Star Wars and the Games of Nintendo
Article originally posted May 4th 2019
With today being May the Fourth, you know, Star Wars day, I wanted to take a look at some of the classic games that have graced the Nintendo platforms over the years, some for wonderful reasons and others for less than. In celebration of the day, what are your favourite Star Wars games? While you have a think, here are mine.
Without a doubt, this was the first proper Star Wars game that I played, sure I gave the Star Wars game from 1991 a bash at a friends house, but it was Super Star Wars that I loved, with its Mode 7 graphics and giant scorpions… wait!
While primarily a run and gun game, there was a lot to discover in it, you got a retelling of the classic movie, or at least parts of it, as well as things that made no sense whatsoever. The game has barely begun, before the changes make a showing, you don’t buy R2-D2, you have to climb to the top of a Sandcrawler, blasting Jawas and more along the way and rescue him. But you don’t just drive up to the Sandcrawler, no, you race across the desert, with C-3P0 as your co-pilot, blasting any Jawa who happen to get in your way.
The game is notoriously hard, with the following titles sticking to it, but there was always something so satisfying about taking down the giant lava beast that lives inside the Sandcrawler. Or how about that part where you play as Chewbacca and mow down dozens of folks inside the cantina, all the while, that catchy tune plays in the background. The part that I remember the best, was the end level, flying across the surface of the Death Star in your X-Wing, it was what dreams were made of and did not get any better than that.
But things did, in 2002 when the Gamecube was released we got two incredible games at launch, Luigi’s Mansion and Rogue Leader and it was the Star Wars game that I picked up with my console. If you have not seen that original trailer for it, that was shown at Spaceworld, it not only looked amazing, but teased of things to come.
The series was now two games deep, by the time this released and the team at Factor5 seemed to know what they were doing, the opening tutorial level explained things, but the first mission out of the gate was you attacking the Death Star and that was not easy. Then you had to help the Rebellion escape Yavin-4 and the missions kept going on from there and the missions were not always easy, as you had to deal with many different enemies, locations and more. But you had your squad with you and with the d-pad, you could issue orders, having them take down tie fighters, while you focused on a main objective, or you could even tell them to return to base, leaving you to fly on your own.
Of course, many secrets were hidden in the game, some of them unlocked if you got enough medals, others required passwords to be entered, and while piloting the Millennium Falcon was cool, as was the Slave 1, it was the what if missions that I enjoyed. One of them had you taking to the skies of Yavin-4 as Darth Vader, after the Death Star was destroyed, but while the Rebels attempted to flee the system, Vader and the Empire attempt to put paid to it, it was an awesome mission, made even cooler, because if you failed, Vader would rage out and shoot some random Tie Fighter out of the sky.
If you had a Nintendo 64, then there is a fair bet that you played this game, but let’s be honest, it is not the greatest game to be made, nor is it even in the top 10 Star Wars games, but there was something about the plucky character of Dash Rendar.
The game gave us the option to fly around with a jetpack, how cool is that, of course, you just have to overlook the horrible controls when you attempted to use it, or when you tried to walk around on foot, or aim. Yes, the game was not perfect, but as this was a game about a smuggler who was not Han Solo, who we could embody, step into the Star Wars world like never before. We got cameo’s from other characters as well, but it was the addition of all new characters and locations that was awesome, even if that speeder bike section where you had to jump through the needle was not.
For all that trouble the game had going for it, there was still something that drew me back, yes part of it was Star Wars, but I think it was more to do with the fact that you could shoot Stormtroopers out of the air, whilst in the air yourself, hanging above a pit, filled with trash compactor space squids.
The other game that we got on the Nintendo 64 was based of the 15-minute sequence of Pod Racing in Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace and while the part in the movie was great, the game was even better.
Not only could you relive the race from the movie, eventually, but you could race on more courses, across many planets and even as other species, it really offered a lot. With 8 planets and over 20 tracks to race upon, there was a lot of variety to the game, but what really helped set it apart was that each of the pods could be customised, you could increase the power of the air brake or the cooling system. Winning races rewarded you with credits and sometimes a character, it kept the races interesting as your success would help you move up the leagues.
Perhaps the one element that helped sell the game was that many of the actors from the movie returned to voice their characters, Jake Lloyd returned as Anakin, with Greg Proops and Scott Capurro also returning as the announcers, it just gave it an authentic movie feel. There was also the Game Boy Color version, but that was a top down racer and nothing at all like the console release, more games in the same vain were released later on, but they were on other platforms and not as good.
With the emergence of the force that was the Wii, (Star Wars pun intended), many companies were taking games and bringing them to the system, Krome Studios was tapped to develop The Force Unleashed for the Wii and promised that we would finally get to wield Lightsabers.
Of course, the sabre combat did not pan out as envisioned, but it gave us hope that things would get better, but it was not just that, it was the fact that this was touted as a full story, that tied into the movies, long before Disney wiped it away. You took on the role of Starkiller, an apprentice to Darth Vader, that he raised from a child and your mission was to locate and destroy any Jedi that Vader heard about. While the story was new and interesting, it was the ability to throw objects around with the Force that helped elevate the game.
Of course, the Wii version was not as powerful as the others, but thanks to the motion controls, it felt more like being a Jedi, so the trade off was well worth it, I say. We even got the sequel to the game, though that was not developed by Krome Studios, they worked on Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Lightsaber Duels, which took Lightsaber combat to the next level.
Ah the Wii U, the platform might not have set the world of sales on fire, but there is no denying it had some quality titles, but when it comes to Star Wars, we only had two, Star Wars Pinball and Disney Infinity 3.0 and while the latter was not directly Star Wars, it offered up loads of Star Wars content.
Out of the gate, players had the choice of the Twilight of the Republic or Rise Against the Empire playsets, which took gamers into the Clone Wars or original trilogy respectively, but it was just before The Force Awakens hit cinema that we got the third playset, The Force Awakens. Each play set gave players a host of characters to enjoy playing with from Ahsoka and Yoda in Twilight, to Luke and Han in Rise, but new fans would experience Rey and Poe in Force Awakens.
Each playset stuck closely to the rules of Disney Infinity, large buttons and toy-like quality, but the combat system, especially those for the Jedi characters, proved to be quite deep. As you levelled up your characters, you could unlock new moves and such, but the combo’s required a little more patience in executing them, but the results were far more effective.
Being able to take your characters and enter the Toy Box mode, meant you could play however you wanted to, recreate that select track from Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer and then have Darth Vader race against Lightning McQueen, or recreate scenes from the Star Wars Christmas Special, the choices were up to you. While we never got more Star Wars content, once The Force Awakens playset was released, with the number of characters totalled 19, that still meant there was plenty to enjoy.
Rounding things out, was the collection of the first two Lego Star Wars games, that gave us the ability to play through all six stories of the two trilogies, complete with the wacky humour. Taking place from the opening sequence of Episode 1 and running all the way through until the end of Episode 6, this is the most complete videogame adaption of the Skywalker saga to date.
While the Complete Saga was mostly the same as the previous two games, it made a bunch of improvements to the gameplay, added in some previously cut levels and overhauled how characters would work. With over 50 levels spread across story missions, bounty hunter challenges and more, there was a wealth of content to unlock and keep players coming back, time after time.
Again, as the Wii remote was the controller here, motion controls were in play, now they were nothing as advanced as the Force Unleashed titles, but they did still offer a lot. Waggling the controller around would increase the speed in which you could complete actions, which helped speed things up a bit. As seems to be the case, we also got the Complete Saga on the DS, and while it did remove some levels, they also added a host of mini games to it, giving that version something special.
Those were not the only games of course, we had a Battlefront game come to DS, along with one related to Episode 3, we had a few Episode 2 games come to Gamecube and plenty arrived on Game Boy and Game Boy Advance.