Game Canon, Mechanics and Continuity

Star Wars games have a continuity set in the Expanded Universe.  Some would prefer to assume that they have no game canon versions since there are many different endings. There are even some that are determined to believe that game mechanics mean the games contradict any other source and try and use it to give credence to their thinking that the Expanded Universe was all contradictions.

There is no reason the games various endings should be any less fun just because they aren’t the canon version, or why people should get upset that their head canon isn’t true. I’ve played various versions of Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars the Old Republic and Dark Forces.  I have played male and female, aliens, Light Side…in fact I haven’t played Dark Side much at all even when I played a Sith. I have sampled it. I’m just not very good at it.

The default version is that all games, except for the Imperial side in Star Wars the Old Republic, the ending is the Light Side one. This goes back to Star Wars being about light and redemption as George Lucas established.

Games sometimes have a different version for novelizations or comic adaptations then the game itself. Game mechanics and Easter eggs are not considered canon. They are there to make the game more fun to play, as opposed to being considered part of the story. Easter eggs are a LFL tradition and are even in the movies. A zoom at the right place in Raiders of the Lost Ark will show R2-D2 and C3PO in the hieroglyphics. The Millenium Falcon is said to be in a major Star Trek First Contact. Some of that asteroids Han flew through in the Empire Strikes Back are actually potatoes.

Examples

Knights of the Old Republic

Revan

Revan of Knights of the Old Republic is canonically male according to external sources.  In the game itself they don’t establish his gender. I have played Revan myself as a female and a male, with various faces.  This is the first attraction between same sexes mentioned in the Star Wars Universe. If you play as female you find out Juhani is attracted to you.  Whether it was intentional or a game glitch I’m not sure.

The fact that he was a man was established in the novel of the same name by Drew Karparshyn. That version that later appears in Star Wars the Old Republic is as well. There are different romance options (nothing huge) in both. But in Star Wars The Old Republic MMO, you actually have missions on the Republic side to free him, held by the Sith Emperor’s power for far beyond his normal life span. You are led on this mission in part by the Exile’s Force ghost. The imperial side mission is to kill him. However, mysteriously, you encounter Revan again later, in game. Or is it him, or an imposter? More on that game below.

The Emperor’s power weakened Revan in a way that his dark side ‘split’ on death from his light side. His light side joined the Force. His dark side used it’s power to hold on to life, waging war still against everyone. The goal: reawaken the Sith Emperor in physical form so he could be destroyed at last.

When you face the Sith Emperor in the Spirit Realm in all 3 of his incarnations. Revan joins this battle.

Knights of the Old Republic 2

The Exile with Visas Marr

The Exile in Knights of the Old Republic is canonically female. Again this is shown in the Revan novel by Drew Karparshyn as well in Star Wars The Old Republic as a Force ghost.  I haven’t played this one as a male yet at all, but I do plan to eventually.  There is one companion that changes based on male or female playthrough. Also of course the limited romance options do change.

Clone Wars 2002

Anakin Skywalker in Clone Wars 2003 for XBox

The Clone Wars 2002 for XBox is an excellent part of expanded universe game canon. It ties in with Tales of the Jedi era (and to a lot of other stuff that tie to that.)  The Separatists have found a super weapon of the Ancient Sith War, when Exar Kun and Uliq Qel-Droma battled the Republic. The Jedi have to stop it.  You play as Anakin Skywalker,  where you might find out (as I did) that I’m not nearly the pilot Anakin is!  You interact with a holocron and the spirit of Uliq to get clues on defeating the Dark Reaper, which is powered by the Force Harvester., an ancient Sith artifact. 

You battle familiar places like Geonosis, and then jumps to Rhen Var (which is also the last place we saw Ulic Qel-Droma in Tales of the Jedi.) Following the trail eventually leads you to the Force Harvester (which is every bit as nasty as the name implies, sucking the living Force out of everyone around once unleashed) and to the final battle with the machine it powers, the Dark Reaper.  It’s a tough fight (which my malfunctioning XBox doesn’t much like now.) This would be set in the same era as the Republic: Clone Wars comic books, while Anakin is still Obi-Wan’s apprentice.

If there is one thing left a mystery, it’s whether it’s a holocron or a force spirit of Anakin. Initially it seemed to be a holocron of a barely seen figure. But the voice of Uliq continues throughout. It may well be the holocron was there and once activated the spirit of Uliq took note and from then on interacted with Anakin. The game was created before it was revealed that it was unknown for prequel era Jedi to vanish on death (except by a select few) so that explanation makes the most sense to me. Qui-Gon after all, had been able to speak to Anakin through visions, and at least once attempted in the movies.

The Force Unleashed

Game Canon, Mechanics and Continuity

The Force Unleashed has you play as Vader’s Secret Apprentice. Code named Starkiller, Galen Marek was taken as a child when his Jedi father was slain.  You get to play level one as Vader.  From then on, you play as Starkiller.  His powers are literally unleashed and amped up in ways we only saw before in Clone Wars ’03 by Genndy Tartakovsky. The book and comic tie in shows the powers are actually more limited than what we see and those are considered the canon versions.

For instance:  you don’t actually pull the star destroyer from the sky.  Instead you are steering it down because you can’t get out of the way.  You can at best aim it where you want it to land. It’s a very challenging level even on the easy setting and has led to a lot of frustrated players.  (This is in the PC version.  Console versions tended to have the cut scene instead).  The game mechanics are hyped up. You visit various planets including Raxus Prime (again,  as in the one Anakin visited in Clone Wars.) 

Starkiller’s mission isn’t ‘Mary Sue’ as some think.  No one for real would want to be raised as he was, raised by his Father’s killer to be a Sith warrior. One look at the scars reveal a hard life.  Raised in chains by Vader the missions he is sent on are to assassinate Jedi. But along the way Starkiller finds his own path to redemption with the help of his pilot, Juno Eclipse, the Jedi he tried to kill, Kota, and his droid Proxy. But confronting Vader and the Emperor is guaranteed to cost him his life.  Can he (and the player) succeed?

While there is an ‘Ultimate Sith” version,  the story where Starkiller is redeemed and becomes a Jedi in the end is the canon one, as evidenced by the tie in media. The story does use ‘The Corellian Treaty” from West End Games Rebel Alliance Sourcebook. Bail Organa, Mon Mothma,  as well as Garm Bel Iblis, first mentioned in the Thrawn trilogy by Zahn appear.

There is some question how the Emperor’s knowledge of Bail’s treason ties in with the Radio drama. In the radio drama, Leia goes on a mercy mission and finds a Rebel hiding from an Imperial takeover. He has critical information about the Death Star. This leads her to another planet which triggers fighting there, then home. At this point, she and Bail invite ‘Lord Tion’ (in charge of the  now occupied world)  to dinner to pump him for information on the Death Star.  Did word not get out yet Bail was a traitor? Possibly. Events were moving very quickly at this point.  Also there is a story that Garm’s family was murdered to stop him speaking out.  How does this tie in?  However, a complicated story is not itself a contradiction, however it was never resolved before the buyout.

The Force Unleashed 2

The Force Unleashed 2:  I have not played this yet.  But I do know Starkiller is reborn, apparently as a clone.  Unfortunately, since this was supposed to lead to a The Force Unleashed 3, it does leave some loose threads that look like continuity errors. Likely they would’ve been tied up in third game. For one thing the first major victory against the Empire by the Rebellion was getting the Death Star plans. So the idea of a successful raid on Kamino would contradict that. But if that successful raid was part of a trap, if it cost more than they initially thought, that would work fine.  That seems likely to be the case as they literally left Vader a prisoner of the rebels in this!

Dark Forces

dark forces: dark troopers.

In the Dark Forces series (until the last game) you always play as Kyle Katarn, a male human. But his features vary from pixelated beardless face (the first game during briefings) to bearded.  Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire’s artwork in the novella shows him beardless (right after graduating the academy) to bearded (breaking into an Imperial base to steal the Death Star plans.) All games and stories after that show him bearded. While never explicitly stated, one might think a beard a minor detail yet some assume its a contradiction.  Personally I’d say it makes sense that Kyle would grow a beard to go on the mission. He was, as his friend Meck stated in an audio drama, the most famous graduate of their Carida Academy graduating class. The Empire would’ve arrested, if not shot him on the spot. Growing a beard is the least he could do to hide his features. Kyle Katarn’s daring Death Star plan raid is just his first mission. Stopping the production of Dark Troopers is his ongoing quest.

Dark Forces 2

Kyle Katarn played by Jason Court.  In reality there is no way in Game Canon he could carry all the weapons he finds and uses in game!

In Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight, Weegee is being used to attack continuity. Weegee is the droid built by Katarn’s father who decrypted both his father’s message and the map to the Valley of the Jedi. Because Weegee is not seen during the escape from Sulon after Katarn gets the lightsaber from him even the Wookiepedia claims a contradiction that doesn’t exist since the novella Rebel Agent has the droid escorting him out. But in game you can see Weegee (just as the novella states) during a cut scene post the escape.  This is no more a contradiction than the game mechanic that lets one man carry an arsenal without a backpack. You also don’t see his lightsaber, E-11 trooper rifle, Bryar pistol, missile launcher, grenades unless you are using them and those are not considered contradictions. Weegee would’ve made some of the game puzzles impossible or unnecessary so for the game mechanics they left him out.

I’m fairly certain as well that Sam and Max, from the Lucasarts game are not considered part of Star Wars. Yet apparently if your quick enough you can find them in Baron’s Hed on Sulon. (I never have been, though I think I got a glimpse once.)

Mysteries of the Sith

Mysteries of the Sith expansions ties into the end of Dark Forces 2 and the books via Mara Jade.  It also confirms that the canon version of the main game is Light Side since Kyle is still serving the New Republic. The game is set during the years she is with (possibly leading) the Smuggler Alliance. Interestingly Mara is trusted by Mon Mothma in this, although years later Leia no longer does due to lack of contact. Then again, it wasn’t Mon Mothma’s brother she had a passionate need to shoot, left over from the Emperor’s last psychic message. The game has the same mechanics as Dark Forces 2. (Although the underwater parts are even more difficult). The game is later connected to Star Wars The Old Republic via Dromund Kaas. Even though Mara has some training you are starting from nearly nothing in this game in the Force game mechanic department.

Jedi Outcast

Jan Ors in Jedi Knight

Jedi Outcast picks up where the Mysteries of the Sith leaves off,  with a time gap. Katarn, turned off the Force due to his brush with the Dark Side is back to being a mercenary with Jan Ors. He’s lost many of his skills and the player has to earn them back. This game did not have a novella or audio drama alongside (sadly). It goes perfectly alongside the Jedi Academy trilogy and I,Jedi.  You get to go on a brief tour of the Jedi Academy on Yavin, the same Temple we seen in Star Wars the Old Republic and in the Young Jedi Knights books.

Jedi Academy

Jedi Academy game with Katarn, Luke Skywalker and Jaden Korr (rodian male version)

Jedi Academy (the video game) is the next in line, maintaining game canon and continuity with the expanded universe with Katarn now the instructor. A brief cut scene even mentions the original Jedi Academy students helping training the next generation of apprentices.

But you can play as male or female or a several different species. Zabrak, Kel Dor, Twilek, Rodian or human (of course) are available. The canon version is a white male human (I find that rather bland, like a ‘Kyle Katarn lite’ version.)  Personally my preference was male Rodian or female Zabrak. I don’t find that affects my game play enjoyment any less just because it isn’t canon to the Expanded Universe. In any case the canon version was established in Riptide and Crosscurrent by Drew Karparshyn. Another neat tie in is that Katarn is acting a bit crazy when you visit Vjun. We also see Vjun in Dark Empire (comics) and Junior Jedi Knights: Vader’s Fortress. We even see the statue of Vader, toppled. But most critically we find in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous that an entire family went mad there,  on this Dark Side world long ago. The residual effects are still felt, suggesting why Kyle’s attitude might be a bit off!

Shadows of the Empire

Shadows of the Empire Dash vs Xixor hologram

Shadows of the Empire is as many know a huge, multimedia event set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  Since Han Solo is cooling his heels in bounty hunter hands, a new smuggler is brought in by the name of Dash Rendar. The video game largely centers around Dash.  Tracking down the bounty hunters who have Han is part of his mission. You get to participate in the Battle of Hoth (where he’s smuggling supplies and hops in a snowspeeder), track down bounty hunters, ride a swoop, and finally infiltrate Xixor’s palace.

The game events in general (particularly in the Xixor’s palace) are not specifically the canon version, although some may have happened.  The book focuses on first finding Han, but then a new mystery crops up: someone is trying to kill Luke.  And it isn’t Vader, who has the higher price on his Luke’s head for live capture only. This ultimately leads to the discovery that it is Black Sun (and only Vader and Xixor know why.)  The infiltration in book is different than in game  (although the game events could’ve happened in most cases and just gone unmentioned.)   The comic book focuses on things from the point of view of the bounty hunters.  That has one minor conflict: where Luke feels it is Vader trying to kill him, whereas in the novel he is sure he isn’t. (Although his angst at the subject of Vader is pretty accurate either way.) I for one found the game very challenging until I invested in a controller.  Dash kept sliding off cliffs until I did so.

Star Wars the Old Republic

zabrak jedi consular with theran cedrax

The game itself is pure Expanded Universe and it’s canon set there. A specific ‘who did what’ where the stories merge has never been established, mostly due to the 2012 buyout. But we can guess based on past decisions of Lucasfilm. In all likelihood the main story is the Jedi Knight, as this is set as a follow up to the Knights of the Old Republic. But its difficult to say who the Outlander is, or which side they are affiliated with. It’s not even possible to say which side discovered Czerka’s secret on Tatooine. One could just say from an in universe standpoint they are lost to the midst of time.

Regarding game mechanics, the characters can’t do the famous Jedi abilities almost all Jedi can do, they’ve been divvied up between the combat types. You need a minimum of 15 free slots to change combat styles, and that would be a lot to carry on your back. As with Katarn, you don’t see yourself lugging a huge backpack or suitcase! You might see cartel market items that were from this universe, or the other Disney one since they currently use that as a marketing gimmick (vexing for the Expanded Universe fan to see the other get credit for what our canon invented! But it is understandable). But it doesn’t mean the story itself is their universe. (At most I saw one item in game cut scenes that did not seem to belong. I have played to end, although there are alternate conversation choices I’ve no doubt missed.)

Summation

These of course are not all the Star Wars video games!  I haven’t had a chance to play them all, so I can’t know all the game canon. Sadly it’s unlikely for some that I ever will. Some just are not working on a modern PC.  (Starfighter is not cooperative with Windows 10).  Some just were made for console. One can’t simply buy console’s willy nilly unless one is rich.  (I would love to play Bounty Hunter. Unless they make a PC port, it’s not happening.) But so far all the games I’ve tried have been part of the Expanded Universe, except Lego Star Wars saga which is Infinities.  Rogue Squadron 3D for instance, takes you from the Battle of Hoth clean up to the Battle of Mon Calamari in Dark Empire comics.