Star Wars video games

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Star Wars
Genres Predominantly action
Platforms Apple II
Atari 2600
Nintendo 64
Sega Master System
Sega Dreamcast
Game Gear
Microsoft Windows
Mac OS
PlayStation 1
PlayStation 2
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Wii U
Game Boy
Game Boy Color
Game Boy Advance
Nintendo DS
First release Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
1982 (1982)
Latest release Star Wars Battlefront II
2017 (2017)

The Star Wars franchise has spawned over one hundred computer, video, and board games, dating back to some of the earliest home consoles. Some are based directly on movie material, while others rely heavily on the Star Wars expanded universe.

Early history[edit]

In 1978, Apple Computer produced an unlicensed Star Wars game on cassette tape for its Apple II. As a "space pilot trainee", the player destroys TIE fighters using a first-person heads-up display.[1] The first video game cartridge bearing the name Star Wars appeared that year on the RCA Studio II clones Sheen M1200 and Mustang Telespiel Computer.[2]

The original trilogy[edit]

The first official licensed Star Wars electronic game was Kenner's 1979 table-top Star Wars Electronic Battle Command.[3] The game had three levels of play (basic, intermediate, and advanced). Players took turns examining star systems with the aim of avoiding black holes, locating enemies, and searching for MAGNA, "the FORCE-giving star". The game was billed as "the most exciting computer game you will ever play".[4]

The Atari 2600, beginning with The Empire Strikes Back (1982) in which the player piloted a snowspeeder during the Battle of Hoth, destroying AT-AT walkers. Several other games appeared, such as Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle (1983), where the player controlled the Millennium Falcon in a mission to destroy the second Death Star, and Jedi Arena (1983), the first game to attempt to simulate a lightsaber battle (in this case, clearly inspired by the Star Wars scene, where Luke Skywalker trains with a seeker). In 1983, the Star Wars arcade game was released by Atari based on the 1977 film. In this game (featuring color vector graphics and the first ever digitized speech from a film) the player enters the seat of Luke's Red Five X-Wing fighter, battles waves of TIE fighters led by Darth Vader, weaves through towers across the surface of the Death Star, and plummets through the battle station's trench in an attempt to destroy it. The sequel for the game, The Empire Strikes Back, used the same technology to re-create scenes from the second film, including battles with AT-AT walkers and an asteroid field.

Due to the video game crash of 1983, which temporarily killed the home console market, no further games based on the franchise were released until 1987 when UK software publisher Domark released several 8-bit versions of the Star Wars vector arcade game, followed by similar conversions in 1988 of The Empire Strikes Back machine. In 1987, Namco developed a Star Wars game for the Family Computer for the Japanese market exclusively, based on the 1977 film, but with several liberties taken with its storyline.

In 1991, the platformer Star Wars was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, Game Boy and Game Gear, and one year later, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back covered the plotline of the fifth episode of the saga. Also in 1992, Super Star Wars was released for the SNES, followed by the remaining games in the trilogy: Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1993) and Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1994), the latter also receiving conversions for the Game Boy and Game Gear in 1995.

Franchise expansion[edit]

Shift towards the Expanded Universe[edit]

At the start of the 1990s, the Star Wars franchise began to move away from the official films and began to focus more on the Expanded Universe. The first, Star Wars: X-Wing, released in 1993, started the X-wing computer game series, which garnered numerous awards and recognition. Star Wars: X-Wing was followed by several sequels and expansions, such as Star Wars: TIE Fighter, Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, and Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance. Other titles such as The Software Toolworks' Star Wars Chess were published or licensed by LucasArts, who also used the first "multimedia explosion" to release Rebel Assault (1993), which used FMV and photos extensively.

The 1996 Nintendo 64 title Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was part of a LucasArts attempt to create a story between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of Jedi, putting the player in control of mercenary Dash Rendar. Shadows of the Empire featured fan-favorite parts from the Super Star Wars line, such as another reenactment of the Battle of Hoth, piloting a snowspeeder and tying a cable around AT-ATs legs. After the Special Edition original trilogy re-release in 1997, LucasArts published other titles, including Star Wars: Yoda Stories and Star Wars Monopoly, as well as a Star Wars-themed fighter, Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi.

As The Phantom Menace release approached, dozens of licensed titles appeared, from the praised expansion to Jedi Knight, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith and the first game in the Rogue Squadron series and even educational titles, the market was flooded with several games, most of them of questionable quality.[citation needed]

Modern era games[edit]

The prequel trilogy[edit]

The Phantom Menace[edit]

After the release of Episode I in theaters in 1999, an onslaught of games from the prequel trilogy began to be released for most major platforms. The first releases were the regular video game adaptation (action-adventure) and Star Wars Episode I: Racer, based on the podracing sequence in movie. Others, including Battle for Naboo and Jedi Power Battles, were released, but with little success. The first strategic game in the Star Wars expanded universe was titled Star Wars: Rebellion and broke new ground in that it incorporated ships and planets not found in the original canon, such as the Rebel Assault Frigate and the Bulwark Cruiser. But for all its ground-breaking new looks, it was not as successful as would have been hoped. The second strategic title, Star Wars: Force Commander was also released, but failed to keep up with other RTS games, since it was more focused on battling (no resource gathering) and used a primitive 3D engine. About a decade later, resource gathering lost popularity in favor of faster-paced combat-centric RTS games.

Attack of the Clones[edit]

In 2002, Attack of the Clones premiered in theaters, and another wave of Star Wars based games, including The Clone Wars, Star Wars Racer Revenge, and Bounty Hunter were released, this time focusing on events and characters from Attack of the Clones such as bounty hunter Jango Fett and the Clone Wars.

Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter was released, allowing the player to be a Jedi Master flying a Jedi starfighter. A third RTS game with a much more conventional approach to the genre's norms and using the Age of Kings engine, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, offered a better alternative to those seeking strategy in the Star Wars universe.

Revenge of the Sith[edit]

Adjoining the release of Revenge of the Sith, a video game adaptation (action) was also released close to the premiere, with various degrees of success. Star Wars: Republic Commando was also released in 2005.

Expanded Universe franchises[edit]

Rogue Squadron[edit]

Jedi Knight[edit]

The first step towards modern games was done with Dark Forces, a 1995 first-person shooter that put the player in the role of Kyle Katarn. After the Special Edition original trilogy re-release in 1997, LucasArts published Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, then Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith released in 1999. In 2002, its sequel Jedi Outcast was released and gave players the first chance to experience advanced lightsaber duels, and it also detached itself from the usual idea of movie tie-ins. One year later, the last game in the Jedi Knight series, Jedi Academy was released.

Star Wars Galaxies[edit]

The first MMORPG, titled Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided, was also released in 2003 and was subsequently followed in 2004 by its first expansion Jump to Lightspeed. Two more games, Star Wars Galaxies: Episode III Rage of the Wookiees (a second expansion to Galaxies), and ' After the films, more Star Wars titles continued to be developed and released. Empire at War (an RTS), was released in early 2006.

The Force Unleashed[edit]

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii, uses a new, detailed graphics engine. The Wii version utilizes the motion sensing and accelerometer capabilities of the Wii Remote (simulating the ability to swing a lightsaber) and its Nunchuk attachment (used to perform Force powers).Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 was released in the United States on October 26, 2010.

The Old Republic[edit]

In 2003, Knights of the Old Republic, a BioWare RPG that debuted on the Microsoft Xbox and PC. Knights (also known as KotOR among fans) was critically acclaimed, even winning "Game of the Year" at the Game Developers Choice Awards, (along with many other critics) in 2003. Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and released in 2004. KotOR II was praised for its cerebral writing and moral ambiguity, similar to The Empire Strikes Back. Another MMORPG titled Star Wars: The Old Republic was developed by BioWare, which released globally on December 20, 2011. Pre-orders went up for sale in July 2011 and open beta weekends were confirmed for September 2011.

Star Wars Battlefront (Pandemic Studios)[edit]

Star Wars: Battlefront (2004). Star Wars: Battlefront II in 2005. It is also to be noted that Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron was released on November 3, 2009 for the Nintendo DS and the PSP. This is the first Battlefront game to offer a transition from space to ground battles at the players choice. After Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm and the restructuring of the Star Wars canon, the Battlefront series was rebooted by EA DICE.

Crossover franchises[edit]

Lego Star Wars[edit]

Lego Star Wars: The Video Game was released 2005. A sequel, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, was released during 2006. Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars was released in March 2011.[5] Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released on June 28, 2016.[6]

Angry Birds Star Wars[edit]

Angry Birds Star Wars was announced in October 8, 2012, and was released on November 8, 2012. The game is a crossover with the Star Wars original trilogy, and casts the Angry Birds as the Rebels and the Bad Piggies as the Empire. Merchandise related to the game will be released on October 17, and October 28. It is a puzzle game and the fifth game in the Angry Birds video game series. It is developed and published by Rovio Entertainment and is based on the franchise. A sequel, Angry Birds Star Wars II was released in 2013.

Disney Infinity 3.0[edit]

On May 5, 2015, Disney announced a follow-up game through Game Informer, Disney Infinity 3.0, for release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, iOS, PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in 2015, featuring characters from the Star Wars universe.[7]

Canceled games[edit]

At E3 2012, EA with LucasArts announced Star Wars 1313, which focuses more on the life of a bounty hunter as he descends to the level 1313 on Coruscant to unravel a criminal plot. The game focuses more on gunplay and bounty hunter gameplay rather than the Force users and lightsabers combat. It was set to release in Fall 2013 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows. 1313 has subsequently been cancelled by LucasArts following its purchase by Disney. Reportedly, there was also a Star Wars: The Force Unleashed III in development as well.

Restructuring of the canon[edit]

With the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company, most of the licensed Star Wars videogames, novels, comics produced since the originating 1977 film Star Wars were rebranded as Star Wars Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise in April 2014.[8][9][10]

EA Star Wars license agreement[edit]

On May 6, 2013, Disney revealed that Electronic Arts has the rights to produce Star Wars games for consoles and PC, while Disney will handle the games for other platforms, such as smartphones, tablets and browsers. The EA subsidiaries who will be responsible for creating games for the franchise developed by their developers DICE, BioWare and Visceral Games. After the canon restructuring, EA announced their new games would fall under the restructured canon, as of now Star Wars: Uprising and Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017) are the only ones considered canonical.

Star Wars: Battlefront (EA DICE)[edit]

After the restructuring of the Star Wars canon, the Battlefront series was rebooted by EA DICE.

  • Star Wars Battlefront released in 2015, close to the release of The Force Awakens, is not considered canonical to the franchise due to not having a single player campaign, nor any sort-off narrative, a move which was heavily criticized by fans. Enirely focused on online multiplayer, it featured movie characters (Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Boba Fett, Darth Vader and Palpatine) and planets (Tatooine, Hoth and Endor) from the original trilogy. Downloadable content later added the planets Jakku (from The Force Awakens) and Scarif (from Rogue One); [11]
  • Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) is considered part of the Star Wars canon because it includes a story mode set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, in which the player controls a female imperial officer named Iden Versio. The multiplayer mode features characters from the original, prequel, and sequel trilogies, as well as anthology films. All of its downloadable contents are expected to be free.[12]

Untitled Star Wars game by Visceral games[edit]

Visceral Games was working on one, the game is being directed and written by Amy Hennig.

On October 17, 2017, EA announced the closure of Visceral Games.[13] EA reassigned the game to its EA Worldwide Studios, led by EA Vancouver, and said they will revamp the gameplay, which had been described as a linear, story-heavy title, into "a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency".[14]

Untitled Star Wars game by Respawn Entertainment[edit]

Respawn Entertainment is working on another game, but all details about it remain secret.[15][16]

Other rumored games[edit]

On October 30, 2013, Dan Connor and Kevin Bruner from Telltale Games expressed an interest in making a Star Wars adventure game. Bruner said that "I'll also say a Telltale Star Wars game would make me VERY happy!" with Connor saying that "Coming from LucasArts we have so many people here that love Star Wars and have worked with the license so that would be a great fit and very cool."[17]

Mobile games[edit]

Star Wars: Force Arena is a 2017 player versus player real-time strategy mobile game for iOS and Android from Netmarble Games and Lucasfilm. Force Arena is set in the Rebellion era of the Star Wars storyline. Players control customized squads of characters and vehicles in a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) environment. The roster of over 80 available characters includes Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader, Palpatine, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Grand Moff Tarkin, Doctor Aphra, Ezra Bridger, and Jyn Erso.[18][19][20][21]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Paltridge, Peter. "Apple Cassette Games". Applepalooza. Platypus Comix. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "RCA Studio II game manuals - Classic Gaming General - AtariAge Forums". Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  3. ^ "Kenner Star Wars Battle Command". Retrieved March 15, 2017. 
  4. ^ Coopee, Todd. "Star Wars Electronic Battle Command Game". Retrieved March 15, 2017. 
  5. ^ "LEGO STAR WARS III: The Clone Wars". Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  6. ^ "Lego - Star Wars : Force Awakens - Reveal Trailer (Leaked)". YouTube. 2016-02-01. Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  7. ^ "June Cover Revealed – Disney Infinity 3.0". Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "Disney and Random House announce relaunch of Star Wars Adult Fiction line". April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2016. 
  9. ^ McMilian, Graeme (April 25, 2014). "Lucasfilm Unveils New Plans for Star Wars Expanded Universe". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 26, 2016. 
  10. ^ "The Legendary Star Wars Expanded Universe Turns a New Page". April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2016. 
  11. ^ McWhertor, Michael (3 March 2016). "Even John Boyega wants a single-player campaign for Star Wars Battlefront". Polygon. 
  12. ^ Bishop, Bryan (11 June 2017). "Star Wars: Battlefront II is built to please frustrated fans — but may cause its own problems". The Verge. 
  13. ^ Purchase, Robert (June 12, 2016). "In-game footage of Visceral and Amy Hennig's Star Wars shown". Eurogamer. Retrieved October 17, 2017. 
  14. ^ Wales, Matt (October 17, 2017). "EA has shut down Visceral Games". Eurogamer. Retrieved October 17, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Star Wars - Respawn Entertainment". 
  16. ^ "Respawn Won't Be Talking About New Star Wars Game 'For a While'". 16 March 2017. 
  17. ^ Dyer, Mitch (October 30, 2013). "Telltale Games Talks Star Wars, 'Dream IP', and Its Future". IGN. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  18. ^ Minotti, Mike (November 17, 2016). "Star Wars: Force Arena for mobile sure looks like a MOBA". VentureBeat. Retrieved July 26, 2017. 
  19. ^ Brooks, Dan (January 12, 2017). "Dream Teams: How Star Wars: Force Arena Puts You in Control of the Galaxy's Greatest". Retrieved July 26, 2017. 
  20. ^ Shaul, Brandy (January 12, 2017). "Netmarble Launches Star Wars: Force Arena on iOS, Android". AdWeek. Retrieved July 26, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Star Wars: Force Arena". Netmarble Games. Retrieved July 26, 2017 – via 

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