Here's how classic Star Wars games shaped modern lightsaber combat

Star Wars
(Image credit: Raven Software)

The Star Wars Jedi Knight series was instrumental in shaping modern lightsaber combat, as revealed in the latest Retro Gamer. 

While the first game in the series, 1995's Star Wars: Dark Forces, focused entirely on blaster-based combat, subsequent games in the series expanded protagonist Kyle Katarn's capabilities to include the iconic lightsaber. LucasArts made the sequel, 1997's Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, but development duties eventually passed to Raven Software for 2002's Jedi Outcast.

Speaking to Retro Gamer for Star Wars-focused issue 222, lead designer Chris Foster said that "our team wanted the lightsaber combat to not just be a guy waving a stick around that one-shotted enemies. Previous games had shown us that it could almost be a living extension of the player - we wanted it to be the ultimate combination of a weapon and an extension of the player's will."

For Raven, that meant a huge amount of testing against its Stormtrooper AI, "tweak[ing] timing, animations, reactions, damage, and the blaster parrying mechanics until they felt the way they needed to be." The studio understood that in the Star Wars universe, the lightsaber isn't just a weapon, but a hugely important part of the story; Foster says that "when you picked up that lightsaber [early in Jedi Outcast] after having used guns for the start of the game, we wanted you to know you had arrived. Having that thing in your hand was your destiny and it was a part of you."

While the series that began with Dark Forces came to an end with Jedi Academy in 2003, the importance Foster and his team placed on the lightsaber can still be felt today. The franchise's most recent video game outing, 2019's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, offers diverse, precise combat, and ensures that Cel Kestis' signature weapon gets plenty of opportunity to shine as a story device too. 

If you're a fan of classic Star Wars games, Retro Gamer's latest issue is a treasure trove of stories documenting more than a decade spent in a galaxy far, far away. From Dark Forces, through Knights of the Old Republic, to the epic battles of the original Battlefront games and on to the Sith superpowers of The Force Unleashed, there's something for fans of any era. Be sure to pick up Retro Gamer 222 from Magazines Direct (opens in new tab) today. 

Want to know what we think? Here's our list of the best Star Wars games.

Retro Gamer is the world's biggest - and longest-running - magazine dedicated to classic games, from ZX Spectrum, to NES and PlayStation. Relaunched in 2005, Retro Gamer has become respected within the industry as the authoritative word on classic gaming, thanks to its passionate and knowledgeable writers, with in-depth interviews of numerous acclaimed veterans, including Shigeru Miyamoto, Yu Suzuki, Peter Molyneux and Trip Hawkins.