Here at StarWars.com, we love video games. And we especially love Star Wars video games, which have a legacy almost as long and great as the movies themselves. With the next major Star Wars game quickly approaching — Star Wars Battlefront II lands November 17, and anticipation grows with each new trailer — we’re celebrating #VideoGamesDay (yep, that’s a thing) by looking back. Here are our favorite moments from our favorite games that have made us feel part of a galaxy far, far away.
Storming Scarif in Star Wars Battlefront (Multi-platform, 2015)
Star Wars Battlefront may be the first game in a galaxy far, far away to make you feel like you’re actually on the front lines of the Galactic Civil War. The anticipated Scarif expansion, which put players in the middle of one of the most harrowing battles the rebels ever found themselves in, came out shortly before Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hit theaters. After playing through it several times, I was floored when I finally saw it on the big screen: “I’ve been there!” I whispered. “I fought in that battle!” I still get that feeling every time I watch those battered soldiers fighting valiantly to save the Rebellion on the shores of Scarif. And I’ll always be certain that I’m somewhere on that beachfront, all thanks to Star Wars Battlefront. — Kelly Knox
Sinking the final shot in the Star Wars arcade game (Arcades, 1983)
The classic 1983 Star Wars arcade game from Atari was about the coolest thing ever. My favorite moment was THE moment: hit that small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port, and celebrate another rebel victory. The digitized voice of Ben Kenobi would utter “Let go” right before it was time to deliver the money shot, and blow up the Death Star.
When I would get to this part, I had two choices to make. Should I pull a Luke Skywalker and close my eyes, tap the trigger once to fire a single shot, and watch the ultimate power in the universe explode (after all, that’s what Obi-Wan said to do)? Or should I reject my burgeoning Jedi training and squeeze the triggers with both thumbs and rapid fire like there’s no tomorrow? The music would crescendo and time would seem to speed up as the target approached. However, I always chickened out, kept my eyes wide open, and scattered the X-wing’s lasers all over the place. The Force may not have been strong with me, but it was at that moment. — Dan Zehr
Meeting the Jawenko in Super Star Wars (Super Nintendo, 1992)
There has never been a Star Wars game more difficult or perfect than Super Star Wars. Released originally in 1992 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, this 16-bit version of a galaxy far, far away was, to that point, the most advanced and immersive way to get into the digital space of Star Wars. I was 12 when it came out and it absolutely blew my mind. And since the game is impossibly difficult, it provided hundreds of hours of entertainment over the next few summer breaks. The entire game is difficult, but there is nothing more wonderful and frustrating than the Jawenko. This was the giant lava monster the Jawas kept in the basement of their sandcrawler. In order to beat the mighty Jawenko, you had to get through every level to that point and defeat him without losing a single life. Otherwise, your blaster wouldn’t be powerful enough to destroy him. Even today, when I go back and revisit the game after all these years, I just reset every time I die between the first level and the Jawenko. He’s just so difficult. But when you destroy him? There is no more satisfying feeling in all of Star Wars video games. — Bryan Young
Experiencing the nightmare fuel of IG-88 in Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (Nintendo 64, 1996)
Shadows of the Empire is my favorite Star Wars game of all time. It provided hours of action that put you right in the middle of the original trilogy, and in a sense, it was my earliest introduction to the Expanded Universe, now known as Legends. This included meeting IG-88, who appears for mere seconds in Empire Strikes Back as a gangly droid assassin that looks — well — a little less than threatening at first.
That changes quite a bit in Shadows of the Empire.
Cold, wordless, and calculated, IG-88 was the scariest video game villain I had ever played against at the ripe young age of eight. After surviving the HoverTrain on Ord Mantell, IG-88 looks to eliminate you and catch up with Boba Fett to take Han Solo as his own bounty. But he’s just a slow droid. Should be easy, right? Wrong.
The junkyard is conveniently dim in a way that makes it easy for IG-88 to follow you and take you by surprise. What makes it three thousand times worse is the gurgling, metallic sound that the bounty hunter emits. Plus, if IG-88 was behind you — and he could be, at any second, because he could move without even being seen most of the time — you were basically toast, and you wouldn’t know until you heard his terrifying gurgle-buzz. In the end, I had to finish this level in daylight. But I loved it. — Catrina Dennis
Joining Jodo in Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi (Sony PlayStation, 1997)
Masters of Teräs Käsi was my jam in the late 1990s, on my housemate’s Playstation. It was a 3D fighting game where you could play different Star Wars characters in one-on-one combats from Hoth to the rancor pit. I learned to master all of the playable characters and their combos, from Han Solo’s remote toss to Thok the Gamorrean’s big flaming butt bounce. There were several unlockable characters, including a stormtrooper and Mara Jade, but the hardest one to unlock was Jodo Kast — you had to beat 10 opponents in survival mode, which meant basically that you had one life bar to get through 10 fights of increasing difficulty in a row. Sometimes it was easier to simply trick the AI opponent to step or fall out of the ring (a ring-out counted as a win) rather than beat them until their life bar ran out. Using the forced ring-out approach, I could usually plow through the first four or five relatively unscathed, but surviving to reach number 10 was sometimes pretty random. But eventually the Force was with me, and Jodo Kast, the Boba Fett wannabe in Mando armor, was mine to play! I still remember his nasally voice. Also super fun in Masters of Teräs Käsi was to fight using super-deformed characters (giant heads and hands with tiny bodies) by holding down certain buttons as the duel started. I probably can still pull off several of the characters’ charged attack moves today even though I haven’t played in years. — James Floyd
Defending Hoth in Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes (Mobile, 2015)
One minute I was mindlessly scrolling through social media and then — boom! Suddenly, I find myself in the icy wasteland of Hoth, a lone Jedi defending Echo Base. With my lightsaber blade glowing, the sting of snowflakes pelting my face, and two snowtroopers aiming their blasters my way, this would be a day long remembered. As someone who didn’t grow up a gamer, this was an instant favorite gaming moment and bonafide Star Wars memory.
While it has a massive audience of core gamers thanks to its in-depth strategic elements and gameplay, Galaxy of Heroes is a welcome entry point into the world of Star Wars video games — like walking into a cantina and spotting some familiar and friendly faces over by the bar. — Kristin Baver
Beating your own records in Star Wars: Episode I Racer (Nintendo 64 and arcade, 1999)
Throw yourself back to 1999 and the release of The Phantom Menace. We were finally diving back into the galaxy far, far away, and one of the best ways to explore was via my favorite game, Star Wars: Episode I Racer.
Racer gave you the chance to hurl yourself around 25 circuits on 23 worlds spread across the galaxy. That race could be as young Anakin Skywalker or seven other podracers. John Williams music was the real thing and not a midi version, the engines were roaring, and while the graphics may seem antiquated by today’s standards, it was a rip-roaring, kinetic run through such circuits as the Boonta Eve Classic, Mon Gazza Speedway, and the Spice Mine Run on worlds ranging from Tatooine and Ando Prime to Malastare and Oovo IV.
Available on home systems and in arcades, all versions were a mega blast through the most action-packed scene of the film and arguably the most dizzying chase scene of the saga so far. As someone who was beyond keen to soak up as much of the atmosphere The Phantom Menace had to offer, this was pure magic.
My favorite moment was always the last blast race to the finish. I had the maps down in my head, especially the Boonta, so I was time trialing against myself. Shaving milliseconds off the lap times — that was my wizard moment. — Mark Newbold
Taking down TIEs in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Multi-platform, 2008)
When you start pulling TIE fighters from the sky and blasting every enemy in your path like they’re piñatas in a tornado, you can’t help but have fun. The Force Unleashed treats the Force less like a mystical, elemental power and more like a superpower, making for the ultimate fan-fic gameplay. And it only gets wackier as you go through the game and level up, collecting powers like Force Lightning, Force Repulse, and other Force-fueled abilities. I’ll never forget yanking a TIE fighter from the sky with my bare hands because nothing in the world is cooler than that. Nothing. — Michael Moreci
Firing up Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (Nintendo GameCube, 2001)
When I first came across images from this game in Nintendo Power, I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing. I’m not joking. Rogue Leader looked Star Wars-real in a way I’d never seen before, a definite leap from the previous generation of graphic capabilities. (Remember, this was 2001. I’d only bought my first cell phone a month before this game’s release, to offer up some perspective of where we were at.) I pored over that preview feature, just staring at those screenshots time and time again.
When it was released, I wasn’t disappointed. Quite the contrary.
Rogue Leader is a masterwork of a game, Star Wars or not. I’ve written about it on StarWars.com before, but from pacing to controls to characters (Luke and Wedge, natch) to graphics, it was polished and perfect. Flight sims never did it for me, so I never connected with games like X-Wing and TIE Fighter — this was the one that captured the feel and energy of Star Wars flight as far as I was concerned. And it looked amazing to boot.
It might be obvious, but my favorite moment is just starting Rogue Leader for the first time, being thrown into the attack on the first Death Star, and marveling at how beautiful it all was. A bold and, for the player, thrilling choice by the game developers that really just blew me away. The game looked every bit as good as those screenshots promised, but with John Williams’ music, voice acting, and fast-and-clear movement and speed, it was unlike any Star Wars game I’d played. I really felt like I was in Star Wars for the first time, and that feeling will always remind me of the magic of games. — Dan Brooks
Fulfilling Imperial dreams in Star Wars: Rebellion (PC, 1998)
From the moment I first saw Star Wars, I was in love…with the Empire. Its style. Its authority. Its feeling of unlimited power. And while there were Star Wars video games that allowed me to fly a superior TIE against a lowly X-wing, none of them quite captured that same feeling for me.
Until Rebellion, which allowed me to build massive fleets and deploy them against the insignificant Rebel Alliance…including a fully armed and operational Death Star. Moving my ultimate weapon to Dantooine (yes, the rebel base really was on Dantooine that day) and selecting “Destroy System” was a life-long dream for this Imperial.
At last, the power of the Empire was mine. At last, I was able to crush the Rebellion with one swift (key)stroke. Nearly 20 years later, the thrill of that moment hasn’t gone away (and I still play Rebellion). — Justin Bolger
Learning you can be a Jedi in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003).
BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic was the best birthday gift I ever received. I knew this the moment — shortly after leaving the planet Taris — I reached the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine and learned that my character could be a Jedi, too. It should’ve been obvious, in retrospect, but after so many hours of grinding my way through the dungeons on the not-quite-Coruscant world of Taris, I’d given up hope of building a lightsaber and learning the ways of the Force. It would’ve been enough simply to experience a rich Star Wars story within a game. But learning of my connection to the Force and to the powerful Jedi Bastila, and suddenly building my own lightsaber with a crystal of my choosing — I’m still blown away by Revan’s journey back to the light. It’s 2017, and I’m playing it right now. There’s a reason this game tops all the lists: it’s a bona-fide classic. — Alex Kane
What’s your favorite Star Wars video game moment? Let us know in the comments below!
Star Wars Battlefront II arrives November 17.
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