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Star Wars Game Moments That Were Better Than The Movies

Star Wars is more than just a series of films. It's a giant multimedia franchise that spans television shows, novels, magazines, comic books, action figures, and lots and lots of video games, and while not every product that bears the Star Wars logo is great, many of them are much better than they've got any right to be.

How good are they, though? Well, on the video game front, many Star Wars tie-ins are as good as, if not better than, the films themselves. If you're a Star Wars fan who feels burned by the Special Editions, the prequels, or Disney's sequel trilogy — or if you just want to spend a little more time in a galaxy far, far away — the following video game moments will give you what you crave. Fire 'em up, strap in, and enjoy the ride — and may the Force be with you, always.

Ewok Hunt makes Ewoks... cool?

Yes, the new one. We realize that Battlefront II has problems — oh boy, does it have problems — but it gets one thing right: Ewoks. Seriously. Those little furballs have never been more dangerous than they are in Battlefront II's "Ewok Hunt" mode.

Set the night after the Battle of Endor, Ewok Hunt pits a team of Stormtroopers against a horde of angry Ewoks. To win, players on the Stormtrooper side must survive the attacks until their drop ship arrives. Every time that a Stormtrooper dies, however, he's reincarnated as one of the Ewoks. As the game progresses, Endor's natives grow in number, while the Empire's forces are reduced to almost nothing. Oh, by the way, the Ewoks can also see in the dark and have all kinds of nasty weapons, including some very pointy spears.

As a result, when you're playing as a Stormtrooper, "Ewok Hunt" is terrifying. Getting stranded in the darkness with a dead flashlight while Ewok battle cries fill your ears transforms Battlefront II into a makeshift horror game. It's remarkably tense, and does a better job making the Ewoks into real threats than Return of the Jedi's lame rock-slinging and too-cute traps. Trust us. You'll never look at an Ewok the same way again.

The best plot twist in Star Wars history

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic's mid-game reveal isn't just miles better than The Last Jedi's fake-out regarding Rey's lineage. It puts the surprise behind Luke and Leia's shared heritage to shame. It's even gives "No, I am your father" — the plot twist to end all plot twists — a run for its money.

Yeah, Knights of the Old Republic is that good. If you've managed to stay spoiler-free for the past decade and a half or so, here's what's up: in BioWare's Star Wars role-playing game, you play as an amnesiac who must criss-cross the galaxy in hopes of stopping Darth Malak, missing Sith Lord Darth Revan's former apprentice. Halfway through, however, Knights of the Old Republic brings out the big guns. Not only are you Darth Revan, but the Jedi Council brainwashed you and removed your memories in order to keep you docile.

It's a twist that both makes perfect sense in the Star Wars universe, and also one that changes everything. Knights of the Old Republic raises difficult questions about how noble the Jedi really were years before The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and The Last Jedi covered similar ground. The reveal sets up everything that follows — do you remain on the side of good, or do you give in to your Dark Side roots? — perfectly. It's so well executed, in fact, that many fans consider Knights of the Old Republic to be one of the best video game stories ever told, not to mention one the best Star Wars adventures of all time, films included. It's just that good.

Whatever Jyn can do, Kyle can do better

Jyn Erso and Kyle Katarn have a lot in common. They're both former combatants. They both left the fight to look to dabble on the wrong side of the law, and they both stole the plans for the original Death Star, paving the way for one of the Rebel Alliance's greatest victories.

That's right: 21 years before Rogue One: A Star Wars Story told the story of how Princess Leia got her hands on the Death Star schematics, the opening level of LucasArts' first-person shooter Star Wars: Dark Forces covered the same ground. From a technical standpoint, Dark Forces hasn't aged all that well — when it came out, things like multi-story buildings and the ability to look up and down were major innovations — but viewed through those nostalgia goggles, it can't be beat. It's hard to imagine now, but being able to contribute directly to the Star Wars universe's ongoing plot like that provided a thrill that modern Star Wars games still haven't managed to capture.

Dark Forces went a long way towards establishing Katarn as one of the galaxy's biggest heroes, and we're still sad to see him go. Thankfully, Kyle lives on, both literally and in spirit (although not in canon): not only is Jyn Erso's name awfully similar to that of Kyle's sidekick, Jan Ors, but Katarn managed to survive his mission. Jyn did not. As far as we're concerned, that makes Dark Forces the better version of the story. All it needs is more Mads Mikkelsen — because, let's face it, Mads makes everything better — and it'd be darn near perfect.

Fixing the prequel trilogy, brick by brick

You sat through the Star Wars prequels for one reason, and one reason alone: you wanted to see how little Anakin Skywalker transformed into the big bad Darth Vader. Then, Revenge of the Sith hit, the climactic moment unfolded, and Darth Vader turned to the sky and screamed "Nooooo!" Just like that the franchise was irreparably ruined (or you were simply a little disappointed, depending on your point of view).

Guess what? There's a better version of the scene out there, and not in a place where you'd normally think to look. The Lego Star Wars games might've made their name (and launched a franchise) with their ultra-silly remakes of the Star Wars films, but when it comes to the prequel trilogy's climax, Lego Star Wars: The Video Game plays things surprisingly straight. Thanks to the game's lack of voice acting, there's no scream to ruin things. The newly rebuilt Darth Vader doesn't come across like a whiny, lovesick brat. He's just pissed, and like any good Sith Lord, he's more than ready to take it out on everything around him.

All of that Force-fueled destruction looks great in Lego form, too, meaning that Traveller's Tales managed to do what Revenge of the Sith could not: make young Anakin's final fate a poignant and chilling scene. George Lucas, eat your heart out.

It's all about the lightsabers, baby

The Star Wars universe's first true lightsaber duel — Obi-Wan versus Darth Vader in the Death Star hangar bay, in case you need a quick reminder — is packed with emotion. It doesn't get much more tragic than a Sith Lord facing off against his former master and best friend. As a sword fight, however, it's basically just Alec Guinness and David Prowse swinging sticks at each other between lines of dialogue. Dramatic, it is. Dynamic, it is not.

Compare that to the first time you duel in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and realize just how complete its lightsaber system is. Jedi Outcast is, quite simply, the best lightsaber game on the planet. Nothing even comes close (well, okay, Jedi Outcast's sequel Jedi Academy does a fine job, too). Jedi Knight might've started the trend, but Jedi Outcast ups the ante, adding flips and all other kinds of dynamic moves to the proceedings. Layer some Force powers on top, and you've got a game that truly makes you feel like a Jedi. Lightsaber combat has never been more exciting, even on the big screen.

In Jedi Outcast, Kyle Katarn has to work for his lightsaber, too. Luke is handed his. Rey finds hers in a box. Katarn, on the other hand, must survive the Valley of the Jedi and complete trials at the Jedi Academy in order to win back a lightsaber that he's already earned. In the movies, lightsabers are a given. It's Jedi Outcast that makes them feel special.

The Force awakens -- eventually

Star Wars would have you believe that becoming a Jedi takes decades' worth of training, but let's look at the facts. Luke spends a few days in a swamp failing at everything Yoda tells him to do and gets his hand chopped off by Darth Vader, and the next time that we see him, he's wearing traditional robes and calling himself a Jedi master.

That's not much of a journey, especially compared to Star Wars Galaxies, during which becoming a Jedi could take years and years, at least in the game's original incarnation. Every time a Star Wars Galaxies character was created, the game assigned him or her a random and invisible checklist of things to accomplish, including tasks like killing specific monsters or discovering hard-to-reach locations. Manage to complete all of those milestones — a big challenge, given that you had no idea what they were — and you'd become Force sensitive. During development, the system was simplified, but Galaxies creative director Raph Koster still estimated that it'd take about nine years before the game saw its first Jedi Knight.

That didn't sit well with LucasArts' marketing team, which forced the Galaxies crew to make the process more transparent. A few years later, Galaxies' much-maligned "New Game Experience" arrived, making Jedi a starting class and robbing them of their mystique. Still, for one brief, shining moment, Star Wars Galaxies made the Jedi just as special as the movies always said they were, and Star Wars games were all the better for it.

You comrades say do, but Yoda says do not

There's a single moment that transforms Yoda from a goofy Muppet spouting fortune cookie wisdom into a battle-hardened leader. It's not when he starts pinballing around Christopher Lee in Attack of the Clones, though. In fact, it's not something that you'll ever see on the big screen. Star Wars: Republic Commando might've spun-off from the much maligned Star Wars prequels, but don't hold that against it: despite the odds, Republic Commando is both a solid squad-based shooter and the best military drama this side of The Clone Wars.

In Republic Commando, you control of Delta Squad, a four-member team of Clone Troopers. As the squad leader, you're tasked with both dealing with threats via some first-person shooting as well as issuing orders for your team. Along the way, you'll get very attached to the other members of your squad.

That's what makes Republic Commando's final moments so heartbreaking. After completing the final mission on Kashyyyk, one of your soldiers — RC-1207, better known as "Sev" — doesn't make it to the extraction point. You can't go rescue him, though. Yoda himself orders a full retreat, and you can't disobey the little green general. Now, Sev survived — or he would've, if that Republic Commando sequel had ever gotten off of the ground — but the rest of Delta Squad doesn't know that. Further, this is the kind of decision that Yoda had to make every day during the Clone Wars. No wonder he spent the rest of his life lounging around a secluded swamp. That kind of pressure is too much for anyone, even a Jedi Master.

Meet the Battle for Naboo's real hero

Remember the end of The Phantom Menace? Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi versus Darth Maul? It's great, right? Now remember the rest of it. Jar Jar Binks doing a Buster Keaton routine during the fight against the battle droids. Itty bitty Annie Skywalker mistakenly launching himself into space, accidentally blowing up the Trade Federation's Droid Control Ship, and yelling, "Now this is podracing!" Doesn't seem so great now, does it?

Thankfully, there's another way to learn what happened during that series-best lightsaber duel. It's called Star Wars: Episode I — Battle for Naboo, and it's a heck of a lot better than two thirds of what The Phantom Menace put on screen. In the game, you play as Royal Naboo Security Forces member and ace pilot Gavyn Sykes, who helps keep order on the planet while Queen Amidala is away playing diplomat.

As Battle for Naboo winds to a close, Gavyn helps free Naboo's highest-ranking members from a prisoner of war camp, leads the diversionary strike that lets Amidala and Captain Panaka retake Theed palace, and then heads to space, where he emerges as the battle's real hero: Gavyn is the guy who destroyed the Droid Control Ship's tractor beam and shield generator, opening the way for Anakin for Force-bungle his way inside and blow the thing to bits. It's a much more serious take on the material than the movie, so just watch that lightsaber fight, play Battle for Naboo, and fast-forward through the rest. You'll thank us later.

Starkiller unleashes the Froce

We know that Darth Vader is a powerful and dangerous Force user. The movies tell us so. Still, what do we really see him do? He deflects laser bolts with his lightsaber. He chokes some dudes. He chucks a couple of pieces of garbage at his overeager, undertrained son. That's... pretty much it.

By contrast, Vader's secret apprentice, Starkiller (or Galen Marek, if you prefer to use his given name), who headlines Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, uses the Dark Side of the Force to its full advantage. He challenges and defeats a bunch of Jedi — not just an old man and a bunch of children, but actual, formidable warriors, including Vader himself. He tears through droids and soldiers like they're nothing. Most impressively, however, in The Force Unleashed's pièce de résistance Starkiller infiltrates a spaceship factory, destroys the whole thing, and then uses the Force to pull a freakin' Star Destroyer out of the sky.

It's gloriously badass, and it makes the big-screen Vader look like a chump by comparison. Really, there's only one foe that Starkiller's powers couldn't beat: Disney, which bought Star Wars in 2012 and promptly wiped the Star Wars Expanded Universe out of existence, taking Mr. Marek and his legacy with it.

Oh, Max Rebo, how far you've fallen

Kinect Star Wars is a disappointment from top to bottom, and not just because it completely bungled a sure-fire hit like motion-controlled lightsabers. Really, everything wrong with the game can be summed up in three words: Galactic Dance Off. Taking cues from Dance Dance Revolution and other rhythm games, Kinect Star Wars' Galactic Dance Off mode forces you to boogie to Star Wars-themed covers of pop tunes and karaoke standards while Star Wars characters bust a move on-screen. It's just as embarrassing as it sounds.

You know what, though? It's not nearly as bad as "Jedi Rocks," the musical number that George Lucas crammed into The Return of the Jedi Special Edition. Instead of "Lapti Nek," an upbeat jizz standard (seriously, that's what popular music in the Star Wars universe is called) with minimal production values, Jedi's 1997 re-release features an instantly dated pop song, a full crew of back-up dancers, a much bigger role for the femme fatale-turned-singer Sy Snootles (for our money, the second-most disturbing Star Wars creature ever, after that thing that gives Luke his green milk), and a bunch of extra band members.

"Jedi Rocks" is unnecessary, inexplicable, and unbearable. We'd rather listen to Galactic Dance Off's  "I'm Han Solo"(a parody of Jason Derulo's "Ridin' Solo") a hundred times than sit through "Jedi Rocks" again. Oh well. At least we've still got "Yub Nub" right? Right?!