Star Wars once had a far more storied history with Nintendo platforms, largely remembered for reaching a technical pinnacle with GameCube’s Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader.
While many games have left us with fond memories in allowing us to exist in such a celebrated galaxy, others were cancelled and left to never see the light of day. Unseen64’s Liam Robertson has once again worked tirelessly to uncover such long-abandoned projects, with his findings documented in a new video published on the DidYouKnowGaming? channel.
The comprehensive 18-minute video explores Factor-5’s relationship with LucasArts, and how the developer had once toyed with the idea of creating Star Wars: Dark Squadron. This would see the player take to the skies for the Imperials in a campaign that would see them neutralise the Rebel Alliance, with Darth Vader as the main character.
Rather than simply lead a squadron, players would take command of an entire Imperial fleet with support options such as summoning Star Destroyers or requesting Orbital Strikes. No prototype was ever produced, just concept art, early animatics and documentation that explored early ideas, which had been destined as another GameCube exclusive.
Meanwhile, LucasArts’ own internal team had looked at an action-adventure game that starred Chewbacca, exploring the Wookie’s career as a bounty hunter after Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and how he teamed up with Han Solo by Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. LucasArts executives approved this concept, which saw Star Wars: Dark Squadron shelved.
Factor-5 moved on to propose remastering Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader and Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike, a pitch that was approved by LucasArts although the studio was pressured to develop for Microsoft’s Xbox. That opened up an opportunity to use Xbox Live to introduce online multiplayer, as Versus modes had previously been limited to local split-screen.
Development went without a hitch until April 2004 when a shift in LucasArts’ management team changed, tasked with improving the company’s financial performance. Projects were axed, and George Lucas stepped in to put an end to the LucasArts-led Chewbacca project.
After Factor-5’s lacklustre PlayStation 3 exclusive Lair, the developer was given the chance to bring the Rogue Squadron series back on Wii. New multiplayer modes were to be added, such as a Lightsaber Duel mode that put the Wii Remote to use. With 20 playable characters like Emperor Palpatine, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Darth Maul and Darth Vader, each had their own abilities that could turn a battle in their favour.
Another mode came in a Speeder Bike chase sequence, while Factor-5 added a co-operative campaign with the game running at 60 frames-per-second. Controller support was broad, even going as far as to add support for the Wii Balance Board.
But, in December 2008 the developer had faced bankruptcy. After Brash Entertainment suffered the same fate earlier, Factor-5 shouldered the development costs for the Superman game that they had been working on. That was a costly move, with the developer soon laying off staff in a fight for survival before later filing for bankruptcy.
Attempts were made to allow the projects to live on, when assets were transferred to WhiteHarvest. Former Factor-5 staff worked unpaid to bring the games to completion, but, open between January – July 2009, the new studio was soon shuttered. That was largely due to Factor-5’s founders becoming subject to a lawsuit, and WhiteHarvest as a result. Fraud allegations were cast against how assets had been transferred to avoid paying creditors. Those allegations were later dismissed, but Wii’s Rogue Squadron was shelved after LucasArts feared it would become wrapped up in a PR nightmare.