Nintendo 64 was Star Wars’ Best Console
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, there existed a man smart enough to retain all of his licensing rights. A man who would make one of the greatest trilogies of all time and an insane source of merchandising revenue for years to come. One of the greatest uses of those licensing rights was in video games. I am, of course, talking about Star Wars and George Lucas. For the most part, the PC had seen the best of the Star Wars games with more consistency than any of the consoles. There was, however, one console that broke that stigma. There was one console that consistently produced outstanding Star Wars titles that still hold up to this day. That console, of course, was the
Sega Ge Nintendo 64. These 4 titles still rank among the best Star Wars games of all time without “Lego” in the title.
1. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
One of the first N64 titles, Shadows of the Empire set the bar high for Star Wars games in general. The story takes place mostly between Episodes V and VI, and has you playing as Dash Rendar, who you might recognize from the books. Ahh, right. I don’t read books either, really. Moving on. What this game did really well was give you enough of what you recognized while simultaneously giving you an entirely new experience. You got to see things like the Millennium Falcon, Boba Fett, & wampas but you never felt like you already knew where this story was going because you had seen the movies. It controlled well, looked great, and it was one of the only N64 titles to feature an orchestral soundtrack.
Memorable Moment: I need to escape Echo Base. Imperial troops are everywhere and I have just finished fighting through the last of them. Well, nothing left to do now but go into this hangar that has only my ship and nothing else in it whatsoever. HOLY BANTHA DROPPINGS! I have to fight an AT-ST but I am on foot! This was the first moment I can remember in this game where I absolutely knew the rest of this game was going to be incredible.
2. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
Wait a minute. You expect me to play a Star Wars game as Luke Skywalker and NOT use a lightsaber? Who sold you the drugs, huh? Who? Hold on to your Jedi robe, this game is not just one of the best Star Wars games ever, but one of the best titles on the N64. You do indeed play as Luke Skywalker, leader of the crack group of pilots known as Rogue Squadron. You get to control many of your favorite ships from the Star Wars series as you encounter search and rescue, escort, assault, and dog fighting missions across numerous levels. It had authentic Star Wars sound effects, and a suitable replacement voice for Luke as it dropped you into familiar places but in new ways, such as defending Mos Eisley from TIE Bombers. You even get to fend off a new Imperial super weapon, the World Devastator while getting introduced to the most fearsome ship in the universe, the V-Wing, which even made Eric Bailey’s Top 10 Vehicles in Retro Video Games list. Add in the unlockable levels of Beggar’s Canyon, The Death Star Trench Run, & The Battle of Hoth and you’ve got yourself one incredible Star Wars game, my friend.
Memorable Moment: The year is 1999. I have been playing Rogue Squadron for six or seven months now. Star Wars: Episode I has recently hit the theaters. I get a call from a friend. “Dude, holy [SERIES OF EXPLETIVES OMITTED] (I like a family article), they put the Naboo Starfighter in the game!” Yeah they did. Apparently, the genius idea fairy came to LucasArts during game development and they hid this ship in the game. Not only did they hide the ship, they super encrypted the code on the cartridge so that not even a Game Genie could find it to prevent a premature spoiling of the movie. If anyone was going to spoil that movie, it was Jar Jar. Yes, I said it and I regret nothing. The code to unlock the Naboo Starfighter is widely considered to be the best hidden unlock code of all time.
3. Star Wars: Episode I Racer
Is it weird that I just kind of dumped on Episode I and now I’m going to praise a game based on it? Well, one of the best scenes in Episode I was the famous pod racing scene. It only made sense to make a game based on that idea. This was a very fun racer that did a great job of capturing the sense of speed you would expect from actually operating a pod racer. You had your choice of a surprising amount of pod racers and they even got Jake Lloyd to voice Anakin for the game. You would race through 4 different tournament brackets in the single player mode, where victory would unlock vehicles and more racers, as well as give you money to upgrade your pod. As expected with a game like this, there was also an amazing multiplayer mode.
Memorable Moment: Speaking of multiplayer, does anyone have one of those super competitive friends? You do? Well mine is more competitive… Anyway, there was no better moment for me than just barely eeking out a win over him. Lots of laughing on my part and controller throwing on his.
4. Star Wars: Episode I: Battle for Naboo
The last stop on our Star Wars tour brings us to sort of a sequel-ish game to Rogue Squadron. Battle for Naboo was a very good game, similar to Rogue Squadron, but it faced 2 uphill battles. First, this game was released after Nintendo had announced the incoming GameCube making some reluctant to continue investing in the N64. Secondly, many hardcore Star Wars fans were not that impressed with Episode I on the whole, so having a game based on that movie was a tougher sell. That being said, this game actually did a lot of things better than Rogue Squadron. It had land and sea missions, for starters, which added a new layer of depth. It looked better, it controlled better, and I actually liked the story more personally. However, it still does not get my nod over Rogue Squadron because at the end of the day, I am still Luke Skywalker flying an X-Wing and there is little you can do to top that. If you missed out on playing this game, I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy of it and give it a play through. You won’t be disappointed.
Memorable Moment: Look, I am a sucker for the dog fighting/space combat scenes in movies. So when I finally got to the end of this game and I found out I would *SPOILER* get to re-enact taking down the Droid Control Ship *END SPOILER*, I freaked out. This was done very well and it gave you a sense of maybe Anakin wasn’t the only guy who mattered in that fight after all. Midi-chlorians, schmidi-chlorians.
The N64 had 4 unbelievable Star Wars games that you could still pick up today and have an amazing time with. I can’t think of a single other retro console that could be said about. Do you have a different opinion? Share it in the comments below! Join me back here in 2 weeks, when I collapse the N64 into a sphere.