With Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles battling it out last week in This Is Madness: The Star Wars Character Tournament, I was reminded of Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II — Rogue Leader, a video game that stars them both.
I couldn’t believe early images of Rogue Leader. It was one of the few third party titles developed for the September 2001 launch of the Nintendo GameCube, and previews began popping up in gaming magazines and online well in advance of the system’s release. Exclusive Star Wars games on Nintendo systems had become something of a tradition at that point: Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back on NES, the Super Star Wars trilogy on Super Nintendo, and Shadows of the Empire, Star Wars: Episode I — Racer, and the first Rogue Squadron on Nintendo 64. I loved them all, but the advance screenshots from Rogue Leader looked more detailed than any previous Star Wars game. It was clear that there was something special about Rogue Leader — and when it finally came out, it actually lived up to expectations, garnering critical acclaim and becoming a hit with fans. Years later, it’s still a dazzling Star Wars experience.