I know a lot of gamers point towards the likes of Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Ocarina of Time and Banjo-Kazooie as the highlights of their Nintendo 64-fueled youths, but one other game always slips into my list of most played titles. That game is Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.
As the nerdiest “holiday” of the year is officially upon us (that’s May the 4th, of course), I’ve finally figured out how I’m going to celebrate. I’m going to play Star Wars: Rogue Squadron today, for possibly the nine billionth time.
Think back to the Nintendo 64 for a minute. You might have played a game called Shadows of the Empire. This title eventually hit the PC too, and it was both a prequel to Empire Strikes Back and a prequel to Return of the Jedi. Yes, there’s a time jump in the game, and it’s meant to fill in the gaps between flicks.
Now, Shadows of the Empire released in 1996 on the 64. Rogue Squadron hit in 1998. I mention that, because Rogue Squadron felt like it took the best moment from the corridor shooter that was Shadows of the Empire and blew it out into a full game.
That moment, of course, was the snow speeder mission that tasked players with bringing down AT-ATs.
That mission got a ton of play by gamers at the time. It was huge, and bringing down those walkers felt incredible.
LucasArts obviously realized this, and they tapped Factor 5 to create an entire game based around aerial battles. That became Rogue Squadron, and it was huge.
You could select a unique craft before each mission, whether it was the Y-Wing. A-Wing, X-Wing and, thanks to cheat codes, a Naboo Starfighter and an old Buick.
The Starfighter was sort of cool. Rogue Squadron released in 1998. Star Wars Episode I released in 1999. It wasn’t until the movie was out that I learned that Factor 5 had actually added a cheat code for the Naboo Starfighter in their game well ahead of the flick’s release. That was mind-blowing as a young teenager.
Now, I’m not actually playing this game on the Nintendo 64. No, my system is packed up in a box and resting quietly in storage as I slowly prepare to move house. Instead, I’m grabbing Rogue Squadron on GOG. Luckily for me, it’s on sale at roughly $7.50. Word has it that this version isn’t as rock-solid as the console release, but it does offer controller support on modern PCs.
That’s good enough for me.
My craft of choice? Oddly enough, it wasn’t the X-Wing. I loved the A-Wing. The ship was fast, and I practiced missions again and again in an effort to complete them as quickly as possible. This ship made that work well.
What are you doing to celebrate May the 4th? Making fun of nerds like me? Can’t blame you.