All three games in the Rogue Squadron series did a decent job putting players into the cockpit of major battles between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance, but Rogue Leader was far and away the best of the trio. As a GameCube launch title, it put the graphical power of the system on par with the Xbox and the PS2. The ship detailing was stunning with a high polygon count, the environments were perfectly rendered, and the music score and sound effects were spot-on. It truly allowed you to imagine yourself as a pilot in the rebellion. But it wasn't all about looks and sound—the ships were easy to handle and flew smoothly across the terrains and in space. The computer targeting system was a big improvement from the original, highlighting the objectives otherwise lost in the chaotic onscreen action. If your copy of Rogue Leader is behind a glass cabinet as a memento, it's time to break it out and pop it into your backward-compatible Wii for old time's sake.
The more common genres for Star Wars video games are action and flight combat, which sap the most memorable scenes from the movies and offer them up as filling fast food. But the 96-ounce steak cooked to near perfection and seasoned with RPG spices has to be Knights of the Old Republic. You could argue that Star Wars fans lean toward the RPG genre anyway, and are also members of the geek community devoted to pen-and-paper gaming like Dungeons & Dragons (a camp of which I am also a proud member). The game's campaign took you well over the forty-hour mark, with engrossing dialogue options, the ability to lean toward either good or evil, and plenty of optional side quests. In true RPG fashion, you leveled up and customized ability scores and skills, all while engaged in an epic story. Bioware did a fantastic job bringing their role-playing chops to the Star Wars universe, proving that Star Wars and RPGs are like peanut butter and chocolate. It's no wonder, then, that the upcoming similarly named Star Wars MMO, The Old Republic, is on course to knock World of Warcraft off its pedestal.
Yes, I'm sure some of you are shuttering at this entry into the Star Wars best list, but whether you like it or not, LEGO Star Wars has earned a spot here. As a game able to break the audience barrier, the LEGO Star Wars series has attracted gamers both young and old. It may be simple and childish, but it's just so much fun to break enemies and environments down to precious studs, then use that block currency to unlock over a hundred playable characters and countless minigames. It's even more fun to smash away with a friend, or "accidentally" whack that friend into bits. The humor is the real star though, as the writers turn the epic galactic drama of the movies into a hilarious parody. The formula doesn't change much between titles—sometimes we wish it would—but we just keep playing them nonetheless. Maybe it's just because we like taking a lightsaber to C-3PO and Jar Jar Binks.
Like Rogue Squadron, I could pay my respects to the entire X-Wing series. However, I wanted to showcase the dark side a bit, paying tribute to those poor TIE Fighters that seem about as fragile as clay pigeons an inch away from the barrel of a rifle. Besides, the TIE Fighter entry had enough critical acclaim that an expansion was produced, as well as an exclusive collector's edition with updated graphics. Granted, the game is nearly two decades old, and the space flight physics don't exactly classify it as a simulation, but for a space combat game, it carried an incredibly story with various objectives for each mission that affected the story's outcome. You may have played as an Empire pilot with a conscience, but you still got to blow up plenty of Rebel ships, all the while managing your onboard systems to a degree that always made it feel like a pilot rather than a gamer with a mouse in hand.
It could be that slapping the word "Super" in front of any SNES title could bestow a boost in quality, or maybe Super Star Wars just had the right platforming recipe. Whatever the case, the entire Super Star Wars series, while very loosely based on the original trilogy, served up fast-paced run-and-gun action sure to overheat your blaster, along with a trio of difficulty modes. (Jedi mode truly required Force-like skills.) All three games included multiple character choices and impressive vehicular stages, and the latter two included the ability to use Force powers and secondary weapons. They're still available for a meager price on the Wii's Virtual Console, so if you're itching for a real platforming challenge, look no further.
I'm sure there are personal favorites and least favorites which failed to make this list, so, by all means, use the comments section below to plead the case for your entry, or to reopen the wounds of a horrid game worth of an extra dash of salt.
By Sean Engemann
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*