The Best and Worst ‘Star Wars’ Video Games
Now that J.J. Abrams has signed on to direct ‘Star Wars: Episode VII,’ we’ve got high hopes he can restore the classic sci-fi series to glory after the disappointing prequels. But what about the future of ‘Star Wars’ gaming? Any true fan knows that video games based on the franchise have been spotty to say the least.
Given the richness and stunning complexity of the ‘Star Wars’ universe, you think there’d be dozens of great games out there, but that simply isn’t the case. There are more than 100 official ‘Star Wars’ games to date and separating the good from the bad can be more difficult than escaping a Sarlacc pit.
Fortunately, ‘Star Wars’ fans, we’ve done the hard work for you and present five of the best and worst titles here. Stick to the gems on our list and you’ll definitely feel the Force. Play the others and, well, you’ll be going over to the Dark Side for sure.
BEST: Star Wars Arcade Game
We’re probably dating ourselves a bit with this one, but we spent countless hours playing the 1983 ‘Star Wars’ arcade game. Sure, its vector graphics look terribly outdated now. But at the time, it offered the most immersive ‘Star Wars’ gaming experience yet, with intense space battles and a thrilling Death Star trench run. It even had digitized voice samples straight from the movie, which were cool even if they did sound like a scratchy wax cylinder recording from the 1800s.
BEST: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
With the possible exception of the ‘X-Wing’ series, no game has made us feel more like we were piloting an iconic ‘Star Wars’ craft than 1998’s ‘Rogue Squadron.’ It featured sophisticated pitch, roll and banking mechanics and, when bumped up to full resolution on the PC or via the Nintendo 64’s Expansion Pak, it looked spectacular.
The title was a hit and inspired two more games, which were both excellent in their own right. But when developer Factor 5 declared bankruptcy in 2009, sadly all hopes of a fourth game seemed to go with it.
BEST: Star Wars: Dark Forces
‘Star Wars’ first person shooters are nothing new (see ‘Republic Commando’ and the ‘Battlefront’ series), but 1995’s ‘Dark Forces’ started it all. Of course, the game earned inevitable comparisons to ‘Doom’ when it was released, but it was also praised for introducing gameplay mechanics we take for granted today, such as the ability to look up and down, jump and duck. Plus, you got to blast Stormtroopers with impunity. What’s better than that?
BEST: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
This 2008 game allowed players to assume the role of a wannabe Sith named Starkiller who’s apprenticed to none other than Darth Vader. Destructible environments, awesome graphics and fantastic level design made this a great title. Plus, players were able to chain lightsaber attacks with devastating force powers during combat, which is something we always wished we could do in real life.
BEST: Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Although it may be geared toward children, there’s something for everyone in ‘Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.’ It encompasses all six movies and imbues them with tongue-in-cheek humor as well as a liberal dose of block-smashing combat, vehicle missions and puzzle solving. Plus, there’s a staggering amount of replay value as players try to unlock extra characters, minikits and bonus levels. We’re not ashamed to say this is one of the ‘Star Wars’ games we’ve played the most.
WORST: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes
We’re huge fans of ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars,’ so we jumped at the chance to play a game based on the animated series. ‘Republic Heroes,’ which was released in 2009, does an admirable job recreating the characters and settings from the TV show, but that’s about it. Precision play is impossible because the game lacks fine tuning in almost every respect. Controls are so wonky that even a minor task like successfully jumping from one platform to another can be a serious chore.
What should have been a fun romp through the cartoony ‘Clone Wars’ universe ends up a disappointing mess that would frustrate even the most centered Jedi. It’s anybody’s guess what LucasArts was thinking when they made this clunker. Maybe they were drunk on Jawa juice.
WORST: Star Wars: Yoda Stories
If ‘Star Wars: Yoda Stories,’ which was released in 1997 for the PC, suffers from one thing primarily, it’s the complete and utter lack of a narrative thread. Instead of having a central goal to tie all the action together, the game is nothing more than a series of random fetch quests involving Luke Skywalker.
If that sounds boring as heck, that’s because it is. We’d rather lose a hand to Darth Vader than play a game this terrible again.
WORST: Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing
We love kart racing as much as the next guy, but merging the genre with ‘Star Wars’ just seems wrong. Loose controls and the rather unsettling experience of seeing characters like Darth Maul and Boba Fett in bobblehead form proved way too much for us. Besides, any game that uses Gungan in the title can’t be good.
WORST: Kinect Star Wars
The idea of using the Xbox 360’s Kinect motion controller to wield lightsabers, race pods and even control a rampaging Rancor excited us at first. But in execution, ‘Kinect Star Wars’ failed pretty spectacularly. Sluggish and unresponsive controls made the game difficult to play and gamers were often reduced to flailing ineffectually at the screen. Add to that the game’s infamously awful “Galactic Dance Off” mode and you’re left with a big pile of Bantha poodoo.
WORST: Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi
If there’s one thing fans agree upon, it’s that 1997’s ‘Masters of Teras Kasi’ is one of the worst, if not THE worst, ‘Star Wars’ game ever made. A ‘Star Wars’ brawler sounds pretty great, right? It wasn’t.
A serious lack of character balance — Luke has an unblockable move that automatically depletes half of your life bar, for example — left gamers gnashing their teeth and wishing they’d played ‘Tekken’ instead. Even the addition of Slave Leia as a playable character couldn’t save this abomination. Plus, the game’s Tusken Raider character has a name that’s silly and objectionable even by ‘Star Wars’ standards. (Look it up.) In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s even worse than “Count Dooku.”