A New Hope for Star Wars Games
Star Wars games the Empire wouldn't love
Holy cow, it looks like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a pretty good game. It’s a single player action adventure that tells a story, isn’t bursting at the seams with microtransactions and alternate monetization schemes, and actually sold well. Who knew this was possible? What madman over at Electronic Arts cooked up the idea that just making a video game people want to play, selling it at $60, and leaving it at that was a good way to make customers happy and make money? Somebody give them a medal!
A New Hope
Sarcasm aside, it really does seem miraculous that this game even got made with EA behind the wheel. Yet here we are. I haven’t had the pleasure of playing the game myself yet. Honestly I didn’t think it looked very good at E3, but folks seem really happy with the end result, and I’m nothing if not a Star Wars whore, so I’m assuming I’ll get around to it at some point. It’s on my Christmas list, though I suspect in a month or two I’ll be able to get it for next to nothing. Funny how that works. Regardless, unlike the last few Star Wars games, I’m totally into playing this one. Battlefront didn’t hold much luster since I don’t do a lot of online gaming, and the whole loot box thing put me off big time. I never managed to get into the original Battlefront games either though, so I guess that wasn’t much of a surprise.
Now that I think of it, I haven’t seriously played a Star Wars game since the first Force Unleashed. I played through that one on Xbox 360 and I remember really enjoying my time with it. Story was cool and tossing Storm Troopers around was a blast. I was super bothered by the fact that my lightsaber couldn’t slice through a trooper like butter, but whatever. It was a video game, and it was Star Wars.
The point is, Fallen Order proves (not that this actually needed proving, but you know, EA…) that people are hungry for good Star Wars games, and they're willing to buy them if they get made. They don’t have to be “live services” to be profitable. Make a good Star Wars game, Star Wars fans will buy it. I know, again, it’s a completely insane concept, but there you have it.
This gives me hope for a couple of things. First, that the people at Electronic Arts get the picture and start green-lighting new Star Wars games that aren’t endless trashy money pits. Second, that someone realizes just how much nostalgia there is for classic Star Wars games, and gets to work on re-releasing the old stuff. So, since speculating wildly about games that don’t exist is just about the most fun thing there is to write about, let’s dream some dreams about Star Wars games that i’d love to be real someday.
Star Wars Legacy Collections
Unlike stuff like Castlevania and Mega Man, Star Wars games have been made by a ton of different companies over the years, so collecting them all together for Legacy Collections is probably easier said than done. But if Disney is willing to toss Aladdin and The Lion King together and call it a day, I can’t imagine them having qualms with making smaller collections of Star Wars games and sorting them out by who they’d have to license them from. First, the Atari Collection.
This might be a little tricky since the Star Wars games on the Atari 2600 weren’t actually made by Atari, but I imagine getting them together wouldn’t be too difficult. This collection would absolutely have to be headlined by the original arcade releases. The original Star Wars arcade game is already making a bit of a comeback with the Arcade 1-Up cabinet, but having it ported to home consoles in all its color vector graphics glory would be a fantastic starting point. Put its sequel Empire Strikes Back in there too, and you’ve got yourself a heck of a start. Atari’s Return of the Jedi would have to be included, which would be especially cool because I feel like this game never got the attention its little brothers did. It isn’t vector based, but it’s still a neat little game, and there you have it. Atari’s Star Wars arcade trilogy. But why stop there?
Vintage Star Wars games weren't just in arcades, they were on home consoles and computers too, especially the Atari 2600. You’d have to include the surprisingly good port of Star Wars Arcade, and in the interest of being all historically thorough, get as many alternate ports as possible too. Atari 5200, Commodore 64, whatever makes sense to port. They were all pretty wildly different, so it would be a fun walk through history. Of course they would absolutely have to have The Empire Strikes Back for 2600 on there since that was not only the first Star Wars video game, but it’s still a pretty fun diversion to this day. There was an Intellivision port that would be cool to have too, but it wouldn't exactly be tragic if it weren’t. The sound effects were pretty grating.
Death Star Battle and Jedi Arena would be great gets too, and while I’m dreaming, toss the prototype for Ewok Adventure on there too. With the four home console Star Wars games all being done by Parker Bros., that would theoretically mean there wouldn’t be much to the whole licensing process, if there’s any process to be done at all. For all I know Disney owns all these games now lock stock and barrel. Regardless, this collection would be such a historical treasure trove. Fill it with product artwork, scans of print ads, old TV commercials, and maybe old developer interviews like on the Aladdin & Lion King package, and I can’t imagine it not making a freaking mint, especially from us old Star Wars fans.
Star Wars Sega stuff
The next stop on the ol’ Legacy Collection train should be Sega’s games. Star Wars Arcade and Star Wars Trilogy Arcade aren’t all that dissimilar to Atari’s arcade classics, so in a perfect world I’d say put them in with the other non existent collection, but if I’m being realistic (which I’m clearly not since these collections will never happen anyway) Sega’s stuff would probably best be put together as its own double pack.
And honestly, even though they aren’t the most involved games in history, I'd totally buy this pack, especially if they also included the 32X port of Arcade. It’s still crazy to me that Sega has never ported Star Wars Trilogy Arcade to anything before. That machine is still all over the place in arcades, and almost none of them work properly anymore. I know I’m not alone in wanting these games collected and re-released, right? I mean, can you imagine if they ported Star Wars Trilogy Arcade to PSVR???
Tie Fighter and X-Wing
Talk about some seriously legendary Star Wars games that are more or less lost on console players. The X-Wing series of flight simulators would make for such an amazing compilation, especially with some nice online integration, I seriously can’t imagine why it hasn’t happened already. X-Wing, TIE Fighter, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, and X-Wing Alliance all in one collection wouldn’t just introduce new audiences to some of the best classic Star Wars games ever made, but it would also make a heck ton of money. Word of mouth alone would get people all manner of excited to play these for the first time. Do they hold up? I don’t know. I haven’t played them in decades. But I suspect they do. I played X-Wing and TIE Fighter myself for hours back in the day. I never played the other two, but even if they’re terrible, which I doubt they are, this is a collection well worth compiling.
Apparently this was going to happen on Wii at some point and then it just didn’t. I played the heck out of Rogue Squadron on Nintendo 64. Then I played the heck out of Rogue Squadron II on GameCube. Then I never got around to playing Rogue Squadron III because, well, I don’t really know why. Now would be a great time to rectify that! My own personal history aside, these games were huge when they came out. Rogue Squadron II is still one of the best-looking games on GameCube too, which is saying a lot because there are some really great-looking GameCube games out there. (Resident Evil 4, Wind Waker, Metroid Prime, to name a few). These games absolutely hold up, or at last the first two do, and I have no doubt a collection released on modern consoles would make a ton of people happy. And if they really wanted to get silly with it, they could toss Battle for Naboo on there too, just to keep the Factor 5 shooters together.
They would definitely need some polish, especially the two Nintendo 64 titles, but man, seeing these games again would make me so freaking happy.
Super Star Wars Trilogy Collection+
Sculptured Software’s Super Star Wars games are wonderful. They’re incredibly difficult and pretty weird, but they’re wonderful. They also have a pretty prestigious reputation. The Super Star Wars games have been rereleased a couple of times in recent years, showing up on the Wii Virtual Console and on PlayStation 4, but a proper collection has yet to be made for these gems. A nice set including all three Super NES classics with all the trimmings of the best modern retro collections would be killer, but how great would it be if they took it a step further and also included Beam Software’s Star Wars for NES/MasterSystem/Game Boy and Sculptured Software’s own sequel The Empire Strikes Back? These classics are easily as good as Aladdin and Lion King, and are incredibly deserving of being played by Star Wars fans today, new and old.
That’s enough about old Star Wars collections. How about some new games? It clearly can be done, and there are so many untapped pieces of Star Wars lore just waiting to be dug into with the power of modern consoles behind them.
Star Wars Rebels
Rebels stands as one of my favorite things in all of Star Wars. I know it’s a kids show on Disney XD, but man, when it works it REALLY works. It would also make for a really cool action/adventure game. The show’s cast is incredibly diverse. You have Zeb who is a heavy up close fighter, Sabine who loves explosives, Hera the ace pilot, and Kanan & Ezra with their lightsabers. There’s a crazy amount of potential awesomeness to be had, especially when you factor the villains like the Inquisitors, Maul, and of course Darth Vader into the mix. Rebels would be such an amazing playground for proper Star Wars games.
Folks love to rag on The Phantom Menace, but the pod race scene is still super cool, and games based on said scene have always been just on the cusp of amazing. Making a new game about pod racing on modern hardware could be completely insane. Don’t make it follow Anakin either. Make your own podracer, make your own character, and go on a galaxy-spanning tour but with all the trappings modern racers like Burnout and Need for Speed have brought to the genre since PS2. In a world that’s starving for a new F-Zero game, a seriously high quality pod racer would be wizard!
How about some cool games based in the new trilogy? Rey, Finn, and Poe going on adventures fighting the First Order and Kylo Ren? I’m into that idea, and I can’t help feeling I wouldn’t be alone. Stuff like Fallen Order is awesome, but I miss a good old fashioned movie adaptation. Maybe though, instead of making it all fancy and 3D like Fallen Order, how cool would it be to have new sprite-based Star Wars games set in this universe? Seriously, Make sequels to the Super Star Wars games with the sequels to the Star Wars movies! Sprite based games have come so far in the past decade, seeing a brand new retro inspired Super Star Wars trilogy would blow my tiny little mind.
I’m genuinely surprised this game hasn’t been announced yet. The show is a breakout hit, and it’s about a Mandalorian bounty hunter. Star Wars: Bounty Hunter wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t exactly live up to its potential either. That and Jango Fett was cool, but this new guy with Baby Yoda by his side is infinitely cooler, as is the timeline he exists in. I’d play it.
These are just the ones that came to me off the top of my head. There’s seriously no limit to the untapped potential of Star Wars in video games. They go together like chocolate and peanut butter, and it always kills me when I see them not live up to their potential. The Star Wars brand hasn’t had the easiest time since the original trilogy ended. Shadows of the Empire was a neat period in time, but that stuff (especially the Nintendo 64 game) hasn’t aged very well, and it's not canon anymore anyway. Folks complaining about how The Last Jedi ruined Star Wars clearly don’t remember what the world felt like when the prequel trilogy was being released. Those were the dark times.
The path Star Wars is on now though seems to be headed in the right direction. Toxic fanbase aside, the bulk of what Disney has put out since buying Star Wars has been pretty darn good. There have been missteps to be sure, but I feel like they have a handle on what makes Star Wars work now. They’ve taken Star Wars fatigue into account and the movies are no longer annualized. The Mandalorian is giving fans a live action TV show they can rally behind (though if you like that show, you should really watch Rebels.) And while I still believe EA should be stripped of the license so other people can make more better Star Wars games, Fallen Order at least puts forth the appearance that a better world for Star Wars games could be on the horizon. Embracing the past while looking to the future has always been what Star Wars excels at. It’s a futuristic science fiction story that takes place a long time ago, after all, and Star Wars games shouldn’t be any different. Keep the classics alive and give us new experiences. The well is bottomless. I, for one, am cautiously hopeful for the future.