Have You Played…Star Wars: Rebel Assault?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Have you? I haven’t, despite desperately wanting to for most of my life. It’s still filed in a dusty backroom of my head, in a filing cabinet marked ‘impossible dreams.’ My PC at the time was without, and probably wouldn’t have been able to support, a CD-ROM drive (which Rebel Assault so famously required in order to provide its copious FMV), so I stared at what then seemed photo-real screenshots in magazines with dismayed disbelief. There was a game which just looked like the Star Wars films. A game which, quite obviously, would be just like being in Star Wars myself. A part of me wants to believe – hell, believes – that Rebel Assault looks better than last year’s Star Wars: Battlefront. That one day I will upgrade my PC and finally be able to play Rebel Assault.

I have no intention of playing Rebel Assault. I have a mixed relationship with Star Wars these days, in part due to increasing discomfort that my generation’s nostalgia plays such an enormous role in the decisions taken by the entertainment industry today, but the part of me that loved it when I was a boy and still loves, particularly, the spaceships now, still hangs onto the idea that Rebel Assault is the ultimate chance to play in Lucas’ toybox.

I don’t want to destroy that hope with the grim reality that Rebel Assault is a low-resolution, on-rails shooter with punishing controls. I want to go to my grave believing that there’s a game my computer can’t play yet, but when I can I will be inside Star Wars.

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52 Comments

  1. xyzzy frobozz says:

    I realised about half way through Episode 2 (hey, I’m a slow learner) that what a 10 year old thinks is cool isn’t so cool for an approximately-at-the-time 33 year year old, and spent the rest of the movie sleeping.

    One of the smartest uses of one and a quarter hours ever. Saved me watching another couple of hours of overwrought toy advertisements in Episode 3.

    And that pretty much sums up my attitude to Star Wars and Star Wars related material in general these days?

    Why waste valuable sleep time?

    • Thurgret says:

      3 was okay. Quite enjoyable as films go, even. 2 was appalling and 1 was very shaky, but 3 is still okay. It contains fewer trade disputes, less whining, and the best opening sequence of any of the films bar 6 (lest people forget, 5 didn’t open with a battle on Hoth, but with Luke being mugged by a Wampa and that whole Ben, Dagobah thing).

      • JuergenDurden says:

        3 was god-awful. imho the one that actually kinda holds up in retrospect is 1.

        • PancakeWizard says:

          Agreed. 1 was naff but at least it was sincere and light-hearted. 2 and 3 were just plain bad.

          • Coming Second says:

            Yep. Episode 1 is hilariously crap but has a certain child-like enthusiasm underpinning it. Squint a bit and you can see why there were one or two rave reviews for it. 2 and 3 were about Lucas sulkily winding his neck back into its defensive pouch and giving the fans what he thought they wanted.

  2. Shatfield says:

    What you’ve done there is confused Rebel Assault with Rebel Assault 2 followed by a big fib in an attempt to be clever.

  3. 49152 says:

    I felt it almost insulting to gamers that this even appeared around the same time as XWing, the original wireframe SW game is better than this.

    Following hotpoints around the screen with a mouse just to watch a SW tie-in film low in both visual and dramatic quality seemed to please a baffling number of people at the time though. I guess FMV was briefly a crowd-pleaser.

    The stealth TIE from RA2 was a good design, which is something.

    The very last time I “played” this something registered a frame rate in the thousands. I love watching old games and software that don’t understand modern hardware.

  4. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Terrible game. Absolutely awful.

    Of course I thought it was the mutt’s nuts when I was 15 but I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

  5. MisterFurious says:

    “in part due to increasing discomfort that my generation’s nostalgia plays such an enormous role in the decisions taken by the entertainment industry today”

    Same here. I took my Nostalgia Goggles off ten years ago. Watching ‘The Nostalgia Awakens’ and seeing how manipulative it was, how each shot was designed specifically to trigger nostalgia, was disgusting. The fact that it worked so well is scary.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I actively despised the fan service in TFA (Harrison Ford is an extremely old man dressing up ludicrously as Han Solo and Indiana Jones) and the direct rehashes, but I still kinda loved the movie. The new stuff is really good and I want to see more of it.

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    Risingson says:

    I did, but I only was able to play it near the 00s, and it was clear to me that it was one of the weaker efforts in the rail shooter craze. Cyberia, Wetlands or Deadly Tide are still kind of fun: Rebel Assault is not.

  7. crowleyhammer says:

    Was this the one with a not millennium falcon flying through some tunnels? that was bullshit and I gave up there.

    • 49152 says:

      Isometric? With speeder bike and AT-ST bits too?
      That was the 8/16-bit ROTJ game, I think.

      Yeah, not great.

    • Bull0 says:

      Yes, Rebel Assault 2 features a really frustrating section where you fly the falcon through some stupid tunnels and bang into things a lot.

      • Josh W says:

        Yes I remember that, I’m sure I either got cheat codes, or got my dad or someone to play it for me, just to see what came next. I can’t remember what came next though, so it can’t have been that good.

  8. skulgun says:

    My parents bought me this instead of X-wing because they heard X-wing was “too hard”. I’m still sore about it.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Rebel Assault was one of the first, possibly the first, game I actually played to completion. I’d already had X-Wing for ages by that point, and never managed to get past second or third mission of any campaign. So, yeah, this was way easier.

      Seriously crap by comparison, as well, of course.

    • Unclepauly says:

      You should be proud your parents even knew the difference between anything game related. My parents repeatedly bought me games that didn’t even work on the systems I had o.o.

  9. JuergenDurden says:

    i have, it was on a triple feature cd together with x-wing and some kinda star wars desktop tweaking crap which you could use to make your system sounds, cursor and such more star wars-y.

    it was crap. it broke me. together with kevin j. anderson’s jedi academy trilogy, the dark empire II comic books and the shadows of the empire game it was among the first wake-up calls that not everything labelled “star wars” is intrinsically good, or even decent or just not god-awful.

    the mid 90s were that fandom sweet-spot, SotE, the special editions and the bloat that was beginning to poison the EU were the first trumpets of the SW apocalypse.

    i miss star wars. TFA only reminded me of how much i miss it.

    • krimhorn says:

      In a most amusing twist, 2/3 of what you mention was released in the mid-90’s. RA2 was 1995, SotE (which was a decent TPS platformer with good “flying” bits that brought us the excellent Rogue Squadron series) was 1996.

      RA1 was 1993 and the SEs were 1997. Equidistant around “the mid-90’s” to the point they they, too, could be considered to be released within that timeframe.

      Unless, of course, by “mid-90’s” you mean, 1995, in which case I have two words for you as proof otherwise: Thrawn Trilogy. That was the absolute best of times for SW fandom as it beckoned and hinted at an amazing future for the brand.

      • JuergenDurden says:

        thrawn was the bomb and released in 91 to 93…. like i said, it was early warning signs. i’d say peak fandom was up til 95/96, thrawn, x-wing, tie-fighter, dark forces, and then the first cra´cks started to appear gradually: SotE, kevin j. anderson etc…. RA 1 was like the dude running into the village warning of the impending shit flood who gets laughed off as a loon…. until the flood finally hit in 97 to 99.

        • somnolentsurfer says:

          Ha. That’s possibly the most accurate description I’ve seen! I escaped Star Wars fandom not long after, and the last fifteen years have been clean. Then some guy called Kieron Gillen started writing Darth Vader comics and I’ve been sucked right back in.

        • Strangineer says:

          1997 brought X-Wing Vs Tie Fighter and Jedi Knight 1, really great games the both of them if you ask me.

          Also between 2003 and 2005 we got JK2: Jedi Outcast, Jedi Academy, Republic Commando, KOTOR 1(one of my absolute favorite games ever) and KOTOR 2. Very good games too I think.

  10. Aerothorn says:

    “Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives.”

    Well, I’m glad RPS finally nipped that running complaint in the bud.

  11. ShommyX says:

    Do MDK2!

  12. Det. Bullock says:

    I did, for what they are (shooting galleries with occasional “don’t hit the borders of the canion/cave”) are very good but unless you have nostalgia like me, avoid.

  13. CannedLizard says:

    Yeah, played both RA I & II. Terrible.

    Possibly better than Yoda Stories, though….

  14. 10min says:

    I played it on an old PC.

    Worst game ever.

    It was basically a foreground video (worse quality than the worse on youtube) where the all the difficulty came from the code purposely ruining the controls.

    The entire game is about compensating random movements with your broken controls. It is awful, disgusting and despicable.

    Forget about it. You lost nothing.

  15. ansionnach says:

    This was one of very few games to get 9/10 in PC Review. They never gave anything a ten (as far as I’m aware) because that would mean perfection. General opinion seems to be that this was a stinker so they made a rare mistake with the review. Other games that got a 9 were Fate of Atlantis and Day of the Tentacle, if I recall correctly.

    Never played it myself as I didn’t get a CD-ROM drive for a while. For Multimedia PC Level 1 specification you needed at least a 386SX-16MHz and I had a 20MHz one so I had pretty much the bare minimum PC for any sort of multimedia. Rebel Assault needed at least a 33MHz 386 with 8MB of RAM which was way out of reach. I could play it now but I don’t particularly care about it any more.

    • FCA says:

      They also gave Battlecruiser 3000AD a 9/10. Which, after buying said game and trying to return it to the store, was the reason I never read PC Review again.

      I never played Rebel Assault. Everybody around me knew that it was crap compared to X-Wing.

      • ansionnach says:

        Really? Wasn’t that released in the UK in 1997? Didn’t know PC Review was still going by then! I suppose I’d moved on to dedicated games magazines by then – it and PC Format only did some games along with coverage of hardware and other software with an entertainment slant.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      I was beginning to suspect I was the only person to remember PC Review!

      The first issue I bought was the one with the review of Day of the Tentacle (in which the reviewer promised that if a better adventure game came out in 1993 she’d eat her leather trousers). It also had a review of Syndicate. Good month.

      • ansionnach says:

        That was a good call seeing as most adventure games released since are not even in the same league. There must’ve been a concern about Sam & Max but Cal Jones didn’t like it as much.

        • somnolentsurfer says:

          At the time 13 year old me was absolutely convinced that she was lying to save herself. I didn’t play Sam and Max till years later, when I discovered she was right.

          Actually, I’m not sure I’ve finished Sam and Max to this day.

      • Iainn says:

        I loved PC Review. I must have dad about 80% of them. Shame I didn’t keep them, just for nostalgia; I binned them all after moving out of my parents house.
        Nostalgia incoming now though: First issue I got came with a 5.25″ floppy (oh yes), with some breakout style game on it I think and the cover was some guy dressed in a lab coat with glasses, looking into a smoking PC as (gasp!) the computer had a virus. I think it was issue 5. It’s a shame the magazine is all but forgotten, even online, but I’ll remember it fondly as my main source of PC news through the 90’s.

  16. p30SiNa says:

    YES!! I think I was 7 or 8 years old when my dad bought me this game. I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I was stuck on a level for about 6 months, trying to beat it. When I did, it was the best day of my life. I finished the game over and over again. good old days :3

  17. Bull0 says:

    Loved these games as a small child, in all their extraordinarily frustrating glory. It’s just a chain of setpieces. The pure rail shooter sequences are alright but any sequences where you’re primarily evading obstacles are extremely punishing to try and get through, just because the controls are so unbelievably bad.

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    Bluerps says:

    I remember that I thought it was great at first, but got bored by it later. I also remember that I liked the sequel much better – I don’t now why, since it’s basically the same game. In that game I got good enough to regularly beat some of the levels without a mistake. I don’t think I’ve played any of the two since the late nineties.

  19. Sinner6 says:

    I had this for the 3DO system. It was an on rails overlay of bad pre rendered movies. There was one cool section where you were the turret gunner in the Millennium Falcon. The rest was very bad. I finished it multiple times.

  20. Konservenknilch says:

    Sure did, it was usually the first thing you got for your new CD drive. Yeah, it’s pretty bad, but FMV games were a big thing for a while. Anyone remember Cyberia? That was pretty fun, but it’s probably best not to revisit it these days.

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    cpt_freakout says:

    Like others here, I was also a kid (must have been like 7) when my dad gave me this as a present. I didn’t even remember this thing existed until I saw this post, but now I vaguely recall enjoying it (because STAR WARS!!) for a very short time because then I started playing X-Wing, and I remember that so much better than Rebel Assault. From the look of it, I wouldn’t want to revisit it though…

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    nh

  23. ResonanceCascade says:

    I made the mistake of playing it recently. It was the first PC game I ever completed, so I thought there would be some nostalgia there to tap into. Nope, it’s fucking abominable. Deleted after 15 minutes.

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    Edski says:

    Yes

    It was terrible.

  25. Unsheep says:

    Its been a long time since I played a good single-player Star Wars game. The last one I enjoyed was The Force Unleashed from 2008. That’s six years ago.
    Since then its been all about multiplayer, multiplayer, multiplayer. The focus on multiplayer seems to hollow out every franchise.

    The older Star Wars games, like Rebel Assault, Dark Forces and so on, has so much historical and cultural meaning attached to them; the music, voice-acting, narration etc. Things that do so much for the immersion.

    Playing older games is only attached to nostalgia at first, when you are thinking about buying the game, however once you start playing these older games you might just realize ‘hey, this is still fun’.

    I recently played Doom again after 20+ years. If you can remove the nostalgia goggles, the game is really fun: the level design is challenging, it is fun to explore each map for secret areas, the enemies deliver a tonne of hurt, the weapons are fun. The game itself runs smoothly and is very easy to get into.
    I can say the same about the vast majority of older games I’ve played: Shadow Man, Quake, MDK, Kingpin, Star Wars Jedi Academy, Star Trek etc.

    • Thurgret says:

      While I acknowledge that you may have a time machine, 2008 was eight years ago for many of us.