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An Old Xbox Game "Knights of the Old Republic" May Point to the Future of "Star Wars"

In this podcast, Mark and Candice review a backwards compatible Xbox game that's now available for Xbox One, and we talk about how "Knights of the Old Republic" and "The Last Jedi" are pointing to the possible future of "Star Wars."

 

TRANSCRIPT OF PODCAST

 

Hi. This is Mark and Candice with CheektoGeek.com, and we just played…Actually why don’t you explain it. Because I think there are some backwards compatibility games that just became available.

 

Mark says

So when the Xbox One was released, one of the selling points was that Xbox 360 games would be compatible with the Xbox One, and there's been a curated list of titles. The discussion from Microsoft is that not every 360 game can be made compatible because a lot of the licensing agreements about the music and the graphics in the games didn't include that kind of idea, so they can't just go ahead and do that without getting all of the publishers to sign off on having their games playable on the Xbox One. Also it turns out while they were working on 360 compatibility, they were also working on the compatibility with OG original Xbox games. So for the very first generation of Xbox back in the early 2000s, they had to figure out a way to create an emulator in the system so that you could play those games. Unfortunately, the same issues remain, which is licensing, and according to the backwards compatibility development team, those contracts are in paper format, so because of that, they're doing a lot of work to very slowly port over titles.

            But they released a handful of 13 of them today, and I being the guy that I am decided that it would be really cool, not to just to have the retro experience but to have it with Candice and to pick a “Star Wars” title, because one of the titles that they made available today was “Knights of the Old Republic.” If you're not familiar with “Knights of the Old Republic,” it is often lauded as one of the best and most original “Star Wars” games ever created, and it is a completely unique work of fiction. It doesn't tie into any of the movies, cartoons, or properties that exist currently. It is an RPG game where you are dropped in the middle of the story of a character, and you have to do all the kinds of things that RPG games require you to do, including have conversations with other characters, equip and upgrade items, follow quests, uncover mysteries, or walk around and interact with the world that you're in and unlock parts of the story as you do that.

 

Candice says

Well, okay, so I had never played the game. It came out in 2003, and I was not playing games like that back then. So this was my first time ever picking it up. I guess from my point of view, I have been spoiled by more recent games. So there were some things that I really liked about it and then there were other things that I felt were quite frustrating. I think if you had played this in 2003, you wouldn't have found those things frustrating, because you wouldn’t have had any other options ever. To start off with the things that I really liked. Truth be told, I am not a strong shooter in most video games. So anything that is first person shooter, I kind of struggle with, because trying to walk and aim and fire all at the same time, I'm still working on it. So with this game where you just kind of go into combat mode and you just press the A button and then your character shoots until the thing that you're shooting at is dead, in a way I liked it. But then I also felt like it was a little too much of training wheels, because I would have preferred it had it just aimed for me and then let me shoot as much as I wanted. Then with melee weapons, I really didn't need their help. I can aim a melee weapon by myself. So that was something that was kind of good but also kind of frustrating. I think the other thing that I've been spoiled by with more recent games is the ability to switch equipment on the fly. While you're playing the game, for instance “Left 4 Dead” that's one of my favorite games to play, and you can basically switch back and forth between either a gun or a melee weapon or your health pack just using the cross pads or different buttons, which I really like, but this one is basically where you have to stop the game entirely and go into all these different subcategories. Also there's a lot of reading involved in this game, [laughs] and it's not that I don't like reading, I just got tired of reading all this. So there’s a ton of reading that you have to do and all these different subsections. Did you find any of that stuff frustrating in 2003 when you were first playing this?

 

Mark says

So a couple of different things. I was never big on the RPG type of game, but obviously I was big on “Star Wars,” so I was willing to work through it back then to see what all the hype was about. Also when this game came out for me was the edge of the era for my personal gaming life where I was still using a PC. So I had a custom-built PC with a really good graphics card, really good memory, and all of that, and it was better than the consoles were at the time. So that means that I experienced the height of the graphics that were available. That having been said, yeah, I think I experienced some frustration with figuring things out, but I just assumed at the time that was because this is an RPG, and if you understand the history of RPGs, it's basically Dungeons & Dragons, where you're rolling die to fight your enemies in a digital format. So in this game when you choose the type of attack that your character is going to use, and you choose the enemy, then it sits there and rolls dice over and over again to see who does more damage, and that's why you're not doing anything, you’re not shooting, because the system itself is just randomly pulling numbers until one or the other of you dies. Obviously if you go up against an enemy that is way more powerful than you are and you don’t have good weapons or armor because you’re not upgraded enough, then that dice roll is not going to be in your favor. So that’s kind of the gimmick is that you play the game until you upgrade yourself that you can take on more and more powerful characters, just like in Dungeons & Dragons.

 

Candice says

Well, one of the things I thought that seemed, and I might not know since I wasn’t playing those kind of games back then, that seemed ahead-of-its-time was something that I noticed that was in “Dead Rising” and in “Dead Island” is your ability to craft weapons, and I was like, “Oh, that's pretty cool,” because I always really like that in those games where you get to cross a chainsaw and a baseball bat or something and make something ridiculously awesome.

 

Mark says

Yeah, I remember that being inventive at the time, and it really comes in cool when you get to the point where you have lightsabers. Spoiler alert for those who haven't played a game, but eventually you get to the point in the game where your character can wield lightsabers, and when you do you get to choose different crystals for lightsabers and they have different additional effects. So some crystals will like knock an enemy so that while they're standing there fighting you they’re unconscious on their feet by stunning them. Some crystals have a freezing effect, if I’m remembering right. They all have different bonuses if you get the right crystals in the right parts. So you can make your lightsaber kind of cool and unique and extra powerful if you find the right things and configure them properly, and that I was really into.

 

Candice says

I think if you used to play this game back in the day, then having it now is probably really cool, but I think if you haven't, then there's so many other better open world, RPG games at this point.

 

Mark says

I think the things we forget in all this is that the story may hold up and even some of the graphics, and even the type of game play may hold up, but the thing that has evolved so much since 2003 is the user experience and user interfaces. Many, many games in the years between then and now have come up with innovations to make the process of going through those menus that Candice was talking about so much easier. So I think that the hardest thing that you feel as you play is that sense of struggling through and finding things that are buried and menus and submenus that we've learned since then how to make easier to access, we collectively. As gamers we've been conditioned by the easier menus and the easier process. So now it's hard to go back to the first days when people were figuring out how to set all these menus up and making accessible with a controller and make them easy to navigate. This game obviously has the detriment of having been built for use with a mouse, not a controller, so it's even more removed. That's something that whether you loved the game or have the nostalgia factor, it will be a little bit difficult because it’s a menu heavy game and the menus are not intuitive and they're not easy to navigate even if you've done them before. It took me few minutes to find things to explain where they were to Candice. So just bear that in mind. It's doesn't mean it's a bad game. For its time, it was quite innovative, and it’s a great game, it just means that we’re so used to better experiences that it will take a minute to adjust and put yourself back in that day. You don't experience that with other retro-gaming situations. Like there are no menus in Mario Brothers. There are no menus in classic NES games and Super Nintendo games like that unless you're playing an RPG or you're really just looking to press buttons and have a good time. In this case, you're going to have to relearn an old paradigm for navigating things just in order to play the game a little bit. So bear that in mind. You'll probably if you're a big fan of “Star Wars” and you have an interest in in this classic game, you'll probably still enjoy it quite a bit, but you will find yourself frustrated from time to time in dealing with the menu system and the upgrade system and those kinds of things.

 

Candice says

So you had mentioned that this story was completely outside of any other of the “Star Wars” stories or the movies that have been made at the time but…

 

Mark says

…But. So the other interesting thing and what Candice is leading me to talk to you about…

 

Candice says

Ever so subtly. [laughs]

 

Mark says

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. There something interesting about this storyline. Up to this point in gaming history, we had all done games that somehow revolved around things from the movies, either between movies, like “Shadows of the Empire” or playing as a minor character or major character during elements from the movie. So, for instance, in the x-wing games or the tie fighter games, you’re playing missions that influence things leading up to the attack on the Death Star, or you might be playing in “Dark Forces” and the “Jedi Knight” games with Kyle Katarn looking for the Death Star plans obviously before they ever came up with “Rogue One,” and all of those things tie to the narrative of the movie. This game when they went to create it, they had a discussion with Lucas Film and they said, “We want to do something new.” And Lucas Films said, “Let’s just rope off the movie stuff, and you pick an era in the history of the ‘Star Wars’ universe that is completely separate.” So they went way back in the past to thousands of years before the events of Luke Skywalker’s first attack on the Death Star in the Battle of Yavin and told this story of the ancient republic and the Jedi versus the Sith and all that. And it’s unique because we’re predating all the technology and the ships that we’re familiar with, and it has a certain sense of freedom to it.

            Now Candice and I are going to blog about this coming up soon, but for the moment, we’re going to touch on it lightly. And that’s that there is a theory floating around now that Lucas Film sees this era of the Old Republic as a very rich vein for storytelling, whether that’s to be cartoons, like “Clone Wars” and “Rebels,” or to be additional movies or who knows whatever media. But they see this Old Republic era as being very rich and having a great deal of potential.

            That makes sense if you look at the trailer for “The Last Jedi,” and you see this discussion that Luke Skywalker is having about “It's time for the Jedi to end.” This end of the trilogy, Episodes 8 and 9, that are coming up really could be the end of a certain type of storytelling about Jedi running around with their lightsabers and fighting Sith and all those kinds of adventures. So it would be interesting for them to find ways to monetize stuff that still relates to Jedi, and it's still exciting, but we've ended the Skywalker chapter of the story, and we’re touching on something else.

            So there is a theory, a very strongly supported theory, that the reason we have Snoke as a villain is because Snoke is something that comes from the Old Republic. He is several thousand years old. He is the type of enemy that the Jedi would have faced with long, long time ago, and he has been imprisoned or waiting to be released while the Empire rose to power and we had Darth Sidious and Darth Vader in control of the galaxy. That Snoke, this Old Republic creature, was imprisoned and was awakened. Hence the term “The Force Awakens” and has come back to the galaxy now to take control. And this theory, for reason that we’ll talk about later, has a lot of potential to. It is very strongly supported. But one of the most interesting things is it open the gateway between the present era, if you will, of “Star Wars” stories and the Old Republic as shown in this video game and allow us to take a step way back in the past and have adventures with a young Yoda, or younger Yoda, and with very early Jedi knights and with early Sith and a much more high adventure age, if you will, of the “Star Wars” mythology. So if for no other reason, this game would be really good to visit knowing that probably most of what's in the game is not going to be canon. It won't be officially part of the “Star Wars” universe, but it will allow you to visit ideas as they’ve shown in the movies and the cartoons that they will mine for content when they're writing movies in the future. So there may be species, planets, weapons, ships, all kinds of things that will never be used the way they are in the game, but we'll see bits and pieces of them. So if you familiarize yourself, you might have great A-ha moments in the future while you're enjoying “Star Wars” and really appreciate it more. So that's all I would have to say about the connection between this and the current movies.

 

Candice says

So I guess we’re doing another blog on that.

 

Mark says

Yeah, it’s a longer discussion, and there’s a lot of side links and discussion that it will contain. But for the moment just rest assured that I really have good reason to believe that Snoke is something from the Old Republic.

 

Candice says

I agree. I totally agree with you. If you want to join us in this discussion, join us in the comment section below or follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and let us know what you think. Everyone has their own crazy “Star Wars: Last Jedi” theories. Some of them just make no sense.

 

Mark says

And in the meantime you can find “Knights of the Old Republic” on the Xbox store. If you do a search in your Xbox One, you can find it, and download it, and it plays just like any other digital game.

 

Candice says

All right. Thanks a lot guys. Bye!

 

Mark and Candice

Mark and Candice

Sometimes the best part of reading an article online is engaging in a conversation in the comment section. However, discussions involving opposing points of view between strangers can devolve into a toxic environment. So what if these conversations were had between two people who loved each other?

At Cheek to Geek, our contributors consist of a diverse group of couples who are steeped in geek and popular culture. Our reviews reflect the back-and-forth, opposing or concurring, debates that geeks are notorious for having. But our founders, Mark and Candice Roma, have always felt that the love and respect felt for certain fandoms should carry over into the way we discuss them. Candice hopes that by modeling fruitful and productive discourses in our blogs, vlogs, and podcasts that we can show our readers the value in having disparate opinions and that differing perspectives don’t have to lead to hostile confrontation. “Mark and I have been together almost nine years, and every time we go see a movie, read book, go to a new restaurant, or see something awesome, we immediately ask what the other one thought. We don’t always agree, but having a conversation with my husband is my favorite part of experiencing something new.”

Although Cheek to Geek focuses on the opinions of specific couples, Mark believes that our vision for the site will extend far beyond that. “Ultimately the goal of art is to communicate, and the goal of communication is to build a community.” Our mission is to create a positive, inclusive, and safe environment for the appreciation and discussion of popular art in all its forms. 

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