The Complete History Of Star Wars PC Games


In 1977 the world saw the release of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and the Star Wars franchise was born. In the decades after its release, Star Wars has grown to epic proportions and is among the most popular series in the world. In addition to the main six movies which have already been released, there have also been countless fan-created videos, a few TV shows, additional movies not in the main story line, numerous books and some amazing video games. With the approach of the seventh installment in the primary movie series, we're taking a look back at the dozens of Star Wars PC games released over the last 30 years.

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1988 - Star Wars

In 1983 the first Star Wars game, simply titled "Star Wars", was released into arcades. The game used simple vector graphics to simulate the experience of flying an X-Wing against Imperial TIE Fighters during the Battle of Yavin 4. After defeating the TIE Fighters, players then go up against the Death Star, flying through the trench before making the fatal shot to destroy the Death Star.

The arcade game was later released for DOS, the Atari 5200 and several other systems. These ports were similar to the arcade version in their game play experience, but with reduced graphics.

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1993 - X-Wing

X-Wing was released for DOS and Macintosh systems in 1993, and is considered a classic space simulator. In this game you pilot an X-Wing, fight enemy TIE Fighters (Twin Ion Engine) and at times jump into hyperspace.

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1993 - Star Wars: Rebel Assault

Star Wars: Rebel Assault is similar to X-Wing in that most of the game is spent piloting an X-Wing, but unlike X-Wing, this game is a rail shooter, so you have less control over your ship and instead just focus on shooting enemies. The game also has more diverse levels. Sometimes you will be flying over a planet, while other times you are fighting in space. The backgrounds of Rebel Assault were pre-rendered giving the illusion that the game engine was more powerful.

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1994 - Star Wars: TIE Fighter

A sequel to the X-Wing game was released in 1994, but this time instead of flying an X-Wing, you are shooting them! This was the first game to let you play as the Empire instead of the Rebellion. It also featured updated graphics compared to X-Wing.

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1995 - Star Wars: Dark Forces

Star Wars: Dark Forces is one of the most prominent Star Wars games ever created. It marked the franchise's entry into the first-person shooter category, and it also had a unique story, rather than following the canonical storyline from the movies. The game focuses on Kyle Katarn, a former Imperial soldier turned mercenary now working for the Rebel Alliance.

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1995 - Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire

Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire built upon the success of its predecessor by adding several new types of ships to pilot. The game also diverges more from the original Star Wars movie trilogy by incorporating a unique storyline and adding live action video footage.

1996 - Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire

Shadows of the Empire puts you in control of Dash Rendar, a freelance smuggler hired by the Luke Skywalker and the rebellion to rescue Princess Leia and complete other key objectives. During most of the game, Dash fights stormtroopers on the ground with his trusty blaster pistol. Dash is also equipped with a jetpack, allowing him to skip past some obstacles and out maneuver enemies. At times, Dash also uses vehicles such swoop bikes and snowspeeders in his efforts against Imperial forces.

1997 - Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter

After Star Wars: TIE Fighter, the next game released into the X-Wing series was titled Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. Unlike previous entries, this game focused on multiplayer instead of a single-player storyline. Up to eight players could divide up between the Empire and the Rebellion to battle against each other in space combat.

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1997 - Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II

1997's Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II continues the story of Kyle Katarn as he fights against Imperial troops after the defeat of Darth Vader and the Emperor by Luke Skywalker. The game benefited from faster computer hardware and was able to increase the graphics quality quite a bit over its predecessor. Later in the game Kyle Katarn also gets a lightsaber and becomes a Jedi. Here, the game introduced another innovation to the series, the use of live action scenes to advance the story.

Although the series was originally called Dark Forces, this would be the last game under the Dark Forces name, and the games would be rebranded as the Jedi Knight series.

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1997 - Star Wars: Yoda Stories

Star Wars: Yoda Stories is another unique entry in the Star Wars franchise. In the game you play as Luke Skywalker and solve puzzles to complete missions given to you by Yoda while training to become a Jedi.

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Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.
  • adamovera
    Archived comments are found here:
  • jackwill
    Great stuff, will be sharing :)
  • AgentLozen
    The entry for KOTOR 2 is screwed up. You should double check that.

    I really enjoyed the Dark Forces and Jedi Knight games. I tried to replay through Jedi Knight 2 a year or two ago and I got instant motion sickness. I'm not as young as I used to be.
  • ralphfaith
    Ah, throwback. Started Star Wars with Star Wars Galaxies back in 2003.
  • hdmark
    what about star wars : pit droids???
  • Slumy__57
    Ahh, a nice walk down memory lane for me, I've played most of these at some point in time, starting with my all time favorite, Dark Forces II.
  • Mousemonkey
    The game uses a wide range of weapons ranging from plasters and grenades to a lightsaber and force powers.

    Really? I don't recall giving first, second or third aid to any of the foes when I played it! :lol:
  • Mousemonkey
    And page 27 is also a little strange, the text and picture do not match the title.
  • WildCard999
    Good article for May the 4th. I would love to see a remake or sequel to Star Wars: Jedi Academy.
  • MannyBones
    You have the Dark Forces I and II info off. The lightsaber/Jedi stuff along with the live action cutscenes was not introduced until Dark Forces II. The original was strictly 2d animated cutscenes and there was no Jedi/Force stuff.