A long time ago, on a console, far far away, an arcade-style action game named Star Wars Rogue Squadron traversed the stars at light speed to arrive into my eager gaming hands. Just like me, Star Wars fans across the world let out a united Wookie cry of jubilation as their throats roared in guttural pleasure.
After weeks of relentless hype that had fans at fever pitch, Developers Factor 5 and Lucas Arts finally began distributing the game in December 1998. What they delivered was one of the most loved Star Wars games of all time (well, at least since 1977). Similar to the introduction of 3D gameplay in Mario 64, Rogue Squadron presented gamers with their first truly polished 3D aerial fighter action game. This was achieved by Rogue Squadron making use of both the Factor 5 terrain map game engine, and the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak to leap frog the game into a legendary status worthy of the Jedi archives.
Considering all of the advancement we now take for granted, I wanted to explore how this iconic Star Wars game could be remastered into a 2016 gaming classic. Come with me as I carefully lower the Nintendo 64 Rogue Squadron game down into the Bacta tank; to explore the possibilities of applying modern gaming improvements to this much loved Star Wars game.
1. Virtual Reality
Publisher Electronic Arts (EA) has paid a truck load of Imperial Credits to acquire the exclusive Star Wars games licence. Given they have taken on the responsibility of exclusively holding the Star Wars games mantle, I believe they now have the obligation to renew this iconic gaming series into the modern gaming era. Imagine remastering the original Rogue Squadron to today's standards, including Virtual Reality (VR) game play - say what?!
Do. Or do not. There is no try.
The first inkling that this may actually be a possibility has come from the surprise announcement of a new Rogue One VR mission on Star Wars Battlefront. The success of this mission could be the catalyst for EA to develop a full Rogue One style game. In a very similar circumstance, one of the main instigators to develop Rogue Squadron was due to the popularity of the Battle of Hoth level in Star Wars Shadows of The Empire. Brett Tosti, who was the production manager at Factor 5, stated:
That whole scene was actually the genesis for Rogue Squadron because everybody said, 'Why don't you do a whole game like that?' So we did.
We can only hope that history repeats itself - "GIVE ME MORE!"
2. Co-op Campaign
I don't know about you, but I always prefer my squadron to consist of the most trusted pilots the Rebel Alliance can offer. Who better then, than to call upon the comradery of my friends (skill is a work in progress, haha) to take on the Galactic Empire. The choice of characters would be from the pool of 12 Rogue Squadron members, being:
Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles, Tycho Celchu, Biggs Darklighter, Gavin Darklighter, Corran Horn, Wes Janson, Derek Klivian, Jek Porkins, Dak Ralter, Zev Senesca, or Kasan Moor.
The four game objectives throughout the 16 levels of the original Rogue Squadron game, would easily complement co-op gameplay. All missions are broken down into submissions and vary across the levels by applying different objectives that you and your squadron hope to overcome as you progress through the levels. The four category objectives are: search and destroy, reconnaissance, rescue, and protect.
The choice of ship would also be limited to a specific character, with each character having a pre-set range of attributes assigned to them. The attributes would not be cosmetic, but rather skill sets that increase abilities such as; agility, stamina or manoeuvres. The choice of characters and ships, would then dictate the ease, or otherwise noob qualities of your squadron, as they attempted to win the day/night - well, it could be in space...
3. New Space Missions
In addition to the original levels, would be the inclusion of new bonus space missions to take advantage of the wider scope that is the ever expanding Star Wars universe. Some of the must have space battles would include:
- A firefight with Boba Fett in an asteroid field surrounding Geonosis
- All squadron members taking up positions in the Millennium Falcon (some of them may need to play Dejarik) as they evade New Order fighters in Jakku
- Last but not least, the classic battle from Return of The Jedi, where you and your Rogue Squadron fly into the Death Star.
Out of those three, I would definitely want to fly into the Death Star and drop some Concussion Missiles straight up the Emperors wrinkled arse.
4. Player vs Player
If we are going to be immersed in VR, with killer graphics, sound, campaign levels and co-op game play, then next on the wish list has to be PvP. Defeating the campaign is one thing, but to play as a squadron against other teams would definitely turn this game into a modern day classic.
Great, kid. Don't get cocky.
The battles would not be two squads going head to head, no way, I am thinking bigger. Why not Legions of starships fighting out iconic Star Wars battles in every imaginable vehicle: Imperial-class Star Destroyers, Separatist frigates, or even the Death Star. If you see it, you can fly it, fire on it or destroy it. Now we're talking.
These three battles are just examples of huge iconic clashes that have the imagined level of scale and moving parts, which could make a valued addition to the remastered Rogue Squadron game:
The Battle of Geonosis - between the Confederacy of Independent Systems and the Galactic Republic.
- The Battle of Coruscant - between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems
- The Battle of Naboo - between the Trade Federation and Naboo fighter squadron
Irrespective of the levels chosen, the combined elements of fire power and skills coordinated by a well-oiled squadron is going to produce an addictive game. Think about the ongoing success of Battlefield 4, and the associated intensity of anticipation surrounding Battlefield 1 to grasp the possibilities that a modern Rogue Squadron PvP game could be.
5. Graphics and sound effects
Star Wars Rogue Squadron was one of the first games on the Nintendo 64 to use the Expansion Pak. The Expansion Pak was used to increase Rogue Squadron's N64 resolution to 640 x 480. In today's gaming environment, this may seem like slightly refined Minecraft graphics, but in 1998 it was one of the highest resolution modes you could play. The quality of graphics and sound have remained to be one of the key elements in maintaining its longevity as one of the most iconic Star Wars games ever made.
Today, that can also be said for the latest Star Wars Battlefront game. I have never seen a Star Wars game encompass so many of the Star Wars elements in such detail. This game looks and sounds incredible! Unfortunately, this new Star Wars game lacks any depth, and has had many fans crawling back into their Tauntaun's to weather the storm. That aside, the graphics, sound effect (pew pew) and game mechanics have hit a distinctive mark.
This is especially evident in the Fighter Squadron mode. For a remastered Rogue Squadron game to be considered acceptable, it needs to at least align to the benchmark of Star Wars Battlefront. Without a graphics and sound upgrade, modern gamers will only see imperial besser blocks flying through space in VR. Enthralling to me, but a bit of a missed opportunity overall.
Never Tell Me The Odds
The historical milestones of great Star Wars games should not be overlooked in how they can contribute to the perpetual battle between good and evil. Star Wars Rogue Squadron on the Nintendo 64 will always remain one of the pinnacle Star Wars games of any galaxy. The ever expanding Star Wars story from Disney is only going to increase the unquenchable thirst of Star Wars fans' need for more.
Star Wars Rogue Squadron is a game that could rise from a Bacta tank remastered into a modern powerhouse of Star Wars awesomeness, ready for gamer consumption. The opportunity to once again deliver a Rogue Squadron campaign, with co-op accessibility, PVP multiplayer gameplay, all in VR, would captivate and consume a new generations eagerness to be immersed into the Star Wars universe. I think it's time for a virtual upgrade.