Dozens upon dozens of Star Wars games have been released since the early ’80s, and the flood has never really subsided over the years. Pretty much every year has seen another game or two appear to reignite our love of lightsabers. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is just the latest in a very long line of releases.
That’s not always a great thing. Licensed games have a reputation for being rubbish more often than not, and Star Wars is as guilty as any other franchise for putting out tosh here and there: Kinect Star Wars, anyone? How about Masters of Teras Kasi? It happens. In fact, it’s happened quite a bit.
Thankfully, there’s a flipside to that: the games that remind us why we love Star Wars so much. The games that let us feel as though we’re a part of that vast, wonderful universe. And the games that fill us with the same kind of childhood wonder as the classic films themselves. There’s a fair number of them, but we’ve argued about them all to come up with a list of the 14 very best.
14) Star Wars Trilogy Arcade
We may never know why Sega opted not to bring Star Wars Trilogy to the Dreamcast, but it was one of the most stunning arcade games ever released when it debuted in 1999. Revisiting the classic films for a cinematic rail shooter, it put the Model 3 hardware to great use, immersing you in key moments from the series. Assault on the Death Star? Battle of Hoth? Speeders through the Endor forest? We’re excited just reminiscing about it.
Also Read › Rogue One: A Star Wars Story review
13) Star Wars Squadrons
Some of the absolute best Star Wars games have been ship-centric dogfighters, so it’s a wonder it took so long to get back to that successful template. Star Wars Squadrons feels like a modern throwback to the classic PC space shooters, with a thankfully tight focus across both the single-player campaign and online battles. Squadrons isn’t as massive or robust a game as EA’s Battlefront II, but it doesn’t need to be. The visuals are dazzling, the controls are tight, and the optional VR support on PC and PlayStation 4 is a dream.
12) Star Wars: Republic Commando
Republic Commando strikes an odd tone for a Star Wars game: it doesn’t star Jedi warriors or have most of the familiar sights and sounds of the series. In fact, it looks like a cross between Halo and Metroid Prime more than anything. Yet this squad-based shooter did a great job of focusing on a relatively unexplored part of the universe, putting you in command of a chatty group of elite clone soldiers. It’s an unexpected highlight, and thankfully it was recently remastered for modern consoles.
11) Star Wars
You couldn’t step into an arcade in the early 80s without stumbling over some kind of Star Wars-themed cabinet or pinball machine. The Force was strongest with Atari’s Star Wars, an on-rails shooter that swallowed coins at an alarming rate.
It relied on colour vector graphics to put you inside Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing during the Death Star assault, which look pretty primitive today. But given they’re a near-perfect match for the X-Wing’s targeting computer, film fans couldn’t get enough. It was popular enough to earn a sequel (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, naturally) released as a conversion kit for arcade owners. Sadly that makes the original a real rarity, so if you spot one in the wild make sure to feed it a coin or two.
10) Star Wars Episode I: Racer
The pod racing sequence is one of the rare scenes in Episode I that doesn’t make us want to gouge our eyes out, and sure enough, the racing game based on it arguably the best game based on all three prequels. It’s a Wipeout-esque affair, as you zip around in the rocket-propelled pod avoiding hazards and outrunning rivals. It looks like hell now on N64, but the sense of speed then was incredible. And now you can experience the remastered edition for current devices.
9) Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast
To those in the know, Kyle Katarn is one of the biggest heroes of the extended Star Wars universe. We’re not holding our breath for his very own Disney+ spin-off series, but his final game outing is up there with the best mainstream Star Wars titles.
Much more than a continuation of Dark Forces II, this third person adventure put more emphasis on lightsabre battles and Force powers. It saw Katarn completing his journey from Imperial to merc to Jedi knight, and set the benchmark for ‘sabre duelling until Jedi: Fallen Order would arrive nearly two decades later. Speaking of which…
8) Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
The first great Star Wars single-player campaign in ages hails from Respawn Entertainment, the folks behind the raucous Titanfall and Apex Legends. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order takes place after the prequel films as you take control of Cal Kestis, a Padawan forced into hiding after… well, after the vast majority of Jedi are unceremoniously murdered. It’s a bit Uncharted, a bit Metroid, and a bit Dark Souls, all wrapped up into a compelling adventure with new characters, exciting combat, and memorable worlds.
7) Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
It’s easy to forget now, what with seemingly hundreds of licensed Lego games, but Lego Star Wars was the first to render a pop culture juggernaut in virtual plastic bricks and douse the result with plenty of humour. Following a separate game for each film trilogy, The Complete Saga brought it all together in one extra-large game, complete with new and redone levels. It’s a gigantic smash-and-bash game that’ll have you grinning with mates.
It’s also well worth checking out the most recent Lego Star Wars game, The Skywalker Saga, which treads similar ground, but shakes things up with a more open world approach focused on collecting. The sequel trilogy’s gameplay not only introduces Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron into the franchise, but also revisits classic Star Wars locations such as Endor and characters such as Han and Chewie.
6) Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II
Whereas the original Dark Forces was more or less a Doom-alike, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II went well beyond to make you feel like a proper Jedi in a 3D world. Lightsaber duels, Force powers… it helped Jedi Knight seem distinct from the juggernaut shooters of the era (like Quake II). That was especially true in the new multiplayer mode, wherein lightsabers swung freely through the tight corridors. Good luck in there.
5) Star Wars: TIE Fighter
If you only played console games in the early-to-mid ’90s, you missed out on truly captivating Star Wars space sims, starting with X-Wing. One year later, TIE Fighter applied much the same formula, but taking command of the titular ship and fighting as the Empire put a fresh spin on the franchise, and made things more thrilling. A couple more sequels followed, but TIE Fighter is considered the best of the bunch, and still one of the franchise’s top games.
4) Super Star Wars
Remember when Luke fought that Sarlaac Monster in the first 10 minutes of A New Hope? How about when he then had to leap between moving platforms on a Jawa sandcrawler? No? It’s true: Super Star Wars takes liberties with the source material to amp up the action, but the end result is an awesome and challenging run-and-gun side-scroller. It’s one of the earliest licensed games that we remember truly loving, and it spawned stellar sequels too. This one’s available on PlayStation 4 and Vita now, too.
3) Star Wars Battlefront II
This was a controversial pick when we first created this list a few years back, as the launch version of EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II was bogged down with unsettling monetisation elements. Luckily, time has proven this choice wise indeed. EA quickly got the message from fans and spent the couple years after not only fixing and refining the experience, but adding huge amounts of free content. It has become the ultimate Star Wars battle simulator, with epic online fights for up to 40 players and a mix of on-foot and vehicle combat, plus there’s a solid solo campaign attached. You can pick it up on the cheap now and it’s a game that keeps on giving.
Read More › Star Wars Battlefront II review
2) Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
Arguably still the finest original trilogy-spanning game ever created, Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader took the strong core of the N64 original and elevated the flight combat experience with the added power of the GameCube. It was a stunning achievement for its time, and pretty easily the best launch title on the system, letting you zip through iconic moments as part of the X-Wing crew. Truth be told, it still looks fabulous. (Bring back Rogue Squadron!)
1) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Knights of the Old Republic eschewed the films’ timeline, yet still delivered an engrossing tale—one that you could shape as you made decisions and nudged either way on the Force spectrum. BioWare’s seminal role-player is widely considered one of the strongest licensed games ever created, and it helped pave the way for the studio’s beloved Mass Effect series, too. Knights of the Old Republic II isn’t as consistently strong, but it’s still recommended. Here’s hoping we finally get a revival sooner than later.
Also Read › The 30 most anticipated games of 2021