Star Wars is a multi-billion dollar franchise that has stayed consistently profitable for the past 50 years. From the movies to TV series, to books and video games, everyone at some point in their life has consumed Star Wars-related content. And most likely if the content you were consuming was video game-related, you were consuming content from Lucasarts. Known for making and publishing some of the most influential and best-selling early PC games of all time like Grim Fandango, The Secret of Monkey Island, Star Wars Episode I: Racer and so much more. Not everything made or published around the Star Wars Universe was massively successful and impacted generations. This is a list of Star Wars games that most people probably don’t know about, it is not a list of the most unsuccessful Star Wars video games.
10. Star Wars Video Game (1987) Japanese Version
Developed for the Famicom in 1987 by Namco and published by LucasArts; Star Wars Video Game was released to the public only in Japan. This side-scrolling platformer sees Luke Skywalker traveling from planet to planet to rescue imprisoned friends and defeat bosses that range from Darth Vader to… scorpions?1 Despite the liberties made upon the gameplay and story it received a somewhat positive reception2 from critics stating that the game works because it is a Star Wars game but would not work anywhere else.
9. Star Wars Arcade (1993)
The Star Wars Arcade cabinet was released in 1993 and developed by SEGA. This arcade cabinet while critically acclaimed at the time, is fairly unknown to most of the world except for hardcore Star Wars fans and Japan.3 The game is fairly simple nowadays but at the time it was one of a kind. A 3-D space shooter that is capable of having one or two players fight their way towards the Death Star in X-Wings set during the film, Return of the Jedi. One player would control the speed and direction of the X-Wing while the second player would shoot asteroids, TIE Fighters, and turrets along the Death Star.4
8. Star Wars Chess (1993)
Yes, Star Wars Chess is a real game developed in 1993 by The Software Toolworks for DOS, SEGA CD, and Windows 3. Based off of the original release of Battle Chess,5 Star Wars Chess lets you either play as the Imperial or Rebel forces in a game of chess. Characters are based on figures you would find in the movies and there are animations for when a chess piece takes another.6 Despite it being a Star Wars-branded game, the game itself received a very mixed reception among critics. Some stated that the game was better off not existing while others said it’s just a fun game to play around with. Overall criticism between both sides stated that if you were looking to play an actual chess-related game, however, this was not the game to play.
7. Star Wars Yoda Stories (1997)
In the 1990’s LucasArts was trying to expand into the Windows PC marketplace by making small 1-2 hour adventure games. Star Wars Yoda Stories was released in 1997 on Windows and the Gameboy Color to almost no positive critical reception. One critic went as far as to say that the release of this game was a blemish upon the Star Wars franchise and should have never been made.7 And in all honesty it’s not hard to see why it gained such notoriety. The game is centered around Luke Skywalker flying to Dagobah on his X-Wing and completing tasks given by Yoda in a randomly generated environment. There is no plot and no goal, you’re just completing the same tasks over and over again.8
6. Star Wars Behind the Magic (1998)
In 1998 LucasArts released a “game” called Star Wars Behind the Magic as an interactive CD-ROM. It included several mini-games but was mainly a project for fans who loved Star Wars as well as an advertisement/promotion for the upcoming Star Wars movie, The Phantom Menace. Included in the discs were behind-the-scenes footage of the first movies, an encyclopedia on characters and species in the Star Wars universe and of course, a sneak peek at the new movie that was being made. The reception for the game was very positive and a lot of the information that people know and love about the Star Wars universe today is from this release.9
5. Star Wars: Masters of Terӓs Kӓsi (1997)
An interesting genre for a Star Wars game would be the fighting genre and LucasArts in 1997 did exactly that with their release of Star Wars: Masters of Terӓs Kӓsi on the Playstation. Despite the genre being a nice fit for the franchise, LucasArts could not make it happen within this game. Taking place between episodes 4 and 5 of the movies, Masters of Terӓs Kӓsi features Tekken style of fighting between your favorite Star Wars characters like Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Hoar(A Tusken Raider), and Thok(A Gamorrean Guard). Now there are other characters but one of the main criticisms of the game was the lack of movie characters to play as well as the fact that lightsaber-wielding characters were vastly more powerful than any other character.10
4. Star Wars: Demolition (2000)
In 1999 LucasArts released a game called Star Wars Episode I: Racer which had a very positive reception for its unique implementation of the racing genre in the Star Wars universe. One year later LucasArts along with Luxoflux released Star Wars: Demolition on the Playstation and Dreamcast. Due to the success of the previous racing game, fans and critics were disappointed with this new entry which was essentially a bad take upon Mario Kart. The game’s plot is centered around the galactic empire banning podracing across the galaxy. In response, Jabba the Hutt decides to make a new form of racing which is more dangerous so it forces the galactic empire to reconsider.11 12
3. Star Wars: Obi-Wan (2001)
One of the first games to be exclusively launched on the original Xbox was Star Wars: Obi-Wan. It received mainly negative critic reviews and fan reviews leaving this game in a constant downward drop. LucasArts was originally developing this game for a PC release but allegedly it was decided to be put onto Xbox because of the lack of performance on PC. Hoping for a turnout from the exclusive deal, LucasArts also planned to release the game on the Nintendo Gamecube and Gameboy Advance but because of such bad reception, decided to scrap it altogether.13 The game’s story features a young Obi-Wan Kenobi as a Jedi apprentice who investigates crime rings on several plants before the events of the Trade Federation Invasion of Naboo. The gameplay includes fighting droids and several other enemies with your lightsaber and force powers while you travel through extensive levels. There is also a multiplayer arena where you can go one on one with other characters in the game.
2. Star Wars: Lethal Alliance (2006)
Here we get into the first mobile Star Wars game to be released on the PSP and Nintendo DS. Developed by Ubisoft and published by LucasArts, Star Wars: Lethal Alliance is an action-adventure game set between episode 3 and episode 4 of the movies. Princess Leia, who is now grown up, sends the main characters, Rianna and Zeeo, on dangerous missions across the galaxy. One of the main features of Lethal Alliance was that it does not rely heavily on Lightsabers for combat, instead, it focuses on using guns to create a fun shooter.14 Despite this, however, reception for this game was mostly mixed, some saying that it was a fresh take on a shooter combined with Star Wars. Others said that the game had a poor level design, poor graphics, and the bad controls made it unplayable in certain situations.15
1. Star Wars Battlefront: Mobile Squadrons (2009)
Finally, the last one on this list is part of the battlefront series of Star Wars video games and it was the very last one to be released until EA’s Star Wars Battlefront games were released in 2015 and 2017. What made this game so unpopular was the fact that it was released on cell phones back in 2009, not on the PSP or the Nintendo DS, but on the cellphone. Back in those days, cell phones weren’t exactly known for being devices that you could play full video games on like you can now. Developed by THQ Wireless, Mobile Squadrons was supposed to be a recreation of the classic Star Wars: Battlefront game made in 2004 by Pandemic. Upon release of the game, it was very similar with a somewhat positive reception, but almost nothing about the game anymore can really be found. The reason is that for the most part, nobody played the game because they hadn’t heard about it or because people didn’t have the technology to play it. Star Wars Battlefront: Mobile Squadrons was definitely a game ahead of its time and would have probably been more well-received if released just a few years later or on a portable console.16 17
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