Game developers have been making Star Wars video games since 1982. That's two years after the release of the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, where George Lucas and company proved the film franchise wasn't just a flash in the pan. Parker Brothers would follow The Empire Strikes Back with a game of the same name for the established Atari 2600 platform. It was the first licensed Star Wars video game ever released.
It wasn't the last. Since that first title, the Star Wars franchise has seen more than 100 titles. It's a large enough library that I didn't want to spend the time counting each one and figuring out which games "counted." Some have been good, but some have been really, really bad.
Regardless of quality, we're currently trapped in a system where there is only one official publisher of Star Wars games: Electronic Arts. I've argued before that Disney and Lucasfilm should spread the love around a bit and let more developers make more diverse titles with the license. This list is following up on that idea.
To keep things interesting, I'm going to pair one developer with an existing Star Wars game. So we're bringing the name forward and imagining what things would be like if a developer could do that concept today.
Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles
Originally for the PlayStation, Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles was a straight-up action game. Up to two players could choose between Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, Adi Gallia, or Plo Koon, and mindlessly slash their way through hordes of droids. Mindless combat, a bad camera, and some mystifying platforming sections make this a dire game in the Star Wars library.
So, let's take the name and setting, give it to a new developer, and let them have a bit of fun with it. PlatinumGames could make a righteous two-player action game. If we could get something with the tight gameplay and style of Metal Gear Rising, as opposed to Platinum's weaker licensed efforts like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan or The Legend of Korra, I think we'd have a winner. Plus, the name "Jedi Power Battles" just screams "awesome action combat from a Japanese developer" to me. I would also allow Omega Force to make a Musou game in this spot.
Star Wars: Racer Revenge
In the midst of a slew of Episode I-related games, there was one that focused on the film's podracing sequences. The title was 1999's Star Wars Episode I: Racer, which did well enough that the LucasArts tapped current MX vs. ATV developer Rainbow Studios to make a sequel: Star Wars: Racer Revenge.
Now I could give the title back to Rainbow Studios, as they still make games, but that's just not interesting to me. Instead, I'm picking Codemasters for this reboot. The developer and publisher has an upcoming game called Onrush that looks like an absolute blast. Onrush is an action-racing game developed by former members of MotorStorm house Evolution Studios, which was shut down by Sony in 2016. Combine the high-speed, hard-hitting action of Onrush with Star Wars' podracers and rake in the profits, Disney.
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith
By From Software
The Star Wars Jedi Knight line of games began with 1995's Star Wars: Dark Forces, starring fan-favorite protagonist Kyle Katarn. Kyle was a former Imperial officer who became a mercenary and later, a Jedi. Katarn stands out in a history of licensed Star Wars games because the character became a strong part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe before Disney wiped the slate clean. Mysteries of the Sith is an expansion to Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, with players controlling Katarn and Expanded Universe character Mara Jade. Part of the game takes place on the Sith planet of Dromund Kaas.
I'd scrap everything but Dromund Kaas itself. What we're looking at here is something like Bloodborne's more aggressive combat, backed by lightsabers and the power of the Force. More importantly, give From Software free reign to establish a winding path through Dromund Kaas. Let the developer really tackle the lore and architecture of a planet controlled by the Dark Side of the Force. From the grimy alleys of Kaas City, to the jungles and swamps surrounding the planet, and the ancient temples of the Dark Side, I think From Software could have a great time handling everything Sith.
Star Wars: Starfighter
By Project Aces
There have been a number of Star Wars games focused on dogfighting and the flight side of the franchise. The most notable is the classic Star Wars: X-Wing/TIE Fighter series of games developed by Totally Games and LucasArts. There's also the console-centric Rogue Squadron series by Factor 5, which ultimately ended in Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike for the GameCube in 2003.
The short series of Starfighter games were pretty good, but it fell short of the previously-mentioned titles. So why go with it? Because the name allows the series to decouple itself from any single era in the Star Wars canon. "Starfighter" is exceedingly generic, meaning this can take place during the Clone Wars, the Original Trilogy era, or the current era. Freedom is the reason behind the choice.
In the driver's seat for this concept would be Project Aces, the team behind Bandai Namco's Ace Combat series. There are some other excellent developers that could handle Starfighter, but I think Project Aces is one of the best in the business around today. The team has a lovely attention to detail and works hard to make each Ace Combat game feel like you're getting behind the yoke of a real fighter, while still retaining arcade-level action. Let them bring their sense of craft to the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter
By Ubisoft Toronto
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is one of the Star Wars games from the Prequel Trilogy era. It put players under the distinctive helmet of Jango Fett, tasking them with capturing or killing his targets. It was a decent game; Bounty Hunter knew what it was and though it didn't execute to the highest level, it was good for the time.
We're going to drop the Jango Fett focus here and let our chosen developer make up a new bounty hunter. I'm going to give this title to Ubisoft Toronto, the folks behind the Splinter Cell series. Splinter Cell: Blacklist was an amazing stealth game that came at the wrong time, and this proposed title would be much the same, taking our chosen bounty hunter to exotic locales across the Star Wars galaxy. This would be a more straightforward stealth game, with our bounty hunter sneaking through levels to get to their target and either extinguish or kill them, just with some Star Wars flavor.
IO Interactive was my other choice, but the style of stealth present in Hitman is completely different.
Star Wars: Jedi Arena
By Arc System Works
You knew this was coming. Star Wars: Jedi Arena was an old 2D overhead combat game for Atari 2600 that pit two players against one another. Each player had to defend themselves against the Seeker ball from A New Hope, which tried to shock them with electricity. A match was won when one side took three direct hits from the Seeker.
We're dropping that completely. Instead, let's frame this as a far-future look into the Jedi Holocron, pitting the best Jedi across any Star Wars era against one another. Arc System Works is already making every fighting game under the sun, so why not let them take their shot here? Imagine Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Mace Windu, Yoda, Rey, Kylo Ren, Asajj Ventress, General Grievous, Ahsoka Tano, The Emperor, and Revan all in the same game. The best of the best, each with their own fighting style in pitched lightsaber and Force-enabled combat.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is amazing. Arc System Works could do the same for Star Wars.
Star Wars: Uprising
By Larian Studios
Not many folks remember this game and it's probably better that way. Star Wars: Uprising was an Android and iOS title set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Uprising was an isometric action game pitting a ragtag crew of smugglers against the fallen Empire. It was a bit Diablo in presentation, but it never really took off.
I like the setting, putting the game somewhere between the Original and Modern trilogies. Let's keep the nameless smuggler idea and the basic viewpoint, but let's switch from real-time action-RPG to fully-realized RPG experience. Larian Studios is doing the Lord's work with Divinity: Original Sin and its sequel. Given this era of the Star Wars universe to play with and an out-of-the-way planet, I think Larian could craft an RPG experience that could stand up to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
Honorable Mention: Star Wars: Dancing Across The Galaxy
This isn't a title reboot, it's a concept reboot. Let's be honest, the best part about 2012's Kinect Star Wars was the Galactic Dance-Off, which put Star Wars characters into dancing situations with Star Wars-themed covers of popular music. It was so bad and weird that it looped back around to good again.
So let's go with that. Back in 2015, Atlus created the spin-off Persona 4: Dancing All Night, which was a rhythm game starring the Persona 4 characters that somewhat fit into the canon timeline of the game. Atlus went further with the title than it really had to and fans loved it. It was successful enough that Atlus is following it up with Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5: Dancing Star Night this month in Japan, both based on their respective Persona titles.
I want the same for Star Wars. Give me a full in-depth rhythm game with a story. I want some original songs in addition to covers of popular modern songs. I want a number of Star Wars characters and the ability to put them in various costumes, just like Dancing All Night. I want it all. And re-record "I'm Solo" for this game, because that song is horrible and amazing.