The Star Wars franchise is one of the most recognizable names in popular media. Since the release of A New Hope in 1977, the series has become a truly transmedia “universe”. There have been a multitude of movie, book, tv show, comic, and video game tie-ins. It all starts with an unlicensed game released on the Apple II computer in 1978. In the franchise’s long-spanning history there have been some stand out games that show the series’ growth into the mainstay it is today.
- Star Wars (1983)
This was a highly successful arcade game that let players take on the role of an X-Wing fighter. The game follows the Battle of Yavin and ends with Luke Skywalker taking the final shot that destroys the Death Star. It used 3D vector graphics The arcade game was ported to nine other systems including the Atari 5200 and DOS.
- X-Wing (1993)
Considered a classic space simulation game, X-Wing also recreated the final attack on the Death Star. It also featured voice acting, hand drawn and rendered cutsces, which was still unusual at the time of its release. X-Wing would spawn nine more games from the years 1993 to 2000. This was also the beginning of LucasArts creating their own games instead of licensing the property to smaller studios.
- Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (1997)
The original 1995 game received a decent reception. Its sequel, however, was a huge success. Dark Forces II showed that the star wars universe could hold up as the industry moved on from the side scrolling format. Its use of faster hardware allowed an upgrade in the graphics. This game also introduced live action cutscenes that showed Kyle Katarn gaining a lightsaber. After this entry, the series would be rebranded as simply Jedi Knights.
- Rogue Squadron (1998)
Rogue Squadron is still considered one of the most popular games for the franchise. Players get to pilot the X-Wing, Y-Wing, and A-Wing fighters as expected. As the game progresses, an imperial TIE fighter as well as the Millennium Falcon are unlocked. Its sequels Rogue Leader and Rebel Strike were also well received.
- Knights of the old republic (2003)
Knights of the Old Republic is not only a highly acclaimed Star Wars game, but considered one of the best Bioware games by fans. Players were able to choose how they completed the game, aligning with the jedi or the sith, crafting was introduced, and there were a variety of powers to level up. Its narrative was also set hundreds of years before Imperial forces ruled the galaxy. This opened up new story possibilities not tied to familiar faces. Tentative hope still exists for a remake, though the release has been delayed to 2024 at the earliest.
- Battlefront (2004)
Battlefront combined “run and gun” FPS gameplay with objective missions. Players would take on large groups of soldiers, as well as ship combat. There were three mission types ( campaign, galactic conquest, or a single level) and friends could play co-op through each mode. The series focuses on two armies competing for territory. Each side seeks to capture command posts or whittle down the other side’s tickets, used when units are destroyed or when the losing faction only controls two or three command posts. This would be one of the last successful Star Wars games released under LucasArts. Battlefront II would launch under EA in 2006, stirring up a major controversy surrounding loot boxes.
- Lego Star Wars: The Video Game (2005)
While other games focus on combat, the Lego Star Wars games take a more humorous approach. The Lego games are also considered some of the most consistent in quality for the franchise. This Star Wars game has no game over screen and focuses on party play, allowing each player to easily switch between characters as needed to solve puzzles. The narrative is also easy to follow along with since it recreates the Prequel Trilogy. It does add a new perspective by putting players in the shoes of Darth Vader.
- Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Fallen Order released to critical acclaim. This third person, action-adventure game takes place five years after The Revenge of The Sith. Players use a lightsaber and several Force powers to use against enemies. Fallen Order also gave players five planets to explore while trying to rebuild the Jedi order. A later update gave players access to the Meditation Arena where waves of enemies could be defeated for an extra challenge. Fallen Order’s sequel, Survivor, received middling reviews.