It’s only natural that Star Wars and videogames go hand in hand – in a sense, they were born right around the same time.
The name “Star Wars” isn’t that far off from the title of the first computer game, Spacewar! Both tapped into the fantasies of the space race era: the intoxicating idea of leaving Earth in a rocket ship, meeting exotic life forms unlike anything we knew on Earth and fighting them with superpowered weapons. Star Wars was released in 1977, the same year that the Atari launched the Video Computer System.
So it’s quite ironic that many years passed before the release of the first Star Wars videogame, a 1982 Atari VCS game based on the snowspeeder sequence in Empire Strikes Back. But after that, the floodgates opened. Star Wars has inspired dozens of wildly divergent games. Name the genre, and there’s a Star Wars game: First-person shooters, role-playing games, racers, platformers, martial arts, space dogfights, puzzles, strategy, car combat, two MMOs and yes, even dancing.
With such a wide variety, presenting an authoritative list of the best Star Wars games would be a Herculean task. Instead, Wired editors have picked our personal favorites – some well-known classics, some games you forgot existed and some you may have never heard of.
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (PC, 2002)
The single-player component of Jedi Knight II is fine, but its the game’s ridiculous free-for-all multiplayer matches that make it my favorite Star Wars game. I recently re-purchased the game from the Mac App Store and started up a match with 15 unlucky bots on the game’s best level, the Nar Shaddaa Streets. With its towering, tangled knot of bridges and narrow platforms suspended over a bottomless pit, Nar Shaddaa is a great location for people who enjoy falling long distances.
15 minutes in, an incredible thing happened. I was hiding inside a building suspended in the middle of the level. As bots ran by, I’d leap out and snatch them up using my force grip power. Then, I’d slowly turn, dangle them off the platform and drop them into the pit. It was wonderful fun, until one bot got wise. The moment after I released him over the edge, he used his own power––force pull. I was yanked off the platform towards the falling bot, and as we tumbled into the black abyss below we swung at each other wildly with our lightsabers.
Moments like that don’t happen in Star Wars games anymore.–Ryan Rigney
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