Star Wars mania has swept the globe once again as fans head to cinemas to see how the latest trilogy concludes. The Rise of Skywalker has generated a tremendous buzz across social media channels, fan forums, newspapers, magazines and TV shows. It serves as a reminder of the saga’s enduing popularity among multiple generations, as it has captured a special place in millions of hearts.
The Rise of Skywalker is the ninth film in the sequence, which has made billions of dollars for Lucasfilm and Disney over the years. Each movie has proved to be extremely lucrative, but Star Wars merchandise is even bigger business. You can buy everything from Darth Vader coffee mugs to Chewbacca bathrobes, along with Death Star waffle makers, Wookie crocs, a C-3PO tape dispenser, a Jar Jar Binks candy tongue and a lightsaber fishing rod, plus all manner of branded backpacks, coffee cups, purses, hats, T-shirts, baby-grows, scarves, jewellery, key chains, notebooks.
One of the most successful spinoffs is the video game series, which includes more than 100 different titles, from The Empire Strikes back on arcade in 1982 to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order for PS4, Xbox One and PC this year. It would take all day to detail them all, so we have listed the vert best games that define the series’ evolution over the past 37 years:
Star Wars (1983, Arcade)
Nowadays video gaming is a $150 billion industry replete with AAA titles, virtual reality, professional tournaments, wagering at Unikrn esports and celebrity steamers on multimillion-dollar contracts. 1983 was a simpler time, without a mobile device or Nintendo in sight, and gamers had to visit the local arcade for entertainment. Star Wars mania peaked with the release of Return of the Jedi in 1983 and Atari brought out a wildly popular arcade game to coincide with it. The game allowed players to take control of an X-wing fighter plane from the first-person perspective of Luke Skywalker and battle TIE Fighters and gun turrets. The graphics were hypnotic and beautiful, the gameplay was thrilling and it also featured samples of voices from the movie, including Mark Hammill and Harrison Ford.
TIE Fighter (1994, DOS, Mac)
Totally Games created another brilliant fighter simulation and space combat game in 1994. TIE Fighter built upon the success of X-Wing, released the previous year, and massively improved upon the gameplay. Many critics consider it to be one of the greatest games of all time, and it is easy to see why. It won a heap of awards at the time and reviewers loved the way it simulated a World War II dogfight, but brought it into the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (1997, Windows)
Star Wars fans were buzzing in 1997 as George Lucas teased details of an upcoming prequel to the popular Star Wars trilogy. The prequels are now widely derided by fans, but game developers were ramping up their efforts to cash in on the Star Wars hype in 1997. Four Star Wars games were released that year: Masters of Teras Kasi was a bust, TIE Fighter v X-Wing was another top flight sim and Yoda Stories was dreadful, but Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II was magnificent. LucasArts clearly put a lot of effort into this first-person shooter and it received widespread critical acclaim. PC Gamer declared it to be the best game ever made and called it “such a class act from start to finish that even people who know nothing about PC games can tell they’re looking at greatness”.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003, Windows, Xbox)
Attack of the Clones came out in 2002 and the following year saw no fewer than six different Star Wars games released. Most were forgettable, but Knights of the Old Republic was a thoroughly brilliant RPG. The action takes place some 4,000 years before the formation of the Galactic Empire and the hero, a Jedi, must venture across the galaxy to defeat Darth Malak and his Sith armada. Once again, this has been hailed as one of the greatest games ever made. It swept the board at the end of year awards, fans loved it and many still fondly remember the huge plot twist it contained. The game spawned a number of sequels, and many were fantastic. In particular Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords was a masterpiece, even if it was perhaps a little too similar to its predecessor.
Star Wars Battlefront (2015, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One)
The Battlefront reboot of 2015 boasts legions of fans across the globe. Critics were split – many praised its gameplay, visuals, epic musical scores and high production values, yet others criticised the flimsy single player campaign mode – but gamers absolutely loved it. Battlefront has shifted more than 14 million copies and it also spawned a popular sequel. EA invested heavily in the production of this game and the visual effects allowed many gamers to overlook a lack of depth.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2019, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One)
Respawn Entertainment and EA decided to set Jedi: Fallen Order five years after Revenge of the Sith and three years before A New Hope. It follows the exploits of a young Jedi Palawan called Cal Kestis, who strives to complete his training and restore the Jedi Order while being pursued across the galaxy by the Second Sister and a ferocious Galactic Empire. It takes its cues from an exceptional game, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and while it does not quite hit those heights, it stands out as a strong offering in the overall canon of Star Wars games. Critics praised the single-player action adventure and lauded the return of a playable Jedi. EA reported that it was the bestselling digital Star Wars game ever made, and it performed well in various markets around the world.