Back in the 90s there were some MEMORABLE Christmas mornings. But in 1992 and 1998, two Star Wars games from LucasArts made those respective mornings legendary: Super Star Wars and Rogue Squadron.
In 1992, there was slim pickings in terms of Star Wars content. Heir to the Empire was published the year before, but if the EU wasn’t your bag then the saga was as dead as Dillinger. No action figures except what you had from the 80s. No prequels to look forward to. Not even a decent t-shirt to wear.
Christmas 1992: Super Star Wars
So when Super Star Wars was announced for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, it was like throwing macaroni and cheese on a great slice of pizza: just an embarrassment of riches. To play the film?! It was inconceivable in its awesomeness.
And so, on Christmas morning 1992, when I popped that cartridge into my SNES console, the midi music that pumped out of that CRT TV was pure magic. The game itself, on the other hand…that was a little harder to parse.
Most people don’t remember much of Super Star Wars, except that they know they loved playing it. It looked great. The gameplay felt great. The sound design was beyond its peers by leaps and bounds. And it told the story of A New Hope. Kind of. With some minor plot tweaks, of course, because one of the few perfect films in all of history needs to be changed. For example, Luke fights a larger-than-life holochess piece and murders a TON of jawas and womprats.
The other reason most people don’t remember a whole lot of Super Star Wars is because it was hard—damn hard. Like, most people didn’t get past the first two or three levels. It was infuriatingly difficult, with cheap kills and difficult jumps and respawn areas for virtually no reason. There is challenge, and then there is the sandcrawler level of Super Star Wars. It rivals the flooded dam stage of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
But despite the plot changes and the difficulty, Super Star Wars was a massive hit in its day, and remains a quintessential retro Star Wars game. It’s just damn fun to play in the Original Trilogy.
Christmas 1998: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
As a teenager, I didn’t read the EU novels; Rogue Squadron was all the EU I needed. Complete with the N64 expansion pack, this game was and is the gold standard for Star Wars flying. The dogfights were challenging and intense, the terrains were familiar yet exotic. It was a world entirely based in the OT, yet fully committed to an expansion of the world at the same time. It’s as if the special editions flew off the screen and let you fly through the new material. Rogue Squadron is pure magic, with exceptional graphics, gameplay and music—not to mention actual voice clips from Star Wars actors!
Many exceptional games were released in 1998, but few stand the test of time like Rogue Squadron does. 20 years later, you might catch me playing it Christmas night once again.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this final installment of X-Wing Xmas, RetroZap’s annual 12-day holiday tradition. We’ll see you next year with more fun and memories to share! Merry Christmas!
Joseph Tavano is the owner and editor in chief of RetroZap. Born just months before Luke found out who his father was, he has been fortunate to have had Star Wars in his life as long as he can remember. Growing up just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, he can remember substituting sticks for lightsabers and BMX bikes for speeders. He loves comics, retro games, vintage sci-fi paperbacks, and maps. Though an accomplished drummer, he doesn’t crave adventure (as much) any more, and prefers his old haunts in Salem, Massachusetts, where he resides with his family. Buy him a glass of whiskey and he’ll return it in kind.