable, is locked in with Games for Windows Live, which requires tedious workarounds to get functioning. If you don’t, you can’t even save your progress, requiring you to play the PC version in a single sitting otherwise. In so many ways, Republic Heroes is such a missed opportunity.
They Named a Lot of Things \”the Clone Wars\”, Didn’t They? – Star Wars: The Clone Wars for Java
So, it’s the mid-2000’s, and smartphones haven’t quite swallowed the mobile market yet. What’s a developer to do? Apparently, release a surprisingly fun squad-shooter. Ironically this game has more in common with Republic Commando than THQ’s Republic Commando game, with you leading a squad through multiple hostile, isometric environments.
It’s not close to the best Star Wars game, but for early mobile gaming, it ain’t bad. Characters from the show appear, there’s a solid visual presentation – it’s a THQ mobile game that doesn’t fill you with a deep sense of cringe! “A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.”
The Rarest Arcade Game – Star Wars: Starfighter Arcade
We’ll dig into Star Wars: Starfighter’s home release in due time, but this one’s… weird. It may be, hands down, one of the rarest released Star Wars videogames. Why is it so rare? Because, by all accounts, only a handful of arcade cabinets were produced for this alternate version of the game.
It only features five levels, with new bosses to fight, but there are next to no records of the game even existing online. It allegedly is a good bit of fun, but this one’s such a mystery that we’re mostly acknowledging it for historical relevance than anything else. Used cabinets go for thousands of dollars, but hey, if any rich Star Wars fans manage to track down a unit, maybe the rest of us can finally see what all the fuss was about.
Was There Demand for This? – The Sims 4: Journey to Batuu for PC, PS4, and Xbox One
So uh, yeah… you can jam a Star Wars theme park, one themed around the most divisive trilogy in the whole franchise, into your copy of Sims 4 if you feel like it. I’m sure someone out there is pleased they don’t have to install ten mods to have Kylo Ren and Rey Skywalker running around in their Sims abode, but it’d sure be cheaper than buying this expansion pack.
If nothing else, it means you can visit Galaxy’s Edge without spending a boatload to get into Disney World? No VR headset required either!
Bleep Bloop – The Atari Star Wars Trilogy
It may seem impossible, but a long time ago, this was THE definitive Star Wars home console gaming experience. While there were massively downscaled versions of the arcade games, the Atari Star Wars games remained a key fixture for their time. Whether you’re engaging in the Battle of Hoth or taking down a Death Star, there’s a heavily pixelated, repetitive, slow-paced experience for you!
Wait, you mean you don’t want to take out 26 AT-ATs in a row, slowly chipping away at their health? Or whittle away at the Death Star as a crudely drawn Millennium Falcon? Well, yeah, you’d be completely in your right mind to say so. Despite being historically significant, these games are more antiques than worthwhile experiences. They’re foundational for the franchise’s gaming efforts, but there’s not a lot of nuances to be had when looking back on them.
Well, unless you wanted someone to fiercely argue that, had he applied himself just a little harder, Luke could’ve decimated the entire Imperial Blizzard task force himself. Lazy young Jedi, I tell ya, the padawans they’re teaching these days! *shakes gaffi stick*
Untwisted Metal – Star Wars: Demolition for PS1 & Dreamcast
A long time ago, one of the hottest forms of multiplayer gaming wasn’t shooters, but car combat games. Twisted Metal, Battle Tanks, and of course, there’s the obligatory Star Wars game. It’s a shame to have to rank this one so low because it really tries.
There are characters and environments from not only the original trilogy but The Phantom Menace, including the ruthless bounty hunter Aurra Sing. The draw distance is expansive. You’ve got adorkable FMV cutscenes pretending that anyone cares about the story in a car combat game. The only problem is… man, Demolition is boring.
I mean this is an absolutely wild free for all where Boba Fett flying around with just his jetpack and two Jawas on the back of a rancor merit the same danger as an actual AT-ST scout walker – and it’s still so boring. How do you do that?! Well, by introducing very slow movement on top of enemies who can take more than their fair share of punishment. Paired with sluggish controls, not even the craziest contestants can save Demolition from being purely mediocre.
But hey, it’s still better than Bombad Racing, so there’s that?
Plug It! – Jakks Pacific Plug It IN & Play TV Games for… Your TV
Remember when plug-and-play games were a thing? Jakks Pacific sure does! Not only did they produce four of these things, but the grand finale, Republic Squadron, was basically a Nintendo 64 and built-in lightgun in your hands. I specifically cite this one, because it’s the only one worth exploring if you’re really into niche gaming hardware. Republic Squadron won’t amaze you, but for a gimmick game, it’s fun.
Meanwhile, the Prequel Trilogy and Original Trilogy are represented in two anthologies of the minigame. The Prequels were developed by Griptonite, while the Original trilogy is handled by-
…Amaze Entertainment. The developers of LEGO Star Wars II for DS, but on an even tighter budget? Oh dear.
For what it’s worth, each anthology has some good games. While most of the minigames are a bust, the Prequel space battle above Coruscant evokes classic Bosconian action, with fun power-ups. The LAAT gunship game is also weirdly like a single-player MOBA, with players guiding Republic troops and ferrying them to capture enemy outposts.
The Original Trilogy fighting game (with only four characters) and a vertical scrolling shoot’em’up as an X-Wing are basic but functional. The big surprise is an elaborate side-scrolling series of vehicle stages that recreate the Battle of Endor far better than expected.
The rest of the games however are a mess. If you tracked down a “game key” expansion pack for the Prequels system, you also got a boring copy of missile command, and a super repetitive platformer starring Yoda.
The rest of Jakks Pacific isn’t quite so amusing. Lightsaber Battle Game (yes, that’s an actual name) makes Kinect Star Wars’ lightsaber duels look elegant. It’s essentially a motion-based, on-rails dungeon crawler. There are also two mediocre lightgun games, Blaster Strike, and a Clone Wars-themed equivalent, where you shoot poorly animated spries in what one could maybe argue are “story campaigns.” The last of these to grace store shelves incredibly came out as recently as 2015, but after that, the plug and play craze died down.
Congratulations, now, like me, you’re burdened with an overwhelming amount of knowledge about Jakks Pacific plug and play games!
Anger Leads to Hate – The Super Star Wars Trilogy for SNES
Look, I get it, there are people who love these three games. They are more than happy to master their speedruns till they’re faster than a ship jumped to hyperspace. For anyone with a sane level of patience though, I just can’t recommend these games. They will stomp you into the dirt and laugh about it. Even with the new Easy Mode in the PS4 port of the first Super Star Wars, the aggravating level of precision called for is just not what most players, let alone Star Wars fans, will want to endure.
If you can get past that, there’s some delightfully over-the-top action-platforming, full of tons of dubiously canonical enemies and extraneous stages starring the main cast across the original trilogy. The Mode 7 vehicle sections are thrilling, but the sheer pixelation on an HDTV can also be a bit hard to stare at for long. These games helped pave the way, and were a cut above those that came before, but gosh are they hard to come back to.
Hate Leads to Ragequitting – LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy for PC, PS2, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, & GameCube
Between you and me? This is probably the one I’m gonna get the most flack for, and you know what? I don’t care! I was the exact target demographic when this game came out and gosh did it feel like the game hated me even then. LEGO Star Wars was a simple but incredibly enjoyable action-platformer. TT Games’ much-acclaimed sequel decided the best way to follow that up was to throw pocket sand in your face, cackling with malevolent glee.
Don’t get me wrong, the sense of humor is fantastic, and there are some wonderful easter eggs, but there’s one foundational issue: enemy spam. Enemies will never stop spawning in certain levels, giving you no breathing room to explore without someone blasting you from behind. They’ll always steal vehicles, forcing you to blast them out of them. They’ll knock disguises off your character in a single shot, making certain sections aboard the Death Star an absolute nightmare.
And the vehicle-only sequences, gosh are they rough. Whether it’s an AT-ST or an X-Wing, every means of transportation handles like a Hutt nursing a hangover. Enemy spam remains a problem and these chapters just don’t fit the rest of the game. It’s telling that later entries would try and distance themselves from these core design flaws, but by nature of being tied to the Original Trilogy, there’s a lot of love for the game regardless. Regardless, even the Complete Saga would go on to tweak these levels, aiming to decrease player frustrations to some extent.
There is one special bonus to note, for fans of the PSP. This version, while excluding the Bounty Hunter levels and certain other features, has the finales of the original trilogy ported over. The ports aren’t quite perfect, with a few missing visual effects, but it’s still another distinct feature of the otherwise near 1:1 port of the console game to the handheld system.
Full Motion Pain – Rebel Assault for Windows, Sega CD, & 3DO
Rebel Assault is one of only two Star Wars games built entirely around Full Motion Video (FMV), a then cutting-edge technology to produce high fidelity graphics by using pre-recorded live-action or computer-generated visuals. It would prove successful enough to warrant a much better sequel we’ll get to later. For now, what you have to understand is – this game hates you and wants you to know that. Like many FMV games before it, there are infinitely more cutscenes demonstrating how you died horribly while characters comment on your lack of skill.
This isn’t because the game asks particularly taxing things of you. It’s an on-rails shooter with some light navigational moments where you have to guide your ship through hazardous environments. It’s simple enough you can practically play the game with just your mouse. That is if you can get it to calibrate right. That’s the breaking point for Rebel Assault – getting it to work properly.
On top of that, the hit detection for certain levels can be a tad ridiculous. What does and doesn’t constitute a collision can vary wildly from how things appear, made all the worse by the fuzzy compression of the FMVs on a modern display. Pair this with limited lives, and you’re in for an exacerbating ride.
If you can get it working, Rebel Assault is one of the best FMV games out there, with a film-length campaign and some cool setpieces. If you can’t get the controls to behave and aren’t keen on braving the odd difficulty spikes, you’re far better off with the sequel.
Acceptably Average – Jedi Power Battles for GBA
Okay, this is at least playable and resembles its home console port without being made of LEGOs. For a Star Wars Gameboy game on our list, that’s saying something! For its time, it was an impressive 2D recreation of its big brother on home consoles, but beyond that impressive feat, it’s mostly forgettable. You lose out on co-op play, platforming is more unnerving, and the visual effects take a massive hit. It’s functional and worth acknowledging, but far from ideal.
However, speaking of the console version…
Naboo Streets of Rage – Jedi Power Battles for PS1 & Dreamcast
Jedi Power Battles is, despite all appearances, a surprisingly divisive game. On one hand, some players love its retro-brawler sensibilities. With expansive isometric 3D environments and co-op play, it was like a Star Wars-ified Fighting Force. You’ve got at least one instance where you kick the crap out of Gungan warriors, among a large gamut of enemies that far extend standard battle droids.
Power Battles also served, at the time, as many players’ first introduction to Adi Gallia, and Plo Koon, as well as Ki Adi Mundi if you happened to be playing on Dreamcast. Plus you can eventually play as Darth Maul, once you defeat him. Due to the inability to predict which Jedi you’ll play as the game boasts an alternate story where all five Jedi become embroiled in the Naboo crisis and Qui-Gon survives. If only Power Battles had more ambition for storytelling, it could’ve played with this What-If scenario a bit more creatively.
However, at the same time, Jedi Power Battles is incredibly finicky and unwelcoming to those not initiated in the genre already. Very little is explained at all, and playing solo makes things infinitely more challenging. This is made especially obvious when you unwittingly choose to play as Qui-Gon, the central Jedi of the movie, because he handles like a wounded tortoise by comparison to his compatriots.
If you want an arcade brawler in 3D, Jedi Power Battles isn’t your worst option. It’s also far from your best. It would take two more movies to get there, but eventually, Star Wars would figure out not only 3D brawlers but fighting games as well, in one fell swoop. We’ve got a ways to go yet, though.
Barney the Dinosaur vs. The Universe – Jedi Knight II: Outcast for PC, PS2, Xbox, & GameCube
Jedi Outcast is the first entry in the Jedi Knight series to not be developed by Lucas Arts, and it shows. Though many hold nostalgia for it due to its excellent swordfighting, this is primarily due to Raven Software’s recent implementation of a similar system in their earlier games. Everything else is just bad. The main antagonist is a giant dinosaur man and his technicolor hippie Sith Reborn. Sith that are created by *double checks notes* magic artificial Force crystals. Oh and his Sith apprentice is essentially running around in a flower girl leotard.
Kyle Katarn somehow goes from growing as a person in Mysteries of the Sith’s conclusion to a burnt out Jedi reject. Everyone else in the plot goes through very bewildering motions, while their talented actors struggle to make sense of a half-baked script. They even managed to get Billy Dee Williams himself to show up for this, and he sounds so bored all the time.
Shooting is horrendous thanks to wildly imprecise weapons and explosives just as likely to kill you as the enemy. The level design is so utterly sadistic at times that you begin to just start searching every corner for the potential route forward. A mandatory stealth section is infuriatingly out of place in a Quake III-based brawling-shooter. And don’t get me started on the R4 escort sequence on Bespin. Or all the bloody platforming sections.
Worse still, aspects of the series like moral choices and deciding how to unlock your powers are completely removed. It’s up to the designer of each section as to whether you’ll have the abilities you desire, leading to a single playstyle for the entire game. The game was rushed out in a mere year’s time, and it shows in so many ways.
Regardless of how satisfying the lightsaber combat is, the majority of duels can be broken by just spamming Force Speed and Fast Stance at most of your opponents. When facing a boss, you use the heavy stance. That’s… about it. The real challenge isn’t in the saber fights, but combating the horrendous level design and haphazard script. I know people are going to call me crazy on this one but search your feelings, young Jedi, you know it’s true. Fortunately, Raven’s next sequel helped fix some of these issues.
Prince of Space Persia – Star Wars Trilogy: Apprentice of the Force for GBA
Imagine if you will, if someone made a happy middle ground between Super Star Wars and the NES games, but actually playable by normal people with reflexes less adept than Spider-Man. Wrap it all up in some crisp 2D sprites with fantastic animation despite the humble confines of the GBA. Well, then you’d have Star Wars Trilogy: Apprentice of The Force. It isn’t the best Star Wars sidescroller, but unlike Attack of the Clones, its crisp presentation and smooth gameplay make for an entertaining, if basic, affair. This makes sense, as it’s made by Ubisoft Montreal, harnessing the same side-scrolling engine as the GBA port of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.
Like its predecessors, Trilogy boasts vehicle sequences and some platforming, but the primary focus here is on acrobatic brawling across the saga. Over time you graduate from blasters to a trusty lightsaber, in addition to several classic Force powers. The storytelling isn’t outstanding by any measure, but it’s a GBA sidescroller. The fact that it otherwise sticks the landing puts it far above many of its contemporaries, but there are still a few Gameboy games that strive for even greater feats.
A Cut Above – Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes for Ds
Though Republic Heroes might’ve been a mess on home consoles, it’s my pleasure to report that the DS version is remarkably solid. It’s like a long-lost PS1 tie-in game, boasting expansive environments, solid graphics, intuitive controls, and surprisingly, a LEGO Star Wars-style AI partner you can swap between in various levels.
Though it’s still a shallower tie-in, it goes out of its way to adapt the first season and expand upon it, even using clips from the show at remarkably good compression for a handheld. The audio design is far from as fortunate, being the game’s one weak point in terms of presentation. Though, if you can get past the fuzzy audio quality, the entire cast does reprise their roles, leading to a solid adventure. If you’ve been hankering for a fully 3D game to play on your DS, it’s a worthwhile jaunt through the galaxy.
A Whole New World – Disney Infinity 3.0 Star Wars Playsets for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Disney Infinity was a really great idea that sadly is dead, but hey, even if they took the servers offline, killed the mobile version entirely, and effectively abandoned a thriving fanbase generating additional content for free… there’s still the premade playsets?
Frustrations with Disney executives aside, 3.0 was developer Avalanche’s best game yet, featuring kid-friendly sandbox worlds stuffed to the gills with adorable content. The developers at Ninja Theory came on board to help flesh out the combat, and it shows. Lightsaber combat is simple yet satisfying, blasters have a good kick to them, and all three playsets offer something unique.
Twilight of the Republic gives you a standalone Clone Wars adventure. Rise Against The Empire is a… well it’s like your drunk uncle trying to retell the Original Trilogy in under three hours, but has some great fan service alongside base building mechanics and a greater emphasis on vehicles. The Force Awakens… well it’s more playable Star Wars content! So yay!
In addition to this, for the first time, Disney Infinity leaned into cross-franchise play. In Toy Box Takeover, you could mix your Star Wars characters with other Disney favorites to bash their way across the multiverse. It’s a ton of fun. Now if only Disney had kept supporting the game so we could’ve maybe played that Rogue One playset that was in the works at Ninja Theory. *sigh*
Taping Into the Potential – Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga for Ds
LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga was a rarity for its day. For most platforms, it was a loving remaster that merged the first two games into a single, connected experience. Cut levels were reincorporated, and newer mechanics were added to the Prequel Trilogy. Yet for DS, the entire first half of the saga hadn’t even been developed for the handheld, and obviously, its predecessor was a trainwreck worth avoiding.
Wisely, rather than having Amaze Entertainment handle the DS port, TT Games instead had an internal team recreate the entire saga as 2.5D iterations specifically optimized for the DS. While many of the levels follow the same flow and objectives, they not only look better than the last DS game but play far better as well. What’s equally surprising, if far less pleasant, is the total absence of a PSP port. Instead, TT Games opted to purely support the DS for this release.
The only major criticisms that can be levied are the obviously lower production values of everything outside of the on-foot sections. All cutscenes are made more like puppet shows with sprites, and all vehicle sections are now presented from a top-down perspective while effectively on-rails. Combining the camera frustrations of LEGO Star Wars II on home consoles with the narrow trial and error of the original game’s vehicle stages, it’s far from ideal. Plus there are touch-screen-based minigames of… varying quality.
Despite these issues, it’s by far one of the more impressive Star Wars DS games, managing to capture the intended experience without too many compromises. Still, if you have the option, even the later iPhone port is more content-complete.
The Perfect Blend – LEGO Star Wars for PC, PS2, Xbox, & GameCube
What can one truly say that hasn’t been said about LEGO Star Wars? It kicked off a glut of LEGO tie-in games for multiple franchises over the years, secured TT Games’ future as a license tie-in heavyweight, and made the prequel saga seem reasonably paced! It was a lightning in a bottle miracle, a perfect merging of two of the most powerful entertainment companies in the world to create something purely fun.
That said, now that we’re three console generations onward from the game’s original release… yeah, it definitely shows its age. Certain characters are practically useless in this first iteration, though this comes with the benefit that most secrets can be unlocked on your first playthrough of a level, rather than requiring a whole lexicon of characters to find every minikit and/or secrets buried within.
Yet perhaps what was most tantalizing wasn’t even the main content, but the final mystery level. Well before LEGO Star Wars II would be unveiled, a single level gave us a glimpse at the Original Trilogy in this style.
It was a bit slower-paced than how the Tantive IV level came to be in the subsequent game, but that frankly fits the Original Trilogy better. By bringing things perfectly full circle to the start of A New Hope, LEGO Star Wars helped knit together the disparate pieces of the franchise – something that would occur again when the Sequel Trilogy began.
An Officer and a Gentleman – Star Wars: Force Commander for PC
Like fighting games, strategy is an arena Star Wars has often struggled with. Force Commander was a joint effort between Lucas Arts and Ronin Entertainment, and you can see Lucas Arts’ influence from the start. The story is surprisingly involved, with quality voice acting and full-motion CGI cutscenes at a time when such indulgences were incredibly rare. The journey spans the entire course of the war, up until the liberation of Coruscant, incorporating story beats from the Expanded Universe.
The entire experience is fully 3D, with aerial units and multiple elevations incorporated into gameplay. Plus in the campaign, you can carry over units that survive previous missions, giving a more tangible consequence to reckless strategies. However, despite these lofty aims, Force Commander isn’t quite the success Lucas Arts was hoping for.
The asymmetric unit balancing goes pretty wild, incorporating a wide variety of new and existing units for each side of the Galactic Civil War. An emphasis on rapid assault over slower build-up forces you to keep up the heat even when trying to rebuild lost forces. It’s an interesting approach but not necessarily what fans were looking for. The same could be said for the music, which alternates between techno metal remixes and odd post-rock loops. It’s oddly out of place in its attempt to sound ‘badass’.
Worst of all, unlike most Star Wars games, there’s no modern port for Force Commander. Getting it running requires following fan guides online, which is bewildering as the software itself can run smoothly on modern hardware at high resolutions. Hopefully, at some point, it will receive a proper restoration by GOG, but until then, it requires some effort to experience.
The One Nobody Really Talks About – LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars for PC, PS3, Xbox 360, & Wii
Do you know what LEGO Star Wars needed? “A LEVEL EDITOR!”
Noooo, guess again. “ONLINE MULTIPLAYER LIKE IN THE COMPLETE SAGA!”
Still wrong. “OOOH, FULLY 3D VEHICLE SECTIONS!”
Close! Well, you’ll at least get that last one when we get to the handheld port!
No, instead, what LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars brings to the table is… RTS-lite battles. Yeah, really. Oh, and some even clunkier 2.5D vehicle sections than in The Original Trilogy. To the game’s credit, it does boast the ability to split off from your allies in whole other parts of the level, but LEGO Indiana Jones 2 managed that in addition to letting players craft their own levels. Am I harping on this aspect in particular? Possibly. Is it something basically every fan was clamoring for at the time? Pretty much!
The kicker is, some of the ideas mentioned were considered, but ended up being cut, not unlike the RPG elements in LEGO Lord of the Rings. There’s very little online to explain the disappointing absence, but the result is a game that’s… fine but never outstanding. Better graphics, shinier animations, and more activity onscreen, but it could’ve been so much more. Instead, it feels like a standalone expansion pack to pass the time until a new movie could be released. Only ultra fans of the TV show will really get something out of this.
Bigger Isn’t Better – Star Wars Lethal Alliance for Psp
Now by this point in this list, I think we can safely say there are plenty of games about Jedi, Sith, and general Force adepts in general. So you can understand everyone’s surprise when a new Star Wars game, developed by Ubisoft, would instead center on a non-Jedi, non-human protagonist. Instead, our heroine Rianna is a bounty hunter, freeing herself from slavery with the help of her trusted droid companion. Together, they take on an assignment by the Rebel Alliance to help track down part of the Deathstar plans.
The trick with Lethal Alliance is, like The Force Unleashed, there are multiple versions. Those who played on PSP got a decent-ish run and gun action game with a fair bit of timing-based hazard navigation. It’s not quite Tomb Raider in space nor is it Max Payne. In fact, if anything, it’s kind of a mess, hampered mostly by the lack of a second analog stick to control the camera. It’s not a terrible Star Wars game by any measure, but it clearly would’ve been better off on the PS2 or 7th gen hardware. It’s especially easy to imagine it on the Wii, but instead, Lethal Alliance was released for handheld consoles only.
Fortunately, its lower-resolution counterpart on the DS would fare far better, which we’ll get to in due time…
Tiny Death Star – Gone Too Soon
Is Tiny Death Star just Tiny Tower with a Star Wars Aesthetic? YEP. Was it a charming bit of Star Wars humor regardless? Absolutely. The game was packed full of in-jokes and Expanded Universe references.
The simple management sim was well received at launch, yet inexplicably shut down by Disney during their acquisition of Lucasfilm. Though Android apks of the game float around the web, it’s otherwise yet another dead, delisted mobile game lost in the expanse of the AppStore. Still, for a Star Wars reskin of an existing game, it was at least an adorable one.
The Last Handheld Lego Game – Lego Star Wars Iii: The Clone Wars for Psp, Ds, and 3DS
Wait, why are we back here? Oh, what’s this… full 3D dogfighting both in space and in the air on several planets. Better-paced levels. None of the oddly forced RTS bits. Still no level editor, and the campaign just sorta ends spontaneously, but YEAH, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is actually far better on handhelds! It’s far from the best LEGO Star Wars game, but it inches closer than most towards bringing the series forward.
Unfortunately, like the main game, it’s based on the dullest season of The Clone Wars, so many of the episodes it draws from are less than exciting. Though, despite this, the developers make the most of each encounter, packing a lot of detail into every version of the handheld port.
If you absolutely need some more LEGO Star Wars content, there are worse options, especially for gaming on the go.
Actually… Yeah This Works – Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire for Windows & PS1
What do you get when you combine slightly higher production values, a boatload of campy actors, and controls that don’t hate you? Well, Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire, of course! Though it very much follows its predecessor’s formula, everything is much better. The resolution is higher, there’s more creative use of the FMV format with the new cloaking Tie Fighters forcing you to anticipate their ambushes, and on-foot sections in addition to vehicle combat.
In a way, Rebel Assault II is one of the earliest cover-based shooters, in addition to featuring a first-person section designed like Dark Forces. Environments even display damage, with destructible background elements and a few dynamic objects that can alter the flow of a scene. None of this might sound all that impressive in the grand scheme of things, but for an FMV game, this amount of reactivity was basically unheard of. Most were nothing more than glorified shooting galleries or Myst clones. This is one of the few instances where FMV was fully harnessed to great effect.
As if that weren’t enough, the game features difficulty customization, letting you tweak every setting to your heart’s content. The story’s laughable script and acting aside, you can tell a lot of love went into every second of this goofy love letter to classic Star Wars. In a rare turn, the console port even goes a few steps further, featuring fully 3D assets weaved into the FMV for greater detail. It’s as much a product as it is a wonder of its time.
Bricked Upon Arrival – Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, & Switch
Our first new addition to our massively ranked list is none other than the middling reboot adaptation of the middling reboot to the Star Wars saga. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a game many fans were excited for, but the longer its taste lingers in your mouth, the more you realize how undercooked the whole game is.
Rather than celebrating the stories at the heart of the saga or revamping classic LEGO Star Wars moments, The Skywalker Saga leans surprisingly hard on filler content and small sandbox levels to pad the runtime. It’s a shame, as the core mechanics hold lots of promise, but this LEGO game lives in the shadow of the darkest side of all – development hell.
Great Shot Kid! – Star Wars: Imperial Ace 3D for Java
Here you have it folks – the best Star Wars Java game. Were it not for its short runtime, Fishlabs’ mobile Rogue Squadron-like title would rank even higher. Tight controls, multiple difficulties with additional enemy spawns, and true 3D graphics on a flip phone. Imperial Ace is one of the biggest games ever brought to Java, only topped by the likes of Bioshock 3D.
I know it might not look like much these days, but graphics this detailed were practically unheard of at the time. Despite a limited soundscape, Fishlabs essentially created a PlayStation game you could play on the go, outdoing even actual PlayStation phone games at the time. Though emulators give it a considerable boost to framerate, the attention to detail was there from the start.
Wisely, the story skips over dialogue, simply giving you your objective and sending you into the fray as the Empire besieges a Rebel force occupying Mygeeto. This is more than just a time-waster like Battle Over Coruscant – Imperial Ace is a real game in the palm of your hand. It seems appropriate that the same studio behind it has now since gone on to work on the next-gen hit, CHORUS.
The Big Budget… Ds Game? – Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Jedi Alliance for Ds
Jedi Alliance is quite possibly one of the weirdest, most ambitious games in a franchise chockfull of weird, ambitious games. A touch-screen-only interface guides a hybrid adventure game/action game. Not action-adventure, but genuinely alternating between point and click exploration and acrobatic combat. For the longest time, it’s been one of the hardest DS games to emulate, in no small part due to some fairly high detail assets and animations. More so than even Republic Heroes, Jedi Alliance really tries to bring The Clone Wars to life in the palm of your hand.
What helped tie all this together is that this game was the first canonical appearance of The Clone Wars’ sect of Nightsisters, detailing their original partnership with Count Dooku in the early days of the war. It’s one of a few instances where the supplementary Clone Wars tie-in material tried to acknowledge the greater canon, feeding back into the main show’s events.
While quite playable on DS, it’s great that players can now finally experience the game at a decent resolution. Like Jedi Power Battles, you can choose a team of two heroes to take along on your journey as you tear about Dooku’s droid forces. It’s definitely on the simpler side, but all told, it’s quite possibly the best game associated with The Clone Wars TV series.
Better Than It Has Any Right – Episode I: Obi-Wan’s Adventures for Gbc
Now, I know, we’ve had a lot of really not great Gameboy Star Wars games so far, and they were on far more advanced hardware than the Gameboy Color. Yet it’s precisely on the GBC that we’ve reached our first truly noteworthy title: Episode I: Obi-Wan’s Adventures! It’s an isometric action game that’s honestly a better Jedi Power Battles-style game than Power Battle’s GBA port.
However, despite all the brawling and blaster bolt deflecting you’ll be doing, the world navigation and pacing bring to mind Legend of Zelda. You’ve not only got your lightsaber but a blaster and a variety of Force powers. The art looks simplistic in a screenshot but is incredibly fluid in motion. Despite not very incredible visual and audio capabilities, developer HotGen managed to craft an incredibly memorable remix of The Phantom Menace.
Truly, beyond obvious hardware limitations, the only major criticism that can be leveled at Obi-Wan’s Adventures is at how utterly short the game is. A total playthrough can take you a mere hour, at most two if you get hung up on a particular battle or puzzle. The entirety of Tatooine is completely excised, leaving out Anakin Skywalker in lieu of making Obi-Wan wholly the protagonist. Which, you know, in of itself isn’t a bad thing, but it’s a shame such a fun little action-adventure ends up being so brief.
The 80’s Arcade Games – Episode IV & V for Arcades
Hold onto your seat, we’re gonna go so fast we’re gonna see lines! The original 80’s Star Wars arcade machines may be barely more than a few polygons and sprites at a time, but they remain iconic nostalgic favorites.
Each is packed full of energetic action based around key battles from the first two films, pulsing across the screen at a level of detail few could imagine at the time. Remember – around the same time, the best most home PCs could manage was something akin to the Apple II’s mediocre offering. They’re not the most outstanding arcade experiences available today, but even in the early days of gaming, Star Wars games were finding a way to push the limit of what you could expect.
Seeeegaaaaa – Star Wars Trilogy for Arcades
That said, there is a more recent arcade experience that fans have finally got playable via emulation – though a few arcade cabinets are still lurking around. The Trilogy cabinet is a full-scale on-rails shooter crafted by the masters of arcade action at SEGA. It’s a shame this was the only SEGA-made Star Wars game, as they crafted easily one of the most replayable, lively on-rails games in the franchise’s history.
Not only does it look great thanks to solid animations helping to offset the lower polycount, but the fantastic sound design is immediately noticeable. It’s like Virtua Cop meets Star Wars, with vehicles sections as well! Though some of the dialogue is a bit hilarious, it’s at least adorably cheesy. There are even bonus stages where you play out a rhythm-based battle against either Vader or Boba Fett that bring to mind Punchout. Though it may not be the most accurate depiction of certain battles, with the Empire taking way more losses at Hoth among other oddities, it all serves the gameplay wonderfully.
Truly, you couldn’t ask for a better evolution of the original Star Wars arcade games.
The Next Generation – Star Wars: Battlepod for Arcades
Well, you might not have asked for it, but here it is anyway! Star Wars: Battlepod is actually one of the more divisive Star Wars arcade games. It’s gorgeous, boasting visuals on par with a PS4, but the gameplay is less involved. If you want to just get swept up in the spectacle across several epic vehicle sections, then you’re good. If you’re looking for some skill ceiling in your arcade games, the older titles may be more your speed.
To its credit, Battlepod also boasts a rarely seen curved display, trying to further immerse you in the battle. Plus, there’s a new scenario where you get to play a What-If battle as Vader unleashing his rage upon the Rebels in a far less successful Battle of Yavin.
Backwards Compatibility When, Microsoft?! – Star Wars: Obi-Wan for Xbox
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s biggest solo outing is oddly one of the hardest to experience these days. Originally planned as a PC exclusive title, it eventually ended up an Xbox exclusive. With a Mount & Blade-style gesture-based combat system, players could legitimately wield their sabers and the Force like never before.
So of course, no one can agree if the game is good or not. Some love it for its immersive controls and stunning (for the time) graphics. At the time of release, Obi-Wan was one of the best-looking Star Wars games to date. Yet, others found waggling their right stick to fight was cumbersome, and limited their camera controls. Some forced stealth sections didn’t aid in matters.
Strangely, this is also one of the only Original Xbox Star Wars games to focus on local multiplayer dueling rather than Quake or Battlefield style battles. To this day, the game’s proponents sing its praises, yet it remains hard to play without original hardware. It’s one of the few Star Wars games not on Xbox Backwards Compatibility and is hard to emulate on PC presently.
Should you check Obi-Wan out? Well, if you dig Mount & Blade but would love it in an action game, this is probably your best bet. If you prefer more traditional action experiences though – you may be better off with some of the other options on offer…
Falling Short – Jedi: Fallen Order for PC, PS4, and Xbox One
Jedi: Fallen Order is the first true single-player-focused EA offering since the timeline reset by Disney. Depending on who you ask in the fandom, it’s a mediocre Souls-like with bland characters or a thrilling epic from beginning to end. So, yeah, a tad divisive. I definitely was among those left wanting.
That isn’t to say that Jedi: Fallen Order is without its strengths. It has easily the most polished presentation of any modern Star Wars game, the lightsaber duels are absolutely delightful, and using the Force to solve physics puzzles is oddly delightful. Heck, using the Force at all feels amazing. The free combat simulator update lets you even test yourself against wild custom challenges in addition to the main campaign’s content. Honestly, the main issues lie in its protagonist and an overwhelming emphasis on platforming.
Cal Kestis has all the emotional range of a piece of driftwood for the vast majority of the campaign, merely doing things because the story needs him to. He’s never enough of a cipher to let you embody him as an audience stand-in, but neither is he likable in any respect. When the main villain has more sympathetic energy than your lead, you know something has gone wrong.
Meanwhile, the platforming is oddly sloppy. Despite being crafted by Respawn Entertainment of Titanfall and Apex Legends fame, traversing Fallen Order’s levels is often tedious. Loads of forced backtracking, irritating sliding sections, and glitchy environments are one thing. When combined with losing health on any difficulty above Story over these literal pitfalls, it can severely impact your experience.
While far from the worst Star Wars game, Fallen Order benefited greatly from existing in a vacuum of new single-player Star Wars games.
Dammit Rosh – Jedi Knight 3: Jedi Academy for PC & Xbox
Alright, now we’re cooking with grease! Raven Software’s second attempt at a Jedi Knight follow-up is by far the superior one. This isn’t to say that Jedi Academy is a flawless game by any measure. It is, however, infinitely better than Jedi Outcast in every regard.
The script is still pretty bad, but now, mostly thanks to the inclusion of Rosh Penin, the Jar-Jar of the Star Wars gaming universe. I’m not exaggerating – everyone hates Rosh Penin. Jason Marsden played him to perfection as perhaps the most irritating wannabe Jedi ever, and the fact the moral choice hinges around sparing his life is a cruel twist of fate. The rest of the overall story of a Sith cult trying to resurrect Marka Ragnos is passable, but Rosh frequently barges in to disrupt the tale during cutscenes.
Annoying padawans aside, Jedi Academy immediately understands that Jedi Outcast’s biggest mistake was pretending it was Dark Forces. Though shooting is an option, and useful at times thanks to slightly better-tuned weapons, your saber is a reliable, nuanced weapon. Better yet, the level design doesn’t kriffing hate you this time! In fact, some of the best sequences really push you to think creatively about how to get out of hazardous situations.
There’s a mission where your lightsaber is stolen and you can only rely on your Force abilities and scavenged weapons. Another sees you assisting Rogue Squadron as they fight in the skies. One of the best is a surprise homage to Tremors of all things. The absolute peak is an Indiana Jones homage set inside an underground tomb that incorporates dueling, dynamic setpieces, and platforming that isn’t awful for a change!
Yet Jedi Academy’s best feature isn’t in the campaign, but instead its online suite. Jedi Outcast had online multiplayer, but it was essentially Quake III with lightsabers and oddly balanced bots. It had a few modding efforts, but nothing truly jaw-dropping.
Jedi Academy meanwhile remains an active community not simply for its base content, but the mountain of mods the game has spawned. If you want an enhanced, high-skill lightsaber dueling system and improved gadgets for blaster users? You’ve got the Open Jedi Project. Want to role play with your friends? There are hundreds of custom maps and characters to tell your own Star Wars stories. Once again, the Star Wars fandom took an interesting if flawed game and made it something all the more impressive.
A Really Expensive Toy – Star Wars Racer for Arcades
Episode I: Racer is a beloved game by many, but few know its big brother made for arcades. Though it only features a handful of courses and pods, it boasts better visuals than Racer Revenge and an emphasis on racing. You have to actually pilot your pod just like Anakin in the movie, managing the condition of your pod over a tight series of escalating courses. To add further tension, there’s a countdown timer that only adds more time every lap, demanding you blaze along or have to spend more quarters.
Though it might not be as accessible or content-filled as its mainstream little brother, the arcade game is an impressive recreation of the film experience. It’s less F-Zero, far more Nascar with jet engines that can explode at any minute. If you can track a cabinet down, it’s quite the novelty, but it’s not a must-play that everyone needs to try.
Space Uncharted for Ds?! – Star Wars Lethal Alliance for Ds
Wow. You can’t really tell from the screenshots online, but Lethal Alliance on DS is a whole other beast entirely from its PSP counterpart. Despite having the same premise, general plot, and overall mechanics – this is just such a better game. Where Lethal Alliance on PSP was a fairly run-of-the-mill experience, the DS version is a cutting-edge experience. You just don’t get that many fully 3D action-platforming games in the vein of Uncharted on what was basically a portable Nintendo 64.
Rather than settling for a top-down experience, Lethal Alliance doesn’t compromise. You’ve got rotating camera control, over-the-shoulder shooting, turret sequences, puzzles, your little droid buddy – it’s all there. Somehow the system with fewer control inputs is actually easier to play than the PSP entry with all its bells and whistles.
The touchscreen aspect is fairly minimal, with you playing a minigame to acquire the local area map in your current level. While you sacrifice having audio for the story and a much lower graphical fidelity, the trade-up in fun factor is why the DS version reigns supreme.
If you’re thinking that the story alone makes it worth it to try out the PSP version still, I regret to inform you that it’s not. Weird voice acting and odd cutscenes don’t do the game any favors, so trimming out those aspects as well results in a fundamentally better experience on the DS. Plus, for a DS game, the polycount for most character models is still pushing the upper limit – it’s like a long-lost expansion to Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II! For a DS game that almost no one remembers these days, that’s quite exceptional.
The Movie: The Game – The Phantom Menace for PC & PS1
I know, bear with me here. Despite its notoriety for its odd camera angle and unconventional game design, The Phantom Menace’s tie-in game is truly something to behold. It’s… a genuinely playable movie. Not in the sense of spamming QTEs at you, or an overwhelming number of cutscenes. Instead, The Phantom Menace is an isometric immersive sim in the vein of Deus Ex and Dishonored.
Playing as Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Padme, and Captain Panaka, players can basically do whatever the level permits. You can take on sidequests that expand the world. Feeling homicidal? Nearly everyone is open to being murdered – even a kid, with dialogue acknowledging if he or his mother dies?! Qui-Gon practically shatters the 4th wall, pleading that you don’t instantly slaughter the Gungans as you navigate their city.
On top of all this, there’s a lot more time spent in every location, fleshing out this era of Star Wars in a way few games were permitted. The best surprise though is, you can actually play it in a superior form with cheatcodes on PC. I’m serious. There are two cut camera angles that are much easier to play with, and it’s revealed that the saber was nerfed because a cheat re-enables its original, authentic lethality. You can tell by the draw distance that these camera angles weren’t quite in the cards, and the drop in difficulty is noteworthy, but… hey, it makes it a fun time!
There are scarcely any other movie tie-in games that can boast of being an action game, a shooter, a platformer, and an RPG all at once. It’s a little rough on the eyes, but if you can get it running on your PC, it’s worth giving a whirl. It’s a shame Attack of the Clones never received a game like this instead of that absolute mess on the Gameboy. Though, Revenge of the Sith did fair better, if still narrowed in scope.
The One Everyone Likes – LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga for PC, PS3, Xbox 360, & Wii
Well, at least it was the “complete saga” for a couple of years. Funny how things changed. Yet, for the classic Star Wars universe, there are few compilations so earnest, unflinchingly self-aware, and genuine as LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. It deepens the Prequel Trilogy levels, it defangs The Original Trilogy a fair bit, throws in an absolute boatload of bonus content to unlock well past finishing the story mode, and it even finally added online play!*
*if you had an Xbox 360 or PS3 and were willing to fiddle with the game to make it work.
There’s local multiplayer co-op and competitive play. Cut levels restored. Indiana Jones is unlockable as a character. With so much included, how could they possibly top this?
Well, we’ll get to that shortly with the best LEGO Star Wars game!
The Secret Star Wars Horror Game – Star Wars Droidworks
Droidworks is the first edutainment game by Lucas Learning, and it is one of the most deceptive games ever made. Forget Baldi’s Basics, this game was straight-up terrifying as a kid when you hit a certain point. What starts as a nice series of physics puzzles, teaching kids about weight, mass, and industrial equipment turns into a nightmarish terror akin to Outlast.
You see, Droidworks sees you as a Rebel operative paired up with some noble Jawas, crafting droids to investigate the Empire’s new assassin droid project. What they conveniently leave out is that when you’ve finally graduated from the basic physics, at a certain point in every new level, you’ll come face to face with one of these droids. They can damage you quite steadily, hound you with menacing taunts, and can only be eliminated via slasher-villain style deaths, like crushing them with a loading dock.
This may seem laughable to adult players now, but speaking as one of the kids who played this game at launch, we were all frantically searching for cheat codes to give us a weapon or something. This was built in the Jedi Knight engine, so we had hopes, but no – Star Wars Droidworks is quite possibly the only genuine edutainment horror game. That’s incredibly remarkable. Probably not what was intended, but if it was then Lucas Learning sure had some devious developers. Either way, it’s earned its place as perhaps one of the most subversive Star Wars games.
The Family Blacksheep – EA’s Star Wars Battlefront for PC, PS4, and Xbox One
EA’s first Star Wars game was horrifically rushed ahead of when it should’ve been. I say that, because after all the DLC is applied, along with a smattering of free updates, it’s an infinitely better game than the one that launched in 2015. Charging ahead to meet The Force Awakens’ release date only led to a weaker experience, with lots of cut content still lingering in the game’s code.
However, after lots of hard work, DICE managed to craft a fairly solid arcade shooter. You can see how hard they were trying to bring the mechanics in line with the snappy, breathless pace of the films. There are enough folks who still appreciate this style that you can find some matches for the game, particularly on Xbox, all these years later.
Still, a derth of offline content didn’t help matters. This rapid pace of combat and quick time to kill would’ve made for a thrilling FPS campaign, if the opportunity was afforded. The vehicles also handle like they’re straight out of Rogue Squadron, as made evident in the Hoth Defense tutorial mission.
The poor matchmaking setup hindered things further – seriously, why is everything so segregated in ever new DICE multiplayer game? If you can find an active hour to link up with the game’s regulars, it’s a fun time. Still not sure the full package was ever worth that $100 asking price EA seriously thought they could get away with at launch though.
The Novelty Demo – EA’s Star Wars Battlefront: Rogue One: X-Wing vr Mission for Psvr
Years before anyone anticipated we’d get Star Wars: Squadrons, Battlefront gave us our first glimpse at a VR experience. Though it’s a short fifteen to twenty-minute long demo, it might just be one of the best novelty VR demos ever made. I’m not kidding when I say, if you have a PSVR headset, it’s worth finding a cheap copy of Battlefront to check this mission out.
The major differentiator from Squadrons that you’ll find here is that the Rogue One VR Mission is a lot more concerned with reactivity and tangibility rather than mechanical complexity. You can tangibly reach around your cockpit, toggling the interface manually or with your controller’s button presses. Throw in the chance that a squadmate might get blown out of the sky if you aren’t fast enough, and other soft-failure states that don’t stop the mission, and the demo makes for quite a compelling pitch of what VR in Star Wars is capable of.
It’s Pinball – Zen Studios’ Star Wars Pinball for PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Wii-U, Switch, Android, iOS, & Kindle Fire
It’s pinball. Darn good pinball, but there’s not a lot of nuances to be had unless you’re deeply ingrained in the pinball scene. Zen Studios’ virtual cabinets have been celebrated and ported all over the place for their intricate designs. If you like pinball and you like Star Wars, odds are good you already own the game or are getting ready to buy it next time it goes on sale.
The Phantom Limb – Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron for Psp
Though Free Radical’s Battlefront 3 was infamously canceled, its legacy lives on in its still released handheld ports. Of the two, the PSP version is by far the most accurate to the intended gameplay. Levels share similar, if not smaller, layouts to their canceled HD brethren. Transitioning from ground to space requires a cutscene, but still occurs in seconds.
The overall story campaign follows the general beats, save for Dathomir, which is replaced with Vader’s Castle on Vjun. It also includes cameos from The Force Unleashed and Renegade Squadron with General Kota and Col Serra hopping in to mess with the Empire.
However, due to the PSP only having a single analog nub, the controls are less than ideal. You can learn to play Elite Squadron, but that certainly isn’t a selling point in its favor. Some of the best gear is also locked behind completing certain in-game criteria, even having to beat the game on its highest difficulty setting. Worse still, the AI struggles to really test your competitive skills, resulting in same-y matches due to how the ground to space system works. It’s entirely on the player to shake things up, so unless you can gather some friends together or set up an online session through an emulator, the game never quite shines as brightly as it could’ve.
Elite Squadron is easily one of the biggest PSP games ever made, but that sadly only gets it so far. The developers at Rebellion gave it their all, and while it can be fun, repetition does the game in. For those who regret Battlefront 3’s cancellation though, this is easily the closest you can get to experiencing the HD version’s maps, weapons, and campaign.
Actually Battlefront 3 – Star Wars: Elite Squadron for Ds
That said, if you want to experience Battlefront 3’s story, you’re much better off with n-Space’s Elite Squadron DS port. The staff has gone on record stating that their game is the full-featured Battlefront 3 experience, just shrunk down to the DS. Where Rebellion’s Elite Squadron PSP port abridges a fair bit of Battlefront 3’s story, n-Space went all in. Every plot beat, scenario, and line of dialogue is featured here.
Mind you, it’s a rather silly story, where the Force-sensitive clones X1 & X2 run around across the entire saga and into the early days of the New Republic, Gary Stu-ing their way into everyone else’s business. Fortunately, it’s a story full of great fan service and impressively varied gameplay – at least, we can confirm that’s the case for DS.
Okay, but what’s so great about it?
Rather than trying to cram the Conquest gameplay of the mainline entries onto DS, the campaign and instant action instead divide everything up into bite-sized experiences. The majority of the gameplay is a top-down isometric perspective, with players assuming one of four classes and the fifth Jedi class in the campaign. They all control brilliantly with a solid lock-on targeting system.
In between these sections, in the campaign, you can engage in turret sequences that are downright gorgeous for the DS, vehicle sequences and boss fights that fit a more traditional over-the-shoulder third-person perspective, and various speederbike chases.
Both instant action and campaign boast a limited form of space flight – it’s on a flat plane, but still handles well. Instant action rounds things out with alternating modes of space, conquest on the ground, and CTF where you capture two R2 units. Whichever mode you win in gives you a buff for the rest of the rounds, supporting up to four players, including great bot opponents.
There is also a Hero Assault mode, but it’s easily the weakest part of an otherwise jaw-droppingly great package. No doubts about it – Elite Squadron for DS is one of the best Star Wars DS games.
So Close to Greatness – Star Wars: Bounty Hunter for PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is a game on the cusp of being one of the best Star Wars games. It’s equal parts Metal Gear Solid, Tomb Raider, and Hitman. Intricate levels, stunning set pieces, brilliant platforming, tons of secrets, side objectives worth pursuing, interesting unlocks, and a well-told story ALL wrapped up in a single, tight package.
Now if only there wasn’t a life system. Or a sudden difficulty spike in the latter half of the game that basically punishes you for enjoying the many nuances of the game. It’s such a shame given how wonderfully Bounty Hunter starts, boasting an amazing few hours that I’ll gladly go back to. It’s also one of the few instances where we see what Republic security look like before the Clone Army of the Republic comes into the picture.
If nothing else, the cutscenes are worth watching. Wonderfully mocapped and written, Temuera Morrison and Leena Walsman reprise their roles as Jango and Zam, backed by the talents of Lucille Bliss and Clancy Brown! The whole production is wonderfully done, further enthralling you until the difficulty spikes. These would be fine if you didn’t have only five lives before having to restart a level, or better yet if you could make manual saves.
It’s for this reason that, despite a remastered re-release on subsequent PlayStation consoles, the best way to play Bounty Hunter is the original release in an emulator with save states. A gem, to be sure but tarnished by a lack of TLC required to ensure a solid ending.
The Impossible Demake – The Force Unleashed for Ds
We’ll get to the other versions of The Force Unleashed in a minute, but it’s time to once again pay credit to n-Space for their incredible work. The Force Unleashed simply shouldn’t have been possible on the DS, let alone fully 3D with polycounts this high and fully textured characters. It’s a marvel it runs smoothly, and the overall experience is like playing the game as if it were made for the PS1.
Incredibly, the tap-based combo system works great, letting you string together moves with ease. Physics and other aspects are more scripted due to obvious hardware limitations, but, come on – it’s The Force Unleashed on a glorified mini Nintendo 64! That’s amazing! Oh and there’s four-player LAN multiplayer as if they weren’t flexing their talents enough.
Unfortunately, the game’s new minigames hamper the joy of playing a retro-ified take on the game. They’re crucial to completing certain sections and can demand a rapidity that’s just a tad ridiculous. Overall though, a genuinely great DS port of an HD home console game. We salute the efforts by n-Space to achieve what I imagine many thought legitimately impossible.
Have Squadron, Will Travel – Star Wars: Squadrons for PC, PC Vr, PS4, Psvr, Xbox One
Star Wars: Squadrons remains the purest love letter to classic Star Wars gaming out of the entire EA library. It’s a shame that, for all that passion, only parts of it truly come together to match that sense of first-person dogfighting intensity. If you can strap on a VR headset and dive into multiplayer with friends over voice chat, it’s a blast whether fighting bots or other pilots.
Every ship is viable across the five craft afforded each side. Whether you’re an interceptor, bomber, fighter, or support player, you bring a crucial element to the table. TIE Fighters get unique power mechanics that let them pull off some utterly insane maneuvers, while the New Republic’s fleet of ships relies on tankier shields to win the day. It’s such a great combat sandbox that you can’t help but be disappointed there are only six maps for multiplayer, one of which is just an empty void with no cover or nuance.
The biggest strike against the game is its lackluster campaign. The voice acting is weak yet the story is constantly shoved in your face. An inclusion of Star Wars: Starfighter-style bonus objectives enhance the experience somewhat, but the overall campaign is far more linear. Any deviation from the planned course shatters what immersion you might’ve achieved, leaving the main offline experience feeling like an afterthought.
Squadrons remains an absolutely fantastic dogfighting game and is one of the only Star Wars games to currently support cross-play on all platforms. If you want an HD dogfighting game, this is your best bet. Just come in with measured expectations.
The Prodigal – Lucas Arts’ the Force Unleashed for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360
The Force Unleashed was an epic in the making. At a time when Lucas Arts’ future was growing uncertain, they put all their effort into creating an in-house engine that could push the 7th console generation to its utter limit. And, while it did impress many in 2008, the game had an infamously troubled development cycle, expanded upon with stories across a full-length dev commentary podcast years later down the line. The multiplayer was cut entirely, with only the barest scraps of the scripting found buried in the PC port.
Yet, despite multiple delays, struggles porting to systems besides the Xbox 360, and a late-development script rewrite, fans loved The Force Unleashed. It might’ve been over the top, and treated lightsabers more like standard swords, but gosh is it still cathartic to play all these years later.
The visuals have aged, yet the overall presentation remains rock solid. Lucas Arts’ The Force Unleashed isn’t even the best version of the core concept, yet it remains a fascinating final effort of the studio firing on all cylinders.
The addition of its DLC expansions also grants The Force Unleashed the unique distinction of being one of the only games to embrace the Star Wars Infinities brand to explore crazy what-if scenarios where Starkiller wrecks the canon. Though they cost too much on their own, the Ultimate Sith Edition that bundles everything is absolutely worth your time.
One Last Ride – The Force Unleashed Ii for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360
The Force Unleashed II gets a lot of flack for being short, a problem inherent to its rushed development cycle. Lucas Arts had less than a year to craft a proper AAA sequel to The Force Unleashed, and in every respect besides quantity, they did it. The graphics are amazing, the presentation is stellar, the combat fixes all the issues of its predecessor’s sloppier aspects, and there’s much better meaningful enemy variety. It might be brief and feature a weird storyline about cloning Jedi, but The Force Unleashed II is far from bad or even average.
At launch, $60 for a three to five-hour experience plus some challenge maps and a single DLC expansion for $1 was a steep ask. Nowadays, you can pick up the game on Xbox Live and Steam for dirt cheap, plus the PC version even has a few mods that add a few new challenge maps and cosmetic skins into the mix. Meanwhile, those who play on console can experience the Endors Infinities DLC where you can duel a Jedi Knight Leia Organa who might just be the best boss fight in the entire series.
As ridiculous as Starkiller’s resurrection might be, The Force Unleashed II is a polished, rock-solid action game that’s worth reconsidering all these years later.
Age of Galactic Empires – Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds for PC
Is Galactic Battlegrounds basically a very elaborate Star Wars mod to Age of Empires II? Yep. Is it still worth it? Helllll yes. What it lacks in foundational originality it more than makes up for in presentation and unique flavoring. Additional unit types, aerial combat, power stations for optimized unit creation, Jedi and Sith rather than monks, over six full-length story campaigns with quality voiceover work – the list goes on and on.
There are some engine limitations. Aerial vehicles are basically just naval vessels unbound from any terrestrial limits. A mobile artillery cannon gunship added in the expansion is also just the taddest bit overpowered, but thankfully it’s only available at the highest tech level.
If you love classic Age of Empires gameplay but want to amp it up with some sci-fi and fantasy, Galactic Battlegrounds is perfect. There are difficulty settings for beginners and veterans who’ve mastered every optimal build order, with AI that’s plenty aggressive if you want it. Plus, there’s an active modding scene that’s added over four new factions and hundreds of hours of new scenarios to dive through thanks to the extensive in-game level editor.
Swiping in for the Win, It’s… – The Force Unleashed Ii for Ds
For all the acclaim Lucas Arts earned for their point-and-click adventure games, it’s odd we never had a Star Wars game in that vein. Well, we almost do in The Force Unleashed II for DS. Equal parts 2.5D action-platformer and adventure game, players wholly engage with the game via d-pad and stylus, but not simply to tap out combos. Instead, now you engage with the whole environment, whether in the foreground or background and can drag it about with the flick of your stylus. What could’ve been a simple gimmick instead leads to immensely satisfying adventure gameplay.
The platforming is good fun too, with some neat secrets to track down. The combat is fairly basic due to only using a stylus, yet still instantly gratifying. By no means is it the best version of The Force Unleashed, but if you wanted a fresh take on action-platforming, The Force Unleashed II for DS is worth exploring.
Better Late Than Never – EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront Ii for PC, PS4, and Xbox One
DICE’s second try at an 8th gen Battlefront is a tale of woe and redemption. The launch was an absolute mess of controversial microtransactions, a terribly dull single-player campaign, and divisive multiplayer modes. There was so much emphasis on spectacle and grinding for dozens of hundreds of hours that the game effectively started over from scratch a few months in.
After initially struggling to find an even footing, DICE finally came to their senses and brought Supremacy to all, as well as offline Instant Action and a dedicated co-op mode, each mode for all areas. While there’s little to be done about Iden Versio’s mediocre story campaign, the sheer glut of free multiplayer updates made for a vastly better time. Sadly some modes like Extraction and Starfighter Assault were unnecessarily abandoned, but the overall state of the game today is miles above where Battlefront II started in 2017.
Not to be outdone, the fandom has similarly brought about their own further enhancements, from new maps and heroes to a custom server browser extension that permits the online use of mods through private servers. Though EA has expressed little interest in continuing the Battlefront series, it’s clear the fans will have the final say in the matter.
The Punk One – Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron for Psp
Renegade Squadrons is one of the best Battlefront games, so it’s a shame you can only experience it on Sony handheld systems. While arguably smaller in scale than Battlefront 2 or Elite Squadron, it’s easily the most creative and varied. Great new maps and reworked old favorites come together with a customizable class system that lets you mix and match all manner of gear to your liking.
While some builds are obviously optimal, the weight system ensures no “perfect” (see: overpowered) builds can reign supreme. Paired with a great campaign about the Rebel Alliance’s black ops Renegade Squadron, players venture everywhere from Mygeeto to the tombs of Korriban to hinder the Empire’s advance. Maps are a visual treat, with fantastic asymmetric layouts that reward shaking up your playstyle. The fan-favorite Galactic Conquest mode is even at its best.
The only feature that really falls short is the Clone Wars era, which is more of a perfunctory add-on than a fully supported era. Well, that, and you’re still stuck with a cumbersome control scheme you gotta get used to. Still, The Galactic Civil War is the name of the game here, and fans of the Original Trilogy are in for a treat.
Ironically, Not Related to the Kid’s Show – Star Wars: The Clone Wars for PS2, Xbox, & GameCube
Now we’re entering the realm of “hey, remember that bad Star Wars game? Well, here it is again, but now it’s actually good!” First off, we have The Clone Wars, a hybrid vehicle combat/Jedi brawler game. The brawling sections are frankly pretty not great, but thankfully they make up only a fraction of the game, which instead is packed full of epic vehicle combat. You’ll fight the Separatists from the start of the Clone Wars on Geonosis to the far reaches of the Expanded Universe.
Combat is instantly intuitive, seeing you circle-strafe, dogfight, and cleave through the Separatist Alliance with graceful ease. You get to embody multiple Jedi across a healthy variety of worlds, including fan-favorite Rhen Var from Tales of the Jedi. Though the voice acting is very hit or miss, it’s an engaging journey all the same.
What’s impressive is not only the scale of the story but the literal scale of the levels. Developer Pandemic Studios’ penchant for impressive optimization is on full display here, with massive levels and titanic machines of death threatening to destroy the Republic. It’s only when you’re up close, looking at human faces that the game’s age truly shows. Otherwise, it’s an absolute blast, featuring a meaty campaign and multiple local multiplayer modes to play with or against your friends. Even better, you can now play it at 4K resolution thanks to the title coming to Xbox Backwards Compatibility!
Judge Me By My Size Do You? – Revenge of the Sith for GBA & DS
Just like The Clone Wars, here we have Ubisoft Montreal’s Revenge of the Sith for GBA and DS. Behold, a 2.5D sidescrolling brawler that isn’t terrible! Merging the cartoon aesthetic and some of the music of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars microseries with some Streets of Rage brawling, it’s quite the package. The art direction is beautiful, with lavish detail and a broad range of colors, lighting effects, and even some faked reflections to go along with some sprite-based shadows.
The controls are tight, and the balancing is nigh-flawless. If you know what you’re doing, you can tear through this game without taking a hit. It’s obviously a bit light on story, the gameplay shines so brightly that you just don’t care.Whether playing as Obi-wan or Anakin, Revenge of the Sith on GBA is an absolute joy to play.
Plus, if you make the leap to DS, there’s a surprise bonus of fully 3D dogfighting, both in singleplayer and in a DS exclusive aerial combat multiplayer! This is above and beyond what most movie tie-ins, let alone Star Wars games, have achieved on handhelds, and is the height of 2D Star Wars gaming on the go.
The OG – Rogue Squadron 3D for PC & N64
I know, I know – by this point, you’ve heard how so many Star Wars games pushed their systems to the limit. What you gotta understand is, Factor 5 just constantly did that as a regular thing. Every release used high level programming and compression techniques to pull off nigh-impossible feats of software engineering to get the most out of the N64 and GameCube. Rogue Squadron wasn’t simply a major Nintendo exclusive series, but easily one of the most polished Star Wars trilogies ever made.
Which is a great consolation for the fact that the first one hasn’t aged the most delicately. It’s still a legitimately fun arcade experience, but wow, the limited storytelling and masochistic design of certain missions really shows the game’s age. If you want to keep your blood pressure down, this is definitely another one to use the old cheatcodes list for. Only the most persistent will make it through on their own.
The Underrated – Battle for Naboo for PC & N64
Battle for Naboo is the lone Rogue Squadron spin-off, and it’s a shame that so few know of it. Not only did it add ground combat in addition to Rogue Squadron 3D’s aerial dogfights, but it’s overall mission design was a touch more generously balanced. The story is still very campy, but has a more involved plot about Royal Naboo security officers protecting civilians and leading a resistance against the Trade Federation.
All that talk of people being rounded up into camps and dying? You actually see that firsthand in this game, as well as a far wider array of environments across Naboo. There’s even a bonus stage where you can turn the tables and decimate the Naboo as Darth Maul in a Darkside what-if scenario. It’s inexplicably still not available on GOG while Rogue Squadron 3D is, but hopefully that will change with time.
The One Everyone Loves – Rogue Squadron Ii: Rogue Leader for Gamecube
Rogue Squadron II is generally considered the series peak, but it’s more a matter of preference to additions made by its successor. Notoriously one of the most intense Star Wars games to emulate, Rogue Squadron II was the GameCube launch MVP, spanning the entirety of the Galactic Civil War from the Battle of Yavin to Endor.
Everything that fans loved was brought back in full, while new mechanics like commanding Rogue Squadron layered on the sense of actually being Rogue Leader. Truly, the only real complain that can be levied at Rogue Leader is the same that could be said of the rest of the series – a reliance on a life system to up the difficulty.
The Arcade Flight Sim… Where You Walk? – Rogue Squadron Iii: Rebel Strike for Gamecube
Okay, so how did Rogue Squadron III, a direct sequel to one of the most celebrated Star Wars games of all time, fall short despite having the same core combat system? Rogue Squadron II’s campaign is even included as a bonus feature, playable in co-op for the first time.
Well, you see, they added on-foot sections, as well as a number of references to Attack of the Clones. Now if you ask me, the on-foot combat is actually quite enjoyable, fitting the arcade-y sensibilities well. It’s far smoother an experience overall than the Jedi sections of The Clone Wars, and Factor Five really tried to keep things nice and breezy.
However, what’s less ideal is the increased melodrama and Prequel references that stick out of place. While it’s fair to acknowledge that first Rogue Squadron was a bit weak narratively, its voice acting was at least the good side of cheesy. Rebel Strike meanwhile bounces between the two, sometimes boasting Expanded Universe stories like the recruitment of ace pilot Tycho Celchu brought to life. At other turns… gosh it can be cringeworthy.
Despite this, it’s hard to admonish Factor Five for pushing the series as far as possible. With two separate single-player campaigns, a glut of local multiplayer options, and the most varied scenario design out of the whole series, Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike just edges out its predecessor, but it’s a close contention.
The Phantom Menace’s Best Game – Star Wars: Starfighter for PC, PS2, & Xbox
What do you do when it’s the 2000’s, you know most people aren’t huge on The Phantom Menace, but you can’t build anything off of what’s to come in Attack of the Clones yet? Well, you make the most badass arcade flight sim since Rogue Squadron! Where GameCube fans had Rogue Squadron, the rest of us had Starfighter, and you know what? It’s damn good fun.
All three ships are fantastic to fly as, whether blazing along in Rhys’ N1 starfighter, using heat-seeking blasts in Vana’s triwing fighter, or decimating whole armies with Nym’s heavy bomber. The capstone to this all is an engaging tale about a rookie pilot, a mercenary, and a dreaded pirate coming together to strike back at the Trade Federation during the war for Naboo. If you wanted to know what everyone else was up to during the events of the film, Starfighter covers everything left untouched by Battle for Naboo, and then some.
Starfighter goes out of its way to address not only the issues some fans had with the Phantom Menace, but Rogue Squadron. You have regenerating shields and a permanently damagable healthbar should they drop too low, rather than multiple fragile lives. Instead of simply one set of nailbiting objectives, there’s escalatingly harder bonus objectives you have to try and complete in addition to your primary mission. It’s more rewarding to dig back into missions, as each bonus objective completed leads to new pilotable ships and extra missions on top of the sizable campaign.
It’s also worth noting that for the game’s Xbox re-release, they crafted a Special Edition that adds local multiplayer modes and additional singleplayer bonus missions. Now that it’s backwards compatible, the most content complete version of the game is available to anyone with a modern Xbox! Absolutely wizard!
Yet, that wasn’t the end of the tale, at least for players on PS2 and Xbox.
“What If Starfighter… But Better” – Star Wars Jedi: Starfighter for PS2, & Xbox
Not to be outdone, Secret Level’s console-exclusive sequel narrows its focus as much as it expands its core aims. While you only pilot two ships at first, with all others purely offered as unlockable bonus ships, Nym’s bomber and the newly introduced Jedi Stafighter piloted by Master Adi Gallia are a pleasure to fly. Everything that worked is here again, with the addition of bonus armaments for Nym and aerial Force powers for Adi.
Where Starfighter was more of an insurgent war story, Jedi Starfighter is more of a sci-fi western. Adi is constantly serving in the role of protector, guarding the safety of civilians and even Nym’s crew from the menace of the Trade Federation and their mercenary Saboath Squadron allies. It’s not until the final missions that the game turns into the dawn of the Clone Wars, revealing the pivotal role Nym had to play in not one but two prequel storylines.
The scenario design is at its peak here, with a variety of dynamic missions, including an almost literal tug of war to out-scavenge the Saboath crew. The variability of bonus objectives is expanded thanks to a new secret objective players need to discover. It’s a wonderful time, and carries forward the multiplayer options from Starfighter’s Special Edition, this time for all platforms.
Sadly, there never was a third entry for Revenge of the Sith, but Nym and Vana were immortalized as NPCs in Star Wars: Galaxies years later. A fitting tribute to Secret Level’s brilliant duology.
The Purest Battlefield – Star Wars Battlefront for PC, PS2, & Xbox
Star Wars Battlefront is unique, in that none of its sequels ever quite strike the same chord. Where subsequent Battlefronts tried to throw more customization, bigger battles, or elaborate stories at the player… the original is purely a holodeck. A lean, mean, singularly focused holodeck, but still. You aren’t the epic war hero in Battlefront, you’re just Guy Average and can die from a single well-placed shot.
No quickscoping or dramatic killstreaks here. No fancy powers beyond the equipment afforded to your chosen character class. No playing as Jedi – the handful present are nigh-indestructible NPCs who demolish anything in their way. Strategy, awareness, and map knowledge are key. This is the only Battlefront game where you can even go prone to sneak past enemy players and avoid the attention of snipers. Every map is asymmetric, with urban and wilderness environments just begging for flanking maneuvers and ambushes.
Though the average player still went in guns blazing, Battlefront was a rare kind of shooter where the sandbox, not personal empowerment, was the point. That’s why it still stands up on its own merits, even if it’s a bit old-fashioned by comparison to modern FPSes.
The First Flight Sim – Star Wars: X-Wing for PC
X-Wing is the first game made once Lucasfilm finally regained sole control of the Star Wars license. Internally conceived by lead designer Lawrence Holland as a Star Wars equivalent to World War II flight sims at the time, X-Wing set a high watermark for what Star Wars could accomplish. As Keyan Farlander, you serve the Rebellion in several major operations centering around A New Hope and the establishing of Echo Base on Hoth.
However, the initial release is also by far the clunkiest of the entire Star Wars flight sim saga, both in presentation and gameplay. Only completionists really need to see this one all the way through. Still, it’s a major landmark title and earned its place as a beloved classic. With its re-release on GOG, nostalgic fans can still dive in, and the curious few willing to brave a rougher experience can still find a gem awaiting them.
The Combat Sim – Star Wars: X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter: The Balance of Power for PC
X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter has the unfortunate problem that it was meant to be a multiplayer experience, so the Balance of Power campaign is actually merely an expansion pack. It’s not a bad one, mind you, but it’s far less exciting if you’re here for the story. Still, damn good gameplay from a brilliant series is hard to pass up, and thankfully at least the single-player portion of the campaign is still available thanks to GOG.
Shadows of the Empire for N64 and PC
Shadows of the Empire is quite the novelty, even going by Star Wars games. It’s not quite a minigame package like certain releases, but instead several fully realized modes of play. You’ve got on-foot third-person action that feels straight out of Quake but with auto-aim like Goldeneye. The Battle of Hoth and the fight over the Skyhook are essentially long lost Rogue Squadron levels. The turret sequences are wonderfully engaging.
And yeah, there’s that terrible swoopbike sequence, but the less said about that dull waste of time, the better. Otherwise, Shadows of the Empire is a kriffing good ride. There’s secrets to find that give you bonus lives and levels are short enough that the game featuring a life system isn’t obtuse! There’s multiple camera settings for comfort. Dash’s auto-aim is generous, and his special ammo you find in the field kicks ass!
That said, bear in mind that it’s essentially a movie tie-in game for a movie that never existed. Instead, the best you’ll get are some comics and a novel. Trust me, the static text of the N64 version and the terrifyingly bad animation of the CGI PC cutscenes aren’t going to sell you on the conflict.
It’s not quite the flow or feel of Dark Forces, but it still scratches that itch of 90’s run and gun action. Plus the controls are so simple you can literally play it with just a keyboard. Though, that said, you can easily finish Shadows of the Empire in a single sitting if you’re on a good tear. It’s delightfully replayable. If you’re still intrigued, the PC port on GOG is amazing.
Make Your Own Star War – Star Wars: Rebellion for PC
Star Wars: Rebellion is a fantastic 4X game… for those who don’t need tons of explosions. If you come to Star Wars for gonzo action, just scroll past this one. Rebellion is a game made by nerds for the kinds of nerds who write a novella-length list ranking every Star Wars game that ever existed. You can break the canon five times over and maybe even train Han Solo to be a Jedi! With randomized events, the ability to sway virtually every planet to your faction’s side, a suite of espionage and diplomacy commands, and a ginormous arsenal of Expanded Universe units at your disposal – there’s a lot to like in Rebellion.
While it’s clearly operating on a low budget and about as thrilling as watching paint dry, there’s a certain set of players who absolutely love this game. As you’ve probably guessed, yes, I’m one of them. The sheer flexibility to Rebellion is unprecedented. There’s no way a game like this would exist in the Disney era of Star Wars, and it’s kind of incredible even the original Lucasfilm licensing signed off on on this. So yeah, if you wanna muck about in a chill yet strategic 4X game, Rebellion is worth it.
A Galaxy of Fanservice – Star Wars: Empire at War & Forces of Corruption for PC
By contrast, Empire at War is the exact opposite of Rebellion, well, in terms of gameplay. Rather than tactfully winning over the galaxy and performing espoinage, you’re steamrolling across the galaxy. Empire at War is loved by many RTS fans, though with good reason, the game has an extensive Steam Workshop full of total conversion mods. It’s not that the main game is bad but, between the initial release and its lone expansion, there’s a lot to be desired.
The first two campaigns are an awkwardly paced pair of tutorials, while the Forces of Corruption campaign comes across as Gary Stu fanfic about the crime lord Tyber Zann. The free form Conquest and Instant Action modes are far better, but balancing issues across all three factions is a bit messy. Delightful, with accessible gameplay, but with such a scramble of contradicting units to balance against.
The beautiful upside to this is just how deeply Empire at War draws from even more corners of the Expanded Universe. You can command Nightsisters, Dark Troopers, TIE Phantoms, and even Grand Admiral Thrawn himself. It’s an indulgent, chaotic geekfest that any EU fan can’t help but appreciate. And, yeah, they really do.
The community truly has kept this one alive. I’m not exaggerating when I say some of the mods for this game are easily over three times the scope of some AAA RTS games. So if you want the most of Empire at War, dozens of fan creations await to give you some of the densest Star Wars strategy-action ever.
Back From the Dead – Star Wars Galaxies for PC
You know when I first started writing this list, I thought the beloved Star Wars MMO, Galaxies, was truly nothing but a faint memory and some rough attempts at emulation. Instead, I’m pleased to report that Restoration III has brought the full experience back! The free to play revival has the initial game and its Jump to Lightspeed expansion fully functioning. With plans to restore Mustafar and the Trials of Obi-Wan expansion next, Galaxies has never been more player driven.
For those unfamiliar, where The Old Republic has a central story and cinematic flair, Galaxies is a true roleplaying sandbox. You choose what skills to study. The economy is wholly player driven. Bounty hunters take actual player bounties. The Galactic Civil War is constantly raging. Artisans craft fine goods. There’s even skills to become a shipwright. Galaxies is less a traditional MMO and more like classic Ultima Online – a living, breathing ecosystem of players. As such, it’s heartwarming to see it restored by its community, thriving despite its tragic cancellation a decade ago.
Better Than the Movie – LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens for PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii-U, 3DS, & iOS
Though the Sequel Trilogy is a polarizing topic at best for the Star Wars community, there’s one game set in the new timeline everyone can agree on: LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Some love it for finally bring 3D flight and surprisingly fun yet child-friendly cover-based shooting to the LEGO gameplay model. Others were fond of its inclusion of NuExpand Universe stories that otherwise would’ve been restricted to books or comics.
For me though, the most profound surprise is that LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens tells a better story. Is it more tongue-in-cheek? You betchya, but it also has things like: character development, breathing room for the cast to get to know each other, a much better confrontation with Phasma, and a much bigger role for the late-Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. An entire level is dedicated just to Leia managing the Resistance, actually contextualizing the size of the organization where the films kept it constantly vague.
Most amazingly, this is the first entry in the series since LEGO Star Wars II on PSP to be a fully featured port to handheld systems. Though the Wii-U, PS Vita, and 3DS all have their own unique quirks to fit the main game in, it remains by far one of the most incredible multi-port games out of the entire Star Wars franchise. Though, seriously, don’t bother with the 3DS port unless you love extremely blurry textures.
Truly, the only shame to LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is that, well, it’s only got the first third of the trilogy. Even with all the DLC included, it’s clear there’s a bigger story waiting to be told. Though we’ll see that soon enough with LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga later this year.
What Kind of Subtitle Is That?? – Jedi Knight: Dark Forces Ii for PC
How do you follow-up one of the most innovative shooters in gaming history? By turning it into a Quake-y, Force-infused epic full of delightfully campy FMV cutscenes. Kyle Katarn is back, and he’s packing an amazing beard and a lightsaber to grind. Whether you choose to follow in the footsteps of the Jedi or grasp for the selfish power of the Darkside, Jedi Knight is a beloved game for good reason. The level design might be more outlandish than in Dark Forces, but the attention to detail is still there.
Just as important, Jedi Knight introduced online multiplayer, which would not only set the stage for fans to engage in lightsaber duels, but craft roleplaying experiences. The Jedi Engine remains a fan favorite engine to mod, with open source updates to keep it running smoothly. There’s even a fan remaster of Dark Forces II and it’s equally epic expansion, speaking of which…
Now That’s How a Subtitle Works – Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith for PC
The one thing that isn’t a mystery to anyone who knows their way around the Expanded Universe: Mara Jade is a cherished heroine. The Emperor’s Hand turned Jedi Knight was introduced in the same novels as Grand Admiral Thrawn, and her unfortunate absence from the Disney timeline is felt to this day. If you’re feeling nostlagic, her starring role in the expansion pack Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith is absolutely worth playing.
Opting for purely in-game storytelling rather than FMVs, the game relies on you understanding who Jade is and why she’s having to relearn the ways of the Force. She’s trying to let go of the Darkside, and Kyle’s been guiding her towards becoming a proper Jedi. In the interim, Mara’s become a smuggler who frequently aids the New Republic, leading to her being caught up in a series of interconnecting adventures.
You’ve got stealth, puzzles, action, and even some classic Lucas Arts adventure game puzzling. You also get one last encore as a fully maxed out Kyle Katarn taking on the Imperial Remnant, so that’s tons of fun too. In many ways, it’s one of the last classic Lucas Arts games, as increasingly more titles after this would be outsourced to other studios. An elegant game, for a more civilized time.
Off to the Races – Star Wars Episode I: Racer for PC, Dreamcast, N64
Say what you will about The Phantom Menace – virtually everyone can agree, pod racing is cool as hell. Capitalizing on an obvious hit in the making, Lucas Arts brought us one of their finest games ever. Pods race ahead at up to a thousand kilometers per hour, tearing up countless alien worlds with remarkable detail for the N64.
Despite the odd name of Episode I: Racer, it captures the thrilling sequence from the film and expands on it immensely. Buy new parts, or scavenge old, beat up parts in the junkyard to save costs at the offset of lowered stats until your pitdroids can get the piece in order. Race as over a dozen different pilots across multiple circuits full of moving parts and dangerous hazards. There’s even a major highlight of darting through an active volcano!
It’s an absolute joy after all these years, and has since been ported to everything under the sun. Seriously, if you like racing at all, play this one.
Still Going Strong – Star Wars: The Old Republic for PC
Most decade-old Star Wars games can boast a fanbase, but few can say that they’re bigger and better than ever. Star Wars: The Old Republic might not be the third Knights of the Old Republic game fans were clamoring for, but it has more than come into its own. BioWare Austin took a troubled, incredibly ambitious story-focused MMORPG, and have finely honed it into one of the longest-running, highly reactive multiplayer CRPGs ever made.
Across eight different classes with unique storylines, over two dozen romance options, and more than five major story expansions, The Old Republic is a universe all its own. Even with the Disney reset of the timeline, The Old Republic remains the last bastion of the original Expanded Universe. For fans of what used to be, or who want a Star Wars experience with greater moral complexity and diversity, The Old Republic is here for you. In an age where the franchise’s overall quality has grown increasingly inconsistent, that’s a welcome reassurance.
Sure, the combat is basically World of Warcraft with some wrinkles to how blaster characters handle, but the sheer roleplaying potential far outweighs this. Even if you never drop a cent and stick wholly to the Free to Play content, you’re looking at more content than the two preceding KOTOR games combined. That all of this is fully voiced by top grade talent, weaving across new and familiar worlds, is a triumph to BioWare’s credit. It might’ve been a rocky road getting here, but ten years later, The Old Republic is better than ever.
Plus, if you ever get bored of ground combat, there’s aerial dogfighting too! We’re eager to see where the Old Republic saga goes next, and hope to see it last for many more years.
Finally, A Good Fighting Game! – Revenge of the Sith for PS2 & Xbox
It took almost the entire classic Star Wars saga, but finally, The Collective managed it. A truly great 3D fighting game exists in the Star Wars universe. The campaign uses cut ideas from the film to full effect, creating an in-depth brawling campaign. It’s full of back to back duels against the greatest Sith and Jedi of the Prequels. The voice acting is great, clips from some of the best scenes are worked in. There’s incentive to replay chapters to fully max out Obi-wan and Anakin across their respective campaigns.
In addition to the main story, you’re looking at a bunch of bonus missions as various characters. Not to mention, a fully-featured dueling mode for up to two players. Though the list of playable heroes and villains is brief, they’re all great options to work with, including more unconventional fighters such as Grievous and Yoda. To top things off, players can relive Obi-wan and Vader’s final duel in A New Hope with kickass lightsaber moves and epic Force powers.
Move over Soul Calibur 4’s really awkward Star Wars crossover, this is the real fighting game for Star Wars fans.
“Anyway, So I Start Blastin'” – Star Wars: Dark Forces for PC & PS1
Dark Forces is old enough that the FPS genre were still called “Doom clones” unironically. Nobody knew what to make of them, and fewer still were prepared for quite possibly the most elaborate evolution of the genre that is Star Wars: Dark Forces. Kyle Katarn’s first outting might lack a lightsaber, but it more than makes up for that thanks to amazing level design with full 3D aiming. Seriously, these levels not only tend to flow like actual environments, but were practically magic when Dark Forces released. Lucas Arts threw down the gauntlet with this game, and it still holds up.
That is, if you don’t mind all your enemies being 2D sprites, and a gigantic sewer level. Also that Krayt dragon you have to punch to death. Seriously though, Dark Forces is a genuine classic worth playing, whether to revisit it or to experience Kyle Katarn’s introduction for the very first time.
The Classic – Knights of the Old Republic for PC & Xbox
Now, to be clear: Knights of the Old Republic is one of the most important games in the Star Wars franchise. No question. It set the stage for an era that’s outlasted the rest of the Expanded Universe. Heck, it’s generally considered the best era out of the entire franchise. It’s vibrant, detailed, and just the right level of weird. Its an archetypal piece of Star Wars media. It’s just also very, very safe when you revisit it with a modern mindset.
It was jawdroppingly ambitious for 2003, but BioWare and Obsidian have pushed the envelope for CRPGs and Star Wars since then. It’s not that the first entry is a bad game, but even Lucasfilm saw reason to greenlight a remake that will update the experience for a modern palette.
The combat is really stiff and heavily discourages relying on squishier party members. Each planet is the size of a small theme park. Most of the moral choices are fairly basic “help old lady across the street” or “kick old lady into traffic”. The more interesting aspects, like confronting Bastila’s mother, require a lot of digging to experience.
Be that as it may, it’s still a classic experience worth revisiting in many forms including its original form on PC and Xbox, or the more recent mobile ports by Aspyr. And if you do pick it up on PC or Android, be sure to check out the beloved fan made expansion pack, Brotherhood of Shadow. As such, Knights of the Old Republic doesn’t quite merit the top rank, yet it still is among the most important games in the galaxy.
Punching Way Above Their Weight – Krome Studio’s The Force Unleashed for Wii, PS2, & PSP
Krome Studios is most famously known for their work on the Ty: The Tasmanian Tiger series, but there is one accomplishment that deserves more recognition. Despite being handed some less than ideal Clone Wars games, the studio rose to the occassion on their largest project ever: The Force Unleashed.
Where Lucas Arts stumbled on 7th gen hardware, Krome triumphs with a 6th gen triple-threat delivery no one expected. Not only was their version of The Force Unleashed finished months ahead of Lucas Arts’ efforts, but they achieved an additional port and multiple fantastic bonus features across the Wii and PSP ports.
Combat is taut like a drum, with solid enemy variety that’s more than the rather often reskinned varieties of its HD big brother. Additional levels, more bosses, all the cut story content, BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Along with all of this, the Wii port gets solid motion controls and a Powerstone inspired 1 v 1 fighting game mode with over twenty characters from the game and beyond. Yet the best by far is on the PSP.
Not only is the port to PSP rock solid, with no cut content but simply a lower polycount, but there’s MORE in the handheld version. Along with the campaign, you’ve got Order 66 survival mode, historical missions that remix classic saga moments to an Unleashed degree, four-player online multiplayer, and a dueling tower with over a dozen new bosses to fight culminating in a duel against Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Palpatine! Somehow, one little gigabyte of Star Wars gaming ended up boasting more content, features, and replayability than any other version.
Whether on a PSP, PS Vita, or emulator, you owe it to yourself to play the PSP port at some point. Truly, one of the most astonishing handheld Star Wars games to date.
The Family Business – X-Wing Alliance for PC
The Star Wars saga is all about family, but typically that’s the Skywalker family. For its final entry however, the X-Wing series took us to the small (intergalactic) town business of the Azzameans. Playing as the youngest family member, Ace, players have much more immediate problems than the Galactic Civil War. A rival family keeps trying to poach your clients and sell you out to the Empire. It takes a full CD’s worth of story before you even get drawn into the war, set in the aftermath of Star Wars: TIE Fighter.
Though Ace is nothing more than a player self-insert, the Azzamean family are wonderfully written and voiced. The X-Wing engine is at its finest here, with fully 3D interiors to ships and highly detailed exterior models for the 90’s. Best of all, the music is a mix of familiar and remixed Star Wars themes. From your interior cabin to the cinematics to the heat of pitched battle, it really feels like you’re on your own personal Star Wars adventure.
What makes this all the more compelling is that, by being a civilian caught in the middle of a civil war, new mission types arise. Stealth is sometimes quite crucial, especially when helping the Rebels capture the shuttle Luke and company use to land on Endor in Return of the Jedi. While you do get to co-pilot alongside Lando in the grand finale, in an epic four-stage exploration of the Death Star II, the real selling point is the authenticity of the journey getting there.
With the game’s pristine re-release on GOG, I implore you – if you’d like a glimpse at a Star Wars game that isn’t about any Jedi or super soldiers with god-like reflexes, this is the entry you’ve been looking for.
The Modder’s Heaven – Star Wars: Battlefront II for PC, PS2, PSP, & Xbox
Many people remember Pandemic’s Battlefront II. It’s easily one of the best selling Star Wars games of all time. What’s kept it from being a far off memory is how gigantic the game has become over the years thanks to modders. The 501st Journal campaign and base content was fine, with some great multiplayer modes added alongside traditional Conquest and Galactic Conquest. Yet, everyone knew we could go further.
In the decade-plus years since, Battlefront II has received fan-made total conversions, new campaigns. We’ve also seen the Zero Editor engine pushed to the utter limit in attemps to recreate Battlefront III in its predecessor. The base game has a second lease on life thanks to GOG Galaxy’s new multiplayer servers, but let’s be real. Battlefront II persists to this day not simply for the commendable efforts of Pandemic as a developer, but for their dedication to ensuring their players could keep the game’s digital heart beating well past its intended shelf-life. For a game made in under a year, that’s pretty damn impressive.
The Best One – Republic Commando for PC & Xbox
Republic Commando is the peak of Star Wars action games. Not just shooters, but all the action games. There’s not a single sequence that falls flat. It’s all killer, no filler, bursting at the seams with personality. The grim and gritty take on the Clone Wars was precisely what fans were looking for, and offset the more kid-oriented aspects of the franchise in a way that tempered concerns the future was purely the likes of Jar-Jar Binks.
Everything from the script and vocal performances to the animations is precision craftsmanship. The game runs like a dream on every system it’s ported to. Every weapon kicks like you’re unloading a Mandalorian’s rage into whatever sorry sentient is on the receiving end of your guns. And the main score. My goodness, the whole composition is amazing, incorporating actual Mando’a chants!
Easily one of the most intuitive squad-tactics FPSes on the market, Republic Commando manages to capture the energy of D-Day, Zero Dark Thirty, and at a key point, Ridley Scott’s Alien. The multiplayer servers, while sadly fairly barren today even with GameRanger, were also a frag filled fiesta that was utterly chaotic in the best way possible. More recent ports sadly have abandoned the latter aspect, but the campaign remains an all-time classic. Truly, the best Star Wars game.
The Other Best One – Tie Fighter for PC
Well except for the other best Star Wars game, TIE Fighter. Not only did it improve upon everything X-Wing set out to do, it incorporated Grand Admiral Thrawn into the greater universe. We got a candid glimpse inside the Empire, while unflinchingly playing as the baddies in a campaign that’s in no hurry to hide nor chide the nature of your missions.
Where X-Wing saw the player shepherding the Rebellion to Hoth, TIE Fighter sets you to the task of hunting those same Rebels down with ruthless efficiency. You’ll decimate defectors, tear X-Wings to pieces, and fly the finest Imperial ships across multiple campaigns. Even the final campaign, previously exclusive as a bonus to the game’s final physical release, is now bundled in for free with the game’s GOG re-release.
And if that’s not fancy enough, don’t worry – fans have already handcrafted a 1:1 recreation X-Wing Alliance’s more advanced tech. Truly, the best, most fondly remembered, Star Wars game.
The OTHER, Other Best One – Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords for PC & Xbox
Hold on, let’s not forget the OTHER Other best Star Wars game: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. Easily one of the most in-depth roleplaying games in the Star Wars saga. Where the first KOTOR was all about proving that a CRPG could work on consoles, The Sith Lords dared to ask “okay, but what if we actually made it a proper role playing experience?”
Are you a gearhead? There’s technical solutions to many of life’s problems. Genius with medicine? Keep your team alive in battle even if you aren’t heavy hitters by crafting the finest medicine. Fancy yourself a duelist? Defeat the greatest Jedi and Sith still standing in the wake of the events of Darth Revan’s crusade. Even the slowburn opening is full of unique ways for different character builds to shine in a way rarely seen in its predecessor.
Much has been said about how subversive The Sith Lords is. Obsidian took all the classic Star Wars tropes to task, be they the plucky smuggler, ruthless bounty hunter, or wise old Jedi Master guiding you. Nothing is as it seems in The Sith Lords, and it culminates in a bittersweet finale to a story that sadly never had a proper conclusion. Though fans have done their best to restore what was intended, even bringing back a whole planet, there’s only so much that could be done.
Regardless, any flaws due to behind the scenes drama can’t stop Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords from being the OTHER, Other Best Star Wars Video Game!
Now if you’ll excuse me- *leaps out into the streets of Coruscant, in hot pursuit of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga*