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This podcast contains adult language and spoilers for The Force Unleashed, Knights of the Old Republic, Return of the Jedi, Revenge of the Sith, Wing Commander, and Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger. The show notes contain spoilers for Star Wars Rebels.
00:16 – Wookieepedia does not contain a middle name for Luke Skywalker.
00:48 – In a stunning oversight, we refer to George Lucas’ dog as “Chewbacca.” In fact, the beloved Wookiee was based on Lucas’ Alaskan Malamute, Indiana, the same one referred to in the closing lines of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Lesser known is that Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept art for Chewbacca was clearly based on an illustration by John Schoenherr, published in Analog alongside a George R.R. Martin story.
01:19 – Dark Forces was released in 1993 for DOS. Coincidentally, since we recorded this podcast, I’ve seen a couple of articles praising an aspect of Dark Forces I really didn’t get to talk about much in the podcast: its level designs feel like real, inhabited places.
04:15 – Marvel’s original Star Wars series ran 107 issues from 1977 to 1986. I have to admit a mistake in the podcast: although The Empire Strikes Back became a six-issue story arc in the ongoing comic series coinciding with the film’s release, the Marvel comic never adapted Return of the Jedi. The events of the movie simply slip, unseen, between issues 80 and 81. Issue 79 concludes a story arc about Lando and Chewie looking for the carbon-frozen Han, in which Lando is disguised as a Captain Harlock look-alike.
05:08 – X-Wing (1993) ends with a three-mission adaptation of the Battle of Yavin, but the game’s protagonist, Keyan Farlander, drops out of the final mission, replaced as player character by Luke Skywalker himself. According to support materials, Farlander flew a Y-Wing in the final Death Star assault and was the only survivor of Gold Squadron; indeed, one Y-Wing can be seen leaving the Death Star alongside Han, Luke, and Wedge in the film. Farlander and his TIE Fighter (1994) counterpart, Maarek Stele, would later get some fleshing out in EU materials: Farlander trains at the Jedi Academy (of course) and makes cameos as a New Republic general in The New Jedi Order. By the way, TIE Fighter’s plot was written to incorporate elements of the contemporary EU: much of the game concern’s Thrawn’s rise to power, with the player pilot serving Thrawn in battles against disloyal Imperials. The game ends with Thrawn’s promotion to Grand Admiral in the place of the game’s traitorous villain.
05:30 – The actual deaths of the Bothans are covered in the Shadows of the Empire novel. Essentially, it was all Dash Rendar’s fault.
05:56 – And now, the incredibly embarrassing moment where we forget what year Return of the Jedi came out. Repeatedly. (It was 1983.)
07:22 – It was called a Jeron fusion cutter. Wookieepedia even generously includes a screenshot of the “rack of ribs.”
08:35 – In discussions of C-3PO getting rowdy, I feel I must mention the infamous droid assassin (as distinct from assassin droid) known as C-3PX.
09:08 – PROXY, a droid that could shroud itself in a hologram of any person, was basically an excuse to get a bunch of dubiously canonical boss fights against iconic characters into The Force Unleashed. It was fantastically dumb, and also genuinely rad.
12:12 – A side effect of the prequel trilogy’s over-the-top swordfights is making the original trilogy’s duels look oddly underpowered. I’ve watched Episode IV with a younger Star Wars fan whose reaction to the confrontation between Vader and Obi-Wan was, “They’re so weak!”
12:21 – Here I feel compelled to mention “training lightsabers,” which only cause severe burns. For kids!
13:09 – For more on Star Wars: 1313, check out its Wookieepedia page here. Since its first appearance in the 1991 novel Heir to the Empire, the planet-city Coruscant has been established as keeping its bad neighborhoods in the decrepit, long-forgotten lower levels of its massive intertwining skyscrapers. Until the 1313 announcement, though, I understood the undercity to be more like the first fifty levels. 1313 would have taken place in the undercity, implicitly expanding that region by over twenty times.
14:38 – In its second season, which began after we recorded this episode, Rebels began to lean much more heavily on characters and mythology from the Clone Wars TV series, and function as a direct sequel to it.
16:31 – Zett Jukassa, the Jedi kid gunned down by Stormtroopers in front of Bail Organa (played by Jet Lucas, and how freaky to have your own kid get murdered by the hero), definitely has a “rat-tail” braid like the one Obi-Wan displayed in Episode I.
16:48 – I change the subject rather abruptly to Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s apprentice in the Clone Wars TV series, who disappeared rather inconclusively at the end of that series, leaving her fate unknown until her recent return on Rebels. Even from her first appearance, many fans made the rather dark assumption that she was killed offscreen during Order 66.
18:03 – The decision to add color to the lightsabers was made during post-production on the first Star Wars; until that point, all three sabers in the film had simply been white. More on the lightsaber effects here.
18:38 – The stormtrooper’s standard-issue carbine is the Blastech E-11.
20:20 – Speaking of X-Wing, the first X-Wing novel (by long-time Star Wars scribe Michael A. Stackpole) featured a character training in a simulation of one of the game’s most infamously difficult missions.
21:45 – According to an official Rules FAQ for Wizards of the Coast’s Star Wars RPG, a master of Teras Kasi can block a lightsaber with her bare hands.
22:20 – Naturally, the Mandalorian jetpack matches the Jedi’s ability to fly.
22:44 – The what’s-her-name that PK refers to is Karen Traviss, who has written several well-received novels about Mandalorians and their clones.
25:55 – The destruction of Alderaan is one of the moments actually handled better in the manga adaptation of Star Wars, with the explosion receiving five full-page spreads, and Leia’s reaction (which the film simply cuts away from, wisely realizing it couldn’t be done justice) shown as an utter and complete collapse.
27:55 – Radical Statement!
28:41 – “A gentleman wastes enough to be troubled, likely.”
30:25 – I should clarify that we’re talking here about the original Star Wars: Battlefront from 2004, not the more recent one.
35:40 – Even though this is one of the grimmest endings I’ve seen in a video game, the way Mark Hamill gets Thrakhath to lean in and sneers, “Screw you!” is a beloved badass moment for me. I should also mention that some versions of the game were bugged so that even if you succeeded at every critical mission, you still inevitably ended up at Battle of Sol.
38:28 – Super Empire is the hardest game on the SNES. (For more evidence, you might check out GameGrumps’ abortive three-episode attempt at playing through Super Empire – one of the few times I’ve ever seen Danny actually angry at a game.)
40:03 – “Hoth is the new Normandy Beach.” As aptly demonstrated by games like Super Empire Strikes Back, Shadows of the Empire, and more recently, the rebooted Star Wars Battlefront, Hoth has for some time been the iconic testbed level for each new generation of Star Wars games. This is somewhat appropriate to that scene’s role as the one real large-scale battle in the first two films.
40:37 – What we’re referring to here is one of the classic video game secrets – the original Rogue Squadron for the N64 featured, as a secret ship, the 1969 Buick Electra 225. Though fans often speculated it was the car from American Graffiti, or the titular vehicle from Mark Hamill’s 1978… vehicle Corvette Summer, it was actually property of Factor 5’s sound designer, Rudi Stember.
43:19 – Legacy of Kain: worth a look.
43:58 – I actually had the chance to play Republic Commando since we recorded this. It was quite good, though its tactical command functions were a little bit Pavlovian; it was always a good decision to assign a clone trooper to any tactical position that became available. The weapons also felt a little underpowered, the main rifle being a firehose that took several seconds of sustained fire from multiple commandoes to kill lieutenant-level enemies. So anyway, thanks, but don’t send a Steam code for it.
44:15 – Credit where credit is due.
45:39 – Dark Force Rising is the second novel of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy.
46:10 – Geonosis was heavily overdone in post-Attack of the Clones games, particularly in the Episode II game and the Clone Wars game. Both expanded upon the battles on Geonosis; both were in general not very good.
47:00 – I should mention that when I say the Separatist leaders were dull and not menacing, I am not referring to Count Dooku, played with substantial menace and excellent swagger by the late, great Christopher Lee.
47:27 – Cloak of Deception spends some time on the exaggeratedly gross Neimoidian culture, as does Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter.
48:11 – These are the Pauans. By the way, the Pauan minister who greets Obi-Wan is played by long-legged Australian actor Bruce Spence, known for his appearances in two of the first three Mad Max movies.
50:12 – The Rule of Two was first noted by Mace Windu in Episode I. The Rule and its history were expanded upon in the Darth Bane novel trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn. Incidentally, I actually have a lot of respect for him as the creator of Mass Effect, despite my issues with Darth Bane and the Rule of Two.
52:04 – I probably got the “laser ammunition” joke from this TVTropes page. The phrase they use is “frugal with laser ammo.” Contrary to my expectation, Darths and Droids failed to make a joke about this! Instead, they took an angle reminiscent of the Evil Overlord’s handbook by pointing out the security value in shooting down empty escape pods just to be sure. The classic geek sitcom Spaced also touches on this subject. Simon Pegg’s character, Tim, points out that the Star Destroyer gunner is responsible for all the events of the trilogy, to which a stunned Brian simply mumbles, “Chaos theory…”
52:45 – I do not like the Inquisitor’s spinning lightsaber in Rebels, because there’s no line-up between the battery, crystal chamber, and the blade. I know this is essentially fantasy to begin with, but that design reads as implausible to me.
53:17 – PK highly recommends Stephen Biesty’s Cross Sections: Castle.
56:09 – The Mario, as you might have guessed, is an old TV Tropes name for an all-round balanced character, easy to handle with no glaring weaknesses (besides lack of any great strengths), and a good choice for beginners.
56:49 – In fact, his name was Grencia Mars Elijah Guo Eckener.
57:12 – There’s an odd kinship between Shakespeare in Love, which is assembled almost entirely from scenes, dialogue, and plots of Shakespeare plays, and Cowboy Bebop, which does very much the same thing with action movies of the 80s and 90s.
1:00:10 – Lady or host, I really don’t mind.
1:00:44 – I did actually buy KOTOR II, and heartily recommend the Sith Lords Restored Content Mod.