When Disney acquired Lucasfilm, and in effect, the entirety of the Star Wars universe, it quickly went about consolidating the enormous number of canon and non-canon stories. What was known as the Extended Universe (EU), featuring books, comics, and other media based on the Star Wars universe, was re-categorized as “Legends." The official Star Wars canon was narrowed down to the six official films, the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons, and some new illustrated and written media. Of all the EU media delegated to Legends status, none was more loved and admired by the fandom than the stories surrounding the famous starfighter squadron led by Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles.
Labeled the Rogue Squadron, these elite Rebel Alliance pilots went on to take part in numerous heroic missions across comic books, novels, and video games. The most well-known of these Rogue Squadron stories is the trilogy of games released for the Nintendo 64 and GameCube consoles. Finally, entire games were devoted to this rag-tag group of Empire crushing pilots. With state-of-the-art graphics (for the time), full 360 degree flight, and numerous Alliance and Empire crafts to control, the Rogue Squadron series was an instant best-seller.
2016 will see the release of Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One, a story set before Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope. It will tell the story of the pilots that stole the plans to the first Death Star. The Force Awakens has already introduced the brash and headstrong character of Poe Dameron in the first teaser trailer, who is seen whooping and hollering as his X-wing flies low over the water of a planet's surface. Beyond the films, the latest Star Wars themed video game, entitled Star Wars Battlefront, will allow players to battle against their friends in the skies and on the ground in familiar locations such as Hoth, Tatooine, and Endor. With Rebel pilots and Rogue leaders such an important part of the Star Wars experience going forward, check out this brief history of one of their finest gaming moments. Take flight with us as we careen through the history of Rogue Squadron and the various ground and space crafts that are playable across the series.
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Rebel Starfighters & Imperial Crafts Transcript
The Ships of Star Wars Rogue Squadron
The Incom T-65 X-wing is the fighter that killed the Death Star. An almost perfect balance of speed, maneuverability, and defensive shields makes this the fighter of choice for Rogue Squadron. in addition to four blaster cannons, the X-wing can carry a number of proton torpedoes. It's powered by four fusial thrust engines and requires an onboard astromerch droid for peak performance.
The A-wing is the fastest Rebel starfighter, capable of matching a TIE interceptor in speed. Twin J-77 Event Horizon engines power the craft, and twin blaster canons provide offensive weaponry. The deflector shield capability is significantly less than the X-wing.
Modified with armor plating, stronger outboard laser cannons, and a harpoon tow cable for the rear gunner, the Snowspeeder is not a true flightcraft, as the flight ceiling is quite low. It hugs the ground well and is also quite maneuverable, but the addition of deflector shields was deemed costly and time-consuming.
The Y-wing is the workhouse of the rebel fleet. It is used mainly as a bomber because it can carry a heavy payload of missiles, torpedoes, and bombs. The other important weapon is the topside ion cannon which, rather than destroying a target, can disable it for later capture.
The V-wing is a repulsor-based airspeeder. Rebel transport freighters deploy V-wings into a planet's orbit for a direct ground assault. The V-wing is insanely fast, delivering high speeds and heavy artillery such as rapid-fire cannons and cluster bombs. It features a scramjet and a huge booster.
The B-wing was personally designed by Admiral Ackbar. It supports an array of weapons including ion cannons, proton torpedo launchers and laser cannons. Because the cockpit is surrounded by a unique gyro-stabilization, the pilot always remains stationary, even as the rest of the ship rotates during a flight.
Like the Snowspeeder, the T-16 Skyhopper is a repulsor craft, making space flight impossible. Used mostly in the desert plains of Tatooine, the Skyhopper is powered by an Incom E-16x ion engine for thrust and relies on twin DCJ-45 repulsorlifts for lift.
Developed by Sienar Fleet Systems, this agile, single-pilot craft has a titanium alloy hull and quadanium steel armored solar panels but lacks a deflector shield and primary life support systems. It is intended to be used as a short-range attack craft. launching in swarms from nearby Imperial installations to overwhelm their opponents.
Like the TIE Fighter, the interceptor has no shields or hypedrice, but makes up for it with it's high speed and advanced maneuverability. It is the fastest ship in the Imperial fleet, with four laser cannons placed on the edge of its two solar panels.
TIE Advanced X1
The prototype starfighter used by Darth Vader at the Battle of Yavin, and the basis for the frighteningly efficient TIE interceptor, the TIE Advanced x1 is easily recognizable due to its distinctive bent wings. Unlike all other TIE fighters, the prototype is equipped with a deflector shield generator and a modest hyperdrive system.
Commissioned by the Empire's elite Storm Commando Corp, the TIE Hunter is an experimental fighter that sacrifices armor and firepower for flight speed. It is equipped with twin laser cannons, a proton torpedo launcher, and twin ion cannons. The design integrates the folding s-foil design of an X-wing into the form of a TIE interceptor.
An illegally modified Corellian engineered YT-1300 transport, the Millennium Falcon is one of the most formidable starships in the galaxy. the Falcon supports a top of the line system, two quad laser cannons, and two concussion missile launchers, along with a retractable light-laser cannon.
The personal starship of bounty hunter BobaFett, Slave I is a drastically altered firespray-class patrol craft. The starfighter has been rebuilt with holding cells, a dedicated tracking system, improved deflector shields, a massive hyperdrive engine, and numerous concealed weapons.
N-1 (Naboo) Starfighter
The fast, agile starfighter used by the Naboo Royal Space Fighter Corps, the N1 is armed with twin laser cannons and a full complement of proton torpedoes. However, the vehicle is reserved for routine patrols and escortign the Queen's starship to other worlds. The starfighter also utilizes a standard astromech droid to assist with navigation and in-flight repairs.
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
Console: Nintendo 64/PC (Windows)
Release Date: December 7, 1998
Around the middle of the Nintendo 64 console's life cycle, the company released an optional Expansion Pak, a small, 4 MB stick that would bump the console's memory to a total of 8 MB. Not much by today's standards, but back in 1989 it was a sizable leap forward in resolution, frame rate and power. While not necessary to play the game, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron was one of the first games to benefit from the Pak, which bumped up the resolution and frame rate. There have been other flight simulation games built around the Star Wars universe, but none that packed as many ships into one game like Rogue Squadron. Not as realistic as the X-wing computer game series, Rogue Squadron emphasized action and adventure, with distinct levels, objectives and familiar Star Wars sights and sounds.
Playable Crafts: X-wing, Snowspeeder, Y-wing, R-wing, V-wing
Unlockable: Millenium Falcon, TIE/IN Interceptor, N-1 Starfighter, T-15 Skyhopper, 1969 Buick Electra, AT-ST
Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
Console: Nintendo GameCube
Release date: November 9, 2001
Rogue Squadron proved such a success, there was no question that developer Factor 5 and LucasArts had to make a sequel. Three years and a new console cycle later, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader was released for the Nintendo GameCube as a launch title. The developers were able to upgrade everything that fans loved about Rogue Squadron: more ships, better-detailed environments, and a wider story that spans the three original Star Wars films. Beyond the new stories that take place outside of the films, Rogue Leader also put the player into famous cinematic battles such as the Death Star Attack and Battle of Endor. Rogue Leader even goes beyond known battles and cleverly creates alternate universe stages, such as Triumph of the Empire, where you play as Vader, flying his TIE Advanced x1 as he defeats the Rebels and kills Luke Skywalker at the Battle of Yavin.
Playable Crafts: X-wing, Snowspeeder, R-wing, Y-wing, Millenium Falcon, B-wing, T-16 Skyhopper
Unlockable: The Fighter, TIE Advanced X1, Cloud Car, 1969 Buick Electra, Imperial Shuttle, N-1 Starfighter, Slave I
Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike
Console: Nintendo GameCube
Release Date: October 15, 2003
The Rogue Squadron developers had to continue to build on the series foundation with their third entry, and second for the GameCube console. With Rebel Strike, the ability to exit your vehicle or starship was introduced, changing the way many battles played out. Beyond that, players could also enter land vehicles, such as landspeeders, bikes, and Imperial AT-AT. One feature that multiplayer. Players could now battle, race, and cooperate across levels from Rebel Strike and Rogue Leader. Again, unlockable stages featured famous scenes from the films, with one highlight being the Attack on the Executor, which allowed you to pilot the famous A-wing that crashed into the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer Executor, effectively landing the finishing blow on the personal flagship of Darth Vader.
Playable Crafts: x-wing, Y-wing, R-wing, Snowspeeder, B-wing, Speeder Bike, Swoop Bike, Luke's Landspeeder, Cloud Car, T-16 Skyhopper, TIE Fighter, TIE Interceptor, Tie Advanced X1, At-ST, AT-Pt, AT-AT, Imperial Shuttle
Unlockable: Millenium Falcon, TIE Bomber, TIE Hunter, Jedi Starfighter, N-1 Starfighter, 1969 Electra, Slave 1
Sources: Starwars.wikia.com, https://youtube/rcpqty_v25s.ign.com/articles/1998/11/07/the-ships-of-rogue-squadron, img05.deviantart.net/8f4a/l/2010/168/4/4/imperial_shuttle_by_kadamx.jpg, gamefaqs.com/gamecube/481078-star-wars-rogue-leader-rogue-squadron-ll/faqs/15777
Which ship from the Star Wars Rogue Squadron games was your favorite to fly? The lightning-fast A-wing or the lumbering, but powerful Y-wing? Personally, we will never get over the feeling of virtually flying the Millennium Falcon, with deflector shields at full, taking down pesky TIEs in our path. If you want to truly feel like one of the Squad, suit up in one of our adult X-wing pilot costumes. For even more authenticity, strap on famed (and underrated) Rogue Squadron pilot Wedge Antilles’ personal X-wing helmet. May The Force be with you.
Design Credit: Brady Johnson