I’ve been a Star Wars fan for as long as I’ve been a video game fan and over the last 21 years, I’ve seen a lot of Star Wars games hit the shelves — for better or for worse. The imminent release of the rebooted Star Wars: Battlefront on November 17, also got me thinking about just how many of the Star Wars games I’ve loved and just how many of them were out there. In fact, there have been more than 80 PC, Mac, and console titles available since 1982 — so how in the galaxy have I been able to narrow it down to just 20 of the best Star Wars games?
First off, don’t let graphics and mechanics stop you from thinking some of these Star Wars games aren’t great. I took into consideration how the game looked, how the game played, and what the game meant to the Star Wars Universe, and to the fans when making this list, but by no means is it the end-all-be-all.
And if this list gives you a serious case of Star Wars nostalgia, you can find many of these titles on Steam. May the Force be with you!
Star Wars: Episode I Racer
Love or hate the prequel movies, y’all know you wanted to pod race after seeing Episode I. As exciting as it was to get behind the wheel, so to speak, of a racer, this Nintendo 64 game was essentially like G-Force, but without the weapons. The game’s most redeeming qualities was the ability to customize your own racer and to play as all the different racers, some of which we saw in the movie. Honestly, it was interesting to learn their backgrounds since we mostly evil saw them crash or not speak Basic in the film.
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
Fun fact: this game was one of the first titles available for the Nintendo 64 when it was first released. Shadows of the Empire follows the story of mercenary Dash Rendar (basically Han Solo, but billed as Han’s good friend) as he and Luke try and rescue Princess Leia from some evil king. The most interesting thing about this game was that it was just one part of a commercial, multimedia project by Lucasfilm that explored the time between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The project also included a novel and a comic book series, along with the game.
Star Wars: X-Wing
Star Wars made me want to be a pilot growing up, so X-Wing will always have a special place in my heart. It doesn’t look very impressive now (games have come a long way since 1993), but back then it was so exciting. You got the full heads up display and got to work all aspects of the ship as you fought and navigated your way through the events that led up and coincided with A New Hope. The game ends with you, as Luke Skywalker, flying the trench run and blowing up the Death Star, so there’s that awesomeness.
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter
If you are as bummed as I am about the on hold 1313 Star Wars game–which would have explored the underworld of mercenaries and bounty hunters—you can always revisit Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. This game for the PlayStation 2 was so fun because you got to step into the shoes of legendary bounty Hunter Jango Fett and utilize weapons exclusive to his trade, such as the jet pack and rocket launcher. The game was also interesting because you get to find out why Jango was chosen for the clone project, when his “son” Boba Fett was born, and how Jango acquired his ship, Slave I.
Star Wars: Battlefront
The original Battlefront wasn’t the greatest, but it did help pave the way for other multiplatform, multiplayer titles. It was cool to get to “live” in both eras of the movies—prequel and original trilogy—and have the chance to fight for four different factions as five different classes. Each faction also had a NPC companion, including Mace Windu and Darth Vader, that fought in the battles alongside you for short amounts of time. The multiplayer was great for the time, but the single player content left something to be desired.
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
Like a lot of Star Wars games, Rogue Squadron was simply an improvement on a game that came before it—in this case X-Wing. But the best improvement was bringing the game mechanics from X-Wing from the PC and on to the Nintendo 64. There was a bit more maneuverability on the console and you got to interact with Luke and Han and Wedge Antillies, so it felt more personal and more connected to the films.
Star Wars: Dark Forces
Basically, with this game, you’re playing Star Wars: DOOM—which was actually awesome. Dark Forces was a multiple platform game that utilized the first-person shooter genre hype in the early 1990s and had that very classic, pixilated look so many of us grew up with. This was the first in the Jedi Knight series and the first time we were introduced to Rebel Alliance mercenary Kyle Katarn. It was kind of a weird Star Wars game because no playable Jedi characters are involved, and most of the combat is done with fists, thermal detonators, or blasters.
It really wasn’t until the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV show did we realize that the clones that would eventually become Stormtroopers actually had personalities and plotlines—but Republic Commando also gave us a glimpse. This first-person shooter followed the awesome story of Delta Squad and their leader, who were trained by Mandolorians mercs to be above and beyond their fellow clone troopers. Probably the best part of playing the game was that the controls were extremely intuitive, allowing you to make your squad execute strategic maneuvers and not just point and shoot.
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
The second in the Rogue Squadron series, this game only beats it’s predecessor because now you get to actually be Luke and Wegde as you fight your way across the events of the three original films. For the GameCube, it was 10 missions of fast-paced flight action that had you flying the iconic X-wing, Y-wing, and the Millennium Falcon.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Another game that was awesome because you got to play as a bad guy. Obviously, your alliances change a bit throughout the game, it was also cool that you had most of your powers right away, unlike most games. The Force Unleashed also gave us a different look into the time between Episode Three and A New Hope and a different look at Darth Vader. The controls were a bit sloppy, but the story was interesting and the voice/mo-cap performance by Sam Witwer made Starkiller come to life.
Star Wars: Battlefront II
The sequel to the original Battlefront game was a real hit, mostly because it tried to think outside the box in terms of playable characters. Yes, you can be a Jedi, but you can also be just a grunt in the elite 501st Legion of Stormtroopers. It had single- and local multi-player locations, including 16 different battlefronts from the original. This was an awesome game for couch play with your friends, especially if you were looking for a more honed experience.
Star Wars: Empire at War
After a long line of RPGs and flight simulators, Empire at War stands out as one of the best strategy games among all the Star Wars titles. The cool thing about this game is that you have a choice to help the Rebellion, rule the Empire, or control the underworld of bounty hunters and villainous scum. You can play on more than 80 ground and space locations and control fan favorites like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett.
LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
If you’ve played any series of Star Wars games and as you can probably surmise from this list—SW games can be a little repetitive. How many times can you fight the Battle of Hoth after all? You’ll still have to travel to Hoth in LEGO Star Wars, but like all LEGO games, they tend to put their own spin on things. This game is a more fun, light-hearted look at the original trilogy.
Star Wars: Galaxies
This was the first Star Wars MMORPG game and it actually hung around until SWTOR became a reality. The game was incredibly complex (some people said almost too much so) and expansive and allowed players to play as 10 different species—something no other Star Wars game has done. You could also choose from 10 professions, including the intriguing politician that allowed you to control a whole city. The funny thing is that the game actually started out as an open crawl state and the major storylines came later on with a series of expansions.
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Like the Jedi Knight games before it, Jedi Outcast was an incredibly immersive title that featured some familiar faces, including Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian (voiced by Billy Dee Williams himself). Your character, Kyle Katarn has given up his Lightsaber after being tempted by the dark side, but is still working for the New Republic. It was an interesting concept since so few games revolve around fallen or gray Jedi, or Jedi who leave the order. The graphics still hold up too!
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
When this game first came out, it was a classic tale of a developer rushing to put out a sequel to an extremely popular game and ending up with a buggy mess. Luckily, patches and remastered version let the game’s story and complexity shine though. Not as good as the original, but still an engaging RPG that let players explore life after the Jedi have all but been wiped out.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
I first beta tested SWTOR back in 2011 and I’ve been hooked ever sense. A massive and immersive MMORPG experience, you can play as a Jedi, Sith, Bounty Hunter or Smuggler, exploring familiar and strange worlds 300 years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic and 3,500 years before Episode One. It has a lot of replayability value (if you happen to fully level up your character and “beat” the game), but honestly you could have the same character for years. And with the incredible new story expansion, players will have even more opportunities to save or destroy the galaxy.
Star Wars: TIE Fighter
TIE Fighter makes the list because it was the first game that let you play as the “other guys.” The sequel to X-Wing, TIE Fighter allows you to pilot, what else, the Imperial TIE fighter on the same engine was its predecessor. The game was a critical success and proved that not everyone wants to be a Jedi all the time.
Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
The last in the Jedi Knight series of games was special for a few reasons—Firstly, you get to act as a student of Luke Freakin’ Skywalker’s. Secondly, you get to actually construct your own Lightsaber. And lastly, you also get to experiment with firearms and Force powers along the way. The graphics are OK for when it came out, but the movement and platforming still holds up well. Also, this game has some of the best Lightsaber combat of any of the Star Wars games. It’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to actually enrolling in a Jedi Academy.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Out of all the Star Wars games, Knights of the Old Republic is king. Developed by RPG giant BioWare and written by Mass Effect/Dragon Age/Star Wars author Drew Karpyshyn, you are basically the Jedi chosen one in the fight against the Sith. This game is amazing because of its interesting companions, detailed conversations and ethical choices, and intricate plotlines. (Honestly, how did anyone beat this game before the days of walkthroughs?)
Also, there is a big twist that was so brilliant, I had no idea it was coming. I recently played the remastered version for Mac and it’s still everything a Star Wars game should be and more.