With the buzz that is The Force Awakens finally calming down, it’s time to wait with baited breath for the release of their next film, Rogue One. And then Episode 8. Oh yea, and then there’s that cool Han Solo film too. It’s nice that they’ve already mapped out the next four years of films for the Star Wars universe. It’ll give me time to budget the proper amount of money for movie tickets, action figures, and novelty shirts that say TR-8R.
However, in recent years, while Star Wars has made it well on the big screen, we’ve seen some flops in the video game side of the universe. The latest title, Star Wars Battlefront, scored consistent 7/10’s and was met with the only appeal being that it’s a good looking Star Wars game. And while the sixth generation of consoles gave us consistently great Star Wars games like Republic Commando, Knights of the Old Republic, and the original Battlefront, the past ten years haven’t been that great for Star Wars gaming. But let’s assume we live in a different world. A world where there’s no such thing as a $40 season pass for four different DLC’s for a mediocre game. Let’s say I was the head of the universe and tasked with starting the development of five new Star Wars video games. What would my iron fists create?
I say this because, currently, EA holds the video game license for Star Wars until around 2023. I both don’t enjoy this fact from a creative standpoint and “EA is a greedy corporate sleezeball” attitude that’s been pretty spot on since I’ve held a GameBoy Color. They currently hold a monopoly on the IP, and I have an issue with most large corporations having such a stranglehold on that sort of content for so long. I’d prefer it to be like an auction house: developers go to a group at LucasFilm and pitch ideas, and they decide who can borrow the IP for a bit. But anyway, back to the contemplative pondering.
1. Something with Rogue Squadron or space combat
One of the major changes with the retconning of the Expanded Universe is that Wedge Antilles currently has no character. He’s gone from crack-shot pilot of the Rogue Squadron to the luckiest pilot in the Rebel fleet for surviving both Death Star assaults. Sure, he should be playing a large role in the upcoming film Rogue One, but his efforts during the Original Trilogy are still pretty few and far between. Plus, one of the most missed features in the recent Battlefront is the removal of full-scale space battles. Bringing back some classic Rogue Squadron gameplay could be an awesome way to add some characterization to minor characters in the Original Trilogy while giving us some fun space combat like in Eve: Valkyrie.
Or even scrap the connection with Wedge Antilles. Bringing back the classic Tie Fighter or X-Wing gameplay alone would be nice, since most of the air combat genre seems to have dissolved and reattached onto first person shooters. Ironically, we might have Rogue Squadron 3 to blame for this, which implemented some ground levels where you pilot a stolen AT-ST or walked around as Luke on Hoth. Ever since then, it’s basically only been the Ace Combat series to hold onto air-only combat, which I see as a wide open niche gaming hasn’t tried to fill lately. Put a Wedge in the gap, already.
2. Republic Commando: A Telltales Series
So Republic Commando’s pretty good, I guess. LucasArts used some solid first person shooter mechanics, interesting stories, and a dash of solid characterization to create the one-hit wonder of Republic Commando. It had everything from high-paced explosion missions to exploring a ghost ship, implementing horror concepts better than some modern day horror games. Sadly, other than a few books and comics, the Republic Commando’s weren’t picked up again for a video game, leaving them hanging after an ending that could’ve delved into some pretty interesting stories, like how Delta Squad dealt with receiving Order 66.
The original title actually works pretty similarly to how a Telltale Game is structured. The game was split into three missions Delta Squad was sent on during the Clone Wars to complete, each with their own tone, but carrying over the characters and testing them in these new situations. Having a Telltale-style game where your decision-making skills as Delta-38 are much more heavily weighed upon would be a new telling of the squad, as well as giving some more depth to the behind-the-scenes action during the Clone Wars. Plus, at this point, we’d all just love to see Delta Squad back in action.
3. Battlestar Galactica: Admiral Ackbar style
It seems as though every time the Rebels build a base, it’s either in secrecy or a few parsecs from being under Imperial siege. The early days of the Rebellion were most likely filled with lots of tactical retreats, scavenging, discovering quiet locations to set up shop, if only for a few months, and gathering friends for the cause. It probably couldn’t have been easy to do, too, since the Emperor was silently manipulating everyone with the Force. Most RTS’s set in the Star Wars universe show the Empire and Rebellion at pretty even odds, which was definitely not the case for most of their existence. A game that better represents this lack of resources, technology, and manpower could have some cool sort of survival mechanic that make a Battlestar Galactica-style game set in the Star Wars universe.
The concept’s already somewhat being done with a Kickstarter game called XO, and even just the general concept of running around with a ragtag fleet fighting against overwhelming odds. Some huge twists, though, can come with setting it against the Star Wars backdrop. Having your battle fleet running around the outer systems, dodging everything from pirates to the Empire, dropping bases that have the chance of gaining unwanted attention and even having to evacuate the bases like in Empire Strikes Back could be some interesting changes on the concept that could turn it into its own game. On the way the game could gather missions for you, such as sending a group of pilots to steal the Death Star plans or sending Bothan spies to infiltrate top-secret facilities to steal the latest technology the Empire’s created. After a while, you’d finally have your own planets that are able to fight back, along with a large fleet that can penetrate any Imperial stronghold.
4. A fighting game with just force users
I know the words “Star Wars fighting game” make some original PlayStation owners twitch. Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi was the first, and so far, only time we saw our favorite Star Wars characters duke it out with hit boxes larger than a nerf herder’s scruff. The combat was clunky, and there was this state of disbelief that Han Solo could beat out Darth Vader in a fight. Not after his valiant yet futile attempt in Empire Strikes Back.
The Jedi Council from the prequels might have been just as exciting as a C-SPAN marathon, but by the force were there a lot of them. Ki Adi Mundi, Kit Fisto, Aayla Secura, and so many more could be streamlined into a decent fighting game with intense lightsaber combat. Special moves can involve their unique force abilities, and different Jedi could implement different lightsabers of varying sizes and types. Aayla Secura, for example, typically uses two lightsabers, but could also have the option of just using one.
One of the most undeveloped parts of the Star Wars universe is the varying fighting styles implemented by Jedi, Sith, and everyone else in between. Having a fighting system where the fighting styles and lightsabers, along with the different Jedi’s abilities, strengths, and weaknesses could make for one of the most dynamic fighting games in a while. Plus, it’s already got a kickass title: The Force Club. Rule #1 of The Force Club: this isn’t the club you’re looking for.
5. Now this is podracing!
Between the annoying child actor, a more annoying comedy support character, and a plot that was a jumbled mess of concepts that never congealed, we were able to unearth one positive thing from The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer. This feat of human intellect truly proved that any situation, no matter how grim, could be turned into something positive. It’s been 17 years since this feat of spectacular wonderment, and we haven’t heard anything about a possible sequel, remake, or reboot of the concept. (we’ll ignore the piss-poor one for the PS2, titled Racer Revenge)
As much as I’d love a rulebook on how to play that weird form of chess, pod racing seems like the sport of choice to turn into a video game. It was the Mario Kart of sci-fi driving games for the late 90’s. Between the myriad of customizable parts, the diverse course set, and interesting pod racers and pods to choose from, it was a different take on the Star Wars universe that desperately needs a solid reboot.