Feeling less like a Rogue Leader, more like a rogue wannabe

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.

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader cover art © LucasArts, Nintendo

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.

But there are so…few…to choose from! (source)

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.

The truth in embroidery; it is a powerful thing (source)

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?


  1. “If you like Star Wars and flight simulation and blowing up things in space,”
    This is precisely why I love this game, and endure the completely awful ‘ground combat’ sections of Rogue Squadron III. Jedi Starfighter, however, is a far superior Star Wars flight simulator. I had the N64 Rogue Squadron memorized through my endless hours of gameplay.


    • You are a far more patient player than I! I never developed the stomach for flight simulators. I’m spatially challenged as is, and my terribleness at flight in games is testament. I know there were some good Star Wars ones, with flight and otherwise, like you mentioned; but despite my love for Han Solo and the crew, I always kept my distance.


  2. Nice article. Rouge Squadron 2 was my favourite game for the Gamecube, but after reading this I dont think I’ll go back and play it in fear of tarnishing the memories lol not for a while anyway.


    • Hello and thanks! Yeah, my replay kinda killed whatever hopeful spirit I might have had going in. I still think it’s a game worth trying for any Gamecube fans.


  3. Oh, I have that one. It is ridiculously hard. I was stuck at that stupid Death Star forever! Rrrr, stupid trench! Why I keep dying? Why? After a very, very long time, I managed to beat the game, but it was so darn hard, it wasn’t that fun. And I, too, am bad at flying, and this game is nothing but flying (except for the glorious moment where you get to walk between ships, the only part of the game I’m not terrible at). It’s on the sell pile now.

    I do have fond memories of that training area on Tatooine or whatever, though. At the time, I thought it was neat how the time of day changed. And no one was shooting at me.

    I have a question, though. You said the 360 was compatible with XBox games. How well do XBox games work on the 360? I heard they sometimes work, but not all are completely compatible, so I’ve been too chicken to try it myself. It would be nice to play “Halo” and “Halo 2” again without having to plug in the old Box.


    • I’ve played DOOM 3 and the original Fable, both XBox games, on the 360, and each one ran very smoothly — no problems that I can recall. (What’s funny is that the old XBox load screen will appear instead of the new 360 load screen. It’s a nice little flashback.) I’m pretty sure that it could handle the old Halo games, but maybe someone seeing this comment would know better. Any lovely blogger folks know the definite answer — XBox Halo games on the 360 — OK or not OK?

      By the way, the Death Star level took me FOREVER to beat! I kept running into beams(?) that I swear I couldn’t see from the cockpit. Good game though, not perfect.


  4. Hahaha, I was always terrible at this game, too! I remember getting it with the Gamecube at launch and WANTING to have fun with it so badly, but just being frustrated at every turn. Like you said, it’s certainly not bad, but I just never wanted to put in the time to get good at it.


    • It was very strange going back to the beginning to re-learn the game — I remembered right off the bat just how long it took me to learn the controls in the first place! It certainly is a game that people LOVE, want to love, or despise.


  5. I bought this game twice (once as the standalone game, once as the co-op version found in Rogue Squadron III) just because I wanted to like it so damn much. But like you, I realized very quickly that I suck at these games. I can play an arcadey flight sim like Star Fox 64 or a very deep one like X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter no problem, but when it’s something in between like Rogue Squadron, I just can’t get it. Bear in mind, Rogue Squadron II was damn hard, too.


    • It is very difficult! I had a terrible time keeping track of what exactly was the hell was shooting at me. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the patience to conquer the game. But at some point I would like to get over my fear of flight in games. I never played Star Fox 64 and would like to at least give it a try someday.


    • You’re welcome — I love spreading warm fuzzies! (The good kind, that is.) Your Dishonored review was very nicely done.

      Never played Bounty Hunter, but I remember it came out during a time when I had little Star Wars love left. I was a little curious about the PS2 version, but never followed through.


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