"Gather yee, gather yee for tales of generations past. Love it or hate it, no one can deny the cultural power of Star Wars and this past week I took some time to rediscover why the GameCube was the machine to own for every Star Wars fans out there."
Due to continued reboots and everlasting fan base, you can be sure that there will be Star Wars video games for as long as there is a video game industry. I can consider myself lucky to be able to experience Star Wars video games all the way back to the ZX Spectrum. Nowadays we live in dark times where Lucas Arts is no more. But let's pause and go back a decade. All the way back to Game Boy and NES, Star Wars video games where synonym with Nintendo. I could spend this entire article talking about the SNES "Super Star Wars" trilogy alone! But let's just power on my GameCube and see exactly why The Force is strong on this one. A Tale…
From the first time I saw a video of this in action, I couldn't believe the jump in quality form the already impressive Nintendo 64 version of "Rogue Squadron" whose only sin was the absence of Star Destroyers size capital ships. But when I first played the Death Star Trench Run demo at local retailer, I just knew right there and then that I would have to buy a GameCube in the near future (and I sure did when "F-Zero GX" came out). Factor 5 did something absolutely stunning with "Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader". Their game managed to surpass the original trilogy special effects! For the first time ever in Star Wars video game history, the most recognizable set pieces (The Death Star Trench Run, The Battle of Hoth and The Battle of Endor) you as the player are truly immersed in a Star Wars space battle! Even today is impressive to turn around in the Battle of Endor and try to count the hundreds of TIE Fighters and TIE Interceptors swarming at you without a single drop in frame rate! Add Chris Huelsbeck fantastic work in reproducing John Williams Star Wars finest music compositions and you got the whole audio-visual experience right there on a tiny GameCube optical disc. Such is this great value for money that even today I am still missing quite a few Gold Medals in various levels. I still can't believe that such a brilliant idea as not been copied more often: The training Tatooine tutorial level changes time of day according to the GameCube (or Wii) game clock. Finding everything on this level alone will take some time but never gets boring. I admit: This is my all-time favourite Star Wars game ever! You haven't lived until you take on the Death Star with a Buick.
I was a big fan of the original Jedi Knight so when this came out I was super stocked to play it! I was not disappointed as "Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast" more then delivered on all fronts. In the single player campaign we continue the adventures of expanded universe Jedi extraordinaire Kyle Katarn as the linear levels take us along for a nice ride of blaster shoot-outs and extremely well done Light Saber duelling. The Force is present and accounted for on this, with a variety of powers making the game even more fun. Multiplayer is also present and adequate but of course it can't compete with the PC TCP/IP online modes with many more players adding to the mayhem. This is definitely a strong console version to own and I have no trouble recommending it.
Oh my, a Star Wars video game where you play out an entire tale between Episode I and Episode II with the original voice actor giving its finest to deliver every speech out of Jango Fett's iconic helmet? Sign me right up! In "Star Wars Bounty Hunter" you will learn all sort of interesting tidy bits while playing, such as how Jango got to become the "role model" for every clone trooper ever made and how he acquired his even more iconic Slave I spaceship. Some wonky camera and somewhat average textures here and there, this is still a solid game and well worth investing for any Star Wars fan out there.
"Began the clone wars have. A video game publish we must." probably said Yoda to Pandemic Studios before "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" was produced. Please note that by 2002, the impressive Clone Wars CG animated series was but a dream in the pipeline, so this has nothing to do with that awesome show. Pandemic did however deliver a fun, vehicular based (with some Jedi on foot action along the way) shooting mayhem that has interesting missions to test the player in a variety of Republic's finest hardware. It may lack a bit of polish that would certainly have made this game stellar if it had a few more months of development, but you know how deadlines are. It goes super cheap nowadays and a worthy addition to everyone's GameCube collection. Oh, multiplayer lets you play with some Confederate hardware if that's your fancy... droid lover.
Genius! Combining the Star Wars universe with Denmark's leading export: LEGO bricks! What could go wrong? Nothing! And Travelers' Tales certainly made sure that nothing went wrong with the very first "LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game" adaptation. A game that can be both enjoyed by kids and grow up alike, it would become the standard model of pretty much every LEGO game adaptation in the future. Collect LEGO studs, unlock new stuff and tons of new playable characters. This game focuses entirely on the prequels (with a tiny bit of Episode IV: New Hope in the mix) but the eventual sequel would make sure that the original trilogy would also get the LEGO treatment it always deserved. Both these games deserve to be on your GameCube shelf, as well as the compilation of both "The Complete Saga" in your next generation hardware of choice.
Calm down, calm down! Please put your blasters away, peop… *dodges a whizzing shot to the head* Wow, wow! Let me explain! Someone at Factor 5 believed that this game needed some on foot sections based on the prequels ship selection! It was a terrible idea then that will haunt their decisions making capabilities all the way until "Lair" bankrupt and killed of this amazing, over talented software house. Let us focuses away from that and instead enjoy the new updated engine that offers better lightning effects, the fact that they managed to put a Super Star Destroyer in here and most important of all: Split screen multiplayer! Oh yes, the prequels only real fault, being a lone experience has been rectified in "Star Wars Rogue Leader III: Rebel Strike". You can take on a friend in a variety of vehicles for ultimate Star Wars pilot bragging rights. Still not convinced? Well how about the multiplayer cooperative mode that lets you and a friend tackle the entire campaign from the previous game as a two man team? Oh, that got your attention? Yep, that alone justified the entire brand new price on this and justifies you add this one to your GameCube collection.
Some of my other favourite Star Wars games that never made it to GameCube include "Republic Commando", "Battlefront", "Episode I Racer" (The Dreamcast version) and "Knights of the Old Republic" but Rogue Leader's exclusivity alone made owning Nintendo's little plastic cube well worth it. But sadly everything turn to the Dark Side after this. At one point, Factor 5 had a running prototype of what would have become "Rogue Leader IV" on the Nintendo Wii. I can but imagine how awesome it would have been to play this game in glorious 16:9. I wonder if anyone still owns the tech? Wouldn't it even be more amazing to have a "Rogue Leader" running on 3DS? Heck, I am not one to wish ill on anyone's console, how awesome it would be to have a new "Rogue Leader" running on Vita, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U!? That's right, Disney probably doesn't realize how much we would play to be able to do that. Every time EA says that the Frostbite Engine isn't able to run on Wii U, I felt a great disturbance in The Force, as if millions of (eventual) Wii U users suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Could we truly be faced for the first time in video game history a Nintendo home console generation without a Star Wars game? What a big pile of Sith! I hope that Nintendo turns things around with the Wii U, I truly love the machine and am already looking forward to many titles that will be out this year. But I need my playable Star Wars fix… will Disney truly deliver with "Disney Infinity 2" and Star Wars figures? At least the final 13 episodes of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" are on their way to Netflix which should provide much needed balance to The Force this year.
Time will tell… but until then: Play Hard, Play Loud!
…while I take my Buick for a spin against a Star Destroyer.