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The Best of ‘Star Wars’ on Nintendo: The Gamecube games



The Gamecube era is a great example of how quality trumps quantity, but unfortunately the makers of the console’s Star Wars games didn’t take that maxim to heart. The franchise was in full production mode during its lifespan, with the prequels in full swing, and developers were salivating to capitalize on the good faith and passion of fans. Though the little purple box saw more titles take place in that galaxy far, far away than any other Nintendo non-portable system (the DS wins overall, with 10), the vast majority of them ranged from less than memorable to barely playable. Normally this wouldn’t make for a good highlight list, but when one of the games on your roster is destined for the Star Wars Hall of Fame, well, we’re back to the merits of quality again.


Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

Hands down the single best Star Wars game to appear on any Nintendo console, Rogue Leader was a system-seller that appeared at the Gamecube’s launch- what a way to kick off a new console! With shiny new visuals and enhanced processing power that was capable of displaying an incredible number of enemies on screen at one time, something close to true immersion was achieved, and finally engaging in the epic space battles that every fan had dreamed of was a possibility.

Paying tribute to the story and settings of the original three movies, as well as filling in some of the gaps in between, Rogue Leader kicks off with a bang, throwing players into the cockpit of an X-wing during the assault on the original Death Star, dogfighting with TIE fighters and plunging into a trench run that culminates in a massive explosion. It’s a breathtaking intro, and the game only gets better from there. The Battle of Hoth looked and felt like the movie, you get to steal the space shuttle Tydirium (which will later be used by Han and Co. in Return of the Jedi), there’s bombing of Imperial prisons (and maybe a few rebel prisoners- sorry), and the game culminates in one of the most intense sequences in any Star Wars game: the fleet attack on the second Death Star and the subsequent race to the core. The scope of that stage was unparalleled at the time, and though games after certainly have been able to surpass Rogue Leader from a technical standpoint, few have managed to equal the sheer awe upon seeing what seemed like hundreds of TIEs, Interceptors, and Star Destroyers bearing down seemingly out of nowhere, just like the in the movie, hundreds of lasers bursting forth all at once. The spectacle was enough to convince a devoted PC gamer friend of mine to pick up his first Nintendo console ever. Check it out below:

Bonus stages included the Millennium Falcon navigating the asteroid field, the Death Star escape, and even an alternate universe where Vader wins during the Battle of Yavin, killing Biggs, Wedge, and Luke! Voice acting peppered throughout (including Denis Lawson resuming the role of Wedge) and superb sound design contribute to the feeling that you are there, and a host of unlockable spacecraft, like Slave I, the Naboo starfighter, an Imperial shuttle, and a convertible car, naturally. Any little touch, any little detail that developer Factor 5 could throw in, they did, and the result is nothing short of magnificent. Star Wars Rogue Squadron: Rogue Leader is without a doubt the Nintendo Star Wars game that most feels like Star Wars, in this or any other galaxy.


Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike

Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.  Which makes the follow-up to Rogue Leader, Rebel Strike, the perfect game for padawan wannabes. I kid, I kid. Sort of. There is actually some fun to be had here, when the game sticks to its predecessors’ formula, but unfortunately Factor 5 didn’t subscribe to the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” axiom. For some bizarre reason they ignored why everybody loved Rogue Squadron and really wanted to include land-based stages where the player runs around and shoots stuff. I suppose these levels could have been cool, if they didn’t fall somewhere between the awkward Shadows of the Empire gunplay and Rebel Assault‘s near-lack of control. Instead of providing variety, these clunky sequences elevate blood pressure, and cause memory loss- whatever goodwill was earned through the still top-notch vehicle segments starts to fade a bit.

Still, half the time Rebel Strike is quite an entertaining game, if you have the patience to gut out the excess fat, especially a horrific Endor speeder bike level (has there ever been a good version of this?) that probably is responsible for a large share of destroyed Gamecube controllers. True, the bar was set high, and what could have been great ended up merely acceptable, but when compared to other Gamecube Star Wars titles, that in itself was an achievement.


Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

You could waste time arguing that the first was the best, but this second of what would end up becoming one of seemingly endless Lego-style games is still the king of a series known for its silent, cheeky humor and many references. There’s not a whole lot to say about this (or any) or any Lego game, as they’re pretty straightforward and simple, made for fun multiplayer (with one awesome exception) and appealing to parents of young kids, but hey, it’s still a Star Wars game, so it counts. And it really is fun to team up with a fellow rebel and smash all your favorite locations and recognizable assets into blocky bits.

Lego Star Wars II is cute, adorable, and often even clever in its version of the stories from the original movies. I can’t say there’s a ton of variety, but you do get to pilot vehicles that were the perfect marketing tool to make me want a Lego Millennium Falcon. It’s easy likeability, coupled with weak competition, make it one of the Gamecube’s best Star Wars games.

For more of “The Best of Star Wars on Nintendo”, check out:

The Best of Star Wars on the SNES
The Best of Star Wars on the Nintendo 64

Patrick Murphy grew up in the hearty Midwest, where he spent many winter hours watching movies and playing video games while waiting for baseball season to start again. When not thinking of his next Nintendo post or writing screenplays to satisfy his film school training, he’s getting his cinema fix as the Editor of Sordid Cinema, Goomba Stomp's Film and TV section.



  1. Matt De Azevedo

    December 20, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Rogue Squadron II & III were so good.

  2. Ricky D Fernandes

    December 21, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Why don’t they release these games on the Wii U. Now would be the best time, I would think.

    • Patrick Murphy

      December 21, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      It would be so awesome to be able to play Rogue Leader without having to track down a disc. Probably never gonna happen though. On a side note, the person playing the game in the video is terrible at shooting TIEs. Makes me want to grab a controller just watching it.

    • Aaron Santos

      December 22, 2015 at 12:52 am

      It would be a good idea, but, Lucasarts was shut down after the acquisition by Disney…

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Game Reviews

‘Riverbond’ Review: Colorful Hack’n’Slash Chaos



Sometimes a little bit of mindless smashing is just what people play video games for, and if some light sword-swinging, spear-stabbing, laser-shooting giant hand-slapping action that crumbles a destructible world into tiny blocks sounds like a pleasant way to spend a few hours, then Riverbond might just satisfy that urge. Though its short campaign can get a little repetitive by the end, colorful voxel levels and quirky characters generally make this rampaging romp a button-mashing good time, especially if you bring along a few friends.

Riverbond grass

There really isn’t much of a story here outside something about some mystical leaders being imprisoned by a knight, and Riverbond lets players choose from its eight levels in Mega Man fashion, so don’t go in expecting some sort of narrative thread. Instead, each land has its own mini-situation going on, whether that involves eradicating some hostile pig warriors or reading library books or freeing numerous rabbit villagers scattered about, the narrative motivation is pretty light here. That doesn’t mean that these stages don’t each have their various charms, however, as several punnily named NPCs will blurt out humorous bits of dialogue that work well as breezy pit stops between all the cubic carnage.

Developer Cococucumber has also wisely created plenty of visual variety for their fantastical world, as players will find their polygonal hero traversing the lush greenery of grassy plains, the wooden piers of a ship’s dockyard, the surrounding battlements of a medieval castle, and the craggy outcroppings of a snowy mountain, among other locations, each with a distinct theme. Many of the trees or bridges or crates or whatever else happens to be lying around are completely destructible, able to be razed to the ground with enough brute force. Occasionally the physics involved in these crumbling structures helps gain access to jewels or other loot, but this mechanic mostly just their for the visual appeal one gets from cascading blocks; Riverbond isn’t exactly deep in its design.

Riverbond boss

That shallowness also applies to the basic gameplay, which pretty much involves hacking or shooting enemies and environments to pieces, activating whatever task happens to be the main goal for each sub-stage, then moving on or scouring around a bit for treasure before finally arriving at a boss. Though there are plenty of different weapons to find, they generally fall into only a few categories: small swinging implements that allow for quick slashes, large swinging implements that are slow but deal heavier damage, spears that offer quick jabs, or guns that…shoot stuff. There are some variations among these in speed, power, and possible side effects (a gun that fired electricity is somewhat weak, but sticks to opponents and gives off an extra, devastating burst), but once an agreeable weapon is found, there is little reason to give it up outside experimentation.

Still, there is a rhythmic pleasure to be found in games like this when they are done right, and Riverbond mostly comes through with tight controls, hummable tunes, and twisting levels that do a good job of mixing in some verticality to mask the repetitiveness. It’s easy for up to four players to get in on the dungeon-crawling-like pixelated slaughter, and the amount of blocks exploding onscreen can make for some fun and frenzied fireworks, especially when whomping on one of the game’s giant bosses. A plethora of skins for the hero are also discoverable, with at least one or two tucked away in locations both obvious and less so around each sub-stage. These goofy characters exist purely for aesthetic reasons, but those who prefer wiping out legions of enemies dressed as Shovel Knight or a sentient watermelon slice will be able to fulfill that fantasy.

Riverbond bears

By the end, the repetitive fights and quests can make Rivebond feel a little same-y, but the experience wraps up quickly without dragging things out. This may disappoint players looking for a more involved adventure, but those who sometimes find relaxation by going on autopilot — especially with some buddies on the couch — will appreciate how well the block-smashing basics are done here.

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Game Reviews

‘Earthnight’ Review: Hit the Dragon Running

Between its lush visuals and its constantly evolving gameplay, Earthnight never gets old, from the first dragon you slay to the hundredth.




In Earthnight, you do one thing: run. There’s not much more to do in this roguelike auto-runner but to dash across the backs of massive dragons to reach their heads and strike them down. This may be an extremely simple gameplay loop, but Earthnight pulls it off with such elegance and style. Between its lush comic book visuals and its constantly evolving gameplay, it creates an experience that never gets old, from the first dragon you slay to the hundredth.

Dragons have descended from space and are wreaking havoc upon humanity. No one is powerful enough to take them down – except for the two-player characters, Sydney and Stanley, of course. As the chosen ones to save the human race, they must board a spaceship and drop from the heavens while slaying as many dragons on your way down as they can. For every defeated creature, they’ll be rewarded with water – an extremely precious resource in the wake of the dragon apocalypse. This resource can be exchanged for upgrades that make the next run that much better.

This simple story forms the basis for a similarly basic, yet engaging gameplay loop. Each time you dive from your spaceship, you’ll see an assortment of dragons to land on. Once you make a landing, you’ll dash across its back and avoid the obstacles it throws at you before reaching its head, where you’ll strike the final blow. Earthnight is procedurally generated, so every time you leap down from your home base, there’s a different set of dragons to face, making each run feel unique. There are often special rewards for hunting specific breeds of dragon, so it’s always exciting to see the new set of creatures before you and hunt for the one you need at any given moment.

“[Earthnight is] an acrobatic, dragon-hunting ballet that only becomes more beautifully extravagant with every run.”


Landing on the dragons is only the first step to slaying them. Entire hordes of monsters live on their backs, and in true auto-runner fashion, they’ll rush at you with reckless abandon from the very start. During the game’s first few runs, the onrush of enemies can feel overwhelming. Massive crowds of them will burst forth at once, and it can feel impossible to survive their onslaughts. However, this is where Earthnight begins to truly shine. The more dragons you slay, the more upgrade items become available, which are either given as rewards for slaying specific dragons or can be purchased with the water you’ve gained in each run. Many of these feel essentially vital for progression – some allow you to kill certain enemies just by touching them, whereas others can grant you an additional jump, both of which are much appreciated in the utter chaos of obstacles found on each dragon.

Procedural generation can often result in bland or repetitive level design, but it’s this item progression system that keeps Earthnight from ever feeling dry. It creates a constant sense of improvement: with more items in your arsenal after each new defeated dragon, you’ll be able to descend even further in the next run. This makes every level that much more exciting: with more power under your belt, there are greater possibilities for defeating enemies, stacking up combos, or climbing high above the dragons. It becomes an acrobatic, dragon-hunting ballet that only becomes more beautifully extravagant with every run.


At its very best, Earthnight feels like a rhythm game. With the perfect upgrades for each level, it becomes only natural to bounce off of enemies’ heads and soar through the heavens with an almost musical flow. The vibrant chiptune soundtrack certainly helps with this. Packed full of driving beats and memorable melodies with a mixture of chiptune and modern instrumentation, the music makes it easy to charge forward through whatever each level will throw your way.

That is not to say that Earthnight never feels too chaotic for its own good – rather, there are some points where its flood of enemies and obstacles can feel too random or overwhelming, to the point where it can be hard to keep track of your character or feel as if it’s impossible to avoid enemies. Sometimes the game can’t even keep up with itself, with the performance beginning to chug once enemies crowd the screen too much, at least in the Switch version. However, this is the exception, rather than the rule, and for the most part, simply making good use of its upgrades and reacting quickly to the challenges before you will serve you well in your dragon-slaying quest.


Earthnight is a race that’s worth running time and time again.”

It certainly helps that Earthnight is a visual treat as well. It adopts a striking comic book style, in which nearly every frame of animation is lovingly hand-drawn and loaded with detail. Sometimes these details feel a bit excessive – some characters are almost grotesquely detailed, with the faces of the bobble-headed protagonists sometimes seeming too elaborate for comfort. However, in general, it’s a gorgeous game, with its luscious backdrops of deep space and high sky, along with creative monsters and dragon designs that only get more outlandish and spectacular the farther down you soar.

Earthnight is a competent auto-runner that might not revolutionize its genre, but it makes up for this simplicity by elegantly executing its core gameplay loop so that it constantly changes yet remains endlessly addictive. Its excellent visual and audio presentation helps to make it all the more engrossing, while it strikes the perfect balance between randomized level design and permanent progression thanks to its items and upgrades system. At times it may get too chaotic for its own good, but all told, Earthnight is a race that’s worth running time and time again.

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Most Important Games of the Decade: ‘Death Stranding’

What makes Death Stranding the most important game of the year is how it has managed to divide gamers and critics alike.



Death Stranding

2019 has been a banner year for gaming. With some excellent original properties making their debuts and a ton of great sequels, there’s been something for everyone and a lot of it. Still, with all of these amazing games to play, only one of them stands out as the most important game of 2019, and that’s Death Stranding.

Now, please note, I said “most important” and not “best”. Death Stranding is far from a perfect game. As my own review pointed out, Death Stranding has a lot of problems, and some of them are so egregious that they could be described as anti-fun. However, what makes the game stand out from its peers is the sheer scale and awe-inspiring hubris of its creation.

For the first (and possibly last) time, Hideo Kojima has been given a total carte blanche of creative freedom and financial resources to make whatever game he wanted. With Sony footing the bill, Death Stranding is maybe the most Kojima game ever made. Unfortunately, like some prog rockers and experimental filmmakers, Kojima could have well done with some reigning in this time around.

Death Stranding

Still, what makes Death Stranding stand out so much from the competition is that it really is almost nothing like anything you’ve ever played. The game is basically a delivery sim where you must cross an apocalyptic wasteland of America and battle a bunch of ghosts along the way. What caused America to fall, and where these ghosts came from, is still relatively unclear even after all of the overwrought explanations that punctuate the end of the game.

Of course, Death Stranding isn’t so much concerned with why and how these events came to be as it is with the experience of living in, and dealing with, them. This is the one game you’ll play this year that will balance out self-serious moral and religious philosophy with chucking literal piss bombs at ghosts and chugging Monster energy drinks.

Yes, Death Stranding has all of the classic Kojima staples. From egregious product placement to a never-ending stream of increasingly tragic backstories, all the hits are here.

Death Stranding

However, what makes Death Stranding the most important game of the year isn’t so much its utter weirdness as a AAA title but how it has divided gamers and critics alike. While some have slathered it with never-ending praise and perfect scores, others have labeled it “a very lumpy game” or “damaged goods“.

Few games, especially in the AAA space, are able to elicit such divergent responses from their audience. Fewer still are peppered with major actors like Norman Reedus and Lea Seydoux in painstakingly rendered motion capture. For these reasons and more, Death Stranding will be debated in critical circles for years to come, and if that’s not the mark of a game that stands out, then nothing is.

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