The Coolest and Uncoolest Moments in Star Wars Game Canon

LucasFilm announced last month not only that the continuity of the Star Wars Expanded Universe is now at the mercy of the films and TV shows its producing, but that wide swaths of the Star Wars canon as we know it is already being disgarded.

So far, LucasFilm has only specified that Expanded Universe tales taking place after Return of the Jedi are out, but there’s really no way of knowing right now what else will get dumped.

Though the Jedi Knight series is the only group of games that take place after the original film trilogy, there nonetheless is much gnashing of teeth by fans over what the New Star Wars Canon means for the games, collectively. I don’t have any answers about whether Knights of the Old Republic’s Revan or Dark Forces’ Kyle Katarn still exist in Star Wars, and that’s okay for now. But in the meantime, let’s take a look back at some of the coolest, and most uncool, moments we’ve experienced in the Star Wars video game canon as it existed before all this drama.

Cool: Fixing the Ebon Hawk in Knights of the Old Republic 2

Next to the openings of most Star Wars games, the tutorial prologue for KOTOR 2 is rather mundane, and that’s specifically why I like it. You begin on the Ebon Hawk, which was your ship on the first KOTOR, and you control T3, an astromech droid companion from that game, but the circumstances are strange. The only people aboard the Hawk are an old, dead womanm and an unconscious Jedi Exile. The Hawk itself is all messed up, with a busted engine and a gaping hole in the cargo bay. And T3 has to fix it up enough to make it to a nearby asteroid mining outpost, or everybody dies.

And that’s all there is. You roll around the ship grabbing scrap that you can repurpose for repairs. It’s not a grand, exciting quest, and you don’t even really know what’s going on. And yet this is Star Wars at its finest. Being such a thoroughly established universe, you can tell whatever kind of story you want in Star Wars because we pretty much already get it. The meat, as it were, is already there, and so not every tale has to be a world-saving one. Though KOTOR 2 does eventually become that, its street-level beginnings create a sort of awesome blue collar feel that we rarely get in popular science fiction.

Uncool: Gamma Base in Rebel Assault

It’s inexplicable to me that the Rebel Assault games were ever considered canon, since all they ever really were intended to be was an excuse to replicate set pieces from the original trilogy in game form. It’s a series about a kid from Tatooine named RookieOne, who flies a skyhopper through Beggar’s Canyon and then joins the Rebellion as a fighter pilot, for Christ’s sake.

Even so, apparently all but Rebel Assault’s version of the Battle of Yavin from Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope were considered part of the continuity, and that being the case, it means the Rebels had a base on Hoth before they had a base on Hoth. In Rebel Assault, RookieOne takes part in the defense of Gamma Base on ice planet Hoth by flying a snowspeeder and taking down AT-AT walkers with a tow cable, all before the Battle of Yavin — the assault on the original Death Star. Meaning three years before Darth Vader and the Empire had no idea the main Rebel base (Echo Base) was on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader and the Empire attacked a Rebel base (Gamma Base) on Hoth.

Outstanding.

Cool: Joining the Secret Order of the Emperor in TIE Fighter

TIE Fighter had its own cool blue collar thing going, putting you in the role of an Imperial pilot of a flimsy TIE Fighter on what amounts to peacekeeping missions. You are, more or less, the Space Police.

As you go about your business, though, you can discover secret objectives during missions that, should you complete them, will draw the attention of the Emperor himself.

Over the course of the game you’ll see that completing these secret objectives, often given to you by a shadowy figure after the regular mission briefings, will allow you to work your way up through the Secret Order, with each rank granting you a new, cool purple forearm tattoo. What this all meant, essentially, is that in addition to being regular Space Police you were also Space Secret Police, adding a really interesting level of cool to what already was a totally cool story.

Uncool: Mara Jade training under Kyle Katarn

As Jimmy Valmer of “South Park” would say, “I mean, come on.” I know everybody loves protagonist Kyle Katarn and the Jedi Knight games he inhabits, but those games basically acted as if they existed in their own universe most of the time. Kyle flippin’ Katarn taking Mara Jade — the most well known character from the Expanded Universe, and eventual wife of Luke Skywalker — as his Jedi apprentice in the Mysteries of the Sith expansion is one of the more egregious examples. Mara Jade is a beloved Expanded Universe character who gets dumped into a situation that makes little contextual sense, and is never, ever referenced elsewhere. Because Jedi Knight.

In the Jedi Knight sub-universe, Katarn is basically the King Jedi, taking down a cabal of weird Sith that roll around in a Super Star Destroyer, and then apparently having the sort of clout that would lead Mara Jade to be his underling. Mysteries of the Sith, by the way, takes place between the two key Expanded Universe book arc in the post-Return of the Jedi story: the Thrawn Trilogy and the Jedi Academy Trilogy. That makes Katarn Mara’s first in-earnest Jedi instructor, which is never mentioned again when she starts training with Luke. I mean come on.

For a comparable analogy, imagine there was a video game between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones that has Anakin Skywalker learning a bunch of key, influential stuff from a random Jedi like Kit Fisto. And then it never ever comes up again — but it’s still considered part of the canon.

Mysteries of the Sith doesn’t even tell a bad story, but the Mara Jade moment is a big bit of dumb fan service.

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7 Comments on The Coolest and Uncoolest Moments in Star Wars Game Canon

Mike

On May 4, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Anything involving Anakin Solo in the New Jedi Order before Star by Star, where the entire Expanded Universe proceeded to suck until the Star Wars Legacy comics. The authors had collectively built up Anakin Solo as the the future of the Jedi over years of novels and with prophecies and all that. You could really see him start to come into that role which was exciting since I had been reading books with him since I was a kid. Then George Lucas got involved, said he needs to be killed off since people would be confused that he has the same first name as Anakin Skywalker (like we’re a bunch of morons that can’t tell the difference).
The author of Star by Star begged and pleaded not to kill Anakin instead of Jacen (the original plan, and good riddance to the damn hippie), but Lucas was unmoved. At least the author made him go out in style, with him calling on so much light-side force energy that it was rupturing the cells of his body and his presence in the force lit up like a super nova to all force sensitives as he was dying. Its a combo coolest and uncoolest moment for me, an epic death scene for my favorite Jedi and Star Wars character was the coolest, but the fact that Lucas for some mind boggling reason felt the need for it in the first place was the uncoolest (nevermind the massive storylines and prophecies attached to him were basically destroyed).

I find myself with hope in the retcon however. There’s a lot of stuff in the Expanded Universe that’s pretty dumb (Crystal Star anyone?) and just because they nuked it doesn’t mean they won’t use inspirations and storylines from it, they just have the ability to pick and choose what they want now. For purely selfish reasons, I hope they keep enough of the original 7, 8, 9 scripts that the Solo kids are still in it. I read rumors that in the first movie JJ Abrams is making it a sort of hand-off to the children by the end.

Second most uncool moment from the EU: No wookie Jedi (George Lucas again)

Second most cool moment from the EU: Drug using, alien bangin’, Dark side using Cade Skywalker (Wish they made a game about this guy!)

bob

On May 5, 2014 at 5:43 am

ya the lamest thing about star wars is lucas, he can like joss whedon make anything just suck with bad storytelling or characterization or just writing in general. but they both make good detailed universes.

bob

On May 5, 2014 at 6:05 am

so you removed the comment because it was the truth? you suck gamefront

Denny

On May 5, 2014 at 6:33 am

@bob – your comment’s clearly still there. In fact, Gamefront could do with removing more comments than they currently do. There’s some disgustingly vile ones on the article about the arcade ban being overturned that are not only offensive and threatening, but are entirely irrelevant to the story.

T. Jetfuel

On May 5, 2014 at 8:05 am

Cool: Revan reveal in KOTOR.

Uncool: Casey Hudson reveal in KOTOR credits.

Zing!

Lac1

On May 5, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Cool:

Ulic Qel-Droma’s final journey, training Vima Sunrider, and finally dying like a true Jedi even while he was permanently severed from the Force for his crimes

Uncool:

Yuuzhan Vong. They were clearly made up because of the lack of ideas to show an even more threatening and even mostest evil enemy to the Republic, but i feel it really far-fetched and makes the main conflict of the original story (of the movies) look like some kind of petty incident. And it ends up turning the whole SW Universe upside down, inside out.

Cool:

The character of Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Uncool:

Turning the main characters’ (Han, Luke, Leia etc.) story from a space opera into a soap opera, because every irrelevant, trivial storiline was more saleable if one or more of the protagonists appeared in them (as a protagonist).