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Three Decades of Geeking Out
Reluctantly Written by: Alex Sandell

30 years of Star Wars. This is really weird to me, as I've been there every step of the way. But the movies were far from the only thing provided to fans of the saga. In a way, video games have grown to be nearly as important as the films. And, like me, they've been there every step of the way. Unlike me, they've been raking in ridiculous amounts of cash with every step.

Being a huge nerd Ė esp. when it comes to anything and everything Star Warsí related (click for further evidence and to see me, as a grown man, playing with overpriced Star Warsí toys) Ė I've decided to totally geek out and provide a brief review, along with some screen shots, of each SW game that Iíve played -- and I've played almost every single one of them:

Star Wars (arcade)

This one was at the arcade and, if I remember correctly, it was one of the first to demand TWO quarters, rather than one (the excuse being it was a sit-down game that "simulated" being a "real" X-Wing. It was also my favorite game of all time, at the time. That didnít last long. But I still have fond memories of the game. Not so fond memories of the wad of gum I sat in while playing in that sleazy dank "X-Wing." At least I hope it was gum.

Return of the Jedi (arcade)

Again at the arcade, but it was horrible. This one definitely cost two quarters (or tokens). And again you sat in a porn-booth approximation of a "spaceship." I donít remember much of the game (outside of flying under some beams), but I hated it. It was everything the original wasnít. And thatís not a good thing. I think you may have even visited the Ewok Village, but I've been working for a quarter of a century to erase that terrible memory, so I'm not about to pull it back up now. I never played the Empire Strikes Back arcade game, unfortunately.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Atari 2600)

One of my favorite games ever. It was so simplistic it was nearly mentally-retarded (or at least Republican), but it was a ton-o'-fun. The kind of italicized CAPITALIZED fun Nintendo is trying to bring back with the Wii. Basically, you just shot at the white blinking square on each AT-AT to win, but man was it a blast and a half. At least back in the early 80s when the 2600 was still fairly cutting edge (unlike the Wii) and I was still young enough to have crazy fun without criticizing every single thing that made the game lesser than the Popeye port, or whatever.

Jedi Arena (Atari 2600)

Even as a kid, I hated this fucking thing with a passion. It was you fighting against a ball. Not even you. Just a ďsaber.Ē Gawd, I despised this title. My first time being seriously disappointed with a video game. This is also the first game I remember really saddening someone over. My father bought my brother and I Jedi Arena and seemed really heartbroken when neither of us enjoyed it. "You're playing Combat, again?!?" he'd ask. "We should give that new Star Wars' game I got ya a try," he'd say. "But it isn't fun, dad," my brother and I would respond. And he'd look like someone just kicked him in the nuts. Sorry, dad.

Super Star Wars/Super Empire Strikes Back (SNES)

These games were absolutely incredible to me. And even though I was only a teenager, I was already feeling nostalgic for bygone days and these games brought me back to my childhood. These were, at the time, my favorite Star Wars' games and I canít wait for them to appear on the Virtual Console (please make it so, Nintendo). Super Star Wars was fairly easy for me to get through. But I remember Super Empire Strikes Back being a bitch. There was this underground Tauntaun level that frustrated me to the point of nearly throwing my controller through the television.

Super Return of the Jedi (SNES)

This one really turned me off to the series. I disliked it from the lame ďJabbaís PalaceĒ level (seen above) on. Iím not sure I even completed the game. Needless to say, I wonít be downloading this one on the Wii Virtual Console, if itís made available. Unless it's made available at a discounted "suck" price. I thought Super Empire was better than Super Star Wars, but felt that this one was rushed (much like the film it was based on).

The Star Warsí Flight Sim Thingies (X-Wing, Tie Fighter, etc.) PC

I never liked these. Sorry. I know they were critically acclaimed. They just werenít for me. I borrowed X-Wing and Tie Fighter from a friend and couldn't get comfortable with them (esp. the complex control setup). When I tried to give them back to him, he said, "Keep them." I don't know if this was because he didn't like them either, or if he was just feeling charitable and hoping for some man on man sex. If the latter's the case, I left him hoping.

Dark Forces PC

12 years after its release and this remains my favorite Star Warsí game. I didnít really get the appeal of FPS games until I played this one. Every single minute was a thrill to me and I ended up playing through the title 3 times. I can clearly remember the dude at Best Buy telling me that it was "well-worth" the purchase and that my Packard Bell computer could "easily" handle it ("'Bells' are the most powerful PCs around," he exclaimed). He was correct in that my "Bell" could handle the game. He was inflating the power of a Packard Bell though -- by a lot. Those computers were the worst things ever created. My farts are more reliable. When I expressed how much I hated FPS games (this has since changed -- thanks in large part to Dark Forces), he said I need not worry. "Dark Forces puts you in the Star Wars' universe like nothing before! You'll feel like you're there." In a way, he was right. As pixilated as it looks now; it was a stunner in 1995 and I doubt I'll ever be quite as excited over a video game as I was over this one, ever again.

Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II PC

Two years later and so much for the power of "Packard". While the first Dark Forces played in glorious full-screen, this one -- on the same computer -- would only play in a small square (about 1/4th screen). I Still loved it. Just not as much as the first. The graphics were significantly better, but the game itself wasn't as fun as the original. I only beat it once and politely set it aside. Then I went out and bought a new PC. One that didn't suck.

Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast PC

This is one of those fucked up title switch things that has driven me nuts since First Blood turned into Rambo: First Blood Part II, only to have the junky pro-Taliban sequel be called Rambo III. If First Blood was the original and Rambo: First Blood Part II the sequel to First Blood, how could the sequel to First Blood II be Rambo III, when there had only been 1 Rambo film, but 2 films named First Blood? But, LucasArts didn't care about proper titles. They were suddenly making a sequel to Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, but labeling it Jedi Knight II, even though it was technically the third in the Dark Forces' series.

Again, the graphics were noticeably better (after a 5 year wait, that was to be expected). The game looked fucking amazing. It played okay. While many were just discovering the greatness of this series, the appeal was starting to wear thin for me. I liked it, but was getting tired of an FPS Star Warsí universe. That said, you could do much, much worse than Jedi Outcast. And who doesn't like wielding a lightsaber (unless it's on the Atari 2600)?

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (Nintendo 64 N64)

Almost everyone hated this game, for some reason. I liked it quite a bit. No, it wasnít as good as the first two Dark Forces' titles, but I had a lot of fun playing it and ended up playing through it twice. The AT-AT battle on Hoth really stood out to me as pure brilliance and showed the true power of the N64. This was the Hoth Battle I had been waiting for since shooting blinking squares on the Atari 2600's noble attempt at the game. Had this game been released in the early 80s, it may have given me my very first orgasm. That would have been weird, as I hadn't gone through puberty yet. So it's probably good that it waited to come out when it did.

Star Wars Episode 1: Racer (PC)

Based on the CG Podrace in The Phantom Menace -- this should have and could have been the best racing game ever. It wasn't. Not even close. It was fun, but way too easy. I beat it and never played it again and never wanted to play it again ever again. I think it took longer to watch the race in the movie than it did to beat the race in the game.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (PC)

This was sort of along the lines of Gauntlet, with lightsabers. Basically a big hack-and-slash with a few insultingly easy puzzles to solve. I wasn't a big fan of the game and don't think I ever completed the entire thing. But, I'm ashamed to admit, I was so determined to like anything Star Wars, that I pretended it was a really good game. Just a really good game that I happened to never really want to play and had no desire to finish. No one fell for it and the game was sold for a quarter at one garage sale or another long before Attack of the Clones was released at the theater.

Bounty Hunter (Nintendo GameCube)

This was released when Jango Fett was all the rage (like Darth Maul before him). I played it for about 3 hours and ďloanedĒ it to a friend who never gave it back. From what I played, it seemed semi-okay. Okay enough that I still wish Iíd get it back so I could finish the fucking thing. I think he's holding it hostage until he gets his X-Wing and Tie Fighter PC games back. But he vehemently denies this. He claims the game somehow made its way to his cousin and was never returned. Seeing as how I had the "collectible" case, I should probably sue him, but that may put a damper on our friendship. Stupid friendships. Not to mention a lawsuit over a game valued at .79 cents probably wouldn't go over well in a court of law. Stupid courts of law.

Obi-Wan (XBOX)

This one was total suck. I was sure it meant that LucasArts hated Microsoft. This Xbox exclusive should have remained buried deeper than Al Capone's rotting bones. I asked myself, "Does LucasArts want to destroy Microsoft"? The definitive, resounding answer of "no" came to me with the release of ...

Knights of the Old Republic (XBOX)

Pure classic. I could give you an estimate as to how many hours Iíve spent playing this game, but then Iíd have to kill you. Needless to say, this game consumed me like nothing in the Star Warsí universe has outside of the Original Trilogy. Even that stupid card game won me over. It's hard to claim you're a fan of Star Wars if you haven't put some serious time into Knights of the Old Republic. This title made up for Obi-Wan times infinity.

Knights of the Old Republic 2 (XBOX)

I canít remember the subtitle of the game, but I do remember not liking it that much. Some great moments, but a huge letdown when compared to the original. Still better than Obi-Wan. Stupid Obi-Wan and its general level of crappiness.

Republic Commando (XBOX)

Another one thatís loved by many but only semi-enjoyed by myself. It was okay and had its moments, but I wasnít a huge fan. I played through it once and then sold it on eBay. I donít really miss it, but would like to see a sequel. The visor was such a rip-off of the Metroid Prime games, it ended up turning me off. In the sequel, it would be like a non-stop ejaculation if, instead of Clone troopers, we could play as Stormtroopers.

Battlefront (XBOX)

This was another one I didn't "get." It was mildly okay, but I don't think I involved myself enough to fully give a shit. I never went online with the game and only played multiplayer once with my bitchy brother (who hates every game ever made). I probably shouldn't be passing judgment on this game, one way or the other, so I won't.

Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (Nintendo GameCube)

I never played the first game in the series, but thought the second was an instant classic and, if no other titles were ever released, it would have made my launch day purchase of the GameCube worth the 7 hour wait (unfortunately, I can't make the same claim for a single game I've bought or rented for the Nintendo Wii). I spent so many hours playing this, itís pathetic (really). Factor 5 upped the anti on graphics so far it would take a good 2 or 3 years for the more powerful Xbox to catch up. And the PS2 never even came close. To this day, this game looks incredible and, to this day, no game takes you closer to the infamous dogfights shown in the Star Wars' movies.

Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike (Nintendo GameCube)

Factor 5 pushed the graphics even further, proving the GameCube -- while not quite as powerful on a technical level -- could beat the PS2 or Xbox in the graphics department. Ironically enough, it's also still beating the Wii, which should shame Nintendo to the point of console suicide -- but apparently they're happy selling their ugly non-widescreen mini-games to non-gamers and not able to predict what's going to happen when non-gamers go back to non-gaming and leave the Wii in the dust. I still liked this one, but the land levels made me sick. They were crap. Overall, the game was decent and worth the price of admission. I just hope Factor 5's  LAIR for the PS3 is more Rogue Squadron II and less Rogue Squadron III. The land levels in Lair have me worried.

Lego Star Wars/Lego Star Wars II (Nintendo GameCube/PS2/PS3/Wii/Xbox/Xbox 360/PSP/DS)

I never thought Iíd stick both my corporate hating thumbs up in the air in favor of a GIGANTIC product placement, but both Lego Star Wars games are pure class. The only thing working against them is the ease of completing each game (7 hours, tops). But the replay value is huge and these games somehow embody Star Wars in a way that no game has since the original Dark Forces. The two games are going to be released as one title on the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii. The PS3 and 360 will have online co-op play. Unfortunately the Wii will not. Come on, Nintendo! We paid the next-gen price of $250 for your last-gen console with the funky controller. The least you could do is push the thing into the 21st Century (imagine how cool it would be if you could play with your Miis in the Star Wars' Universe).

And there you have it. I haven't played every Star Wars' game ever released, but I've played more than the average bear. Not that I'm ashamed. Why should I be? It's Star Wars! The Force is strong with my agile geek fingers.

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©2007 Alex Sandell/Cerebellum Inc. [All Rights Reserved]. Copy this without my permission and the Force is so not with you. Seriously, if you copy this without asking, you're lamer than Shrek 3. You're Matrix Reloaded level lame -- and that's fucking lame, dude! Oh, and I'll sue you.