Using fear and intimidation,
the Empire seeks to impose a
New Order on the galaxy. Only
the Rebel Alliance stands in
the way of their evil plans.
Not yet willing to confront the
Empire directly, the Rebels are
marshalling their forces in
secrecy. Even now a group of
their prized Calamari Cruisers is
being intercepted by a squadron
of Imperial Star Destroyers.
The Rebel Fleet is outnumbered
but, they have a surprise
the X-Wing Starfighter!
The history of the game itself goes back to the early 1990s, when LucasArts approached game developer Lawrence Holland and his studio, Totally Games! to develop a series of games for the publisher. The first games were actually World War II flight simulators including Battlehawks 1942 and perhaps Holland's best known non-franchise game, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe. These games became instant classics, and in the meantime Holland was working on a 3D rendering engine specifically for flight sims, something that back in 1992 was revolutionary.
This prompted LucasArts and Holland to develop a flight (or rather space) sim game using both this engine and the Star Wars license, and X-Wing was the result.
Initially the game lets you fly either an X-Wing space superiority fighter, Y-Wing assault fighter or A-Wing high-speed interceptor. A later expansion pack adds the B-Wing heavy assault starfighter, which is a vast improvement over the Y-Wing, as well as extra missions rounding the campaign to 50 total and bringing the game up to just before the Battle of Hoth. X-Wing has the distinct honor of being the first Star Wars game with an original plot, with only the final missions of the base game being an almost direct adaptation, recreating the climactic assault on the Death Star from the original film.
The game's missions are much more complex than simply destroying all enemy ships. Besides capital ships needing to be hit in vulnerable areas for massive damage, the Empire's ships are often scripted to use flanking maneuvers and feints, to the point that some missions revolve more around solving puzzles than Old School Dogfights. As a reward, players are able to participate in the attack on the Death Star during the final missions.
A year after release, a sequel was released that allows you to play for the evil Galactic Empire: TIE Fighter. Players would also have a chance to hold multiplayer competitions with X Wing Vs TIE Fighter. The last game in the series, X-Wing Alliance, finally allows players to pilot the legendary Millennium Falcon, and ends with the Battle of Endor from Return of the Jedi.
Not to be confused with the more recent Rogue Squadron games, although both are flight sims. Also not to be confused with the X-Wing Rogue Squadron comic book and X-Wing Series novels, though they share many story elements and offer a number of Mythology Gags to X-Wing the computer game.
The game received an Updated Re-release based on the X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter engine.
These games provide examples of:
- Ace Pilot: And beyond, labelled up to Top Ace. The player. The pilots from the roster can be assigned AI wingman duties in campaign missions and will perform according to their current rank. They can also be Killed Off for Real too. This feature was dropped in the latest release.
- Achilles' Heel: Blow up those shield generator towers on top of the Star Destroyer's bridge and it becomes much easier to kill.
- Arc Villain: The ISD Intrepid is a thorn in your side throughout most of Tour II until you finally catch it at a disadvantage (it is stranded due to a collision with a frigate damaging its hyperdrive) and destroy it. The ISD Invincible more or less plays the same role in Tour I as the flagship of Operation Strike Fear, with most of the tour's missions involving running away before it arrives, disrupting its supply lines, rescuing friendlies before it can pick them up for interrogation, and ultimately smuggling a nuclear warhead on-board to destroy it.
- Arrow Cam: Available for torpedoes and missiles.
- Burial in Space: A ceremony for the deceased player is held and the casket is disposed of this way.
- Canon Foreigner: The Imperial Assault Gunboat fighter made it's debut in this game; it was created specifically to give the Empire a shielded craft that could be equivalent to the more powerful Rebel fighters.
- Chasing Your Tail: Dogfights, naturally.
- Collision Damage: Often lethal. Interestingly, this applies to both you and to the fighters that collide with you... and TIEs don't have shields, so colliding with one will certainly take it out, though likely at a very heavy cost to your own fighter as well. Destroyed ships also apply collision damage, and can be dangerous if it's a small spacecraft that tends to fly in a random direction when it explodes. One of the options in the menu allows you to disable this as well, though doing so prevents you from progressing until you turn it off again.
- Copy Protection: Removed in later versions.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Implied and modeled exactly like in A New Hope. If the player is captured, Lord Vader himself pops up to have a chat about the location of that secret Rebel base...
- Cosmetic Award: You can win a lot of medals and patches for performing well in your missions.
- Cut Scene: Very rewarding and compelling ones. Bear in mind X-Wing was one of the first complex cinematic works made after the Star Wars movies and the first Star Wars game with a major storyline. Watch. Only surpassed in its day by the ones from CD-ROM based Star Wars: Rebel Assault.
- Deadly Training Area: Pilot proving grounds, unlike the Empire's Virtual Training Simulation seen in TIE Fighter and later games, although the "Historical Combat Simulations" briefing states that both the proving ground and historical combat use holographic technology. This caused an issue with one trainee pilot that accidentally entered hyperspace and found an Imperial supply depot, which was luckily unguarded and easily destroyed when he thought it was still part of the course.
- Deflector Shields: The main and huge advantage the Rebel fighters have over the Imperial ones — the only spacecraft that lack a shield — until Gunboats and TIE Advanceds appear. Regenerating Shield, Static Health variety and an important element of the energy management gameplay.
- Didn't Think This Through: Feigning sympathy for the Alliance in the aftermath of Yavin, Imperial Overlord Ghorin offers a huge supply of food for the Rebels after their original supply was destroyed, secretly having poisoned the grain he shipped in the hopes of crippling the Alliance. Turns out the Rebels weren't desperate enough to consume their newly acquired foodstuffs without testing it first, a betrayal that would bite Ghorin in the ass much later.
- Diverting Power: Shifting power between engines, lasers, and shields is a key aspect of gameplay. Knowing which system needs boosting at what times can greatly increase your ability to stay in the fight.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Being the first game in the series, this had several features that dramatically changed gameplay
- A key part of the series, starting with TIE Fighter, was that gun emplacements on capital ships were destructible, so with keen shooting, you could create safe spots around the hull in a few strafing runs. X-Wing didn't have this, making capital ships, especially Nebulon-B frigates, much, much harder than in later games. Defeating a capital ship was a major accomplishment
- Scanner. Most importantly, there are only four states shown: Normal, Shields-Down, Hull-Damaged, and Disabled. The actual HP %, shield %, and disabled % were not added until the second game, making it a matter of guesswork when a capital ship will actually fall.
- Additionally, your flight display in X-Wing had two modes: ID and Targeting. Targeting Mode◊ provided a scope similar to the ones used during the dogfight scene of A New Hope, which facilitated locating a targeted craft in front of the player. ID Mode◊ displayed a static wireframe or schematic of the target, and allowed the player to view the scanned craft's cargo (if applicable). A special mode only used during the Trench◊ Run◊ mimicked the targeting computer used during the Death Star assault from the original film. Beginning with TIE Fighter both modes were replaced by a 3D image of the target◊, a setup which was utilized throughout the rest of the series, even in the Rebel fighters.
- Changeable loadouts. A-wings have concussion missiles. X-wings, Y-Wings, and B-wings all have torpedoes. No alternative weapons such as the devastating heavy rockets or ludicrously slow and powerful space bombs.
- Mission timer. The mission clock counts down from a preset starting point. In later games, the clock would simply show elapsed mission time, with any sense of urgency coming from in-flight events.
- Objectives screen. The game allows the player to to review the text portion of the briefing while in flight, but no actual list of objectives. In TIE Fighter, the briefing review screen was replaced with a fixed and occasionally spoilerific list of objectives.note Ultimately, X-Wing Alliance featured a dynamic objectives list which changed based on certain in game events and which was also integrated into the simulation itself as one of the cockpit displays.
- Hints. Tips on completing the mission are given on a semi-hidden page at the end of the initial briefing. In later games, hints were provided only if the player failed the mission, as part of the post mission debriefing.
- Easter Egg: Santa Claus shows up in the Rebel flagship if the computer date is December 25.
- Enemy Scan: Many missions are based on inspection and identification of vessels. The actual sensor is a crude one which only provides allegiance, name, position, hull / shield absolute status and cargo. It would become more detailed in the sequels.
- Escort Mission: Several - one of the worst being the infamous "Redemption run", where you and your three wingmen are charged with flying X-Wings to protect the Nebulon B frigate Redemption while it takes on wounded personnel from some shuttles and a Corellian Corvette. The Imperials send in their own Nebulon B frigate, which will do several microjumps in and out of the system, deploying TIE bombers and then jumping to another location and launching more. Referenced in the book series of the same name where applicants to Rogue Squadron must fly a simulator recreation of the mission, complete with references to the tactics you're supposed to use to complete the mission in the game. The protagonist of the first book barely finishes the mission.
- If you looked at the victory parameters for that mission, only the Corvette needed to complete its docking operation. You could immediately order the three shuttles to RTB as soon as the mission started and save about ten minutes.
- Expansion Pack: Imperial Pursuit and B-Wing, featuring a new playable ship and two more campaigns occurring in the interval between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
- Explosive Instrumentation: Taking a lot of damage often resulted in your instrument panels breaking. Some of it was cosmetic, some of it was crippling (you could be all but blinded by your radar display going out), or have no idea what your shield status is... though the damage only occurs on hull hits, so you may have bigger problems already, but the damage is completely random. A hit that cripples your ship might not hurt your instruments at all, while a lucky shot that barely penetrates thin shields might take out an important gauge (like shield status) making it much harder to deal with the follow-up shots.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Most craft enter and exit the combat zone via hyperspace jumps. The basic TIEs lack a hyperdrive engine so they scramble from and return to a mothership which can make such jumps.
- Featureless Protagonist: Feelies and materials from the Limited version and Star Wars Legends indicate that the Player Character's name is "Keyan Farlander", he was flying the surviving Y-Wing at Yavin, and he goes on to be a Jedi. In-game one of the cutscenes from the Expansion Pack has Luke Skywalker specifically refer to a "Lieutenant Farlander". There is some confusion in the original release, however, as one of the historical training missions is named "Farlander's First Mission", suggesting he is a different pilot from the rookie player. The aforementioned materials do explain this: the player character is Keyan Farlander, and that while still in training he was pulled out of training to fly the "real" Farlander's First Mission flight (unseen in the game); when he returned to pilot training, they'd already incorporated a simulation of it as a training scenario.
- He even has two action figures!
- Fragile Speedster: The very fast A-Wing is the weakest Rebel fighter in terms of both shields and hull, and it only has light armament. Enemy pilots need a lot of luck to land hits on it, though, while it flies circles around them and administers a Death of a Thousand Cuts.
- Glass Cannon: The TIE Interceptor has twice as many lasers as the more widespread TIE Fighter, but is just as unshielded. This makes it significantly more dangerous when it's pointing at you, but just as much target practice when you're pointing at it.
- Gunship Rescue: There is at least one mission where the Mon Calamari Cruiser Cathleen appears at the end to pull your ass out of the fire. Calling for reinforcements would become a feature in the sequel.
- Hello, [Insert Name Here]
- Hitbox Dissonance: As long as your cockpit doesn't slam into enemy containers, your craft doesn't take Collision Damage (especially with the B-Wing). Lasers and other projectiles work as expected.
- Incredibly Obvious Bomb: The rebels smuggle one of these onboard an Imperial Star Destroyer at the end of the first campaign. It's implied to be hidden among the cargo delivery brought on board using a stolen imperial shuttle, but in the cutscenes it's a device with a very obvious timer counting down to zero attached to the side of a crate.
- Interface Screw: Part of the Subsystem Damage mentioned below. The various instruments in your ship's cockpit can be shot out as you take hull damage, and be unusable even as the actual systems they monitor are repaired or don't get damaged.
- Interface Spoiler: The settings' menu contains dials for the detail level of the Death Star´s surface, this spoils the final 2 missions taking place on its surface.
- Ironic Name: The Star Destroyer Invincible ended up being destroyed by the Rebels.
- It's Up to You: One-Man Army with the occasional aversion. Don't expect your wingmen or the rest of the fleet to save the day. Unless you're the flight lead, you might not even get any real help from your wingmates - they'll competently complete one pre-assigned objective, like disabling a stolen ship, and then just jump out into hyperspace, leaving you to deal with defending the disabled ship, the shuttle or transport sent to take it back, and the capital ship coming to pick them all up.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: The eponymous X-Wing is the most well-balanced fighter and is quite suitable for both light bombing and dogfighting.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Some already completed missions can end up deadly if the player decides to stay and fight the strong but late Imperial reinforcements in order to rack up additional points and victories.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Overlord Ghorin attempts to poison the Rebel Alliance with a generous supply of tainted foodstuffs, without the knowledge of the Emperor. The Rebels retaliate by raiding a convoy of healthy grain for themselves while sending their agents to return the poisoned grain to the Empire. It doesn't end well for Ghorin when Darth Vader confronts him after the fact.
- Lead the Target: At least your weapon indicators indicate if the laser cannon would hit.
- Lightning Bruiser: The TIE Advanced, which starts making its appearance late in the game, is fast, nimble and shielded; fortunately it appears very sparsely, usually as an Imperial reinforcement should the player decide to linger on a mission.
- The expansion pack's B-Wing has much heavier armament, heavier shielding and a significantly faster speed than the Y-Wing it replaces. Its only real downside is the odd placement of the guns which makes it somewhat impractical to target fast moving craft, otherwise it'd be superior gameplay-wise even to the famed X-Wing.
- Mighty Glacier: The Y-Wing is the Alliance's mainstay bomber; it's slow, but with four beam weapons and a generous supply of torpedoes it packs a sizable punch. It can double as a fighter if nothing better is available, but suffers badly when pitted against faster craft.
- Mission Briefing: Admiral Ackbar, voiced by Erik Bauersfeld like in the movies, briefs and debriefs the player in the Tour of Duty missions. The historical combat missions are presented by General Dodonna, voiced by Clive Revil, the voice of the Emperor in the theatrical release of The Empire Strikes Back.
- Monster Compendium: The Rebel flagship has a database of every starcraft and the pilot roster has a detailed summary of the casualties inflicted.
- Mook: The Imperial doctrine dictates 3 to 1 odds against Rebel fighters to make up for their lack of shields meaning that any hit is a permanent hull hit.
- Mook Maker: Imperial Star Destroyers and Frigates.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: In one mission in your efforts to steal Imperial grain to provide foodstuffs for the undersupplied Alliance, a Rebel freighter's arrival to retrieve the cargo will trigger the arrival of a Star Destroyer aptly named, Badi Dea. Although naturally you survive, it doesn't end well for your allies...
- Nintendo Hard: So much so that when the Collector's CD edition was released the developers felt the need to change some missions to make them easier, though they included an option to restore the original versions (and even the revised ones were still tough).
- No Campaign for the Wicked: That's what the sequel TIE Fighter is for. Initially the designers wanted to have both sides playable as in previous WWII games, but it was discarded as this was too broad to implement in a novel 3D space installment.
- No Fair Cheating: While the in-game options menu lets you turn on infinite shields, infinite missiles/torpedoes, and/or immunity to collision damage, doing this prevents your score and mission progress from being saved.
- Not So Invincible After All: The Intrepid has the honor of being the first Star Destroyer to be destroyed by starfighters.
- Opening Scroll: At the start of every campaign.
- Overdrive: During the Death Star trench run, R2 boosts the engine output three-fold for ludicrous speed.
- Pass Through the Rings: Under/touching the doors in training missions.
- Planet Killer: The Death Star. The destruction of Alderaan in shown in a cutscene practically identical to the movie.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The game seriously reduces the firing rate of both your and the enemy ships to avoid having too many moving objects to keep track of at once and to avoid having ships being ridiculously fragile to concentrated fire or laser blasts being ridiculously ineffective on an individual basis.
- Press X to Die: Sort of. You can eject from your fighter at any time by pressing Alt+E. This will either result in your buddies picking you up, or the enemy taking you prisoner and shipping you back to their base for an unpleasant interrogation. Also, your ejection system can become damaged in combat, and if you get shot down you get immolated in the ensuing fireball and become Killed Off for Real.note . In the latter two cases, after you get back to the sign-in desk you can choose to revive your pilot, albeit at the expense of all his points and awards.
- Protection Mission:
- In one mission, you are the sole pilot left to guard a stationary object (until it is repaired and can escape). A capital ship arrives 25 klicks away to deploy fighters to try to draw you out. About 1 minute later, a corvette arrives to drop off a single bomber to destroy that object.
- This game is also the origin of the infamous "Redemption run" mentioned in the X-Wing novels, where four X-Wings must defend the medical frigate Redemption and some unarmed transports against multiple waves of TIE Bombers launched by the Imperial frigate Warspite. The Warspite microjumps around the system, keeping you flying back and forth trying to stop the bombers while avoiding their TIE\ln escorts.
- Ramming Always Works: The second tour of duty involves a chain of missions based around acquiring "super shield" technology, outfitting a Corvette with said technology (the Corvette being the appropriately named Ram's Head), then having it drop out of hyperspace next to an Imperial repair facility and slamming through the bridges of several Star Destroyers sitting in drydock (and coming out the other side unharmed).
- This can actually be used to limited success in normal gameplay. While it's not recommended to do so very often for obvious reasons, even the A-wing's shields can survive a collision so long as they have sufficient power. If you don't have time for your lasers to recharge or your torpedoes/missiles to get a proper lockon, it can mean the difference between life and death. Most of the time it's still more practical to simply redirect power from shields to lasers though.
- One escort mission has your A-Wing having to protect a capital ship against waves of TIE-Bombers. Apparently, the most efficient way to begin the mission is to intercept the first wave while charging at them full speed, setting your shields to double-front and simply ram through one of them. That way, you can destroy one bomber while getting into range and then quickly swing back to attack the slow bombers from behind while moderating your speed by upping your shield recharge rate to recover your shield strength while you're at it.
- Recycled In Space: Aerial World War II IN SPACE!. A literal example - George Lucas invoked the trope in the source material. The game uses the same fonts, hotkeys and many features previously seen in Lawrence Holland's WWII flight simulators (e.g Old School Dogfighting, rosters, replay camera, cockpit and external views...). It also expands upon them.
- Save Scumming: Your pilot can't exactly be Killed Off for Real, but Death Is a Slap on the Wrist isn't quite the case either (the pilot can be revived, but the stats and achievements are reset) so the trope is encouraged with a twist: the game doesn't have savepoints so it must be done from the operating system, backing up or restoring the pilot files.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Many freighters are named after LucasArts archrival companies back in the day; Nigiro, Arreis, Orcim/Esorp (Origin, MicroProse, and Sierra). Since freighters are often sitting ducks and there is also one called Diputs (Stupid in reverse) the whole thing seems like a stealth Take That!.
- Shout-Out: The huge Mon Calamari cruiser "Stimsenj'cat" and very small tug "Renhoek".
- Simple, yet Opulent: In one of the books, it's mentioned that simply having large quarters on some ships would count as opulence, even with unused space.
- Space Fighter: Squadrons of the Space Navy.
- Space Is an Ocean: Space Friction and 2-D Space map and sensors. Real 3D gameplay.
- Space Mines: Armed with Frickin' Laser Beams.
- Subsystem Damage: Impacts on the hull generate this kind of damage, occasionally beyond repair.
- That One Level: One much hated mission from this game shows up in the X-Wing novels as a hated training scenario, complete with mention of actual strategies that can be used in the mission, see Escort Mission above.
- Training "Accident": One of the recreated training missions involves a story of a single pilot accidentally entering hyperspace and stumbling upon undefended Imperial transports. He destroyed a large number of them before realizing that he was outside training grounds.
- Updated Re-release: X-Wing 95, included in the Collectors Series bundle. Compatible with modern Windows OSes and retrofitted with the X Wing Vs Tie Fighter engine but in turn it loses some of the classical features and makes the use of a joystick mandatory. A fan-made total conversion for X-Wing Alliance also exists.
- Variable Mix: iMuse, a music engine designed by LucasArts to implement dynamic soundtracks. This feature was virtually lost in the last updated rerelease, in return for having the actual score from the movies.
- Video Game 3 D Leap: 1993 Ur-Example. The developers initially used rigid 2D bitmaps like on their previous flight sims, but a 3D engine was developed and implemented with great success.
- Wingman: The player can issue evasive orders and designate targets to other squad members of variable competence. See also Ace Pilot above.
- Zerg Rush: As stated in one of the training missions, the imperials engage with three TIE Fighters for each one of your rebel fighters, and you need to learn how to beat the odds every time.