Star Wars will probably always primarily be known for its cinematic offerings. And rightfully so. But for many fans, video games have offered a welcome and wonderful expansion of a galaxy far, far away over the years, dating back to the earliest days of the franchise. Some truly beloved titles have come about as a result of Lucasfilm’s desire to expand beyond the movies, but many of those specific games were made for consoles that have long since surpassed their lifespan. There is a relatively simple answer though, for those who would like to play some of these games on modern consoles. Disney and Lucasfilm could simply have them remastered.
Before diving into how/why the powers that be at Disney should/could do this, let’s take a look at some recent events. First off, Disney purchased all of Lucasfilm from George Lucas in 2012 for more than $4 billion. That has proven to be a wise investment, as the Mouse House has made that up in box office alone. But they have also explored video games in the last handful of years, with admittedly mixed results.
For fans of Star Wars video games, few words ring as true as “Battlefront.” The original Star Wars: Battlefront was released in 2004 and quickly became one of the most beloved games produced within the franchise. It put players on the field of battle and included, one could argue, some of the greatest couch one-on-one battles ever. Its sequel, Star Wars: Battlefront II, released the following year, only served to improve upon its predecessor. Many still consider it to be one of the best Star Wars games ever made.
With that, it made a great deal of sense for Lucasfilm, under the Disney reign, to lean on this title for the first official Star Wars game of this bold new era. Star Wars Battlefront arrived in 2015, just before The Force Awakens hit theaters. Yes, the game sold well and no, it wasn’t roundly trashed by critics or anything. But this was not cut from the same cloth as the previous games. It was an online shooter set within the franchise. No campaign and certainly nothing like the original titles. It was, for many, a big letdown. Star Wars Battlefront II attempted to fix these issues upon arrival in 2017. We got a campaign this time around, complete with a canon story. That part was widely-praised. However, the game’s loot box system, among other issues, served to overshadow any improvements that were made. In the end, the games failed to live up to the namesake of the Battlefront series. Especially for those who had a certain expectation because of what they came to love in the original games.
Lucasfilm turned things around with Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order in 2019. The single-player-focused game told a worthy tale within the franchise, that of Jedi padawan Cal Kestis in the aftermath of Order 66. It was a hit both critically and commercially. More recently, Star Wars: Squadrons put players in the cockpit as both members of the Empire and Rebellion. Again, this was viewed as a step in the right direction.
That having been said, it seems the brass at Disney and Lucasfilm know this is an area that they have plenty of room to grow. Recently, another intriguing development came our way when it was revealed that Lucasfilm Games, a new division dedicated solely to creating games based on the studio’s various properties, has been formed. Not only is an Indiana Jones video game on the way but an open-world Star Wars game is in development as well. This appears to be a step in the right direction. A division that can focus its time and efforts solely on these ventures, much like Lucasarts was able to do before the Disney buyout.
New games are great. New games are necessary. New games are, well, new. New things are needed in the Star Wars franchise. Just look at what The Mandalorian has been able to accomplish. But that doesn’t mean Lucasfilm should turn its back on the past. Especially when it comes to video games. Unlike any other form of media, video games offer an interaction and level of personal connectivity just simply can’t be found anywhere else. Much of that can be fueled by nostalgia. If there is a more effective nostalgia engine in the pop culture landscape than Star Wars, I would be hard-pressed to name it. That being the case, it would seem prudent for Lucasfilm to not just re-release, but remaster and update some of these classic games for current and old fans alike to enjoy in the best way possible.
One can go on and on when it comes to personal favorites, but games like Republic Commando, the original Battlefront series, the Rogue Squadron games (especially with the movie from Patty Jenkins on the way) and, at the very top of the list, the Knights of the Old Republic games, seem like safe bets. Granted, Lucasfilm has already ported games like Jedi Outcast and Episode I Racer to the Switch somewhat recently. But these weren’t full-on remasters. Fun as it may be for fans to revisit, these games feel of their time. But the stories, the gameplay and core of these and more Star Wars video games are practically begging for another shot in the modern era.
This isn’t merely a fan begging for something out of selfish desire either. Yes, I would love to scream at my friends while playing Galactic Conquest in Battlefront once again. But Disney is all about making money. And make no mistake, there is money to be made here. Re-mastering/remaking games doesn’t come cheap. But it’s not building from the ground up either. When done correctly, it can also prove to be hugely profitable. Just look at what happened with the recent Final Fantasy VII remake or the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 re-master. Pro Skater sold more than a million copies in two weeks. Final Fantasy VII performed even better, selling more than 3.5 million copies in three days.
Granted, Star Wars is a radically different beast. But the principal is the same. Take the game that worked, keep the elements that worked, update it to suit modern consoles and player sensibilities. Boom, success. Yes, that is a bit of an oversimplification but it has worked time and time again. Capcom is currently seeing huge numbers for remakes of its Resident Evil game series. Lucasfilm can capitalize in the same way with Star Wars.
Perhaps the largest hurdle to clear is the Star Wars canon. Lucasfilm reset the canon in 2012 after the Disney purchase. Everything counts now. Novels, games, comics, TV shows. It’s all part of the deal. Some of these older games probably wouldn’t fit into the currently established canon. But there are certainly ways to work around that. And if that’s the biggest issue getting in the way of making fans very happy, not to mention making lots of money, there is no reason this can’t be done. Your move, Disney.
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