The Star Wars universe has always been more than the sum of its live-action films.
Novels, comic books, toys, TV shows, and ill-fated holiday specials have all helped build out the iconic science fiction universe that George Lucas first kicked off in 1977. One would be hard-pressed to find a larger and more enduring franchise than the Lucasfilm IP (now owned by Disney), which continues to enthrall multiple generations of fans.
Aside from the mediums mentioned above, video games have also played an integral part in the world-building of the Star Wars mythos. Indeed, it could be argued that they play the most important role, as gaming allows one to take up the persona of their favorite character and choose their own destiny. In a way, you get to become the director of your very own Star Wars adventure.
The Top 10 Best Star Wars Video Games
With that in mind, we present the ten best Star Wars video games ever released in no specific order. The titles presented below have not all been chosen for their critical acclaim or units sold in stores. Some may not even be universally loved by certain fans. Rather, they were selected based on the following criteria:
- Significance to the overall IP
- Creative use of people, places, or things seen in the films
- Mythos construction
- Fan service
- Prescience of things to come
10. Star Wars Episode I: Racer
Release date: May 18, 1999
While many Star Wars fans had problems with the first prequel film, no one could deny the thrilling nature of the sequence where young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) wins his freedom from Watto in a pod racing tournament on Tatooine. It was a testament to just how far CGI technology had come in Hollywood, and how an intrepid filmmaker could use it to grand effect.
Moreover, the scene was a loving tribute to Lucas’s own youth, a lot of which was spent drag racing in the writer/director’s hometown of Modesto, California—something Lucas also acknowledged in his second directorial feature, American Graffiti.
Hitting stands the same week Phantom Menace opened in U.S. theaters, Star Wars Episode I: Racer allowed players to live out one of the film’s most adrenaline-pumping segments. Moreover, it expanded on the central concept by offering different pod racer vehicles, as well as different tracks on eight distinct planets. While Mario Kart was already seven-years-old in ’99, this title provided a much welcome twist on the racing formula in video games.
In 2011, the Guinness Book of World Records, named Star Wars Episode I: Racer as the best-selling sci-fi racing game with 3.12 million copies sold all over the world.
9. Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic
Release date: July 15, 2003
This is perhaps the most famous title on our list. Set four millennia before the Galactic Empire set up tyrannical shop, Knights of the Old Republic follows the ancient battle between the noble Jedi Order and the evil Sith.
With options to customize your lightsaber and character, players must visit eight planets (including familiar ones like Tatooine and Kashyyyk) in an effort to defeat Darth Malak. Thanks to amazing gameplay and a solid plot, the game serves as an excellent prequel to the prequel film trilogy. Moreover, fans have been clamoring for a movie version of it for years.
Who knows? If The Mandalorian, Cassian Andor, and Obi-Wan series all do well on Disney+, we could get a long-awaited KOTOR adaptation.
8. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Release date: September 16, 2008
Like some of the comics from Marvel, The Force Unleashed intriguingly pulls back on the curtain on what Darth Vader gets up to when he’s not antagonizing the Rebel Alliance and Luke Skywalker on the big screen.
Taking place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, this title follows the adventures of Vader’s “secret apprentice,” Galen Marek, who is tasked with hunting down and killing the last-remaining Jedi in the galaxy. Marek (voiced by Sam Witwer who also played Darth Maul in Clone Wars and Rebels) is convinced that he will one day kill Emperor Palpatine and rule the galaxy by Vader’s side.
As the game’s art director, Matt Omernick, told Vanity Fair, the entire project was meant “to convince players that, ‘Oh my God, I’m actually, finally, in a Star Wars movie.’”
7. Star Wars: Battlefront
Release date: September 21, 2004
Long before there were controversies surrounding pay-to-play and loot crates, the Star Wars gaming franchise was reaching new heights with the release of the first Battlefront. In a lot of ways, this game felt like a culmination of everything that had come before, opening up the universe in a way fans had never seen before.
Almost like the Super Smash Bros. of Star Wars video games, Battlefront was all about playing the greatest hits of the series. You weren’t limited to one character, droid, vehicle, planet, or battlefield. You could enjoy them all in any number of combinations, be it as a Stormtrooper or as a Droideka; in an X-wing or in an AT-AT.
6. Star Wars: Battlefront II
Release date: November 1, 2005
If the first Battlefront changed the Star Wars game (pun intended), then its immediate sequel perfected it. Battlefront II didn’t need to get all fancy, it just had to give us one thing: the ability to play as a Jedi or as a Sith, hero, or villain. For the first time ever, you could run around a map, killing your enemies as Yoda, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, Boba Fett, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Emperor Palpatine, and even Darth freakin’ Maul!
And since Revenge of the Sith had finally debuted in theaters, you could also access new planets like Utapau and Mustafar. Whether you played Battlefront II on PlayStation, Xbox or PlayStation Portable, it was one epic gaming experience.
5. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Release date: November 6, 2007
Kids have always been a major part of the Star Wars fandom, so what better way to introduce a younger audience to the series (which can be dark and scary at times) than with a “LEGO-ized” version of it?
Adopting a more tongue-in-cheek approach to the six-film saga contained between Phantom Menace and Return of the Jedi, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Sage is the video game equivalent of teaching your child to ride a bike with training wheels. Once they come to love the characters and universe, they should be able to graduate to the more mature elements of the movies in what should be a seamless transition.
And that’s not to say that the LEGO games are just for kids. Indeed, they’re packed with plenty of fun visual and audio gags that help paint the franchise in a fun and often hilarious new light for longtime fans of the franchise who are looking for something a little off the beaten path.
4. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
Release date: December 7, 1998
Influenced by the Dark Horse comics of the same name, Rogue Squadron may have been a response to the release of the first (and insanely popular) Star Fox game from Nintendo the previous year.
Even if it was, the title allowed players to become ace Rebel pilots in a number of different ships: X-wings, Y-wings, A-wings, V-wings, and even Snowspeeders. Like Episode I: Racer, Rogue Squadron was a chance to get into the thick of the aerial dogfights the original trilogy had become known for.
The game was so popular, that it spawned two sequels, Rogue Leader (2001) and Rebel Strike (2003).
3. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
Release date: December 3, 1996
This is a really cool entry on the list, because Shadows of the Empire was a single part of a greater multimedia initiative from Lucasfilm.
Shadows of the Empire was an umbrella project that yielded a novel, comics, and toys. Unfurling between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the SoTE game places you into the role of Dash Rendar, a member of the Rebel Alliance, who must protect Luke Skywalker from the deadly sights of Dark Prince Xizor, a galactic gangster looking to become Darth Vader’s second-in-command.
Similar to the events of Rogue One, this game shines an interesting light on the unsung heroes in the conflict against the Galactic Empire.
2. Star Wars: Obi-Wan
Release date: December 19, 2001
Released more than a year after Phantom Menace hit theaters, this game put the emphasis on one of Episode I’s most beloved characters: young Obi-Wan Kenobi played by Ewan McGregor. Set before and during the events of that film, players are able to face off against a slew of enemies, both old and new, including an assassin droid, Tusken Raiders, and of course, Darth freakin’ Maul.
Despite mixed reviews, Star Wars: Obi-Wan was somewhat ahead of its time by acknowledging that McGregor’s character was one of the best parts of the prequels. Years later, he remains a fan favorite and is even receiving his own live-action series on Disney+ that takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
1. Star Wars: TIE Fighter
Release date: July 1, 1994
It makes a lot of sense to consider TIE Fighter as a companion piece to Rogue Squadron. After all, both games are simply two sides of the same coin. In this case, you’re not fighting for the Rebel Alliance under Luke Skywalker, but for the Imperial Navy under his father, Darth Vader. The screeching TIE Fighters are just as iconic as the Rebel X-wings, so this title proved a real treat in allowing one to side with the bad guys for a change.
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