We Discuss Star Wars’ Complicated Video Game Legacy on Waypoint Radio


#1

A new Star Wars video game launched this week, but Battlefront II isn’t on our minds right now. Instead, Rob, Danielle, and myself used the launch of Electronic Arts’ loot box simulator to look back at our individual histories with Star Wars video games. If you want to hear about Danielle’s special “flight pants” while playing Shadows of the Empire, or how Dark Forces forced me to understand how computers work, this is the podcast for you.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/j5j9wd/star-wars-videogame-history-waypoint-radio

#2

I’m literally playing Empire at War right now, perhaps the most forgettable Star Wars game. I love it, though. Some neat ideas there.


#3

Was really hoping this podcast would get sidetracked from video games and just become dunking on Kevin J. Anderson Star Wars books but never mind all that because the Hell did Danielle say about Dash Rendar? That he’s cool? That shitty 90s masculine figure in padded leather shoulder pads over an armored t-shirt is 2nd only to Han Solo?

Look, 90s Star Wars gave us some dreadful and even unspeakable additions to that rogues gallery but even in that miserable gang…

This space linebacker douchebag is cool?


#4

I would give my left foot for a lovingly-crafted new entry in the Jedi Knight series. Jedi Academy is my jam.


#5

Ok- I have 10 minutes left but I ran out of leaf bags so I wanted to write this before I forgot or the kids got up and I had to dream daddy.

This entire conversation could have happened about Warhammer 40K games from 2005 (I think?) to 2011. If anyone is ever around a brand manager for Star Wars games at Disney please show them the games workshop stock price after they opened the game license. I’d love to see some small scale weird star wars games (Approved my Mickey Mouse) that could be made and enhance the brand and license.

We went from getting 1 or to RTS and crappy shooters to a huge diversity of games. I talk to a number of people that are playing 40K because they started playing the games.

Going from a bad/unmotivated studio (THQ/EA) to a number of different studios allows weird games to be made. 40K is a much weirder and limited license compared to star wars and has a lower bar for execution. Some of the following star wars themed games I would play:

Canteeni Manager - light strategy/sim game where you set menu prices, hire staff, clean up after fights
Clone Wars Strategy - Some BS strategy game set during the clone wars with a very annoying “Roger Roger” when you left click
Jar Jar’s Adventure - Adventure game that highlights everything Jar Jar was doing during Revenge of the Sith
Republic Commando 2 - Yeah

I wonder what else they would make. 100% Chance EA makes none of these.


#6

KOTOR2 is still, imo, the best SW story ever told. The production of that game created a flawed product but a great piece of SW storytelling.

Otherwise though, I’ve definitely enjoyed a good amount of SW games. Games and books have fostered way more personal love for the franchise than the movies did lol.


#7

I spent maybe 5 hours yesterday trying to get it to work and then cried for the rest of the night.


#8

Speaking of weird Star Wars games… Those games were important to kid me because my parents wouldn’t let me buy T-rated games without individual approval. I needed to pitch the game: describe what happens, show screenshots, a demo if one was available, let them read the back of the box with the ESRB descriptors. But they knew Star Wars, so anything with Star Wars on the box got a free pass.

They didn’t anticipate Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, an odd tie-in to the second prequel. It was the gritty origin story of how Jango Fett was chosen as the model for the clone army. (Was anyone really wondering about that bit of backstory?) It has Jango chasing down drug dealers in the Star Wars version of a red light district. He throws a senator off a skyscraper. He breaks into a prison and starts a riot while blowing away hundreds of guards, and he feeds a Hutt mobster to her pet giant lizard. There’s a cult of creepy robed dudes who make creepy sounds, and the easiest way to fight them is to spray your flamethrower everywhere, because they immediately catch fire and run around creepily screaming until they fall down and die. The cult leader is an evil Jedi woman who captures Jango for an interrogation scene with gratuitous BSDM overtones. So much about that game was embarrassingly early-2000s-xtreme in hindsight. So yeah, that’s the strangest Star Wars game I’ve played.


#9

Okay how was it that in reminiscing about Shadows of the Empire, no one called my favorite unsettling moment in that game: the Ord Mantell Junkyard level and that moment when you arrive in the junkyard and are waiting for something and then IG-88 rounds a corner and comes straight at you. I do not know what it is about it but that boss fight will always deeply unnerve me.


#10

Ah, Dark Forces. I’ve always wanted to play that. Wasn’t it the first to do true room above room or something?


#11

What the hell was Danielle’s joke “they call it Star Wars, not Star Piece” supposed to mean? Was that even a pun. Then she said “sorry I had to say it,” like it was some kind of pun or actual joke but what was she trying to say? Sometimes I don’t even know with Danielle.


#12

I was pretty late to console gaming, I mostly stuck to the Game Boys in my youth, but I REALLY loved the first two Star Wars Battlefront games and LEGO Star Wars, for no other reason that the Star Wars universe is just FUN to be in even if the game’s relatively easy like LEGO Star Wars or in Battlefront where you’re only a nameless soldier.

Like when they introduced the heroes in the first Battlefront II I was kind of disappointed in a weird way? Like it was fun flipping around and doing cool super moves but I never played Battlefront to be my fav big strong characters, I LIKED just being normal in a fantastic galaxy, it’s a novel experience you don’t get to do a lot in sci-fi/fantasy. The game mode they had where it was just A BUNCH of heroes in a map was like always the most boring to me hahaha. I feel way cooler playing as a Droideka or a random Wookie rather than a jedi or Boba Fett.

And the LEGO Star Wars games, like most of the LEGO [franchise] games, are just fun little play areas. Shoot all the guys, collect all the little things, and I remember the very first game that just covered the prequel trilogy had a special bonus level from A New Hope and that was SO HYPE to unlock and play!!

Man Star Wars rules…


#13

Peace, not piece.


#14

So, as someone who thinks Star Wars is not all that great (it’s perfectly fine, but man, there’s so much of it) and could die happily if nothing ever got made in that franchise ever again, I’m gonna go and recommend the board game Imperial Assault. In this case the Star Wars license means a whole bunch of people (such as my partner) who likes Star Wars but doesn’t care much for videogames will hapilly sit down and play what is actually kind of a deep and rewarding tactical rpg.
It’s assymetrical, up to 4 rebel players against one player who’s the empire (acting as a kind of dm, but not really since they want to win as well).
Heck, the promising young jedi can fail and never get to build her lightsaber!


#15

The Rogue Squadron game by Factor 5 were the bestttttt. I played the heck out of Rebel Strike’s Multiplayer.

I’ve just always wanted to be pilot in the star wars universe whether it’s a basic ship or one of the special ones i just love space combat. I might get battlefront 2 just for starfighter assault. I know it’s not quite the same. but it does capture that grand scale space battle that i just love in sci-fi.


#16

Just gonna slide my “Dash Rendar Defense Force” badge under the couch here…


#17

The discussion of the weirdness of Star Wars reminds me of the fact that there were entire planets in the KoTOR series where the characters didn’t speak English. Sorry, didn’t speak “Galactic Basic.” Lots of people think of the Revan twist, I think of an entire planet of fish people gurgling at me, or hours upon hours of Wookiee howls.


#18

Man, so many memories coming back to me thanks to this podcast. Shadows of the Empire, Rogue Squadron, Jedi Knight, all such fond memories of my teenage years.

Also, some not-so-fond memories, like manipulating my AUTOEXEC.BAT file to play PC games on my 386, and frequently failing to get them running. Or, playing a busted-up used copy of Super Star Wars (which thinking back, the cartridge must have been broken because someone through that piece of junk against a wall or something).

My finest Star Wars gaming memories come from a game that wasn’t mentioned, however. It was the wonder named Dark Forces III: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (OK, OK, Dark Forces III wasn’t in the title but it should have been, Sammi).

I still don’t believe there has been a Star Wars game that better captured the feel of being a Jedi Knight. Especially in terms of progression in actual power level that is felt throughout the game.

In this one, you start off without any Force powers at all, and the combat is actually quite tough. I remember having a hard time fighting a few Stormtroopers, who were actually quite deadly in this game.

Flash forward a few missions to when Luke teaches you to reconnect with the Force and you decide to go face off with some gangsters in their home base of Nar Shadaa.

Let me tell you, that mission made you feel like a rookie Jedi. Snipers were everywhere and you could only rely on the Force to dodge a shot here or there, and even then only when you’re standing still or moving slowly. And your skill with the lightsaber was not much better. So I found myself sneaking around and alternating blaster and lightsaber when appropriate.

Flash forward towards the end of the game, and now you have your full suite of Force powers. The devs did something really smart here, by having you walk into a hangar bay with a pile of Stormtroopers waiting for you. I don’t remember the actual amount; at the time it felt like 50 of them, but it was probably only 20 or so. But I can’t think of a better example in any other game for showing off how much more powerful a character has become over the course of the game.

At the beginning, three or four Stormtroopers were a challenge. In this battle, you destroy a score or more without even breaking a sweat. Force Speed lets you kill the first dozen before they even get a shot off, and the remaining ones are quickly dispatched by some deflected blaster bolts and some precise saber swings. An encounter that would have been literally impossible at the beginning of the game is legit trivial by the end.

And that’s without even touching on the lightsaber battles, which were just phenomenal. It was such a good game, and while I don’t necessarily want current devs to try to recapture it, since that’s always a futile exercise, what they could draw inspiration from is how it feels to be a Star Wars character, which is what this game absolutely nailed.


#19

Here’s how old I am. One of my first Star Wars gaming memories is Rebel Assault (in fact, one of my first CD-ROM games ever in addition to MegaRace hahaha). Not great, but at the time 1) it was Star Wars and I got to fly the Death Star trench (“Yahoo!”); and 2) I’d not seen anything like that tech before (which, to say now is… lol). X-Wing had come out earlier that year, but I actually didn’t play it until years later; my second major SW game was TIE Fighter the next year.


#20

I never played those games, but this description brought to mind Ezra Bridger’s journey, with his sling/blaster/lightsaber combo and now I’m bummed that we will probably never see a legit Star Wars Rebels game.