A long time ago in a continent far, far away, acclaimed filmmaker George Lucas released the first ever Star Wars movie in 1977, which was a pop culture phenomenon as it generated a large fan base from all over the world. It spawned plenty of TV series spin-offs, novels, comic books, merchandises, video games, and six numbered movies, until Disney took over the reins and unleash their plans for more blockbuster hits. To say now is the best time to be alive as a Star Wars fan is a massive understatement, considering what the entertainment giant has in store for us.
Besides the huge success of the movies, Star Wars is also known for its video games lineup, featuring some of the best titles in their own category. Although games that were based on movies have a bad reputation for being mediocre and the best Star Wars games weren’t directly related to the feature films, there are a few movie-based entries you should play if you consider yourself as a fan. In honor of Star Wars day, we take a look at 5 of the best Star Wars movie-based games in the galaxy, along with a few honorable mentions.
Star Wars Trilogy Arcade (1999 – Arcade)
The 90s is arguably one of the best decades for the arcade scene, and it’s only fitting for the era to have a quality Star Wars arcade game. 3D rail shooter Star Wars Trilogy Arcade is known for its realistic depiction of the iconic skirmishes from the original trilogy, including the space battle at Yavin, snow speeder fight on Hoth, and the speeder bike sequence on Endor. It featured cutting-edge graphics for that period of time, while providing a full sensory experience that you definitely can’t have with a console setup at home.
Super Star Wars series (1992 – 1994 SNES)
Even though movie-based games were mostly mediocre, especially the modern ones, Star Wars managed to spawn a trilogy of quality entries based on the first three movies, and they were all done in the 90s. The SNES was reigning supreme in the first half of that era, with tons of games employing the side-scroller system, and Lucasfilm managed to utilize it with great effect. A whopping 56 levels were included in the Super Star Wars trilogy, with playable characters such as Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the Skywalker twins. The games excelled in the visual department as well, though you’ll find the beautiful 16-bit graphics very negligible once the frustration kicks in from the insanely difficult levels.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999 – PlayStation, PC)
Hardcore fans were mostly not impressed with the prequels, and this game definitely can’t hold its own against other quality Star Wars titles, but it’s not bad for a movie-based game. The Phantom Menace follows the events of the film, as you control Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Queen Amidala or Captain Panaka depending on the level. The combat might seem silly at times, but the fun mostly came from the dialogue options with NPCS, which allows you to use Jedi mind tricks on unsuspecting characters, or you can even skirt around the ways of the Dark Side by employing a bit of violence. It’s a precursor of the deep dialogue system used in the Star Wars KOTOR games.
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (2007 – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Nintendo DS, Wii, iOS, Android)
Lego games might be targeted to younger audiences, but adults can definitely join in the fun for this simple, yet action-packed title. You can relive the events of the first six movies in their entire glory, while enjoying some of the gags and slapstick action in scenes that were supposed to be serious. Part of the charms of Lego Star Wars also came from the high amount of characters that can be unlocked and used, which allows you to mess around with their unique abilities. This greatly expands the replay value, and most importantly, a co-op partner can just join and leave at any point of the game, which creates the perfect opportunity for friends and family to bond while having intergalactic fun.
Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2016 – PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS)
Whereas The Complete Saga focused more on simplistic gameplay, The Force Awakens employed more depth, while remaining accessible to young gamers. Long gone were the days where Lego games were usually considered childish, as this game featured plenty of puzzles that will keep players engaged, with good usage of each character’s personal abilities to advance the narrative based on the film. The storyline was well-presented with proper dialogue delivered by the movie actors themselves, along with the usual gags and comedy sequences you can expect from a Lego game. Familiar mechanics such as destroy, build, and collect were also present, but it’s the addition of features such as the cover-based shootouts, special attacks, and open-air dogfights that diversify the experience, making Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens a must-try game for fans.
Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles (2001 – PlayStation, Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance)
Although Jedi Power Battles is also based on the first prequel film, but unlike The Phantom Menace, it is more straightforward as a mix of a platformer and a beat ‘em up game. The simple gameplay is the main attractive point, as you use Jedi characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu and Plo Koon to fight through waves of enemies using your lightsaber and Force abilities, with each of them having a specific style. The controls can be frustrating at times, but having the option to play co-op is a major incentive to complete the Jedi Power Battles, before we have much better multiplayer choices such as the Battlefront series or the Lego games.
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005 – PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS)
Most Star Wars fans loved the movie, but I definitely can’t say the same for the game itself. Despite the criticisms it received for the clunky camera system, outdated graphics, poor level design and AI, I enjoyed playing as Anakin, and it’s not every day you can control the Chosen One for almost the entire of a game. Most importantly, the alternate ending definitely made up for the failings of Revenge of the Sith, at least for me, which I’m sure most of us would prefer it to be canon.