Taking the mechanics from Shadows’ opening level and turning it into a full game might seem unlikely to succeed but Rogue Squadron’s arcade style gameplay would quickly win out. Visually mining the vast Star Wars universe helped with level variety and the opportunity to fly a huge number of ships helped to no end.
The game would also produce two spectacular looking sequels for the Gamecube as well as spinoffs based on the prequels.
Star Wars Episode I: Pod Racer
Based on the racing from the first prequel movie. The visuals played up on the bright colours of that sequence which was quite a departure from most Star Wars games which favoured palettes (grey, grey and grey) more in line with the original movies.
The big reward after much racing was to be able to drive Sebulba’s massive podracer.
Jedi Outcast (Dark Forces 3)
Built on the Quake III engine, this was yet another spectacular looking game. What I remember fondly was a code that could be entered into the in-game console that ramped up the lightsabre violence, allowing for heads, arms and everything in between to get lopped off.
Well… it was awesome at the time…
X-Wing versus TIE Fighter
Like the name says; players finally get to take on each other in X-Wings and TIE Fighters. The standard game itself was okay but where it really came into its own was with the Balance of Power mission pack which created a cooperative campaign to frame the combat around which was brilliantly executed.
The last of the flight sims, this one gave players the chance to fly outside the realms of the Rebels and Empire but eventually you’d get the chance to fly the Millennium Falcon in combat. It was the end of an era but it ended on a high.
This one came out of nowhere – a squad based first person shooter based on the clone soldiers from Episode 2. It looked amazing for the time and played so well it was a shame it was not developed further as it was like a Star Wars version of Full Spectrum Warrior.
The Force Unleashed
The game that revived LucasArts fortunes then sank it with the sequel. The game was like Jedi Knight but now backed with some incredible graphics and physics technologies. It also explored some “what ifs” in the Star Wars universe… something that rarely happened in games designed to follow canon. But where the first game made huge leaps the sequel stumbled spectacularly coming off more like a mission pack that a fully fledged game.
LucasArts is still around in some form; Tiny Death Star was just released under the branding so though they no longer make the games, there is still involvement. And with EA a year or two away from releasing their first games under an exclusive deal, we may continue to see the brand still visible.
But it’s still not the same. Though they admittedly began leaning on the Star Wars license too heavily there was a lot of talent at the company over the years who were able to create some truly spectacular experiences. So years from now there are still going to some of us who remember saving pilots, defeating tentacles and destroying death stars.