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.