Posted on December 27, 2012
My Top 100: #41 – Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
The end of ’98 was a pretty exciting time for games… well, for me it was, anyway. It was the year of Ocarina of Time, GoldenEye 007 and what I considered to be the long awaited “sequel” to Shadows of the Empire‘s Hoth level; Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.
Throw in the fact that a new trailer for The Phantom Menace had just been released, and I was beside myself with excitement about Star Wars. I had no clue what the heck was going on in the trailer, or who anybody was supposed to be (“Just WHO is that clumsy lizard-like fella? He looks AWESOME!”), but it was definitely quite visually stunning.
I can only hope to feel that same giddy anticipation in 2015.
Anyway. 1998. I experienced the full range of angsty teenage emotions – my favourite driver had absolutely dominated the NASCAR circuit that season, high school was (so far) going much better and was way more interesting than junior high ever was, and my marks were better because of it… yet at the same time, one of my best friends was moving to Ontario, and two family members had died in the last two years. At that point, I really wasn’t sure how much time I had left to spend with the elder members of my family.
I tried not to be too bummed out about the negatives, so I focused on my hobbies, and finally re-arranged my bedroom to make it a gaming haven. Every one of my consoles, hooked up and ready to go at the touch of a few buttons! Not only that, but they were all hooked up to my VCR. This was something I had wanted since I was a kid, and setting it all up helped keep my mind off stuff.
The one thing I remember most about that Christmas holiday was how windy it was that year. We had pine decorations and bows under every window, and a big bow with a bell on our new front door… needless to say, it wasn’t long into that first night of howling wind that we took that particular decoration down. It was pretty wild for a few nights, but it finally settled down long enough for us to finish up the last of the Christmas decorations.
I helped my dad put some lights up, and when my part was pretty much done, I headed inside. I went into the living room to watch the tube, and I saw him put the ladder back up to make a few adjustments. He came back down the ladder, presumably to get something in the shed… and then the winds came. Quickly, and more suddenly and violently than I’ve ever seen it.
Thankfully, he wasn’t on it when it happened, but I watched in slow motion as the wind pushed the ladder over, slowly bending to the will of the wind – and then gravity took over. In the small seconds it took for it to fall, my thoughts flashed to our car, parked right there, at the end of our walkway.
It was like one of those hilarious slo-mo “fail” moments you see on YouTube, where people’s voices are slowed down with the footage.
I rushed to the kitchen door, sure to see some busted windows in that little Honda Civic of ours… but I didn’t. The ladder was lying on the pavement, right next to the car. Another 6 inches, and it wouldn’t have been pretty! Upon closer inspection, there was a chunk of white paint about half the size of my pinky fingernail that had been gouged out, replaced with a tiny blue scrape mark. The top part of the ladder had blue plastic grips, which was the part that slightly grazed the car as it fell.
Close call, indeed!
A couple days later, Christmas morning came and went. I got a few games, with NASCAR 99, GoldenEye 007, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (the gold Collector’s Edition) and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron topping the list.
At first, the only game that truly captivated me was Rogue Squadron. Ocarina was going to take a while to get going, GoldenEye I had played plenty of already, but Rogue Squadron had that “pick up and kick ass” feel to it right away. Like Star Wars Trilogy Arcade before it, I immediately felt like I was behind the controls of an X-Wing, Y-Wing, or Snowspeeder. There was tons of spoken dialogue, which was absent from the Nintendo 64 version of Shadows of the Empire, and it actually felt like I was taking part in missions that had a place in the franchise’s Expanded Universe.
That wasn’t *quite* the case – most of the campaign felt like it was straight out of the Rogue Squadron series of novels I was reading at the time, but the mission showed us sides of the story we had never seen before. Still, the game’s final level is the Battle of Mon Calamari, which took place in the Dark Empire line of Star Wars comic books… that was quite the nice treat for the über fans like me.