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Picking the best Star Wars video games ever

Picking the best Star Wars video games ever

2023 is a big year for Star Wars. While many are salivating over the return of The Mandalorian, an impending live-action Ahsoka series, and the upcoming Skeleton Crew series, there is another corner of the galaxy that has fans champing at the bit in excitement. On March 17, Electronic Arts will release Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, the sequel to the wildly popular Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 2019 video game.  

Fallen Order was hailed as one of the greatest Star Wars action-adventure games ever, following the story of Cal Kestis (played by Cameron Monaghan), a former Jedi Padawan completing his training while doing battle with pesky Imperial Inquisitors. Set five years after the events of the first game, Survivor picks up with Cal now a full Jedi Knight still facing off against the Galactic Empire.

While we attempt to calm our twitchy thumbs in anticipation of the new Cal Kestis adventure, the EW Star Wars superfans discussed and debated the best franchise video games ever on the Dagobah Dispatch podcast. To hear the entire roundtable (along with our breakdown of the new Mandalorian trailer and the latest Bad Batch installment), check out the new episode. But before you do, read on below as our all-star, blue ribbon panel makes a case for their favorite Star Wars video game ever.

Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995)

Star Wars video games

Sure, you can label Dark Forces a Doom clone if you want, but guess what? Doom was awesome! And playing a Doom knockoff where you are blowing up Stormtroopers instead of monsters was even more awesome. This early era first-person shooter extravaganza looks positively quaint with sophisticated 2023 gamer eyes in terms of both plot and graphics, but back in the mid-'90s when new Star Wars content was not jumping out of every corner every single week (like, say, the weekly Dagobah Dispatch podcast), the game was a revelation.

In terms of story, you played as Kyle Katarn, a mercenary hired by the Rebel Alliance. In the course of the game, he/you discover the existence of Dark Troopers — who would make their recent return on The Mandalorian — but truthfully, the story was secondary. The real joy was making your way through environments like a Star Destroyer or Jabba's Sail Barge while blasting everything in sight. Dark Forces is the game that set the stage for later greatness to come… and hopefully continue with Jedi: Survivor. —Dalton Ross

Star Wars: Anakin's Speedway (2000)

Star Wars video games Anakin's Speedway

I've played a lot of Star Wars games — and missed out on a lot of others. Have I ever tried Jedi: Fallen Order? No, but I mastered the mediocre 2003 Game Boy Advance game, Star Wars: Flight of the Falcon. What about Battlefront? I'm terrible at the 2015 and 2017 versions, but I can probably kick your ass at the OG 2004 release. I have also sunk literally hundreds of hours into the Lego Star Wars series, from the 2007 Wii release to the phenomenal 2022 edition. (For my money, the recent Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga might be the best Star Wars video game of all time, thanks to its clever gameplay and extremely nerdy in-jokes.) 

But for the purpose of this podcast, I had to give a shout-out to the Star Wars video game no one else has even heard of: a 23-year-old relic called Anakin's Speedway. This 2000 Lucas Learning release was designed for extremely small children — literally ages 4 and up. But as a kid, it was one of the few computer games that actually ran on my parents' ancient Macintosh, so my then-4-year-old little brother and I spent hours constructing elaborate podracing tracks.

To be clear, Anakin's Speedway is not a good game. The gameplay is laughably simple — again, this is for 4-year-olds! — and all you do is click a series of buttons to construct a podracing course, before sending out a pilot to navigate them. Sure, it's fun to watch Sebulba fail to complete a loop-de-loop or crash into a sarlacc pit, but the novelty gets old pretty quick. But 23 years later, this game is still burned into my brain, and when I close my eyes, I can still hear the jangly soundtrack and commentary from Fode and Beed. Now this is podracing.  —Devan Coggan

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008)

Star Wars video games

Using similar role-playing elements that predate the current Jedi: Fallen Order games, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed chronicled the adventures of Starkiller, the supremely powerful secret apprentice to Darth Vader after the events of the prequel movies. The dude could rip Star Destroyers out of the sky and blow up a fleet of TIE fighters with Force lightning, which all lends itself to the real mission. Not the story mission, which is to spark the Rebel Alliance so Vader can overthrow Palpatine.

No, the real mission is to go on rampages and cause as much chaos as possible. Live deliciously in the Dark Side. (A personal favorite move would actually come in the sequel game — "mind trick," in which you compel enemies to believe life isn't worth living and jump to their doom.) Plus, you had Sam Witwer, now known as the voice of Darth Maul in Clone Wars and beyond, doing the most dramatic screams in Star Wars canon, ranked just behind Hayden Christensen's "I hate you!" —Nick Romano

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (2022)

Lego Star Wars The Skywalker Saga
From my inability to drive straight in Mario Kart to getting killed repeatedly in every incarnation of Legend of Zelda, I am really not much of a gamer (or a very good one). In fact, I never played any Star Wars games at all before 2022's Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, but the game has proved so addictive that I've found myself hunting for kyber bricks in real life.
Besides playing through the main story lines of the nine films in the Skywalker Saga, completing each level unlocks free play, which opens up a whole selection of side missions from freeing Porgs to exploring the bogs of Dagobah and the remnants of the second Death Star for the aforementioned kyber bricks.

But as much fun as all the puzzles, quests, and lightsaber battles are, the best aspect is being able to play as over 300 different characters and creating absurd fighting pairs like Wicket and Emperor Palpatine, or mixing characters from various timelines like having Jango Fett play alongside Rey. There have been a lot of other Lego Star Wars games since the release of the first in 2005, but Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is the ultimate combination of Lego's trademark wit with Star Wars galactic adventure.

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