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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Top 10 Most Memorable Star Wars games (work in progress)

Well, the new Star Wars movie, Force Awakens is supposed to come out in a less a month away from now (sometime in December) and for this post I will share some of the top 10 most memorable Star Wars themed video games I have played.  Note: I haven't played the Xbox One Star Wars Battlefront game yet (planning to buy it sometime when I get the chance though).

*warning: this blog post contains spoilers as it does assume you have played through the games.  If you rather play through the games instead, you can always buy them as well the platforms they play on on Amazon.  As for Star Wars arcade games (like Star Wars Trillogy arcade), I am sure you can find them at various arcades in America or by used machines either on Amazon or ebay)*

Game 1 - X Wing PC

This game was ahead of its time (especially for one that mainly used floppy disks instead of CD Roms).  This game is best played if you have a joystick as well as a good soundboard for the computer.  In this combat flight simulator game, you assume control of an X-wing, though sometimes you will be flying a Y wing or an A Wing too and do Tour of Duty missions for the Rebellion's campaign against the empire.  More casual players can do training missions and just for fun missions too.  Game does have cheats that you can enable from the menu (such as invincibility as well as unlimited ammo), but you have to play the game without cheats to advance in the tour of duty of missions.  Players who make it to the end of the game are treated to an assault on the first death star (including piloting down the infamous trench much like Luke did in A New Hope).  By the way, I remember you needed a code in the game to play it (was printed in the manual).  Lose the manual, and the game basically becomes unplayable unless if you remember some of the codes.  Similar games: Tie Fighter and Xwing vs Tiefighter.

Game 2- Star Wars Rebel Assault (Sega CD)
This was fun game for the Sega CD, though there is also a version for the PC.  You do various missions and levels.  I remember this game for the Sega CD, though there is also a version for the PC.  You play as a young rebel pilot and solider doing missions for the Rebellion against the empire.  It has been a long time since I have played this game yet, but it was definitely a fun Star Wars gaming experience.  The final mission has you reliving the battle of Yavin, where the rebels go up against the infamous Death Star Trench.
Game 3 - Dark Forces Jedi Knight as well as Mysteries of the Sith

Ah, this was a fun game.  Never played through the first Dark Forces game, but I have played through its' sequel Jedi Knight.  You assume the role of Kyle Katarn, the mercenary who stole the Death Star plans in the first game in his latest adventure to stop the evil dark Jedi, Jerec, who wants gain ultimate power and become the new emperor of the empire.  In this game, Kyle gains jedi powers and can either become a light jedi or dark jedi depending on how players play through the game and choice players make (killing bystanders can cause you to turn dark for example).  Never played through the game's extension pack (Mysteries of the Sith) but it goes on record of being the first onscreen appearance for Mara Jade and several other Starwars Legends (formerly expanded universe) characters and creatures (for example, it is one of the few Star Wars games to feature Noghris, which are grey skinned aliens that served as assasins for Darth Vader, though eventually became alligned to the Rebels thanks to efforts by Princess Leia in the Thrawn Trillogy).  Food for thought: with Force Awakens coming out later this month, will Mara Jade make a debut appearance in the new movie?  In the Legends universe, she was a lady who was originally working for the Empire and was a close associate for Palpatine, and even develops a hatred for Luke in the aftermath of Retun of the Jedi, but eventually changes her ways and even marries Luke.  Speculatively speaking I want to think she will in the new movie, but since Disney is taking the franchise in a different direction and declaring the books no longer to be cannon, it is not clear if she will be in the new movies or not.  Considering that she hasn't appeared in any of the original trillogy movies, prequels, clone wars, or Star Wars Rebels cartoons, it is possible she doesn't exist as far as the cinematic Star Wars Universe is concerned (you would think she would have been introduced by now if she does exist in the mainline storyline.  Only time will tell whether if any elements of the Legends universe crosses over into the cinematic universe, so it will be interesting to see how the new movies play out in relations to the Expanded Universe.

Game 4 - Star Wars Trillogy Arcade
This is not to be confused with Star Wars arcade for the Sega 3DX.  This was a game in the arcades where you can play through the Star Wars saga on various missions and events throughout the series.  Most people will probably not make it till the end unless if they have plenty of extra loose change to spend on continues as they play through the games. 

Game 5- Lego Star Wars (Playstation 2 and Xbox)
These were some fun games featuring Lego's version of the Star Wars universe.  There 3 different versions of the game (prequel era, original trillogy era, and complete saga).  Where you can play through various events and levels from the different star wars movies.  Plenty of twists too, such as being able to revisit levels as different characters (for example, playing as Darth Maul on Naboo, Darth Sidious, droids, soldiers, etc).  There are even several boss battles throughout both games.  By the way, although I never did it, hard core gamers in the Original Trillogy version of Lego Star Wars could even access Lego City in the game too by finding all of the hidden items in the game.

Game 6 - Star Wars Shadows of the Empire (Nintendo 64)
This was one of the few Star Wars games to be based on the Expanded Universe novels (not sure if any other Expanded Star Wars novels were converted to video games).  You assume the role of mercenary, Dash Rendar as he does missions for the Rebel alliance as well as serving as Luke's body guard who not only becomes a fugitive from the Empire (Darth Sidious wants him dead while the Anakin Skywalker in Darth Vader wants to convert Luke into the Dark side, despite the fact that there can only be 2 siths at a time) in the aftermath of Empire Strikes back, but also becomes a target for assasination attempts by the Blue Suns criminal organization who want him dead.  The game is fitting for the Nintendo 64 being in a huge 3D style environment.  Noteworthy levels includes: Battle of Hoth, Escaping the Rebel base on Hoth (there is even a cheat that lets you control one of the several wampas lurking in the base), boss fight with Boba Fett, reliving the mission where you have to help the Bothans (not seen in the game) steal the plans for the second Death Star, battling a giant diagona, as well as playing through the game's climatic final missions and levels.  Food for thought: considering that Disney is planning to make several stand alone Star Wars movies, I think a movie adaption of Shadows of the Empire would be cool, especially considering that it helps bridge the gap between Empire Strikes back and Return of the Jedi (much like the clone wars saga does between Attack of the Clones and Mysteries of the Sith).  Whether a movie adaption of Shadows of the Empire is possible, I have no idea (though probably unlikely unless someone wants make that movie), but it would make an interesting installment to watch.  

Game 7 - Star Wars Battlefront 1 and 2 (Xbox)
Long before there was the new Star Wars Battlefront Reboot for the Xbox One and PS4, there were older versions of the games for the original Xbox.  Much like the reboot, you revisit battles and events from both the Prequels and the Original trillogy (such as the battle of Endor, Geonosis, clone wars battles, battle of Kashyyyk, Hoth, and even the battle of Coruscant from Revenge of the Sith).  Battlefront 2 focuses more on the events of the clone wars and Revenge of the sith (including the infamous order 66) and even lets you do space battles too, where you can either fly as fighter pilot, help defend your cruiser (manning the guns) or even working to sabotage the enemy ship.  

Game 8 - Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2

I am going to list these 2 games together because they are very similar to each other.  The same people (Bioware) who made the Mass Effect Series also teamed up with Lucasarts to make Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic.  These games are set about 4000 years before Revenge of the Sith, yet ironically still very futuristic worlds (in real life Earth was a completly different world 4000 years ago, with modern style technology and transportaion either being non existant or primative at best and you would have been living in the ancient world).  In Knights of the Old Republic 1, you assume the role of the former Darth Revan (this doesn't get revealed till later in the game), who was stripped of his force powers after being captured by the Jedis at the time and even had his memory erased too.  This game is unique as not only is the game not confined to the movies, but it has a huge open world environment and plenty of cutscenes and dialogue too (it is almost like a movie in itself).  In these games there is a huge choose your own adventure style element.  Some things you can do in the original game includes:
- saving your allies and friends
- being a "dick" to people (choosing mean dialogue options)
- Falling in love with a female jedi named Bastilla
- Lying to the jedi counsil (interestingly, they do buy your lies)
- Turning to the dark side and betraying allies
- Being a light jedi and saving the galaxy
- Becoming a bounty hunter and collecting on bounties
- engaging in gladiator style duels (including one where you can fight to the death).
There are plenty of interesting NPC characters too, including an ancestor of Yoda (he looks like yoda and even has his own jedi counsil, but is not the same character), a protocol droid known as HK 47 who is also an assasination droid and is great for characters who want to create dark jedis and loves to talk smack about other characters and even has the tag line of: "meat bags" and many others.

Knights of the Old Republic 2 was the official sequel to the first game and you play as this "exile" character who was cut off from the force by the jedi (apparently the jedi counsel can do that as far as the game is concerned) and introduces a cunning sith lord known as Kreia (who also functions as mentor for the Exile) who apparently wants to get rid of the force all together and take over the galaxy).  In that version of the game, your force alignment is determined based on your actions and you beome either a light or dark jedi around the mid point of the game (the game changes based on your alignment) and you can even take sides in ongoing struggles various worlds are going through.  For example, I remember a world lead by a queen (similar to Naboo) with an evil dictator that wants to launch a coup de tat and take over the planet and you can either side with the queen or the miltary coup.  Also, much like in Revenge of the Sith, there are several sith present and in power and are hunting down the Exile as well as other light jedi, making things interesting for the player as the game progresses.  Besides the Knights of the Republic game for the PC, Knights of the Old Republic 2 is currently the last of its kind for the consoles, though it would be nice to see a remake or sequel for Xbox one someday, much like what they are doing for Star Wars Battlefront.   These 2 games are definitely classics in my opinion and you were definitely missing out if you didn't play through them  What other Star Wars game takes place 4000 years prior to Revenge of the Sith and lets you make your own choices during the play through, and even plays like its own movie?
Game 9 - Star Wars the Force Unleashed
This game is set sometime between Episodes 3 and 4 and is one of the several stories in the Star Wars saga that aims to help bridge the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (considering that the movies are set almost 20 years a part) along with Star Wars Rebels and the upcoming Star Wars Rogue one movie (the one that is about the operation where rebel spies steal the Death Star Plans prior to A New Hope).  In this game, the Empire has established its grip across the galaxy and Darth Vader continues on his quest to kill off the jedi knights who survived the infamous Order 66 and headed Obi Wan's warning to stay away from Coruscant.  In the game, Vader recruits protaganist, Galen Malek (aka Starkiller) to help hunt down the Jedi Knights while secretly wanting to use Starkiller to help kill the Emperor (probably in part due to Padme dying at the end of Revenge of the Sith which Anakin did not take kindly to when he learned about her fate) and you do go on various missions where you go after some of the jedi (such as Rahm Kota and even Shaak Ti).  Eventually Vader betrays Stark killer and Star Killer is forced to join forces with the rebels (lead by Mon Mothma, Baal Organa, Princess Leia, Garm Bel iblis, and others) in their struggle against the empire  This game is definitely a dark installment in the series, but was pretty fun.  You wield a lightsaber and gain force powers (I like how he can use force lightning on enemies, gain special shields to deflect blasters, and even ligth saber throw).  He can also manipulates objects and hurl them at enemies too (such as hurling explosives at storm troopers or chucking thermal detonators back at jawas who try to kill Starkiller).  Lots of cut scenes worth watching too.  This game seems to mark the first onscreen appearance for Garm Bel Iblis (one of the well known rebel leaders in the Expanded Star Wars universe) and possibly one of the last appearances for Bail Organa (who presumably died when Alderaan was destroyed by the Death Star in episode 4).  At the end of the game, Starkiller can choose to be a "light jedi" and save the rebels who were about to be executed by Palpatine or turn "dark", defeat Vader and side with Palpatine (though he also tries to betray Palpatine too which ends up backfiring on Malek).  There are several DLCs you can download too, which pretty much assumes that Malke turns to the dark side at the end of the main storyline and has several non cannon missions, such as hunting down Obi Wann Kenobi on Tatooine and assasinating Luke on Hoth along with others.

Game 10 - Force Unleashed 2, particularly the Battle of Endor DLC

Though not quite as good as the first Force Unleashed game, Force Unleashed 2 is the official sequel to the first Force Unleashed game, and you basically assume the role of a cloned version of Galen Malek (the original Malek is presumably dead in the aftermath of the first game after sacrificing himself to save the rebel leaders).  In the game, Malek escapes Kamino (while being pursued by Vader and his cronies) and ultimately sets out on a mission to save is former love from the first game (apparently clones maintain memories and feelings that the host body had) and even sides with the rebels in taking on the empire.  The game does seem like it could have had been longer, though it does seem to have some epic boss battles too (my favorites were the ones where you fight a giant rancor as well as the epic duel with Darth Vader).  I also got to play through the Battle of Endor DLC pack where you assume the role of dark side Malek in his missions to take out the rebels while also battling ewoks, rebel soliders, and even storm troopers in his mission to take out the rebel leaders, Han Solo and Princess Leia.  The Battle of Endor mission was actually quite amusing, especially if you have the Jedi mind trick ability (which basically causes enemies to turn on each other) which proves quite handy throughout the level  Obviously, Force Unleashed 2's version of Return of the Jedi is not cannon, but was pretty fun and amusing to play through.  You even fight a "Jedi Master" version of Princess Leia at the end of the mission too.  In the movie version, obviously Leia had only discovered her powers (much like how Luke was in Episode 4) and was more of a learner.  Interestingly Luke never makes an appearance in the DLC version of Return of the Jedi and it is Darth Vader that gets struck by Palpatine's force lightning attack (Emperor Palpatine seemed to know about Vader's schemes to overthrow him and did obviously not take kindly to that).  There were several other DLCs, but I didn't play through them

Honorable mentions
- Star Wars Battlefront Xbox One (can't say I have played through the game yet though)
- Dark forces (played through part of the game, but not all of it)
- Jedi Knight Jedi Academy (played through part of the pc version of the game)
- Star Wars Rebellion

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Top 12 Video game and movie veteran characters (work in progress)

As you probably know, today is Veterans Day and I thought that I would do a Veterans Day themed Post.  In this post, I will pay some tribute to some well known "veterans" in the video game and movie universe.

1. Super Mario and Luigi - going on countless adventures to save the princess from an evil dragon named Bowser, bent on world domination

2. C 3PO and R2D2 as well as the Rebels in the Star Wars Trillogy -

3. Mega Man

4. Mega Man X and Zero

5. Commander Shepard - Mass Effect Series

6. Call of Duty soliders

7.  Master Chief - Halo Series

8. The Power Rangers

9.  The Avengers and Justice League

10. Sonic the Hedgehog

11. The Belmont Clan - Castlevania series

12. Bill and Lance in the Contra Series

Honorable Mentions:
- Donkey Kong
- John Marston - Red Dead Redemption
- Star Fox