No Fourth/Force puns here: A quick look back at LucasArts

4 05 2013

So it’s been a month since LucasArts was shuttered by Disney, and now it’s May 4, or May the Fourth, or “May the Fourth be with you” as some oh-so-clever marketing person must’ve said at one point so I would be subjected to that pun by places like Steam, Thinkgeek, and so on and so forth but with no new or ported X-Wing game to show for it.

Speaking of X-Wing, here’s a list of my favorite games/series from LucasArts, in memory of a studio that while not always as great as it used to be, was still great.

5. Star Wars: Empire at War/Forces of Corruption (PC, 2006)

Screenshot courtesy of GameFAQs

Screenshot courtesy of GameFAQs

the Empire at War series sneaks in on here at 5 because I had a lot of fun with it and it’s in my belief the best Star Wars RTS that they came up with. Mixing management along with Space and Land combat really goes a ways towards capturing the “feel” of Star Wars, even though the difficulty levels are insanely unbalanced (in Easy the enemies barely attack and on Medium they just bulldoze you). Still though it’s a lot of fun and watching Star Destroyers explode into chunky fragments never gets old.

4.Day of the Tentacle (PC, 1993)
And they said Imitation Diamond wasn't good enough

Maniac Mansion was an all right game but incredibly obtuse at times, plus there were ways to lock you out of winning just from choosing the wrong party members. Day of the Tentacle forewent all of that (plus party member death) in favor of a time-traveling adventure of sorts where you made a hilarious mockery of the history and the future in order to save the future from an evil tentacle monster given power by sludge. And no that’s not a porno tagline. I remember my friends and I playing through this game more than once just laughing and snickering the whole way through.

3.Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series (PC, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2004)
2013-04-19_00026

2013-04-19_00002
Nowadays in the Star Wars EU there are so many Jedis that survived Order 66 and the subsequent Purge that it seems that the Empire really didn’t have their shit together when it came to wiping anything out. Not that this really counts seeing as how Kyle Katarn’s father Morgan was never a Jedi but anyway. the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series follows ex-stormtrooper and all-around badass Kyle Katarn as he does things like steal the Death Star plans(in addition to like half the galaxy doing the same thing), avenging his father, becoming a Jedi, becoming a dark Jedi, unbecoming a Jedi, then becoming a Jedi again. Also there’s some guy named Jaden Korr you play as in Jedi Academy. the chief draw of these games was getting to wield a lightsaber, deflect blaster bolts, and shove people around with the force while cutting them open. But it wasn’t always just running around with a saber, since there was also a lot of gunplay involved. While these games suffer from quickload syndrome a lot I still have a lot of fun with them.

2.X-Wing Series(PC, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1999)
X-Wing Screenshot
Now we come to the series that is unrivaled for awesome space combat, at least until the Freespace series happened. Not only did games like X-Wing and TIE Fighter let us live out fantasies of blowing up Rebel or Imperial fightercraft (and other things) but they also fleshed out more of the Star Wars universe. For Example, in TIE fighter you’re mostly fighting in a bunch of backwater areas of the galaxy and thwarting Imperial admirals trying to overthrow the Emperor. Also you’re working for Grand Admiral Thrawn who really is one of the better Imperial characters out there. X-Wing Alliance, the last game in the series, introduced things like capital ships leaving space debris and finally got us to the Battle of Endor (the previous games only touched the Yavin-through-Hoth part of the timeline). Sadly we haven’t gotten a new sim-like Star Wars game since then, which means it’s been almost 15 years since an X-Wing game, be it new or a GoG rerelease. I hope that, in spite of LucasArts being closed, Disney can do something with the license.

Starwarsrogueleader03
Honorable Mention goes here for the Rogue Squadron games on the N64 and Gamecube. Although more arcadey than the X-wing series they often felt like a sort of spiritual sibling and I had fond memories of these too.

1.Grim Fandango(PC, 1998)
Grim Fandango Screenshot
Grim Fandango, a product of the legendary Tim Schafer, gets the slot as my favorite LucasArts game of all time. Mixing Film Noir with Mexican Mythology as well as some appropriately dark humor, it really feels like a wonderful cinematic experience. The puzzles are for the most part not-bullshit, the characters all feel fleshed out (ironic for a cast that primarily has no skin), and even though it took like a year of on-and-off playing for me to finally finish it, I felt better for the experience. Also managed to convey an emotional story without being too maudlin, which is always a plus in videogames.

And that’s it. I can’t really in good conciense list the Monkey Island series having not played them all that much (though they are good games), and I was going to put up The Force Unleashed as an honorable mention because fucking up stormtroopers with the Force never gets old but to be honest TFU had a lot of issues. Also I didn’t list KOTOR but I’m not really sure why.

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