Star Wars: Rogue Squadron was a 1998 an arcade-style flight simulator game for the Nintendo 64 by Factor 5 and LucasArts. I remember Rogue Squadron came out of nowhere. Maybe I had seen a little bit about it in my copies of Nintendo Power, but for the most part it caught me by surprise. My excitement that Christmas season was for the new Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. A few weeks before Christmas I had rented Ocarina of Time. When we went back to the video store to rent more movies, I wanted to rent Zelda again. She convinced me otherwise, as she had secretly bought me Zelda for Christmas (more on that in my Ocarina of Time thoughts). I begrudgingly settled for Rogue Squadron, but it turned out to be a great game.
To describe it as simply as possible, Rogue Squadron was a console version of Star Wars: X-Wing. It was a flight simulator but with several changes to suit the Nintendo 64’s more simplified controller (as opposed to a computer keyboard with mouse). Instead of a first-person cockpit view, the game was played in third-person with the camera behind the spacecraft. The player could move in 360 degrees by tilting the joystick, but the game would automatically “right” the spacecraft after they released the joystick. This prevented players from getting their spacecraft out of alignment and crashing into the ground or a wall. Also Rogue Squadron took place over the surface of planets instead of in the deep cold of space.
I remember that I loved the graphics in this game. It was so cool to see these Star Wars ships with high polygon counts and clear textures. The graphics weren’t perfect but extremely good for the time. The missions were all pretty small scale but they told an interesting story. This was one of the few Star Wars games that had an original story. It was much like one of those Expanded Universe novels. The game was set in Star Wars and featured some of the main characters but had its own complete story.
My parents gifted me the Zelda game, but I also got a lot of cash from relatives for Christmas. It was just enough money to buy Rogue Squadron. That weekend after Christmas, I got my mom to take me to Toys “R” Us to get Rogue Squadron. Even though I didn’t get the game for Christmas, I still consider it to be a Christmas present. So that year I got two games, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.
These two games were some of the best in the Nintendo 64’s history, so it is a very memorable time. It was one of the highlights of my childhood. This was in the booming 1990s years too. Everything was good. My family was in for some lean years shortly after, but I got every possible amount of enjoyment out of the good times before. I basically played these two games for six months, from Christmas until summer. Even then, I still replayed them here and there. To this day, I have not had a more happy time. Sure, I’ve had short moments that were just as good or even better but never for such an extended period as half a year. I hope I will again some day.