After over a year of intense marketing, Star Wars: The Force Awakens released to theaters in December 2015. Just a few months later, we’re getting the Blu-ray release (too bad it already leaked a few weeks ahead of schedule). Geeks haven’t had this much fun since a work print of X-Men: Origins Wolverine plopped online in 2009. But it’s time to take a look at some of the Star Wars games even Poggle the Lesser would be ashamed of.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE UNLEASHED II (360, PS3, WII, PC)
Although a bit spotty, the original Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was loved by fans for its over-the-top Force powers and solid story. The sequel came out a mere two years after the original, and it shows. There are fewer levels, a simpler story, and less fun Force powers. LucasArts improved the graphics and controls, but ruined everything else.
STAR WARS ROGUE SQUADRON III: REBEL STRIKE (GC)
Developer Factor 5 flushed any goodwill from Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader down the toilet with this middling sequel. They brought back the slick space combat and crammed in a bunch of sloppy on-foot third-person levels. Want to struggle to shoot an army of Stormtroopers? Here’s your chance.
STAR WARS: EPISODE I – THE PHANTOM MENACE (PS1, PC)
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace received as much marketing back in the day as Star Wars: The Force Awakens did. You couldn’t take two steps into a grocery store without seeing Jake Lloyd’s preening face staring into your soul from a bag of Lay’s Potato Chips. This movie video game follows the plot of the flick pretty well, but it’s hampered by an odd quasi-overhead perspective. Weak lightsaber combat and box pushing aplenty do not a good game make.
STAR WARS CHESS (SEGA CD, PC)
Interplay’s Battle Chess inspired a pile of knock-offs. Star Wars Chess is an OK chess game by itself, but the violent death animations feel a little out of place. Some of the character designs are more reminiscent of the cartoon sequence from the Star Wars Holiday Special than any proper movie.
STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (NES, GAME BOY)
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back is considered one of the best films of the entire Star Wars saga. This NES game, later ported to Game Boy, is so hard most fans will never finish the first level. Yes, Luke gets a lightsaber this time around, but sloppy jumping mechanics and cheap deaths do this game no favors.
STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI (ARCADE)
Atari Games rounded out their Star Wars arcade trilogy with a tough isometric vehicular auto-scrolling game. You have little idea of what lies on the track ahead of you. Even though you get to relive the speeder bike and Millennium Falcon scenes from the movie, everything feels cheap and less immersive than being right in the cockpit.
STAR WARS: FORCE COMMANDER (PC)
Stuck in development hell for years, Star Wars: Force Commander limped onto shelves in 2000. LucasArts originally designed the game as a top-down Command & Conquer knockoff. But when PC gaming moved out of two dimensions, the entire project was scrapped and redesigned with a poor 3D engine. Imagine playing a shit-show StarCraft that controls like 3D Studio Max. Add in a single player campaign that forces you to play as the Imperials before defecting over to the Rebels midstream, and you’ve got a stinker for the ages.
Article by contributor Mat-Bradley Tschirgi.