Here on Earth we use games of both the card and video variety to distract ourselves from the misery of our daily existence. Logically, who wants to be an unemployed barber when you can be an attractive 60th level elf woman who rides a tiger? A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, however, life was different. Games in the Star Wars universe were utilized for a variety of purposes, such as degrading droids, stealing space ships or just shooting whining farmers with lasers from a robot piñata until they learn to chillax.
I say “were” as everyone in that galaxy is now dead. Yes, even 2-1B. You didn’t know that? Sure, the Hubble Telescope has seen that their sun went supernova about 100 million years back. Like they said, it was a long time ago.
It may be hard for today’s drooling fan-boys to imagine, but back in MY day video games didn’t have to have these fancy-dancy GRAPHICS or CONTROLLERS or SOUNDS … or FUN! We used to walk 30 miles uphill in the snow to the nearest computer laboratory just to TYPE to our video games on black screens. This was called a “Text Adventure,” in which the player had to use their imaginations to conjure up the graphics in their mind’s eye of tea-bagging fragged opponents or the jiggle physics of oversized breasts in fighting games. AND WE LIKED IT, GALDANGIT!
In 1983 Lucas Arts, George Lucas’s eponymous video game company, said “No Graphics? No Problem!” and released “Hibernation Sickness,” a text adventure that used technological limitations as a design feature when it put YOU in control of a blind Han Solo recently released from Carbonite freezing in Jabba the Hutt’s palace from Return of the Jedi. If players could navigate Han successfully out of Jabba’s with Luke, Leia, Lando (The Three L’s) and the droids in tow, the entire screen would flash, thrilling the player with what passed for special effects while also ensuring their chances of developing cancer through the radioactive orange and green monitors of the time.
I’d provide a screen shot, but why bother? Just imagine a blank screen except for “C:/> You can’t see.” and you get the idea.
1983 also saw the release of the classic Star Wars arcade game, where you are Luke Skywalker in a wire-framed X-Wing attacking a rather ASCII looking Death Star with pre-recorded sounds. “Hibernation Sickness” is, by comparison, as much fun as cleaning dingle-berries off of an Ewok’s yub-yub, but is still considered a classic by video-game historians, those wacky funsters.
As every facet of the Star Wars universe has been expanded upon by tireless experts trying to sate the demand for quality entertainment, there are complete books of fascinating rules for games glimpsed only momentarily or even mentioned in passing to thrill and entertain the Star Wars devotee.
That crazy holographic chess game played by Chewbacca and R2-D2, known as Dejarik or Vrax, for example, has a rich and storied history. Did you know that all of the pieces are hand sculpted by the players using a piece of equipment called a Holofreezix? The enjoyment of the game comes as much from viewing the artistry of your opponent’s holomonsters as from playing. In that famous scene featuring the match up of Droid vs. Wookie, R2 isn’t upset that Chewie made an illegal move but that he sculpted a Mantellian Savrip with five fingers on each hand instead of three. Uhm, Ew?!
Many know that Han Solo won the famous Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a disputed game of Sabacc, but did you know that Sabacc is not a card game, but an endurance test of reciting movie quotes conducted while both competitors are having their toes hit by hammers? Also, in the Star Wars universe, “Movies” are residents of the planet Mov, a curious race that communicate by farting.
Yes, Star Wars games have quite the storied history, but what about their future? If anybody from Wizards of the Coast (makers of Magic: The Gathering) is reading this article I have a GREAT idea for a new collectible card game!
YOU play the part of George Lucas. A playing mat is laid out in front of both players containing memorable scenes from the classic Star Wars Trilogy. The point of the game is to ruin, beyond all recognition, these beloved classics by inserting new scene cards from your hand into the films! Playing a “CGI Dance Number” right before the first Rancor attack in Return of the Jedi scores 20 points, while adding Hayden Christensen into the end of the movie scores double points! The Jar-Jar card acts as this game’s “Golden Snitch,” Scoring 150 points for the one who throws it and finishing off the franchise for good … I mean the game.