The new Star Wars trilogy — it’s been criticized by professionals and fanboys alike. The old argument “George Lucas ruined my childhood” is a common one when the new trilogy is brought up. But whether you love the new movies or not nobody can deny that at least one great thing came out of them: podracing.
In 1999 Star Wars: Episode I Racer was released alongside The Phantom Menace. It was a commercial success, and sprung up additional titles. Racer Arcade was released in arcades the following year and featured two podracer throttle controls. It was visually stunning and brought a visceral experience to the series. Two years later Racer Revenge was released for the PlayStation 2. All three were amazing games that felt ahead of their time. Now it’s time for an adaptation of Episode I Racer to arrive on Xbox Live Arcade, and we suppose PlayStation Network too, as Star Wars Podracer Arcade.
The X-Wing series spans a total of four games and three expansion packs. Of the series, TIE Fighter is often mentioned in top 100 games lists, and in general the entire series has been commercially and critically well received. But if TIE Fighter was the most popular, why choose X-Wing Alliance? The answer is simple. All of the games in the series are powered by the same engine. X-Wing Alliance is the newest iteration of that engine, and has every feature of the previous games and more.
Some franchises, regardless of quality, just never become very popular. One such example is the Sam and Max comic and video game series, which most people never heard of but have never played. Sam and Max: Hit the Road was one of LucasArts’ classic adventure games, first released in 1994. The game was based on the late 80’s comic series by Steve Purcell, who worked at LucasArts. It featured the wacky antics of a 6-foot tall dog and a hyperkinetic rabbity-thing, a duo who called themselves the Freelance Police.
The world they inhabit is wacky and unconventional while being chock full of jokes and puzzles. Recently, LucasArts have re-released their classic Monkey Island series in the XBLA in special editions featuring updated art and voices, modernizing it while retaining what made it great. Now would be a perfect time for Telltale Games, who now own the franchise, to re-release the Sam & Max that started it all.
The two console generations previous to this one saw a rather large amount of Star Wars related video games. With this generation however, due to various changes at LucasArts, we have been limited to LEGO Star Wars, Clone Wars and Force Unleashed games. Back in the PlayStation 1 era when Star Wars games were much more prevalent we saw the release of Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles.
The Episode I in the title would suggest this was planned as a series which would follow the prequel films as they were released. Perhaps that was the plan but aside from a Dreamcast port and a GBA version (sans Episode I title) of the PS1 game a sequel was never made.
Jedi Power Battles was essentially a side-scrolling brawler akin to Streets of Rage or Final Fight. Changing the protagonists to Jedi and the enemies from street thugs to droids and various other space menaces makes all the difference. Power Battles was good mindless fun, playing alone or with a friend one could quickly go from level to level tearing down droids and battling bosses. It wasn’t ground breaking by any means but it was a fairly well executed take on the genre with a Star Wars skin.
Ah Battlefront, a series that fondly remembered on last generation consoles, and perhaps only slightly less fondly on handhelds. The world was crushed when the oft-rumored Star Wars Battlefront III was revealed to be in development via a leaked trailer only to find out via that same trailer the game had been canceled, canned, dropped. To quote Obi-Wan, “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” It’s a fairly safe bet to say that someday we’ll see a Battlefront III, but what are we to do until then? We at XBLAFans submit to you a hybrid title, Star Wars Battlefront Arcade.