Over the past four decades, the Star Wars saga has produced some of the most iconic moments in cinema, from the assault on the Death Star in A New Hope to Luke Skywalker’s final fate in The Last Jedi. It’s these scenes that have made the series such an enduring part of pop culture.
But as any hardcore Star Wars fan knows, these great moments aren’t just limited to the movies. The dozens of Star Wars video games released over the decades have provided their own memorable moments. And some of them even top the best scenes in the movies.
Here are the 25 most memorable scenes in Star Wars video games:
25. NES Star Wars – Vader the Scorpion
How can we ever forget the classic moment in A New Hope when Luke, after murdering dozens of Jawas, makes his way through one of their giant sandcrawlers to finally confront Darth Vader? After an epic lightsaber duel, Vader turns into a giant scorpion creature for some reason.
Yeah, the NES Star Wars games took some…interesting liberties with the source material. Officially, scorpion Vader was a shapeshifting creature that took the form so that Luke could confront his fears. In reality, it was just an excuse for the developers to put some vaguely interesting gameplay into an otherwise slow part of the original movie. It’s certainly a battle you won’t forget, even if it’s just because you’re extremely confused.
24. Kinect Star Wars – Galactic Dance Off
Star Wars fans had high hopes when Microsoft announced the Kinect. Maybe LucasArts would craft a sprawling epic where a young Jedi learns the way of the Force. Just imagine using actual hand gestures to swing a lightsaber and Force push enemies. Yeah, things didn’t quite pan out that way.
Instead, we got a collection of shoddy mini-games. The most functional yet baffling is “Galactic Dance Off,” which is basically Just Dance with Star Wars characters moving around to themed parody songs like “I’m Han Solo” and “Hologram Girl.” It’s basically the Star Wars Holiday Special of video games. You’ll never forget watching Boba Fett dancing to an Empire-themed take on “YMCA,” but probably not for the right reasons.
23. Knights of the Old Republic – The Final Battle with Darth Malak
Raiding Jedi academies and destroying entire planets, Darth Malak is just as vicious of a Sith Lord as any of those whom are still considered canon. Plus, his voice modulator, the result of a lightsaber injury that severed his jaw, makes him one of the most visually stunning villains in all of Star Wars.
Knights of the Old Republic builds Malak up as the ultimate bad guy in the course of its 40-hour adventure, and thankfully, the final battle delivers, with a lengthy lightsaber duel on the Star Forge that ultimately sees Malak fall and sets up your final decision to embrace the Light or the Dark.
22. Episode I: Racer – Podracing with Two Controllers
In the pre-prequel world, fans spent decades theorizing what the noble Jedi Anakin Skywalker was like before becoming the villainous Darth Vader. Maybe his piloting skills single-handedly saved the Republic. Or he could defeat dozens of dark Jedi with ease. It turned out he started off as a slave kid with a bunch of midi-chlorians that helped him win a race supposedly no human could. Yeah, it still seems kind of dumb.
The Phantom Menace‘s podracing scene was pretty cool though and the game based on it stands out as one of the very best Star Wars titles. Usually, it controls like your standard Wipeout clone, but if you input a special cheat code in the N64 version, you can control your podracer with two N64 controllers, which is actually kind of like what Anakin does in the movie. Now, this is podracing.
21. Bounty Hunter – Stealing the Slave I
Despite only having a few minutes of screen time in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Star Wars fans instantly fell in love with Boba Fett (although technically he first debuted in The Star Wars Holiday Special, which is really best forgotten). But for all of their obsession with him, we really didn’t learn much about him until Attack of the Clones.
And it turned out he’s actually a clone himself. The original badass bounty hunter he’s cloned from (and also kind of his father) is Jango Fett. And while Bounty Hunter wasn’t the most innovative game, it is memorable for finally letting fans live out their Fett fantasies and for showing how Jango first found the Slave I on Oovo IV.
20. X-Wing Alliance – The Battle of Endor
The Ewoks get a lot of credit for destroying the Empire, which is just an awful idea and not even really accurate. There was a whole Rebel fleet above Endor that took out the second Death Star. The Ewoks just barely took out a couple of AT-STs and even that was luck.
For whatever reason, most games based on Return of the Jedi usually throw in Ewoks or a speeder bike chase instead of focusing on the action in space. X-Wing Alliance finally gave this epic battle its due in glorious mid-‘90s 3D.
19. X-Wing vs TIE Fighter – Destroying the Super Star Destroyer
X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter was long hailed as the very best Star Wars game around and it still stands up remarkably well as a space sim. The final mission of the Balance of Power expansion shows just how awesome space combat in the Star Wars universe can be with a massive battle involving a Star Destroyer, a Super Star Destroyer, and a whole mess of TIE fighters. The final kamikaze attack on the Super Star Destroyer is arguably even better done than a certain controversial scene near the end of The Last Jedi.
18. The Force Unleashed II – Dropkicking Ewoks
Back in 1983, some Star Wars fans were convinced that the Ewoks were the death of the franchise. After all, they’re just a bunch of teddy bears with spears shoehorned into the franchise to sell more toys. Of course, that was long before the Gungans. And Porgs. We didn’t know how bad it could get or how good we had it.
The Force Unleashed II is another type of disappointing Star Wars cash-in, but at least the downloadable Endor level lets you finally release your pent up Ewok frustration by punting the little buggers clear across the forest moon. There’s even an achievement for dropkicking ten of them.
17. Dark Forces – Stealing the Death Star Plans
Now that Disney owns Star Wars, the official story is that Jyn Erso and her crew stole the Death Star plans for the Rebel Alliance. And admittedly, Rogue One is an awesome movie –and quite possibly the best Star Wars film Disney has made so far.
But long before anyone had heard of Jyn Erso or Scarif, there was Kyle Katarn and his secret mission to steal the Death Star plans. The graphics may not look like much now, but back in 1995, this was the pinnacle of FPS gaming and one of the coolest Star Wars moments outside of the films.
16. Knights of the Old Republic – Falling to the Dark Side
From the very beginning, Star Wars games put players in the role of a Jedi hero, typically Luke Skywalker, but Knights of the Old Republic let your character fully embrace the power of the Dark Side. There are so many different choices to make in KotOR that no two players fall to the Dark Side in the same way.
Maybe you start telling off your other party members or decide to screw over someone you agreed to help. But the next thing you know, your skin is pale, you’re wielding two red lightsabers, and unleashing Force lightning on a half-dozen enemies.
15. SoulCalibur IV – Darth Vader vs. Yoda
On paper, a Star Wars fighting game sounds like a pretty good idea. And one actually exists. When LucasArts announced Masters of Teras Kasi for the original PlayStation back in the ‘90s, the hype for it was unreal. Unfortunately, the game that was eventually released was a sluggish, unbalanced mess. It was the type of disaster that was so bad it pretty much scared every other developer away from ever taking a stab at a Star Wars fighter.
Bandai Namco still took a chance though and inserted Darth Vader, Yoda, and Starkiller from into Soulcalibur IV. With a much better fighting engine behind these characters, it’s awesome to finally experience the Yoda vs. Vader dream duel. But ten years later, it still hasn’t convinced anyone else to even try to make another Star Wars fighting game.
14. Republic Commando – Goodbye, Sev
Republic Commando took plenty of chances as Star Wars game and pretty much all of them paid off. Making a tactical FPS with a squadron of clone troopers sounds risky, but LucasArts managed to craft an innovative shooter that actually has a really solid story.
In the final scene, the rest of the squad is ordered by Yoda to leave behind RC-1207 (Sev) to a questionable fate on the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyk. With no sequel to resolve Sev’s fate, we’ll have to assume he died in battle, another expendable cog in the Republic war machine.
13. The Force Unleashed – Taking Down a Star Destroyer
For all of Obi-wan and Darth Vader’s talk about the Force, it’s true power actually isn’t shown that much in the Original Trilogy. Yeah, it helps Luke focus and there are also a few interesting psychic and telekinetic powers. Eventually, the Emperor even unleashes Force lightning. But, overall, the Force plays out like more of a philosophy than a source of real power.
The promise of The Force Unleashed to, um…unleash the Force may not have been fully realized, but Starkiller using his full power to slowly pull a massive Star Destroyer down from the sky is a standout moment that would be an epic climax to any Star Wars movie.
12. Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords – Meeting Darth Nihilus
There have been many Sith Lords introduced over the years, but few are as intimidating as Darth Nihilus. Nihilius became a wound in the Force itself, basically a black hole that constantly craved Force energy. He grew so hungry that Nihilus would devour whole planets to satiate himself.
When we first meet Nihilus in KotOR II, he’s discussing a disturbance in the Force with his apprentice, Visas Marr, whom he physically and mentally tortures after wiping out her entire planet. It’s a moment that establishes this villain as one of the most evil beings in the galaxy.
11. Knights of the Old Republic – Jedi Training
Around the same time that KotOR hit shelves, LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment teamed up for Star Wars Galaxies, the first MMO based on the franchise. In the game’s initial incarnation, you could play as a Jedi, but only by spending dozens of hours mastering random professions — and the developers refused to tell the players this at launch. It was about five months before anyone figured out how to actually become a Jedi.
KotoR, on the other hand, got the process of becoming a Jedi right. You start the game as an amnesiac, fighting with vibroblades and blasters (so uncivilized). It’s only after about 10 hours in that you finally meet with the Jedi Council, who reluctantly agree to teach you their ways. You go through several Jedi trials and even learn to craft your own lightsaber. This section alone makes the entire game worth it.
10. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga – “I Am Your Father”
For the first few Lego Games, Traveller’s Tales had a hard rule that characters couldn’t talk and instead had to communicate through unintelligible mumbles. That meant getting creative near the end of The Complete Saga’s re-telling of The Empire Strikes Back.
Luke and Vader have their epic lightsaber duel in bowels of Cloud City. Vader cuts off Luke’s arm… and then he pulls out a picture of Anakin and a pregnant Padme and repeatedly points to it. It perfectly fits the humor of the Lego Star Wars games and ends up being almost as memorable as the real scene.
9. Shadows of the Empire – The Battle of Hoth
Even though many other Star Wars games have featured the Battle of Hoth over the years, none have managed to eclipse this 1996 classic. Everything is pitch perfect in this section of Shadows of the Empire, from the snowspeeder taking out probe droids to using the tow cable to trip those pesky AT-ATs. The whole thing unfolds with an amazing score, one of the few great ones on the N64.
8. Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords – Darth Traya’s Prophecies
KotOR II received a lot of flak for its obvious unfinished state and with good reason. The game came out just a little over a year after the first, so developer Obsidian Entertainment had to cut a lot of content, including an entire planet, that’s only been restored in the last few years.
But the rushed development meant the game has a rather unique finale that’s designed to cut corners and give the story some closure. Once you’ve defeated the manipulative Darth Traya in combat, she offers to tell you the future of your companions, enemies, and even the galaxy itself. Especially memorable is her final dig at Boba Fett from four millennia away.
7. Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2 – Feeling the Power of the Force
In the early days, most Star Wars games put players in the shoes of Luke Skywalker, but the ’90s began introducing new protagonists. Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2 wasn’t the first game to feature fan-favorite Jedi Kyle Katarn, but it was the first to hand him a lightsaber.
Whether you choose to follow the Light path and confuse enemies or go down the Dark path and take them out with lightning and fire is up to you, but either way, it’s the first time most Star Wars fans felt like a fully powered Jedi Knight.
6. Battlefront 2 (2005) – Finally Becoming a Hero
The Battlefront series turned Star Wars into an enjoyable multiplayer experience. It’s easy to spend dozens of hours in matches as a Rebel soldier or Imperial stormtrooper. But what truly made the series special was the ability to play as the Heroes, the main characters from the film that can be activated in a match by fulfilling certain criteria.
As much fun as it is to snipe a bunch of stormtroopers from a distance, there’s nothing quite as thrilling as spawning on the map as Darth Vader and easily taking out a half-dozen Rebels with the dark side.
5. Battle Pod
A few years ago, Bandai Namco released Battle Pod, one of the best Star Wars space combat games to ever hit arcades. The insides of this cabinet resemble a TIE Fighter, and there’s a massive curved screen that lets you immerse yourself in battles on Hoth, Endor, and through the trenches of the Death Star. It’s about as close as you can get to living out a Star Wars fantasy without traveling to a galaxy far, far away.
If you haven’t checked out the Star Wars Battle Pod yet, odds are your local Dave & Buster’s has one. It’s well worth making the trip and plunking down the cash to experience this arcade game at least once.
4. The Force Unleashed – Birth of the Rebellion
The Force Unleashed concludes with a pair of pretty awesome boss fights featuring Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. Ultimately, Starkiller sacrifices himself while fighting the Emperor to save the fledgling Rebellion. In the game’s Light side ending, it’s revealed that the other heroes chose to honor Starkiller by making his family crest the symbol of the Rebellion.
It’s a cool little touch that ties The Force Unleashed to the larger saga and gives the storyline a little bit more weight. But since Disney bought all things Star Wars, this development is no longer considered canon.
3. Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader – Death Star Trench Run
The final assault on the Death Star is arguably the most iconic scene in A New Hope (and possibly even the entire Original Trilogy). While the trench run has been included in several games, no game has nailed the look and sound of that scene as perfectly as Rogue Squadron II.
So many years later, Rogue Squadron II‘s Death Star trench run still looks amazing. If you’ve never experienced the game’s first level before, it’s never been cheaper to pick up a copy of the game for the GameCube.
2. Battlefront (2015) – The VR Mission
Battlefront’s VR mission, exclusive to the PlayStation 4 version of the game, doesn’t break much new ground in terms of Star Wars gaming. You pilot an X-wing, shoot some asteroids and TIE fighters, and eventually take out a Star Destroyer. This is stuff we’ve been doing for decades now.
But the ability to do all of this in VR really is a game changer. The sights and sounds perfectly simulate the feeling of sitting in the cockpit of an X-wing, as you zoom through space, zapping your enemies. Unfortunately, it’s a short ride at only 20 minutes long, but a sweet one, and hopefully a taste of things to come for Star Wars VR games.
1. Knights of the Old Republic – You Are Revan
For the first couple dozen hours of Knights of the Old Republic, your character, a Force-sensitive human suffering amnesia, will hear quite a bit about Darth Revan. While Darth Malak is the main antagonist in the game, it turns out that his original master, Revan, was the real brains behind the resurgent Sith Empire. It’s only because Malak turned on him that Revan is no longer a threat.
But most of the game’s characters are vague about Revan’s exact fate. Right around the time you’re starting to wonder what exactly happened to Revan and consider that maybe he’s still out there, the game hits you with a big reveal: you are actually Revan, the former Dark Lord of the Sith. The Jedi Council erased your memory of your past life and now it’s up to you to decide whether to embrace the Light or return to your old ways.
The Revan reveal was just built up so perfectly over the course of the game that it’s hard to imagine any Star Wars game (or movie) ever being able to top it. Hell, it’s arguable the best moment in all Star Wars history.