Update: Now featuring 100% more Star Wars: Republic Commando. Originally posted on 7th April 2021, we’ve republished this list to celebrate Star Wars Day – enjoy!
The release of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker may have ‘ended’ Star Wars as we’ve known it for the past four-and-a-half decades, but all it really did was tie a bow on the cinematic tales of the Skywalker clan and the nine-film saga which began way back in 1977. After all, Star Wars is never really gone.
Streaming platform Disney+ has all the movies in 4K, plus shows like The Mandalorian and a deluge of other TV projects in the works, and there are new trilogies, spin-offs, games and much more in the pipeline. With LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga coming to Switch in 2021, that galaxy far, far away will be coming at you across all media for a long time to come.
The franchise has a long and storied history with video games, too, and below we take a look back at every Star Wars game on Nintendo systems, ranked from worst to best. To keep things tidy, in instances where the same game was released on multiple platforms, we’ve opted to mention the lesser of the two — invariably the portable version — in the other’s entry.
So, come with us on a journey to a galaxy fa—oh you know the rest. We begin at the bottom, so beware that the Force is not strong with many of these…
Anyone who’s only ever played Star Wars games on a Game Boy deserves your pity. Nintendo portables had a lot of things going for them, but a high midi-chlorian count wasn’t one of them.
Flight of the Falcon is the worst Star Wars game ever because it’s got Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon on the cover — the two coolest things in the Star Wars universe — and it sullies their good names. As with all terrible Star Wars games, the iconography fools you into thinking ‘ah, it can’t be that bad!’, but our review conclusion sums this up perfectly: “Flight of the Falcon is a very bad game. As such, you should not play it. However cool the screenshots look, however promising the premise sounds, just remember that the Force is not with this one in any way, shape or form.”
Han, mah boogie, you deserved better.
Publisher: THQ / Developer: LucasArts
Release Date: Dec 1999 (USA)
You have to remember that while Yoda is a beloved character, this game came before we’d ever seen him wield a lightsaber in what is easily the best scene in Attack of the Clones. Despite the name, in Yoda Stories you control Luke Skywalker in a top-down adventure as he chops snakes in two with his lightsaber. How bad can that be?…
Really quite bad, it turns out. ‘Sedate’ is too generous a word, and whole game is a technical embarrassment. It’s tempting to blame the hardware, but then you look at Link’s Awakening and see what might have been. Link’s Awakening this ain’t. Poodoo, plain and simple.
Publisher: THQ / Developer: David A. Palmer Productions
Release Date: May 2002 (USA)
Fittingly, the weakest movie in the saga got one of the weakest Star Wars games ever. Normally we’d caveat a statement like that with ‘arguably’, but Episode II really is inescapably pants (except for that Yoda bit at the end — we remember quite liking that). The tie-in GBA game is a turgid side-scrolling beat ’em up that lacks the artistic polish even the dullest examples on this list bring to the table. Coarse, rough and irritating, indeed.
Publisher: THQ / Developer: Helixe
Release Date: Nov 2002 (USA)
An isometric platformer that takes place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, you control the petulant young Skywalker in this stodgy action game. Considering the platform it’s on, the game looks and sounds okay. Beyond that, though, it’s dull, repetitive and so s-l-o-w. Anakin, you’re breaking our heart.
Publisher: THQ / Developer: HotGen
Release Date: Nov 2001 (USA)
With passable animation and audio (especially considering the system) and boring, finicky platforming, Star Wars: Jedi Power Battles falls into a regretfully familiar pattern of portable Star Wars games. It’s not as hateful as some, and it’s a little faster paced than New Droid Army, but it’s a similar story. Perhaps developer HotGen was trying to faithfully capture the excitement of The Phantom Menace‘s trade disputes, in which case job done. Some might call the non-canon blue lightsaber wielded by Mace Windu on the cover unforgivable, but we were too bored to care.
Publisher: JVC / Developer: Lucasfilm Games
Release Date: Mar 1992 (USA)
A relatively ho-hum 8-bit platformer where you play as Luke battling through variations of the locations from the movie, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back could not be more average. For kids desperate to play as hero Luke, it was passable filler but no more. A Game Boy version also exists, but if you’re gagging to play through the best film of the saga in video game form, you’re much better off going with the 16-bit ‘Super’ iteration. Indeed, LucasArts didn’t even bother with an 8-bit Return of the Jedi — the developer simply jumped generations and started afresh with Super Star Wars on the SNES.
Publisher: THQ / Developer: HotGen
Release Date: Nov 2000 (USA)
Another one quick to tick the ‘dull’ and ‘repetitive’ boxes, if you think the isometric adventures on the GBA were tough going on the eyes, Obi-Wan’s Adventures takes that style of game back a console generation in an ‘adventure’ set concurrently against the events of Episode 1. It’s not awful, just ugly and entirely pedestrian.
Publisher: LucasArts / Developer: LucasArts Singapore
Release Date: 15th Sep 2009 (USA)
A tie-in with the movie and TV shows surrounding the events between Episodes II and III, it was the same old story when it came to this action platformer. Uninspired, unengaging, unexciting — take your pick. At least the bad games are really bad and evoked an emotion other than disappointment. Republic Heroes is just painfully, crushingly average.
We’re off to dig out our thesaurus because we’re running out of words for ‘unremarkable’, and we think there are several more to come before we get to the good stuff.
28. Star Wars (NES)
Publisher: JVC / Developer: Beam Software
Release Date: Nov 1991 (USA)
Another platformer. To be fair, it did a decent job of providing some variety and touching on the main characters and locations of the movie, but it’s pretty unmemorable (and unforgiving). The token Game Boy version upped the difficulty as it reduced screen real estate, but possibly the most interesting of the 8-bit versions is the entirely different and earlier Famicom game developed by Namco in 1987. ‘Interesting’ because it’s not afraid of deviating significantly from the source material and having Darth Vader turn into a scorpion, Not ‘interesting’ because it’s any good, sadly.
Ah, yes, Shadows of the Empire. There’s huge nostalgia for this one, and it has its moments — specifically the opening Hoth battle which stands head-and-shoulders above anything else the game has to offer — but it undeniably benefited from the fact that there were so few games available for the N64 for several months following launch. Players who did pick it up paid an arm and a leg and were possibly inclined to give it more chances than it deserved. It’s not the worst game on this list by quite some margin, but it’s probably best left in the memory banks. Time hasn’t been kind to ol’ Dash Rendar.
Still, cracking box art, no?
The best thing about this game is the other games it features. Included on the disc is almost the entirety of Rogue Leader now playable in split screen 2-player mode. It also features the original Atari Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi arcade games. These alone make it worth picking this game up if you see it cheap.
Rebel Strike itself, though? Oh dear. You think the on-foot sections might be passable, then you play them and realise no, they’re just terrible. Simply delete the marquee game from the disc and this is actually a fine Star Wars package.