Experienced Points

Experienced Points
Lucasarts Games that Deserve Another Shot

Shamus Young | 30 Apr 2013 16:00
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X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter

Back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and PCs ruled videogames, space combat sims were really popular. At the time, Wing Commander and X-Wing were the Coke and Pepsi of the genre. You flew missions, blew up ships, and upgraded your craft in a campaign punctuated by brief cutscenes. The genre was notorious for having dense controls that made use of the entire PC keyboard.

Why this is good for a revival: Actually, I think the whole genre deserves another shot, and it might as well happen with X-Wing. I think modern thumbsticks are better suited for flight controls than the mouse ever was. Yes, the classic dual shock controller isn't going to have enough buttons so you can have actions like, "Target the nearest enemy who is targeting a cargo container with less than 50% health" on a hotkey. I think a good space combat game can be made without that same density of inputs. As a bonus, these games ought to be cheap to produce, and the recent success of X-Com has shown that it's possible to find a good balance between classic PC games and modern console interfaces.

Republic Commando

I didn't play this one, but I'm including this on the list simply because people will send me hate mail if I leave it out. Republic Commando is a shooter where you play as a clone trooper. It was yet more proof that players are hungry for games where they don't play as the super-powered scene-stealing Jedi, and are happy to play as traders, smugglers, or (in this case) grunts in a ground war. Star Wars has some fantastic lore, and it's always nice to explore the bits where a sanctimonious Mary Sue isn't solving problems with a lightsaber.

Why this is good for a revival: I don't even know if we can call this a "revival". The game isn't forgotten. The game is fondly remembered by fans and was well-reviewed, but there was never a follow-up. (The sequel was cancelled in early development.) It was a fine game with a good name. They just need to make more of them.

Pit Droids

Imagine an alternate universe where the original Lego Star Wars was given a narrow release and billed as an "educational" title just because it aesthetically resembled a kids game, and therefore didn't sell well. That's what happened to Pit Droids, a game so obscure it doesn't even rate a page on Wikipedia.

It was billed as an "Educational" title under the Lucas Learning division, but Pit Droids wasn't really educational beyond being intellectually stimulating. If Pit Droids is educational, then so are Portal, Lemmings, and Plants vs. Zombies. In the game you had to use a fixed number of inputs to guide a line of single-minded pit droids to the exit. It played with sorting, timing, and pathing problems and was generally a ton of lighthearted fun.

Why this is good for revival: The original never really got the chance it deserves, and it's fiendishly hard to get it running these days. (The game rewarded progress with short little cutscenes of slapstick pit droid tomfoolery, and those cutscenes do not like today's computers.) It's available for the iPhone, but I'd love to see the game given another chance at wider release, either in the form of a re-make or just a "gold" edition that fixes all the wonky parts to work on modern machines.

What did I miss?

The Lucasarts back catalog is massive, and there was no way I was going to be able to cover it all in detail. It's physically impossible to make a list like this without leaving off some unappreciated gem. I'm sure you'll tell me what I missed in the comments.

Shamus Young thinks that hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.

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