- NA release: 8th December 1998
- PAL release: 10th January 1999
- JP release: 27th August 1999
- Developer: Factor 5
- Publisher: LucasArts
- N64 Magazine Score: 85%
Rogue Squadron was my second N64 game. My mum was also talked into buying an expansion Pak with it, as it would produce better graphics. For this replay, I was expecting to use the PC version, but it turned out to be a colossal pain – running it in a higher resolution produces bugs, and the widescreen “fixes” just stretch the screen instead of actually being widescreen (the N64 hacks seem to do the same), and it can’t detect modern controllers at all – so really, it’s much easier (and nicer) to emulate the N64 version on PC than to use the PC version.
Rogue Squadron is a ship combat game, but goes for controls that are much easier to get to grips with than the more simulation-like X-Wing/TIE Fighter series. Up close, the graphics look great on the N64, with the ships recreated in a lot of detail and varied planets to visit.
At a distance, though, and no graphics exist. As a result, the game has heavy usage of fog (this is partly why nobody can get widescreen to properly work – the game is unloading stuff as soon as it moves out of view). The darker levels and snow levels get away with this really well, as the fog looks much more natural, but on other levels it really does look out of place.
There are a great amount of missions, following a rough story as Rogue Squadron deals with the ruthless Moff Seerdon, with voice acting before, after and during missions. While the levels designs are a quite varied, I really don’t remember Rogue Squadron having this many escort missions, as you protect various targets from the imperials, particularly TIE Bombers.
There are some missions where you get to go on the offensive – including using the Y-Wing to blow up massive complexes, and these ones are a ton of fun, and they mostly make up for the escort ones. They wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t feel like everything you were protecting was incredibly weak (and you can’t see their health), or if enemy ships were easier to see (something that would be rectified in the sequel).
There are a good amount of bonuses. You can unlock more ships to replay previous missions with, including the Millennium Falcon, and bonus levels that require you to master the game to perfection (or use cheats to unlock), which lets you play the Death Star trench run and the Battle of Hoth, the latter being the final thing is curious as it was the start of Empire at War.
One impressive unlockable was the Naboo Starfighter, which remained hidden in the game until a code to unlock it was released when Episode 1 came out. Such a thing would need to be DLC these days, as people would locate it in the game files straight away.
Rogue Squadron is a really good game, but the amount of escort missions lets it down. A few of the levels were much more memorable to me, and it was all of the missions that don’t require you to protect others. It’s still a highly enjoyable game overall, but it has the disadvantage of tis sequel improving upon it in every single way.
The real test is whether, if you took those heavyweight S and W words away, there would be a great game left. Essentially, whether the game could be enjoyed by fans and non-fans alike. Rogue Squadron, is, undoubtedly, the closest console owners have ever come to that far-off dream.Tim Weaver, N64 Magazine #25
Remake or remaster?
A proper remaster is desperately needed in Rogue Squadron. Get it running in better resolutions, widescreen and get the game to load the whole level so the fog can be removed (other than the edges of the map). Even better, recreate the game in the Rogue Squadron II engine with all the features of that. Factor 5 did complete a version of the Rogue Squadron trilogy for Wii that was unreleased, but none of the trailers showed the first game, so I would love to see what that version was like.
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