10 Star Wars video game franchises needing a revival
Last week brought the exciting news that Lucasfilm Games would be handling all licensing of its properties for new video game titles, including a new Indiana Jones title from Bethesda and open-world Star Wars project at Ubisoft, so we’re looking back at ten subfranchises from the latter series that could use a proper revival for modern gamers.
Battle of the Sith Lords
While the world of Star Wars generally puts players in the position of those on the light side of The Force as they face off against the evils of the galaxy, some of the best lore and storytelling comes in the exploration of the dark side and the more muddled moral grounds between them, and what better way to dive into this than the sadly-cancelled Battle of the Sith Lords. Centered around fan-favorite antagonist Darth Maul, the title would have been a coming-of-age tale exploring his backstory as he was kidnapped by Emperor Palpatine and forced to become a Sith Lord, but rumor has it that Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 led to the cancellation of the project. With fans expressing their love for the character in the years since his film debut in Episode I — The Phantom Menace, namely with his character arcs on the hit animated series The Clone Wars, now seems like the perfect time to contemplate reviving the title for a proper release.
The name Amy Hennig is one of the most celebrated in the gaming industry, having created Naughty Dog’s beloved Uncharted series and co-written/directed a number of the hit Legacy of Kain games, and when it was announced she would be directing a Star Wars game with a tone akin to the former franchise and the heist film genre, fans lost their minds with excitement. That was until the announcement in October 2017 that developer Visceral Games was being shuttered by parent company Electronic Arts after a little over a year of difficulties between EA and Visceral, with the former attempting to pull creative control from the latter and also driving development away from the project to focus on the booming Battlefront revived franchise and more multiplayer gaming. With Project Ragtag having been in late development when cancelled and Hennig still seemingly interested in returning to the title as fans prove hungry for more single-player Star Wars games, Lucasfilm should explore a path to reconnect with her and finally give fans an exciting new take on the space-faring world.
Knights of the Old Republic
Now that we’ve explored some cancelled titles that deserve to come back to life, let’s look at a franchise that could really use new life: Knights of the Old Republic. While one could argue that the franchise hasn’t died yet as EA has continually offered new expansion packs for The Old Republic, the third installment in the series, the change in gameplay style from the original RPG format to the online-necessitated MMORPG has left some fans hungry for a more contained and single-player experience akin to the first titles. BioWare may currently be busy with new installments in their Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises and Obisidian is currently focusing on a new Pillars of Eternity title and preparing Grounded for its full release this year after six months of early access, but if one of the two could find time in their schedules to bring back the KOTR series with improved graphics, I know at least one gamer who will be happy — spoiler alert, it’s me.
The Force Unleashed
While some cancelled projects were only rumored to have been cancelled following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, the death of the Force Unleashed franchise has been confirmed to have spawned from the major purchase as it became one of many Star Wars media to have been shifted into the non-canonical expanded universe entitled Legends while the House of Mouse began development on the sequel trilogy and cancelled the threequel alongside a number of other projects. Giving a unique twist to the larger mythos that Darth Vader had a secret apprentice who would plant the seeds of what would become the Rebel Alliance, the TFU series may have seen a bit of a step down in storytelling with its sequel but it ended on such an exciting cliffhanger that deserves to be revisited, especially as star Sam Witwer has remained with the Star Wars franchise and frequently expressed interest in returning to the character of Starkiller.
The Fett “family” has been a subject of fascination and excitement for fans of the Star Wars franchise since Boba’s introduction in the original trilogy and after introducing “patriarch” Jango in Episode II — Attack of the Clones, LucasArts decided to give the latter his own gaming title with the prequel story Bounty Hunter. While its story has also been shuffled off into the non-canonical Legends banner and its initially received mixed reviews for its technical issues, Bounty Hunter received a lot of praise for its plot from SW fans and even received a next-gen re-release for the PlayStation 4 in 2019. The developer was looking at learning from their mistakes with Bounty Hunter for the Boba-centered 1313, which would be set between the prequel and original trilogies and would be a fairly open-world environment set in the criminal underground of Coruscant, but — much like others on this list — Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm saw the project shelved. With Boba finding new life thanks to The Mandalorian and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy having previously expressed a lot of excitement for the ideas explored in the game, now is the perfect time to revive the series.
When the word Jedi is uttered a few names come to most people’s minds. Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Mace Windu, Qui-Gon Jinn. But one name too frequently left out from the conversation amongst fans mostly familiar with the films is that of Kyle Katarn from the Jedi Knight series. Once a member of the Galactic Empire, Katarn would leave and become a mercenary for hire, frequently working with the Rebel Alliance before eventually becoming a full member of the New Republic and a skilled Jedi instructor at the Jedi Academy, second only to Luke Skywalker. As with others on the list, the franchise became non-canonical when the House of Mouse came in the picture, but that doesn’t mean his story can’t be further explored, especially as he was no longer a playable character in the last installment in the series, Jedi Academy.
Shadows of the Empire
Much like Jedi Knight, the Shadows of the Empire series finds its way on to this list thanks to one key element: Dash Rendar. While very much a Han Solo knock-off, the rebel ally’s stories on both the pages of its source novel and comics and the screens of the game adaptation hold a special place in fans’ hearts. Despite being pushed into the non-canonical Legends banner, it proves to be one of the few in the expanded universe to actually get canonical ties to the mainline series, from two crime organizations originating from the franchise appearing in The Clone Wars to Rendar himself appearing in the movie tie-in book for Solo: A Star Wars Story. The game adaptation, released for the Nintendo 64 and Windows, may have received mixed reviews for its lackluster gameplay but with the world of Shadows featuring such a rich roster of characters and stories, it deserves a proper follow-up with a studio learning from LucasArts’ original mistakes.
Masters of Teräs Käsi
If you grew up in the late ’80 to early ’90s, you were witness to the rise of the fighting game community thanks to the Street Fighter, Tekken and Mortal Kombat franchises, amongst others, as well as a number of failed attempts to recreate their formulas and one that wasted much of its potential was Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi. Released in 1997 and utilizing a blend of weapons-based and hand-to-hand combat, the game was widely criticized for its sluggish character movement and unbalanced attacks/combos and would be the only fighting game attempt from LucasArts in the SW franchise for over a decade until the similarly-poorly-received The Clone Wars — Lightsaber Duels. With the fighting game community still proving as strong as ever, the MK and Soulcaliber franchises, the latter of which saw some Star Wars characters as playable fighters, continuing to prove successful and the titular fighting style even being referenced in Solo: A Star Wars Story, Lucasfilm Games should revisit the genre.
The first installment in the prequel trilogy, The Phantom Menace, may divide a lot of fans and critics over 20 years later, but there’s one element nearly all agree was great: podracing. A sci-fi combo of chariot racing and street racing, the podracing sequence in the film was a pretty exciting and unique experience that LucasArts decided to capitalize on with Episode I: Racer and it has continued to prove to be one of the best games in the entire Star Wars franchise. With fast-paced races, easy-to-manage controls and solid graphics upon release, the game was a major hit and spawned a 2002 sequel Racer’s Revenge, both of which got next-gen console updates, though the latter’s was only for the PlayStation 4. With recent Star Wars films introducing exciting new locales that could be utilized as racing maps without affecting the franchise canon and the racing genre largely devoid of unique or exciting titles outside of the Mario Kart series, now is as good a time as any to bring this series back.
Long before Dave Filoni offered a more expansive take on the conflict with The Clone Wars, LucasArts put players into the boots of an elite clone trooper as he leads the Delta Squad, a team of three other clones with distinctive personalities, in Republic Commando. Though also initially part of the non-canonical Legends banner, the central group have subsequently been retconned into being part of the larger canon, making cameo appearances in The Clone Wars, which Filoni says was influenced by the game, and became playable characters in 2017’s Star Wars Battlefront II. With the final season of Filoni’s series introducing a similar team, The Bad Batch, who are getting their own spin-off series on Disney+ sometime this year, now is the ultimate time for Lucasfilm Games to explore a revival of sorts for the fan-favorite title.
What Star Wars video game title or franchise would you like to see revived? Let us know in the comments below!