Not so long ago, in a video game store not far, far away… one could purchase a genre of game that in recent years has gone extinct. That genre was the games of flight simulation, specifically space combat games. No, they weren’t very realistic, there was sound in space for instance, and they certainly weren’t designed by NASA, however, they were challenging, and most importantly, fun.
This genre created games such as Descent, or the Wing Commander Series, and it’s still out there today. It’s in the dark recesses of the gaming world, in the corner of people’s eyes. It used to be in front of your face, you couldn’t enter a gaming store and not think about this genre. Space combat games need a come back, they need a champion that will re-launch not only a franchise, but also an entire genre. There is a game out there that could do this, the original grand daddy of all space combat games; Tie Fighter.
|Branching dialogue paths. Take that, Mass Effect. -Ed|
If you don’t know what Tie Fighter is, do not be ashamed, you’re young. Those who remember it remember it fondly, but many never played it, and that’s a shame. This isn’t because Tie Fighter was an indie game, far from it. Tie Fighter was the ultimate space combat game without the pesky woes of what air molecules do to an aircraft in World War II, like many combat simulators of the era. Every battle was a palm-sweating dogfight against a faction that, as we all know, in the end win the war.
Tie Fighter was a challenging game, there were no checkpoints, no prizes for second place. When you were shot down you had to start all over again, no matter how close to the end of the mission you were. Didn’t complete all of your objectives, or accidently fly into the side of a Mon Calamari Cruiser? Don’t complain to me rookie, you obviously aren’t ready to fly for the Empire. Tie Fighter was ruthless, that’s what made it so great.
|This is a good idea. You are not outmatched at all. -Ed|
One of the most appealing things about Tie Fighter was how you played for the bad guy. Vader was your boss, (never disappoint him) the Emperor shot a lighting tattoo on your arm when you did well, and all the while you flew in a spacecraft that was inferior to your enemies’. These things combined to make it a fun, challenging game with a unique perspective. The Empire was an evil faction, but sometimes the evil viewpoint is the most interesting. There’s a reason it’s remembered so well, a reason it’s number twelve on IGNs list of 100 Greatest Games of All Time, and a reason why it is my absolute favorite game ever.
Nearly a year ago now, just before Halloween, LucasFilm and LucasArts were purchased by The Walt Disney Company. The general confusion of the days that followed were mixed with rage by some, shrugged shoulders by others, and curiosity by all. What did this mean? Did it mean anything?
|Besides that a lot of people got a lot of this? -Ed|
The answer came in April when Disney announced that it planned on making a new Star Wars Trilogy; after all, you don’t spend 4 billion dollars, that’s with a “b”, for no reason. Now the question on many a mind became when, when will we see it? For myself personally, I only had one question which struck my mind the moment I heard the first announcement in late fall; “When are they gonna release a new Tie Fighter game?”
When was the last time you saw a decent space combat simulator? Ever since publishers turned their attention to consoles the answer is you haven’t. PC has been treated like the ugly stepchild for the last few years, but it’s back and more powerful than ever. Flight simulators died years ago and no one is making them, no one is interested. It may be time to start looking into making a new generation of flight simulators, and Disney has the answer in their back pocket, yet they probably don’t realize it.
Once the new trilogy was announced it seemed as if people forgot that Disney had acquired both LucasFilm and LucasArts, which of course means that the Mouse now owns the rights to Tie Fighter.
Disney could re-launch both a franchise and a genre with one game, and there’s very little downside. It’s not like if Disney loses money on one game the company will fold, we’re talking about Disney here. If it fails then it proves that the genre is truly dead, which would be a shame. But if it succeeds then there are so many good things that would come from it.
|Imagine this, but for a Tie Fighter. I'm just saying. - Ed|
The success of a reinvigorated genre would create interest in that genre. Other publishers would be willing to take a chance on ideas that they might already have about games they think could work. Once the ball gets rolling it would be hard to stop it’s momentum, and that’s what Tie Fighter could do.
In reality, this is just a fan’s cry for the game he loved to return, with a vengeance, but it could actually work. Disney is the one holding all the keys, they have everything they need to make it work, all they have to do is use some of Walt’s magic vision and see it.
The world could use some new combat simulator games. The world could use a new Tie Fighter game, it just needs to be made... but hell, I’ll take X-Wing too.
So Long, and thanks for all the fish.