There’s something so inherently magical about Star Wars. Whether it’s the original movies or the wealth of expanded universe material that’s out there, Star Wars recides in the hearts of many pop-culture fans – perhaps none more so than gamers.
Gaming happened to break into the mainstream around the same time as the original trilogy was releasing in cinemas, meaning that the marriage of Star Wars and video games is now decades old. As such, there is a wealth of stellar retro Star Wars games that were both impressive for their time and continue to hold up as timeless representations of both the medium and IP.
Today, we’re going to look back at the 5 best Star Wars games from a long, long time ago.
5. Super Star Wars (1992)
A (somewhat) faithful retelling of the first movie, Super Star Wars let Super Nintendo players immerse themselves as the iconic cast of characters in this spirited action-platformer. The detailed character sprites and compressed orchestrated music were the closest that home consoles had come to capturing the aesthetic of Star Wars up until that point, and even after all these years, the game still impressive with its 16-bit production value.
While the controls may not be as tight as some of its contemporaries, there’s no denying the simple joy of playing as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo or Chewbacca. Just be prepared to die a fare few times in Super Star Wars as the difficulty isn’t a simple stroll through the moisture farm. Honourable mentions go to the game’s two sequels, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
4. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (1998)
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron placed Nintendo 64 gamers behind the cockpit of various intergalactic spacecraft and let them live out their ultimate sci-fi dogfight fantasies (if those were indeed a thing). The game’s 16 levels all captured the majesty and scale of the galaxy’s different planets and systems while offering an excellent play space to zoom around in X-wings, A-wings, Y-wings, V-wings and snowspeeders. The pure adrenaline that this game induced was unmatched at the time by any Star Wars game on home console and went a long way towards creating a long-standing legacy of flight simulator set in this universe that continues to this day.
Special mention needs to go to the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron’s plot which captured the fun of the original trilogy while expanding on the lore and characters that were established in the film franchise. This game led to a couple of sequels on the GameCube, but there’s still something so magical and enticing about the original all of these years later.
3. Star Wars Episode I: Racer (1999)
There aren’t many good things to say about the Star Wars Episode I, but at least it spawned one of the most enjoyable sci-fi racing games of all time. Star Wars Episode I: Racer takes the podracing sequence from the movie and translates into a buttery smooth, tightly designed futuristic racing game that stands toe to toe with F-Zero and Wipeout. There’s still something so addicting about firing up this game on the Nintendo 64 and diving into a race – a feeling that is made even better with a friend in tow.
The game manages to encapsulate the speed and white-knuckle fever that the movie sequence portrayed so well, which is made even more extreme by the risk/reward boost mechanic. While boosting, your podracer will increase in speed, but also in temperature, meaning that boosting too long will blow your engine and cost you vital seconds while respawning. It’s a nuanced mechanic that adds to this game’s endless charm and replayability. Now available on modern platforms, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pick up and play this classic retro Star Wars racer right now. I know I will.
2. Star Wars Arcade (1983)
It’s hard to imagine what the kids of ’83 must’ve thought of this technical behemoth when it first released in arcades. Simply titled Star Wars, but often colloquially known as Star Wars Arcade, this game was Atari’s attempt to capture the energy, action, and spectacle of the 1977 smash-hit film. And boy, did they succeed.
Star Wars Arcade owes much of its enduring charm to its timeless presentation and gameplay. In its day, the colourful vector wireframe graphics and digitised voices would have transported players from the arcade to a galaxy far, far away. While immersed in this fantastical world, the players were Luke Skywalker, piloting his X-wing, while making the final trench run on the Death Star.
And nearly 40 years later, Star Wars Arcade captures a beautiful moment in time when gaming was just starting to stand toe to toe with films in scale and entertainment. Its presentation and gameplay still feels playfully futuristic, capturing how the artists of the 70s and 80s imagined a digitised world might’ve looked like. And thanks to its success, Star Wars was able to begin its new journey in conquering the world of gaming.
- Star Wars: TIE Fighter (1994)
Sometimes, it’s just more fun to play as the bad guys. Developer Totally Games flipped the switch on PC gamers in 1994 by letting them pilot one of the Empire’s devastating TIE Fighters in this dark and unique Star Wars space flight simulator. Star Wars: TIE Fighter is unique in this regard, as it presents a version of the Empire that we often don’t see in the film series or other video game adaptations. Instead of being a despotic beacon of evil in the galaxy, this game’s story paints them as honourable keepers of the peace that use their power
for stability within the star systems. It shows how easy it is to change perspectives once you take a look on the other side.
But the real hook of Star Wars: TIE Fighter remains its gameplay. To this day, the outer-space dogfights of this game get the blood pumping in a way that hasn’t truly been replicated in the years since. A masterpiece in customisation, excitement and lore-building, Star Wars: TIE Fighter is the greatest retro Star Wars game out there.
Ana Sz. — Author Bio:
NES was basically my first love. I’m a fan of retro games, especially RPGs and Platforms. This passion got me to create Myemulator.online where I write reviews for all the games I use to play with.