Since it first hit theatres, the Star Wars franchise has polarized audiences and developed itself one of the strongest fan bases out there today. In the three plus decades it’s been around, the franchise has only grown, gaining more and more fans as time goes by. Be it films, novels, comics or games, the franchise has set itself up within many different mediums – enough so that most fans will be willing to consume a decent amount of anything that’s thrown their way. But that doesn’t mean they have to like anything thing with Star Wars slapped on it. This is especially true in the demanding game market.
There have been plenty of Star Wars games since the 80s. We’ve seen the series explore pretty much every genre from RTS, to RPG and action adventure. While it’s true that some of the more unconventional Star Wars games have turned out better than some had imagined they would, some genres definitely work out better than others. Because of how vast the universe is, developers have had the chance to add or create a plethora of new additions to the mythos. As we look back on some of our favourites, let’s also take a look at those Star Wars games that weren’t as strong. Here are the 8 best and 7 worst Star Wars games.
15 Best: Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
This was a bit of a short game, but fun nonetheless. Jedi Academy is the first game in the Jedi Knight series that doesn’t feature Kyle Katarn as the main character. Instead players are tasked with creating their own Jedi. The game offers a good deal of customization right off the bat as species, gender and clothing choices are pretty deep. But the one drawback on this is that once chosen, even the purely aesthetic choices are pretty much set in stone. However, once you add in the ability to choose your own unique lightsaber, you’ve got an instant winner. As we previously mentioned, the story is pretty short but has a ton of side missions to keep players occupied. The lightsaber combat is a little tricky to grasp at first but is pretty fluent once you get the hand of it.
14 Worst: Star Wars: Obi-Wan
This game was actually supposed to be a spiritual successor to the Jedi Knight series, but as you can imagine, wasn’t nearly as popular or successful despite being a tie-in to the prequel franchise. The game allows the player to take control of Obi-Wan Kenobi as you go through a number of events that prefaced the Phantom Menace and take part in some of the more recognizable battles in the film. Though offering some pretty interesting lightsaber combat utilising the Xbox’s analog stick, the game looked like a rushed mess. The controls were for the most part choppy and the environments were often empty, with enemies scattered around making the whole thing feel incredibly incomplete.
13 Best: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
While Starkiller’s character was pretty much hit and miss among the fan base, The Force Unleashed was a pretty solid game that had the potential to be one of LucasArts’ cornerstone franchises. The hack and slash adventure let players fiercely cut through waves of enemies while putting an emphasis on the force and upgrading your force powers. The difference between the first few hours and the latter half of the game are incredible when you compare your powers at the beginning and the end. Full control of the force, along with slick lightsaber combat and challenging boss fights, made this game a memorable standout that still holds its own today. If only the series could’ve continued on with this momentum...
12 Worst: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
Everything that was great about the first Force Unleashed game was pretty much watered down in the second entry in the series. Building off the hype of the first game, fans were pretty excited to get their hands on the follow up that seemed like it would eclipse its predecessor with ease. The game was actually fun for the first few hours. But unlike the first Force Unleashed game, The Force Unleashed II’s novelty wore off quick and, with almost nothing new to offer, bombed hard. While the first game took the player to multiple planets, saw numerous kinds of enemies and bosses and allowed them to develop their force powers over time through an interesting narrative - The Force Unleashed II failed on all those fronts with the main gripe being a ridiculously short story that ended on a cliff hanger we’ll probably never see the end of.
11 Best: Star Wars: Empire at War
While we’ve seen numerous action, adventure and shooter games based on the Star Wars universe, the series is perhaps best suited for RTS. After all, it does mostly revolve around war and the battles that take place within it. While mostly everyone wants to take control of a Jedi and cut through opponents, wouldn’t taking control of entire armies seem more fitting? Empire at War gives players the opportunity to command either Imperial or Rebel forces, along with the various “heroes” associated with each side. Space and land battles are a highlight of the game, while planetary development and resource mining are a key component to ruling the galaxy. The best part of this game though, is that feeling you get when you line up your factions for Darth Vader’s epic landing on the battlefield.
10 Worst: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes
The Clone Wars animated series was one of the best things to happen to the franchise in a long time. It served as a kind of redemption for the prequels and added an extra layer of depth and character development that wasn’t possible in the short time frame offered by the films. That being said, not everything about the series was great – this is especially true for its tie-ins. Republic Heroes is not a very good game, which is sad seeing as it’s based on such a great series. The game was a total cash cow that marketed itself as a safe, fun option for children but offered very little in terms of gameplay.
9 Best: Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II
We’ve already seen one game in this series on our list and we’ll next look at the best the series has to offer. This time featuring series hero Kyle Katarn, Dark Forces II was the standard for Star Wars shooters for a long time. The original Dark Forces seemed more akin to Doom than what we saw from its successor. However Dark Forces II saw the series come alive in its own 3D world, feeling more and more like its own Star Wars game. The game also added in lightsabers and force powers making it more versatile than your average shooter. Shoot, slash or both – it gave players lots of different options as to how to go about clearing missions and dispersing enemies.
8 Worst: Kinect Star Wars
Anything Kinect is going to be bad, let’s just get that out of the way now. Say what you want about it, but you’d be hard pressed to find that many gamers willing to defend this failed foray into motion control technology. At first glance, Star Wars seemed like it would make for a great motion controlled game. After all, who here hasn’t dreamed of swinging a lightsaber and using the force with their own hands? But like most Kinect games, this was a failure. The game was loaded with mini-games that were supposed to show the compatibility of the Kinect and the Star Wars universe. But all that came out of it was broken, barely functional gameplay and shallow mini games that weren’t worth the focus and effort they demanded.
7 Best: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
It drew some heat for being incredibly similar to its predecessor, but when its predecessor is the one of the best RPG’s of the decade then you can cut it some slack. Really the game plays very much like the first KotOR game, that much isn’t deniable. But from a narrative standpoint the game does some interesting things. Yes, yes, there’s still the moral dilemma involved with choices that ally you to either the dark or light side of the force that much is still a prevalent factor in the game. But the narrative offers an insight to each path and the grey areas in between them. Any fan of the first game should check this one out as it plays more or less the same while offering a much stronger story as well.
6 Worst: Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing
Any video game fan from the 90s is well aware of the fascination game developers have with racing game spin offs. Mario has one, so does Sonic and Crash Bandicoot. So why wouldn’t Star Wars get one? A franchise so popular is bound to get its fair share of spin-offs, so it was an inevitable question of when rather than if. Among the Star Wars racers out there, Super Bombad Racing is by far the worst. The sloppy controls make controlling your car a pain and the deformed character designs push its status as a cheap Mario Kart rip-off even further. Ultimately the game offers nothing to the genre and is only mildly known due to its relation to the Star Wars series and the overwhelming presence of Jar Jar Binks.
5 Best: Star Wars: Battlefront II
We talked about Dark Forces II as being the gold standard for Star Wars shooters for a while and that held strong until Battlefront II came out. Unlike DICE’s underwhelming reboot, Battlefront II revolutionized Star Wars shooters and forever changed what we’d expect from the series’ foray into the genre in the future. Putting players in control of soldiers within the legendary 501st unit, Battlefront II saw players through some of the most iconic battles in the franchise. The gameplay was incredibly addictive and made the game one of the best shooters you could get your hands on at the time. One big was the ability to engage grunt soldiers with famous characters from the series such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Boba Fett and Darth Vader, among others.
4 Worst: Star Wars: Jedi Arena
Any game on the Atari 2600 isn’t going to blow you away with its graphical capabilities. But even so, Jedi Arena looks especially bad. No one would blame you if you couldn’t tell what this game was from a quick look. It’s not exactly clear unless you play it and even then it might take you a good five or ten minutes to properly grasp this absolute mess of a game. The game is a two player deal, as one player controls the blue Jedi and the other the red. The seeker ball in the middle is controlled by your opponent and your basic task is to knock away fire and simultaneously try and hit your opponent with it at the same time. It’s like a badly thought-out alternative to Pong and if that sounds in any way boring or uninspired well then, yes, yes it very much is.
3 Best: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
Though we mostly remember the series for its insane and flashy lightsaber battles, Star Wars has a fair amount of excellent space battles. One of the single greatest moments of A New Hope was the Death Star battle towards the end of the film. The tension and bleakness of the scene, coupled with the sheer joy felt by the successful execution of the mission, made for an impactful scene. So now take that and put it into a game, which gives you a great flight action game. Rogue Leader shines a light on the unsung heroes of the Star Wars universe, the Rogue Squadron pilots. Giving the player nearly every areal ship in the Rebel Alliance, Rogue Leader proved itself to be a fantastic game that set the standard for aerial fighting in Star Wars games.
2 Worst: Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi
Fighting games are a pretty saturated market. We all know the big guns in the genre, but the more casual of fans don’t really pay attention to the more mediocre titles out there. Why should we when we’ve got tons of great titles to choose from. But those in the Star Wars fandom might remember this fighting game as a complete and utter dud that isn’t worth revisiting. Masters of Teräs Käsi is one terrible fighting game. Mismatched blaster wielders are put up one on one against lightsaber wielders and, as if that wasn’t bad enough, blasters take so long to charge up that Jedi and Sith characters are at a huge advantage right off the bat. That left you with only a handful of competent characters to navigate through the choppy frame rates and sloppy controls.
1 Best: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
As far as RPGs go, this is one of the best of its time. But in terms of Star Wars games, you won’t find anything better than Knights of the Old Republic. While a lot of Star Wars game focus in on one aspect of the series, KotOR gave players a living universe to explore and allowed them to live out a genuine Star Wars experience. The game had an in-depth story that included some memorable quests and side characters while constantly challenging the player with moral dilemmas and choices that would shift their allegiance closer to the dark or light side of the force. If you wanted anything similar to a Jedi simulator, then this is it – and it is spectacular today, standing as the best Star Wars game you’ll experience.