A long time ago, in a galaxy not far away at all, we had a game that was extremely ambitious for its time. The year was 2008 and the Star Wars franchise was still under the primary control of Lucasfilm and their licensor Lucasarts. The last major film in the franchise was Revenge of The Sith, and it was a time where as a Star Wars fan, you felt like there was very limited content available. Yes, we know that there were books, other games, and comics floating around, but for the longest time that’s all fans had to feed on. Then, Lucasarts came up with the brilliant idea of starting something fresh. What if the fans got to play the role of a Sith apprentice? What if their master was Darth Vader? Now that would be a pretty cool movie, but a game would most likely make it even more unique. This idea birthed the creation of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, a new tale that tied into the main story canonically and was pretty well received amongst its loyal base. Now, 14 years later we have a plethora of new games, theme parks, comics, and a whole new trilogy in The skywalker saga So why are we talking about The Force Unleashed? It’s time to dust off those old memories and return to being an apprentice because this growing classic has been remastered for the Nintendo Switch.
Gaming developer Aspyr took on the role of remastering the game for the Nintendo Switch. The developer has been working on remastering other Lucasarts titles as well as announcing a remake of Knights of the Old Republic for modern platforms. With this new remaster for the Switch, they decided to revamp and polish up the Wii version of the title. Now despite the heavy developments made in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed for its console platforms such as the Xbox 360 and PS3, the Wii version was a very different experience. The player had the control of the Wii remote’s motion sensors to use as your lightsaber and force powers. A very innovative idea but it wasn’t always as well received compared to the other consoles. Some people found swinging the remote to be repetitive and very much like a Jedi workout game, which may have taken away from its deeply complex and well-crafted story.
The plot of The Force Unleashed is probably its strongest asset. The story follows a young man named Galen. As a child, he was found on the planet of Kashyyyk by Darth Vader, after his father who was a Jedi, was slain. Darth Vader recognized that the child possessed great power and decided to take him and mold him into a worthy apprentice. Galen grows up to be known as Starkiller, Darth Vader’s Sith apprentice. The story follows Starkiller as he travels from planet to planet in search of Jedi in hiding. It appears that Darth Vader is preparing Starkiller to overthrow Emperor Palpatine, and needs him to prove his abilities by executing multiple Jedi. Starkiller travels in his ship called the Rouge Shadow, accompanied by his holograph droid Proxy, and the ship’s pilot Juno Eclipse. Through some heavy twists and turns the group will find themselves at a crossing point of information. Will Starkiller remain faithful to Darth Vader, or will he be overcome with the potential for good, and betray his master. In the end, the choice is yours, and both results are quite entertaining.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on the Nintendo Switch stays true to its original Wii version. The graphics and controls are pretty much the same, and if you are looking for some state-of-the-art graphics then I suggest you play Jedi: Fallen Order. As a remaster it’s not adding anything exceptionally new, it’s just allowing you to revisit this classic game on a different console. The controls stay very true to the Wii, in which you can use both joy-cons as your force and lightsaber powers. Swing the right joy-con and it moves your lightsaber around. Push the left joy-con and you can send out a force push. The levels consist of linear travel through the maps as you battle waves of enemies. The enemies range from Stormtroopers, Rebels, and other species of the planets you fight on. There aren’t vast differences between the enemy types, some may have blasters or sniper rays, but overall they are extremely easy to beat. The boss battles consist of an enemy health bar at bottom of the screen and each fight ends with a QTE sequence. The sequences are very clever and brutal, and I enjoyed seeing the different boss takedowns.
Starkiller is very overpowered in his abilities, you can force lift and choke enemies, fling their bodies, and electrify them. You can even throw your lightsaber and impale them in midair. Objects and people that are highlighted in a blue force glow can be controlled and flung around like rag dolls which is oddly satisfying. The experience of wielding both joy-cons can be entertaining but also distracting. The responses of the joy-cons are not as accurate as the Wii, and at times it might feel mundane and tedious to be swinging them around relentlessly. Thankfully, there is an option to use the regular controls, which in my opinion is the better way to play this game.
Starkiller’s look and skills are very much the same as the other console versions minus a couple of details. In the 360 and PS3 versions, Starkiller holds his lightsaber inward and under his forearm, where as the Switch version has him holding the lightsaber regularly upright. As you fight waves of enemies you will gain force points with each kill. The force points you earn can be used to upgrade your powers in the menu. You can even change the color of your lightsaber by finding colorized kyber crystals on different maps. Many things are customizable such as your costumes, lightsaber and saber abilities. Combat crystals enhance certain skills and you can choose between any of them during your playthrough. Another change from the 360/PS3 version is that you can’t watch where your enemies are force thrown but you can still toss them around off platforms and things. The experience is interesting because it feels like the same game yet very different. The missions and story follow the same premise, but the animations and map layouts are different from the other console versions as well. The one super fun aspect of this version would have to be the Duel Mode. In the Duel Mode, you can play as various characters you unlock throughout your gameplay. You can play as characters from the original trilogy, prequels, and some of the characters from the Clone Wars series. The game was created way before the latest trilogy so you cannot play as Rey or Kylo Ren.
Overall, I have to say I was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed playing this game. Despite being repetitive, non-challenging, and having graphics like a PSP, the game was extremely fun. It was nice to bring my Switch with me to work and play during my breaks. Think about it, you are an overpowered Sith with unlimited skill, and it’s just very fun to hack and slash your way through missions. The game also gave me a dose of nostalgia, and it unlocked memories of when I was younger and played this game for the first time. I never thought that I would ever revisit this game let alone play the Wii version, but here we are. With a retail price of $19.99 you can’t really go wrong with this blast from the past. Get your Switch, duel a friend, and unleash your abilities on anyone that gets in your way. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is available on Nintendo Switch today, so get it while it’s hot and most of all, may the force be with you.
By Joshua Limage