My Top 100: #19 – Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II – Rogue Leader

2001 - LucasArts (GameCube)

2001 – LucasArts (GameCube)


The first Rogue Squadron game definitely came around at the right time for me.  I was in the midst of reading the series of novels based on Rogue Squadron pilots beyond Episode VI, and the game actually helped me get a visual on the description of the dogfights in the books.  Granted, all the missions in the game were completely new to me (except the Death Star and Hoth bonus missions), so I was left wanting more of the battles I had seen in the movies.  Yavin, Hoth, Endor…  that sort of thing.

Not long before the GameCube came out, I read an article in Nintendo Power stating that Nintendo had inked some sort of deal with LucasArts.  This meant that the next three Star Wars games released would be exclusively for Nintendo consoles.  From the look of the little screen shot in the article (a B-Wing flying behind the massive engines of a Star Destroyer), the first one of these games would be a follow-up to Rogue Squadron.  Awesome!

When it finally came out, there weren’t many retailers around Fredericton that had GameCube demos.  Toys R Us did, however, and I got to give Rogue Squadron II a try one evening in November of ’01.

I remember it well…  my sister picked me up after class, and we went to the mall.  On the way home, Pink’s new song “Get the Party Started” played on the radio.  My sister cranked it, while I sat in the passenger seat, wincing from the disgust that came from listening to the song.

Anyway, long story short, Rogue Leader was on a very short list of “must have ASAP” games when I finally got my GameCube in 2003.  Not only did the graphics look just as good as the visuals in the original trilogy’s Special Editions, but the missions in the game were nearly perfect representations of what we saw in the movies.

For example, the Battle of Yavin starts with an assault on turret towers on the surface, before heading into the trench.  The lighting is amazing, what with every red and green energy beam flying through space lighting up the space around it.  It really gives you the feeling that you’re experiencing the events in the movie, in real-time.  The trench run in the first game was cool and all, but limitations from back in the day really changed the feel of the level.  It clearly didn’t look and feel…  you know, like the real Death Star trench, like Rogue Leader‘s did.

The Hoth and Endor battles are also spectacular, as are the missions in between.  Whether you’re flying a speeder through a maze of canyons en route to stealing the space shuttle Tyderium (the Lambda-class shuttle from Return of the Jedi) or protecting Tibanna Gas platforms on Bespin, it’s those familiar settings that add to the awesomeness that is Rogue Leader.



I bought my GameCube in the spring of 2003, and by the fall, I wasn’t too sure what I was going to be doing with my life.  I had just ended a relationship that wasn’t really going anywhere, I was taking a year off from STU to work whatever hours I could, and things felt like they were “winding down”.  I knew change was in the air, and that change was coming, but looking back, things just felt a little odd.

My sister was pregnant with my niece at the time, so yeah, things were definitely going to be changing soon!

Not long after my relationship ended, I bought a new TV to help my mood a bit.  I wasn’t necessarily down in the dumps about the breakup, or anything, because it didn’t last long enough for that.  It must have just been one of those feelings that came with fall – leaves changing colour, temperatures getting cooler, and most important of all, the NASCAR race season coming to an end.  I guess I just wanted a bit of retail therapy!

That, and a bigger TV in my room would kick some serious ass.

My sister and I went to the local Co-Op store to pick out a new TV.  After finding a pretty good deal on a 27-inch flat-screen (not flat-panel), I paid for it, and my sister pulled around to the back of the store to pick it up.  Unfortunately, the box wouldn’t fit in the car OR the trunk!  We had to unbox the TV, and then wedge it sideways into the back seat.  In my infinite wisdom, I thought it would be a great idea to put a seatbelt around it!

Can’t hurt, right??  Satisfied, we headed home.

Somewhere on the drive home, the topic of me some day driving a manual-transmission car came up.  I had never driven a standard, and beyond going back and forth in our driveway a few years earlier, I never really had a chance to practice.

“Let’s do it now!”, my sister said.  “Once you get going, you can just drive the rest of the way home.  It’s quite normal once you’re on the highway.”

I was feeling confident, and I agreed.  She pulled into the parking lot of the New Maryland Pharmacy, and we changed seats.  I tried a few times to go back and forth, just to get used to it…  I wasn’t smooth, but I wasn’t popping the clutch or stalling the car, or anything.  Good to go!

As I put it in gear and went to leave the parking lot, THAT’s when I popped the clutch.  The car shook violently, and the big-assed TV in the backseat lurched forward and hit the passenger seat where she was sitting.  Though it didn’t quite hit her hard enough to hurt her or damage the TV, it did have me re-thinking the idea of driving home.

I had just bought this TV, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to take a chance on it breaking before I even got it home!

We swapped seats again, and she drove the rest of the way…  I honestly don’t think I’ve tried practicing with a manual transmission since that day.  I mean, I do it in NASCAR simulators all the time, with the steering wheel and clutch pedal and everything, but that doesn’t count!

Anyhow, when we got home, we had the worst time just getting the TV up the stairs, and then finding (and lifting) a TV stand it could actually fit on, and put it in my bedroom.  After all that work of getting it set up, all I wanted to do was chill out and play games.

I had a few games to choose from – Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike had just come out, and I had the recently released NASCAR Thunder 2004 for Xbox that I could try…  but no.

I went back to old faithful Rogue Leader, and hit it up with the Battle of Endor levels.  Hot damn, did it ever look amazing!


The ol' beast of a TV is still hooked up, working great!

The ol’ beast of a TV is still hooked up, working great!

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