One of the reasons “Star Wars” blew audiences’ minds was that it put you into the middle of a space adventure like no movie ever had before. And the films became popular at the same time as video games — so you only had to pick up a controller to hop in the cockpit of an X-Wing or wield a lightsaber for yourself.
This week marks theof the day Star Wars first arrived in theaters. Relive the memories of those early years or take a glimpse into video game history with this video from our button-bashing buddies at GameSpot, tracing the beginnings of Star Wars video games.
The original film debuted in May 1977, less than four months ahead of the Atari 2600, which would become the first games console in many living rooms. Since then, the story of Star Wars is intertwined with the rise of video games.
The 2600 was the home of the first official Star Wars game, in 1982, based on “The Empire Strikes Back”. In the early years, you could play out scenes from the films themselves, taking on the Empire on the planet Hoth and the Death Star in various tie-in games. As graphics improved from blocky side-scrollers to vector-based 3D imagery, you could travel beyond the events seen in the movies, flying X-Wings and TIE fighters and becoming a Jedi or Imperial Stormtrooper in standalone adventures in the Star Wars universe.
Never one to miss a trick, Star Wars creator George Lucas created gaming outfit Lucasfilm Games in 1982. In 1990, this spin-off from Lucas’ multimedia empire became LucasArts, which produced various Indiana Jones and Monkey Island games — and some of the most fondly remembered Star Wars games ever.
The LucasArts era began with the legendary space battle simulator X-Wing in 1993. The following year the Imperial-themed sequel TIE Fighter let you fight for the Dark Side for the first time.
The advent of CD-ROM allowed 1993 hit Rebel Assault to add full motion video scenes to the gaming action. Dark Forces introduced us to Doom-style first person shooting and lightsaber action in 1995, while Shadows of the Empire landed on the N64 in 1996. Sadly, they weren’t all hits: fighting game Masters of Teräs Käsi proved to be a genre misstep too far.
Since then, games have been a huge part of the Star Wars phenomenon, with improvements in graphics and game play mirrored by the improvement of digital effects in the films themselves. Following the prequel trilogies, a new generation of gamers and Star Wars fans delved into the saga again, for example by becoming Jedi Knights in the Knights of the Old Republic.
In total, there have been more than a hundred Star Wars games across consoles, arcade machines, handhelds and mobile devices, from the Atari to the Super Nintendo and up to today’s consoles. JVC, Parker Brothers and Namco have all had a crack at producing Star Wars games, which are now in the hands of Electronic Arts since Disney bought out Lucasfilm in 2011.
Today, EA and Dice have revitalised the Star Wars Battlefront series to pitch you into combat based on the latest Star Wars films, including “The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One”.
And finally, let’s look to the future with the forthcoming Battlefront 2, coming to PS4, PC, and Xbox One on November 17. The game will draw on all eras of the saga with an all-new storyline, multiplayer action and content based on the forthcoming movie ““.
For more on Star Wars Battlefront 2 and the coolest games in the world, check out GameSpot.
Star Wars at 40: Join us in celebrating the many ways the Force-filled sci-fi saga has impacted our lives.
Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here’s your place for the lighter side of tech.