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Star Wars Games For The Macintosh
December 2, 2004 | IMG Staff

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In the history of video and computer games, there have been a number of popular franchises. Mario, Sonic, Mortal Kombat, and Madden come to mind. But few franchises have spawned as many games as the Star Wars franchise.

With games available for nearly every major video game system since the original Atari 2600, a slew of popular arcade games, and enough computer games to weigh down a Bantha, if you haven't played a game set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, then you've been spending too much time in the spice mines of Kessel.

Strap yourself into your favorite speeder and take a trip through the Macintosh Star Wars universe.

As one of the older gamers around here, X-Wing holds a special place in my memory as the computer game that made me turn my back on the old NES system during my college years. I kind of stumbled upon the box in a local computer store, bought it on sheer impulse and then spent the better part of a week holed up playing mission after mission.

X-wing was remarkable for several reasons: it had awesome 3D models with no textures - all the graphic detail was created with polygons (and this in the days before 3D accelerators); it combined the extended cockpit experience of a good flight sim with space combat; you got to fly an X-Wing (and Y-wings, A-Wings and B-Wings) against the Empire.

It had a level of detail that really sucked you into the gameplay. Not only did you get to fly around and blast TIE Fighters into atoms, you had to carefully balance the energy levels of shields, engines and lasers while maintaining enough proton torpedoes and concussion missiles to complete your mission. Damage to your starfighter could be repaired by your R2 astromech droid, but repairs could take a few minutes, leaving you without engines, shields, lasers or proper steering for what seemed like an eternity.

Missions built up in both complexity and difficulty as the campaigns progressed. If you needed to polish your skills, you could always spend some time in the simulator fighting classic battles and training, or you could give the timed obstacle course a shot.

In missions, you generally had wingmen that could be ordered to support your efforts, but most missions I finished alone. X-Wing would throw entire fleets of Imperials at you - wave after wave of TIE Fighters, Bombers, Interceptors, Advanced Starfighters and Assault Gunboats. If you could manage to stay in missions after completing the objectives, you could often rack up dozens of kills against swarms of unshielded TIE Fighters. Watching a TIE break apart after a solid hit was extremely satisfying.

One of the best features of the game was the music engine. The music was basically MIDI based electronic versions of the Star Wars themes, but would cut in with the Imperial March as more enemies dropped out of hyperspace or TIEs launched from capital ships. Rebel reinforcements trumpeted triumphant music, while the music would get darker as the tide turned against your forces. Between the radar screen, the targeting screen, and the music, it was fairly easy to keep track of pitched battles.

The third campaign culminated in three missions to assault the Death Star. The first mission was the approach, and involved surviving countless waves of TIEs. The second mission was on the surface, and required you to disable turret defenses and locate the trench for the final mission. The third mission was the trench run, which not only was WAY longer than the trench in the movie - it made you appreciate the sheer size of the Death Star. As you might expect, it looked an awful lot easier in the movie.

Besides simply working your way through the missions, your performance was evaluated by the game. You could earn medals and advanced ranks through General as you improved - which made replaying the game at higher difficulty settings intensely satisfying.


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