44 years ago, in a galaxy far far away, a cultural phenomenon was created, one that would change the face of entertainment forever. But enough about me, the first Star Wars film came out in 1977 too, the film franchise’s fandom having claimed May 4th as their own (“May the fourth be with you”, get it?).
It marks a day of celebration for the landmark sci-fi series, providing the perfect opportunity to look back at our top 10 Star Wars games. We’ve really scoured through the Jedi archives with this one…
10: Star Wars Original Arcade Machine | 1983
While this has clearly not aged well graphically, the influence and impact of the 1980s Star Wars arcade machine means that it has to be in this list. I vividly remember the annual fairground having one of these when I was a mere youngling and so I’d save up my pocket money and queue for ages to play on it. Yes, this is a vote for nostalgia, but considering the rollercoaster ride that is Star Wars fandom I’d argue that rose tinted spectacles are as intrinsic to the experience as lightsabers. The closest thing to the sensation of sitting in the arcade machine is the recent move into VR for Star Wars but the wireframe original will always be close to my heart.
9: Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds | 2001
This may be a controversial choice – although clearly a correct one – but this Star Wars RTS remains a favourite to this day. Taking the tried and trusted Age of Empires engine and filling it with film and series favourites was an inspired decision. With challenging and lengthy campaigns allowing you to play as either Rebellion or Empire complete with iconic champions, this still holds up well nowadays – albeit looking its age. There are some fantastic mods to play with and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a remaster in line with the other Age of Empires games (as well as the awesome Age of Mythology).
8: Star Wars: Republic Commando | 2005
Recently rereleased as an enhanced port on Switch and PS4, Republic Commando brought the squad based shooter into the Star Wars universe. Playing as elite clone trooper RC-1138 you and your team follow a series of missions during the Clone Wars. Seeing the events of this mysterious part of the timeline (at this point) from a very different perspective made this stand out, not to mention the fantastically immersive and great feeling gameplay.
7: Star Wars Battlefront II (Modern) | 2017
Despite its shortcomings on launch day, the latest Battlefront game has gone on a redemption arc befitting the Star Wars name. Where 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront reboot felt a little light on content, its sequel packed in an explosive story-driven campaign while expanding and refining its superb online multiplayer. No matter which Star Wars era you love most, Battlefront II recreated every tiny piece of this beloved saga – maps, heroes, vehicles, and more – in blockbuster, breath-taking detail.
6: Star Wars Battlefront II (Original) | 2005
EA’s recent Battlefront games have been incredible in some respects, though both found themselves snagged on unpopular gaming trends, whether hiding content behind pricey season passes or leaning on loot box microtransactions. A purer and more innocent gaming experience could be found back with the original Battlefront games by Pandemic Studios. Coinciding with the early explosion in online gaming, the second one in particular stands out, and both were great in local multiplayer with AI bots as well.
5. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy | 2003
Raven Software is a name now synonymous with Call of Duty: Warzone, but back in the early 2000s they created one of the most inventive, experimental Star Wars games ever. Following on from the already excellent Jedi Knight II, players created their own custom character, embarking on a journey from Jedi Padawan to the eventual showdown with an ancient Sith Lord. What made Jedi Academy so compelling was its combination of familiar locales with a narrative that morphed around your moral choices at certain plot points. This Star Wars gem still gets plenty of attention today thanks to its active multiplayer and modding communities.
4: Super Star Wars | 1992
Modern Star Wars gaming is generally multiformat, but back in the day, Nintendo was the home console of choice. The NES game is a great, if bloody hard, platformer, but it is the SNES Super Star Wars that best holds up today. Now available for PS4 as well, this side scrolling platformer-shooter is a joy from start to finish – despite some infamously difficult sections. There’s even some space based Death Star action showing off the SNES’s capabilities. The original trilogy all have games in this series but it is the original that really stands out.
3: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order | 2019
Cal Kestis and his search for the next generation of Jedi takes everything that is great about the Star Wars universe and marries it with a very modern gaming approach. Playing like a Force powered Tomb Raider or Uncharted, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order offers a tour of both familiar and new planets and a vast array of puzzles and iconic saber battles. Whether exploring icy caves or climbing trees on the Wookie planet Kashyyk, this game feels like the culmination of all of the previous action titles, from Dark Forces to the Jedi Knight series. Yes, it is a little over-produced and cutscene heavy, and the Dark Souls-esque world design won’t gel with everyone, but it nails the Star Wars feel. Hats off to Titanfall and Apex Legends developer, Respawn.
2: X-Wing vs Tie Fighter | 1997
Early PC gaming was not a user friendly experience. Windows might frustrate many but anybody who remembers trying to get DOS based games working with their setup knows what true pain is. Despite these hurdles, the X-Wing series achieved legendary status, bringing the thrills of piloting the iconic craft to the home. 1997’s entry in the series, X-Wing vs Tie Fighter was the first to run on Windows and was therefore the first I played. Originally intended to be a multiplayer only experience, LucasArts released an expansion that added a full story campaign. Justifiably legendary among long-time Star Wars fans, the series is now available through GOG.com.
Before we get to the number one pick for this list, let’s look at some of the games that didn’t make the cut, both good and bad.
- Lego Star Wars
- Star Wars Squadrons
- Star Wars Episode I: Racer
- Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
- Star Wars: Bounty Hunter
- Star Wars Galaxies
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
- Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi
- Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing
- Kinect Star Wars
1: Knights Of The Old Republic | 2003
As a student, I lived and breathed Star Wars, Iron Maiden, and Baldur’s Gate. While Bruce Dickinson and co have never been involved in Lucas’s creation, hearing the news that developers BioWare (whatever happened to them?) were going to make the jump from D&D to Star Wars was enough to blow my mind. The result was a landmark for both roleplaying games and the expanded Star Wars media empire, with some of the best characters and storylines to be found in this universe.
The original releases were not perfect – particularly the hastily developed sequel from Obsidian – but played now in their fully patched and modded forms they are an absolute delight. As an added bonus, the origins of the Mass Effect series can easily be seen in the dialogue and combat systems. KOTOR 2 features Kreia, generally regarded as one of the best characters in any role playing game but I always had a soft spot for the barely controlled genocidal mania of HK-47.
So there you have it, the greatest hive of fun and thrills to be had in the Galaxy. Agree, Disagree? Let us know in the comments. In the meantime, May the 4th be with you.