Evolution of the lightsaber

From Atari to PS3, we examine the glowing Jedi poker - shameless knockoffs included

Time Killers (Arcade, Genesis/1992)

After Mortal Kombat became every underage kid's gory wet dream, '90s developers wrongly assumed blood and guts were the only reason people played Kombat at all. Several one-trick games followed, Time Killers being the most gratuitous of all. It also featured two not-sabers that carved opponents into pieces. And yes, the game really did look like a child hastily mashed radioactive crayons into a blender.

Mega Man X3 (SNES/1995)

One of the most valuable SNES games, X3 finally let you play as Mega Man's long-haired counterpart Zero. In addition to traditional blasters, Zero also wielded a green energy blade, which somehow made him cool despite the flowing blonde hair erupting from his robotic skull.

Einhander (PSOne/1998)

This long-forgotten space shooter wowed fans 10 years ago with intense enemy patterns and innovative "you pick the power-up" gameplay. One of the many ship pickups was a laser blade that your ambidextrous craft could whip and toss all around. Einhander roughly translates to "the one-handed."

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64/2000)

The reckless 64 branding continued well into 2000 with this so-so Kirby platformer that allowed the puffball to mix powers together instead of using one at a time. Fusing shock with cutter yielded this Darth Maul-inspired yellow lightsaber, well before the prequels established such a color as canon.

Super Smash Bros. Melee (GameCube/2001)

GameCube had its biggest hit within weeks of launch. Melee's unrivaled popularity directly led to Brawl's current level of fame, and both versions proudly display dime-store lightsabers known as "beam swords." This time around it was bright purple, just as Mace Windu popularized the hue for the entire franchise. Here it is from the 1998 original:

More or less the same, though a little less vibrant. Fuzzy visuals didn't stop the game (which almost didn't make it out of Japan) from creating a whole new level of Nintendo fandom.

Silent Hill 3 (PS2, 2003)

Completing the game with more deaths caused via melee strikes than guns awards Heather with a beam saber. Not scary, but neat, especially the lighting effects. Watch that shadow dance!

World of WarCraft (PC/2004)

Is there anything WoW doesn't have? This one's called the "Argent Avenger," found after a chain quest in the Eastern Plaguelands.

Dead Rising (360/2006)

Frank West has three consecutive bad days in a zombie-infested shopping mall, but dedicated players eventually get to mow 'em down with a humming imitation lightsaber.

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (Xbox, PS2/2006)

The latest entry in the long-lived series starred 62 nutjobs with all kinds of make-believe weapons. Sektor, around since Mortal Kombat 3, brought his two Pulse Blades along for the red-soaked ride.

No More Heroes (Wii/2008)

This sadly doomed M-rated Wii exclusive showcased Travis Touchdown and his "beam katana" he won in an internet auction. How meta can you get?

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii/2008)

And where we are today, with Brawl's blatant rip-off that isn't even trying to hide its roots. They were purple before, but now they're straight-up lightsabers with a little hilt flourish to keep the lawyers away.

Honda Ridgeline Meets Thanksgiving (TV/2007)

Tradition meets innovation when you carve a delicious turkey with burning hot plasma. Yum!

Lightsaber Christmas present (Internet/Timeless)

Kid opens lightsaber, chops off grandma's head and arm. Thank you, internet.

That's it for us. This is by no means a complete collection of fake-sabers. We know of several more but weren't about to claw through 15-year-old RPGs and obscure PC releases to grab a single screen. Instead, if you know one we missed, tell us about it in ourforum.

May 14, 2008

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