"Star Wars" lives on through videogames

RALEIGH, North Carolina Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:36pm EDT

1 of 5. An undated screenshot from the Xbox 360/Playstation 3 version of the video game 'Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.'

Credit: Reuters/LucasArts/Handout

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RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Even if the latest movie, "The Clone Wars", didn't break box office records, the Force is still strong for Star Wars in the videogame realm.

LucasArts has two new games that will be released this fall. "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" will hit all platforms on September 16, and a pair of "Star Wars The Clone Wars" games will come out on Nintendo platforms on November 11.

In addition, "Darth Vader," for PlayStation 3, and "Yoda," for Xbox 360, are exclusive playable characters in Namco Bandai's recent release, Soul Calibur IV.

Sony Online Entertainment's partnership with LucasArts in the multiplayer online role-playing game, "Star Wars: Galaxies," also continues to keep hundreds of thousands of gamers happy.

"'Star Wars' is and will always be a core part of our DNA at LucasArts," said Kevin Kurtz, the company's director of marketing.

"George Lucas created such a deep universe ripe with possibilities that it will continue to be a source for incredible stories and gameplay for years to come," he added.

Since the first film was shown on the big screen over 30 years ago, "Star Wars" fans have dreamed of the day that gaming could replicate those lightsaber battles between good and evil. Thanks to Nintendo's revolutionary Wii, that day has come with "Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duel."

Wii's motion sensor controllers allow two players to replicate the moves of Jedis from the recent movie and upcoming CGI TV series. Developer Krome Studios worked with LucasArts and the creators of the CGI series to ensure the game experience remained authentic.

LucasFilm's Singapore studio, which created "The Clone Wars" movie and TV series, was also responsible for the Nintendo DS game, "Star Wars The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance."

"LucasFilm is telling 'The Clone Wars' story in two different ways -- through a linear, TV format, as well as through an interactive, handheld format," said marketing manager Gavin Leung.

This collaboration across entertainment mediums allowed ideas to flow freely. Leung said a new battleship called the Devastation in the videogame will be incorporated into a future episode of the TV show.

For "The Force Unleashed," a new game that bridges the gap between the two Star Wars trilogies, the game designers met with Lucas throughout the four-year development of the title.

"George gave us a history lesson about what the major characters in the Saga were doing in that time frame, and offered feedback and suggestions about the plot and characters," said Haden Blackman, executive producer of the game at LucasArts.

"The Force Unleashed" introduces a new character to the universe - Darth Vader's secret apprentice. After taking control of Vader, himself, in the first level of the game, players learn the powers of the Force through a series of missions as the apprentice.

The interactive adventures will continue regardless of whether any new Star Wars films make their way into theaters.

"The 'Star Wars' franchise has legs and games seem to be successful with or without films, as we've seen with the LEGO 'Star Wars' games the past few years," said Michael Pachter, videogame analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities.

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