The Star Wars franchise has a long history in video games, dating all the way back to 1983 when the official Star Wars arcade game first showed up. Things have come a long way since those simple vector graphics lit up the arcade and to celebrate May the 4th we've put together a list of some of our favorite games set in galaxy far, far away.

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By Joseph Leray

jedi from Robomodo on Vimeo.

Speaking with Wired about hypothetical “Star Wars” games, designer Jesse Schell noted that “No one’s ever made a good lightsaber game.”

“But the thing that never has really been nailed is the lightsaber experience,” he continued. “It’s really hard to do well.” Which isn’t to say that it hasn’t been tried.

The video above features two rounds of a teenaged Anakin Skywalker taking on Darth Maul (who, in retrospect, kind of looks like a Juggalo). It’s actually an “in-engine tech demo” for a never-realized “Star Wars” lightsaber fighting game by now-defunct Studio Gigante.
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Let's be honest here... Game branded peripherals just seem like a quick way to grab some extra cash behind the release of a new title. Unless you're completely in love with a particular franchise there's just no reason to buy branded hardware over the standard issue. However, the Star Wars: The Old Republic Gaming Mouse and Gaming Headset that Razer sent over are probably some of the best PC peripherals I've ever used. The functionality is top-notch and they just look plain awesome. Read More...

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Star Wars: The Old Republic doesn't officially launch until December 20th, but gamers who pre-ordered the PC title can take part in BioWare's “Early Game Access” program beginning today, December 13th. If you didn't preorder the game yet you may still have a chance to get in on the action, but if I were you I wouldn't waste any time considering pre-orders are available in limited quantities.

Gamers who pre-ordered will begin joining the MMORPG in waves throughout the duration of the program. The goal of “Early Game Access” is to help BioWare and EA keep the servers in check while hoards of fans fill-up the online space and embark on missions throughout the enormous Star Wars galaxy. Read More...

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I haven't played "Baldur's Gate," but I have played BioWare's spiritual successor, "Dragon Age: Origins," and after a 10-minute session (albeit one without a proper tutorial), it planted the idea this style of RPG might not resonate with players who've come to expect differently from BioWare. Read More...

For $10 you can now download and play a new level of "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed."

I downloaded the level on Friday and played it on Saturday. What kind of experience did I get for my 10 bucks?

The new level took me about 70 minutes to complete. Read More...

You had to make some tough decision in "Mass Effect" sometimes. Should a character live or die? The choice was often left in your hands.

But even if you didn't like your first choice, you could always boot up an old save and pick a different path. That character never really had to die.

BioWare admits that's a struggle with even their own games. Because "Star Wars: The Old Republic" is a persistent online experience, they see an opportunity to solve that.

"As an attempt to appeal to a broader and broader audience, consequence has left gaming," said BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk to me after unveiling his MMO this week. "Everything is very low impact and there's no real negative result that can occur. We're going to start bringing that back but in a rational way, a way that doesn't punish the player -- but puts them on the spot."

The issue of inconsequential decision-making isn't just something limited to offline experiences, however, argued Zeschuk. Online games are guilty of it, too.

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One of the worries involved with downloadable content is that developers simply hide the content on the disc and charge you for an unlock code.

Namco Bandai has been a prime offender. All of the "Beautiful Katamari" downloadable content on Xbox Live, for example, is 364 KB each. When you buy it, it just "unlocks" on the disc.

I wondered if the publisher would take the same approach with the Darth Vader and Yoda downloadable characters for "Soul Calibur IV." They never outlined a good reason why the characters were restricted to a single platform -- Yoda on Xbox 360, Darth Vader on PlayStation 3 -- it seemed marketing-driven.

The characters were added to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network this morning. I checked, and it looks like the download size for Darth Vader is almost 8 MB on XBL. That suggests it wasn't on the disc. I can't check the file size for Yoda on PSN, but one would assume it's in the same ballpark.

That doesn't explain why the characters needed to be split up in the first place, but at least you're not paying $4.99 for little more than a glorified cheat code.

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There is much we don't know about LucasArts and BioWare's newly announced, currently PC-only MMO "Star Wars: The Old Republic."

This week's announcement didn't explain many important aspects to the game, including how combat works. It is slow? Fast? Turn-based? Action-centric?

I spent time on Tuesday with BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk, who attempted to explain -- as much as he could -- what "The Old Republic"'s combat is like, using extreme points of comparison: "World of WarCraft" and "EverQuest" against "Age of Conan" and "The Force Unleashed."

Here's what Zeschuck said.

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"[After being hired] there [are] over three months after the multiple tests [you take] that you spend before you ever get to touch the game, just training to be a BioWare writer. And if you're writing a class, which is the most sort of sacred thing to be doing, you get stuff written all over your stuff constantly that says…you pitch a plot to me, and you're writing [a] Sith [quest] and I write on the board 'And then Darth Vader…helps a farmer…to save his tractor.' And then I point at it and then we mock you and then that doesn't go in our game."

-- "Star Wars: The Old Republic" lead writer Daniel Erickson on how he wants to avoid the mundane quests players normally find themselves involved in with today's MMOs; if it isn't epic or heroic, he doesn't want it.

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