I’m not one to question the universe and its ways, but the advent of our new PS3 has brought about a welcome but probably short-lived boom in gaming in our household – though not all of it PS3-related. Maybe it’s the happiness of the holidays or just that we need extended breaks from all the goddamn madness, but both my husband and I have been making our way through several games. He’s picked up Assassin’s Creed 3 like a fiend, as well as Dishonored. I can’t believe how much fun I’m having with Dishonored despite my self-imposed-and-rapidly-dissolving dislike for 1st-person perspective games. While going back through our stash of PS3 games, I happily discovered that we still had Ghostbusters – busting does feel good! Over on the 360, I blazed through Liberty City Stories like a junkie on a warpath to the next high (well, eventually, and after ME3). And then I oh so sweetly and angrily beat Bowser for the umpteenth time in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Last week I started The Last Story on the Wii and am having a blast in JRPGville.
But I’m not here to talk about any of those games, no. (They will no doubt be fodder for upcoming posts.) While rooting around our old games stash, I re-discovered a couple old Gamecube games that were hiding among the PS3 games, one of which was Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (2001). Hmm. I wonder… I wondered if I still had its decades-old saves anywhere. I poked around in our box of defunct and unused game equipment and — a-ha!! — turned up two Gamecube memory cards. I really do like the backwards-compatibility of the Wii (with the Gamecube) and the 360 (with the original Xbox). It makes old games seem…well, not really new. They’re still old. I mean c’mon, it’s hard to get past shitty renderings and controls, which is terrible to say because I should be a loving and accepting gamer, right? Yeah.
Anyway, I popped those puppies into the Wii, and sure enough, all the Gamecube save data was still intact! It was like seeing old friends, once lost, now found! And there was my Rogue Leader game from 2002. Would still it be any fun to play? I fired up the game and was quickly thrust back into its highs and lows.
Have I mentioned before that I’m terrible at flight simulators, and flight of just about any kind in any game? (Yes, I have.) I mean, terrible, awful, h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e, etc. Like, I think I’d be better at virtual fishing or deer hunting, if I played those kinds of games. I must have really wanted a Star Wars fix a decade ago to have gotten as far into Rogue Leader as I did.
Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader is a fine game; but despite my love of Star Wars, it wasn’t a game I was dying to play way back when. It was a launch title for the Gamecube and became a very popular game. I don’t want to be all like “the game looks pretty crappy by today’s standards,” but the game does look pretty crappy by today’s standards. I mean, it plays well, sorta. I got an awful lot of choppiness and glitchiness (ships magically appearing and disappearing – maybe just a local problem), but it does hold its own among other Gamecube games.
So if this was II there had to be a I, right? Star Wars: Rogue Squadron came out on the PC, and I think the N64(?), in the late 1990s. I never played that one but understood it to be one of the better Star Wars games available. We got II because we needed games for the Gamecube. I played it because I liked Star Wars, NOT because I like flying in video games. And the game is well-entrenched in the Star Wars universe. The story takes players through various battles spanning from Star Wars to Return of the Jedi. All the locales are soul-satisfying familiar – no made up planets here! Er…well…you know what I mean. From the original Death Star to Yavin IV, from Hoth to Bespin and on again to Endor, each places is pretty complete in atmosphere and design. Player also have the chance to drive (after unlocking them that is) a bunch of different vessels, from the X-Wing to the Millennium Falcon. It all feels very comfy cozy for any Star Wars fan (until all the shooting starts), and it is fun becoming part of that world.
I picked up from my save point…um, not at all that easily. I actually had to go back to the very first level to re-learn all the flight controls. And I sucked. Hard. So hard that I actually felt bad for the wrecking my Skyhopper so many times and was pretty sure a herd of Banthas was laughing at me. I eventually got the hang of it enough to progress through a couple more levels, but still have yet to beat the game.
In recalling all these past games, I’ve had a fair time putting myself back in the moments I had with them and putting the games in the context of the times. But as I played Rogue Leader, not just went out on the Internet searching for things to jolt my memory, I had a really hard time doing that. I know that it was one of the Gamecube’s most popular games. People praised the game’s amazing graphics to the heavens and were blown away by its realism and stellar gameplay. As I sat in my living room fumbling my way around Bespin, I couldn’t see any of that. Except the graphics; the graphics were pretty damn good for the Gamecube. But I couldn’t get past the stiff controls and the hokey voice additions; and I couldn’t manage the shoulda-been-frustratingly-simple controls.
And as I was coming to grips with all that, a thought came to mind: man, I should really watch Star Wars.
It has been a good long while since I’ve watched the movies (the only three of them that matter). Snippets from the movie do appear in the game, mostly on the home screen or while loading. It’s a fun way to make the game seem more “real,” I guess. Maybe I should watch them, see if that makes any difference the game.
Or maybe I’ll wait another 10 years…see if THAT makes any difference.
Look, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader is a good game. If you like Star Wars and flight simulation and blowing up things in space, then this is the game for you without a doubt. I’m not knocking the game at all because I have some personal beef with…myself? Um…question mark?