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02 October, 2023
Retro Star Wars

The Best Retro Star Wars Games


The Star Wars movies make a lot of money, but the box office profits are nothing compared to the cash raked in from Star Wars merchandise. Seeing as how Star Wars: A New Hope hit theaters in 1977, right when the Atari 2600 was rising in popularity, Star Wars video games seemed like a sure bet. Now, 40 years later, Star Wars games are still raking in the dough, covering every genre and target audience possible. That said, it didn’t take four decades for Star Wars games to get good.

For some truly excellent sci-fi titles set in a galaxy far, far away, you need only peer into the past. The best retro Star Wars games deliver unbelievable experiences despite hardware limitations, letting players wield lightsabers, fly through space, and even craft their very own Jedi. While the 8-bit and 16-bit eras had some winners, retro Star Wars games really hit their stride during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Let’s celebrate this prolific franchise by reflecting on some truly stellar retro Star Wars games!

The Best Retro Star Wars Games

5. Star Wars Episode 1: Racer

Episode 1 Racer

Although Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was met with divisive reactions upon release, there was one part of the movie that nearly everyone loved: the podracing. Ridiculously fast and dangerous, this death-defying style of circuit racing was ripe for video game adaptation. Released in 1999, Star Wars Episode 1: Racer puts you in the cockpit of various podracers as you compete in numerous championship circuits. Episode 1: Racer isn’t just a lazy tie-in either, as the game features multiple unlockable pilots, a vehicle upgrade system, and some wildly inventive tracks. On par with F-Zero, Star Wars Episode 1: Racer is as fun of a racing game as it is a satisfying adaptation of Star Wars.

4. Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast

Star Wars Jedi Outcast

The Star Wars Jedi Knight series offers exciting third and first-person shooting, tight movement mechanics, and a thrilling story. Set apart from the mainline narrative of the films, this game follows mercenary Kyle Katarn as he attempts to stop the Imperial army from creating Force-empowered soldiers. Generally considered the best entry in the series, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is an all-around exciting action game with lots of replayability, evidenced by its current popularity in the speedrunning community. If you want a Star Wars game that’s undeniably fun and offers a neat look at the universe from a different perspective, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is a great pick.

3. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

Retro Star Wars Rogue Leader

Sometimes when you’re playing a Star Wars game, you just want to hop into a starship and start blasting. That’s exactly what Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader set out to accomplish as a launch title for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002. Taking players through the story of the original Star Wars film trilogy, the game offers 15 levels, each focused on a different battle. 7 different starfighters are available to control, and post-level stats encourage you to perfect your aerial prowess. From the Battle of Yavin to the assault on the Death Star, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader lets you fly high over tons of iconic battles.

2. Star Wars: Battlefront (2004)

Star Wars Battlefront

Speaking of putting yourself in the middle of massive Star Wars battles, there aren’t many games that do it as well as Star Wars: Battlefront. Across the game’s three main modes, you’ll become a boots-on-the-ground soldier from one of four factions, vying for control over precious planets and resources. The game features various battles from both the original and prequel trilogy, featuring iconic characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. You can pilot a few vehicles and make strategic moves, but the majority of Battlefront is about a grueling war of attrition. While the single-player modes are fun enough, multiplayer is where Battlefront shines, allowing up to 32 players to duke it out in spectacular displays of advanced military power.

1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Star Wars KOTOR

There are bad Star Wars games and good Star Wars games, and then there are games like Knights of the Old Republic, which transcend the brand entirely. Released in 2003, KOTOR is set centuries before the events of the original film trilogy and follows the efforts of one Jedi as they hunt down their treacherous foe, Malak. Developed by BioWare (who would later create Mass Effect), KOTOR is well-respected for its open-ended RPG elements, player freedom, and engrossing plot. 20 years after release, it’s a bit rough around the edges, but an upcoming remake is sure to fix any dated mechanics. If you’ve yet to play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (or its sequel) and consider yourself a Star Wars fan, you should definitely give it a whirl.

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