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Video Game / Rebel Assault

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Star Wars: Rebel Assault (and its sequel, The Hidden Empire) are a pair of Star Wars Legends video games published by LucasArts in the early 1990's. Notable for combining elements of a rail shooter and a live-action movie, the games put players into the shoes of Rookie One, a young X-Wing pilot who helps the Rebel Alliance during several major events and battles in the Star Wars saga.

Rebel Assault (1993) was the first CD-ROM-only game published by LucasArts. Set during the early Galactic Civil War, players controlled the adventures of an unnamed young person (known by their callsign, Rookie One). The game takes place during the events of A New Hope, and allows you to visit several key locations from the first two films (including Beggar's Canyon, Hoth and the Death Star).

Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire (1995) was notable for being the first major piece of Star Wars media to incorporate live-action footage since Return of the Jedi. In the sequel, Rookie One and and fellow X-Wing pilot/Action Girl Ru Murleen team up to infiltrate a Super Star Destroyer and steal the prototype for a new TIE Fighter called Phantom, which could turn the tide of the Galactic Civil War if used in the wrong hands.

The gameplay consisted of various spaceflight missions that recreated famous scenes from the movies, and were mainly confined in a certain video looping. The course of the ship was predetermined and the player had to hit the targets (usually TIE fighters) that appeared onscreen; however, the player could partially control and steer the ship so that it wouldn't collide with obstacles and lose hit points. In a few stages, there were branching points, but most stages consisted of a straight run through to the end point or of a looping area that played until all targets were destroyed.

Although the scenario, the plot, and the variety of missions were considered neither original nor rich, the game was valued for its technical details, since it featured digitized footage (albeit limited, most replaced by CGI rendered sequences), music from the original movies, and full speech. Rebel Assault is one of the oldest titles to make use of extensive full motion video on the PC.

This series provides examples of:

  • Asteroid Thicket: A staple of both games.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Rookie One and Ru Murleen, who singlehandedly crippled the entire TIE Phantom project when their mission was simply to capture a single starfighter for study. They succeed, as well as in destroying a Super Star Destroyer AND the moon-sized factory responsible for their creation.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end of Rebel Assault II Rookie and Ru's quest to steal the TIE Phantom (and everything they go through, including escaping from its production facility) is rendered nearly pointless when, shortly after they disembark and go to celebrate, Darth Vader has the prototype remotely self-destruct. The game ends with the Rookie and Ru staring at each other, dumbfounded. On the bright side, the production facility and Terror were destroyed, preventing the Empire from mass producing the TIE Phantoms.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Darth Vader briefly addresses you during the original game's ending, saying that you won't defeat him next time (turns out you do, though).
  • Bridge Logic: In the sequel, you'll have to pass through a section of a Super Star Destroyer by shooting a bridge that's above you, so that it will fall down and give you a path to cross a chasm. If you don't figure that out the level goes on a bit longer and then the bridge falls for no apparent reason.
  • Character as Himself: Admiral Ackbar is credited as "Himself" in the credits of Rebel Assault II.
  • Colon Cancer: Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire
  • Continuity Nod: The backstory to Hidden Empire involves a superweapon which originally appeared in the Marvel comics series. Here it is borrowed to blow up a planet to gain access to crystals deep within the planet's mantle which are used in cloaking devices
  • Cool Starship: The TIE Phantom.
  • Cowardly Lion: Admiral Sarn from the second game; he's in command of the Terror, as well as the entire TIE Phantom project, but in nearly every scene he shares with Vader he seems half-ready to soil himself in the Dark Lord's presence (though given the life expectancy of Vader's average officer, this is kind of understandable).
  • Dancing Mook Credits: Not during the credits, but in II, there's an Easter Egg cutscene with dancing stormtroopers.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Rookie One and Ru Murleen dress up as Stormtroopers to infiltrate a base in the sequel.
  • Dull Surprise: Rookie One's female persona in the first game.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: This trope is played with in the second game; the TIE Phantom production facility is itself anchored to Imdaar's moon, and when destroyed at the end of the game the explosion that follows appears to have taken a good chunk out of it.
  • Easter Egg: Rebel Assault II contains one which has a clip of Star Wars...complete with MST3K-style riffing.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: In the second game, "Beginner" difficulty replaces the Rebellion symbol in the corner of the screen with a baby carriage.
  • General Failure: Admiral Sarn in the second game. Admiral Thrawn or Admiral Piett, he ain't. His inability to prevent a mere two Rebels from sabotaging the entire TIE Phantom project proves to be his undoing.
  • Ghost Ship: The entire plot of the second game. Not only has the Empire developed the TIE Phantom- a fighter that can turn completely invisible- they have the Terror; an entire cloaked Super Star Destroyer.
  • Guide Dang It!: In the second game, you can actually choose which way you lean out of cover... at one part in the second level. You won't be able to progress any further if you don't know how to switch sides, because some stormtroopers are out of your range from certain angles.
  • Have a Nice Death: Both games have special FMV's not only for dying, but for running out of lives. You will get yourself killed intentionally on every level to see them all. Particularly taunting since decidedly upbeat music plays during several of the death sequences, particularly in the first game.
  • Heroic Mime: Partially averted in the first game, though, because Rookie One still communicates with his teammates; they're just too busy ordering him around most of the time.
  • Hypocritical Humor: An Imperial officer rudely reprimands a stormtrooper for not keeping his guard up in the hangar bays of the Terror where the Phantom TIEs are being stored, threatening to reassign him if he screws up. Cue two Rebel spies sneaking aboard one of the starfighters just a few meters behind them while the officer is running his mouth off.
  • Informed Ability: Ru Murleen was such a great X-Wing pilot that she became the youngest person ever to reach Commander-level, and she has taught countless pilots in effective combat strategies. However, there isn't much evidence of her superb command skills on display in the game. She often gives you simple orders (even during the final mission of both games), and usually flies as support for you during your missions.
  • Invisibility Cloak: The new Tie Fighters in the sequel.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Losing all lives on a level can result in a unique cinematic, from enemies wondering what's going on to your friends trying to rescue you, to the remains of your craft floating in space, to the Death Star destroying the Rebel base on Yavin IV.
  • Just Plane Wrong: During the cut-scenes of chapters 2 and 3 in the first game, when Rookie One talks, the camera shows him/her inside the cockpit of an X-Wing, despite the fact that both missions have them flying an A-Wing.
  • Lip Lock: Some instances of it crop up in the first game when the mouth animations don't work right.
  • Lost in Transmission:
    • The opening cutscene of the second game has a Rebel Squadron shot down by the invisible TIE Phantoms, with the last pilot being Killed Mid-Sentence.
    • It happens again to kick off the plot in the first level as Rookie One and his wingman respond to a distress signal from a cargo ship that gets attacked and boarded; its pilot again being killed mid-sentence.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: In Rebel Assault, Turland Hack trains Rookie One to become a Rebel Pilot. When the Empire invades Tatooine, Rookie One and Ru Murleen return in an effort to stop their attack, but not before the TIE Fighters open fire on Anchorhead Base and kill Hack.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The Flight Squadron, which Rookie One flies with, during the Battle Of Yavin, is Blue Squadron. This is a Homage to how Luke's Flight Group was planned to be Blue Squadron in Episode IV, but was changed to Red Squadron, when it was realized the Blue would clash with the Chroma-Key.
    • Becomes Harsher in Hindsight when you find out that the reason Blue Squadron wasn't fighting at the Battle of Yavin was because they were all killed during the Battle of Scarif.
    • Rookie One asks if Ru Murleen "Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?" during a mission in the sequel.
  • New Meat / No Name Given: Despite Rookie One's exploits (especially after the events of the original game), he still can't shake the nickname everyone else has given him.
  • New Work, Recycled Graphics: Rebel Assault II's "First Person Shooter" segments use the blaster rifle graphics from the previous year's Dark Forces.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Many walkways lack railings in the shooting part, enabling you to shoot Stormtroopers off the edges.
  • Oh, Crap!: Every time the Phantom TIEs attack in the second game. Usually only Rookie One lives to tell the tale. An even bigger one comes at the end when we finally discover the Empire's hidden factory producing them; Rookie One and Ru Murleen quickly realize that it is imperative that they destroy this station before the Empire can make anything of them.
  • One-Man Army: Rookie One, especially in the sequel. Let's just say it takes balls to assault an Imperial base by yourself after your ship is shot down.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Rookie One. Acceptable in the first game, downright bizarre by the second game when he's neither a rookie nor in a Rookie squadron, yet everyone, even his friends, call him Rookie One.
  • Opening Scroll: As to be expected from a Star Wars property.
  • Password Save: The first game had passwords to continue the game from whatever level you died on. The second game lets you select any level you want from a menu once you've gotten to it once, but for some reason still has passwords.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Rookie One can be male or female in the original game, with minimal changes to cutscenes outside of his/her voice. The Hidden Empire retcons this so the character is definitively male.
  • Railing Kill: Aboard the Terror, the far right stormtrooper in the first room and the Stormtroopers on the opposite door in the third room are positioned over a deep chasm. Shooting them causes them to fall downwards to their death.
  • Rail Shooter: Most of the combat sequences in both games take this form. In ground combat, the player is given control of aiming and firing only, with additional control over when Rookie One pops out of cover if the character is stationary. In air and space combat, the player is effectively a gunner even if they are nominally the craft's pilot, with at best directional control within an extremely limited arc.
  • Ramming Always Works: If you fail to shoot an enemy before it flies past you, you take damage. Either they just shoot you and fly away, or...
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: A cutscene in The Hidden Empire shows an Imperial officer surprising a stormtrooper on guard duty and threatening him with transfer to "a refuse barge where you'll stay for the next 20 years," for any further inattentiveness - just as Rookie One and Ru Murleen are preparing to steal one of the TIE Phantoms they're guarding.
  • Redshirt Army: Your Rebel pals from the second game; don't get too attached to them.
  • Rewrite: The final mission of the original game, where you attack the Death Star, contradicts what happened in Episode IV. Rookie One and Ru Murleen destroy a massive energy cannon, then make the trench run to fire a photon torpedo at the exhaust port themselves. Also, many more fighters survive the Death Star run than were seen in the movie.
  • Say My Name: Rookie One yells "Hack!" when the TIE Fighters destroy Anchorhead Base and kill Hack.
  • Scenic-Tour Level: In the first game, the tutorial levels that later become action levels when The Empire attacks Tatooine.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The TIE Phantom, as mentioned above.
  • Silliness Switch: One of the Easter Eggs adds completely loopy subtitles to all of the cutscenes.
  • Spoiler Cover: Rebel Assault II's cover gives away how Vader executes Admiral Sarn for his failures.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Rookie One is intended to be a substitute for Luke Skywalker in the first game, to the point that they both grew up on Tatooine, both wanted to be pilots and both took part in the Death Star confrontation at Yavin 4 (and both flew down trenches to destroy key parts of the station). He grows out of this role in the sequel, though.
    • Also played straight with the Corellia Star, which is virtually identical to the Millennium Falcon aside from its name.
    • During the assault on the Death Star, a third pilot is flying formation with Rookie One and Ru Murleen. If he is killed before they make their run on the trench (like Biggs), Murleen declares the assault a failure and the level restarts.
    • There's also the unnamed planet at the end of the second game housing the hidden Rebel base; the planet vaguely resembles Tatooine, as does Dreighton earlier on in the game. Meanwhile, Imdaar strongly resembles Dagobah.
  • Stock Footage: A careful eye can easily make out that a lot of Admiral Ackbar's footage is simply ripped from his screentime in Return of the Jedi, simply dubbed over by a new actor as he addresses his fellow Rebels.
  • Tempting Fate: In the second game, several of the Rebel pilots are a little too quick to disregard the rumors regarding phantom TIE Fighters emerging from the Dreighton Triangle. Guess what happens to them and their comrades once they're done talking.
  • Ultimate Final Exam: Mission three of the fist game serves as this for Rookie One. Having dealt with canyon slaloming and target practice on Tatooine and navigating an asteroid field in space, you're then sent off to the planet Kolaador in an A-Wing to fly through an incredibly narrow series of passageways leading across a maze of razor-sharp geodes. As with the last test, quick reflexes are critical, but making the wrong move is even more dangerous this time, and you don't have the luxury of just shooting an obstacle. Once this is done, though, your training is complete and you're ready for the big leagues... just in time for a Star Destroyer to show up over Tatooine.
  • Villain Decay: Compared to the way they're depicted in the films, Star Destroyers are a joke in the two games. An early level in the original game has you disable a Star Destroyer by engaging it (and waves of TIE Fighters) by yourself (and a wingman who hangs back from the fight). It won't even shoot at you that much.
  • You Are Number 6: The main character's codename is Rookie One.
  • You Have Failed Me: Darth Vader to Admiral Sarn in the sequel's final level, using this exact phrase.
    "You will not have an opportunity to do so again."

Alternative Title(s): Star Wars Rebel Assault, Rebel Assault II The Hidden Empire