This essay may contain stuff you consider middlin’ spoilers for various entries of the Star Wars Sextology and minor spoilers for Fiddler on the Roof. It also contains a full-throated recommendation for Knights of the Old Republic (also available for XBox). If you have any time/inclination to play games at all, and if you have any ragged shreds of love for the Star Wars Universe left, you will be delighted by this game.

I saw Star Wars in the theater when I was a little kid. I was entranced. A few years later, I started elementary school and, on the playground, everybody at my school was able to discuss the mythology of Star Wars like we were Talmudic Scholars (well, the boys anyway).

The statement “I heard that Han Solo was a Stormtrooper before he was a smuggler” was the equivalent of Tevye saying “it was 12 years old” in the marketplace.

The first kid who explained that Darth Vader got all that stuff because he was dropped into a volcano by Obi Wan Kenobi because his brother told him and his brother read allllll the books was pumped for all kinds of information. Of course, he didn’t know the answers to anything but the whole “dropped into a volcano” thing and you can tell the difference between legit info and made up on the fly info, even in third grade.

Empire Strikes Back came out and, whoa doggies, we learned *THE TRUTH*. This started no end of squabbling all over again. What did the tree *REALLY* mean? Why was Luke’s head in Darth Vader’s helmet? (You wouldn’t believe the theories we came up with for this one.)

Revenge of the Jedi was going to come out and explain how everything was going to wrap up! It was going to be awesome!!! And then… we heard that it was going to be called “Return of the Jedi” which was, let’s face it, less cool. Half of the kids refused to call it by its new name. (I was one of them.) When it finally came out, we had the resolution we all dreamed of. The Ewoks danced and they danced for us. Yub yub. It was only later that we realized we weren’t supposed to like the movie as much as we did.

Someone told us his older brother heard that there weren’t going to be any more Star Wars movies until the late 90’s. This was unthinkable. That was, like, never. What if there was a nuclear war? This is an outrage!!! And then, well, time passed. We read Dragonlance. We watched The Next Generation. We watched Clerks and then all this stuff came bubbling back up and we discovered that most of our College friends were also Rabbis. “Hey, we’re a lot closer to the new Star Wars movies!”, we laughed.

Well, The Phantom Menace came out. Maribou and I watched it opening weekend in a packed theater.

Maribou and I walked back to the car in silence.

On the drive home, she asked me “what did you think?”

“It was good!”, I said with all the enthusiasm I could muster. In the days that followed, there were a number of arguments online over how Japanese, Black, or Jewish this character was or wasn’t. Whether the race scene was reminiscent of Ben Hur or not.

Whether it was worth the wait or not.

You probably remember how good Phantom Menace probably ought to have been.

Well, if you are open to somewhat older games, I’ve got some good news for you:

The original Knights of the Old Republic feels as good as Star Wars felt in 1985. No spoilers here (well, in this post, anyway… one’s coming up that will discuss RPGs in general and Bioware specifically), no breakdowns of what happens in the game. It’s available for the computer (if your computer would be good for 2001, it’ll run it) and for the original Xbox. If you felt regret after seeing Phantom Menace know this: this game will make everything okay again.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. I figure that Tuesdays will be my day to recommend stuff for y’all.

  2. I actually don’t hate Phantom Menace. I was like thirteen or something when it came out, but I don’t hate it. I hated Jar-Jar. And I still can’t understand why the Spielberg-Lucas faction has moved from THX1138 to self-censorship and stumbling into the Uncanny Valley… Perhaps Lucas should cut his own arm off.

  3. I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate all the Star Wars prequels. With the passion of a thousand burning suns.

    • Alex, we were basically tricked into seeing the last of the three prequels. By our friend (WHO MAY OR MAY NOT FREQUENT THIS BOARD AND GO BY THE NAME OF FISH) who swore that “No! The stuff you hated is sorted out! It is awesome!” The fact that he need some, uh, alcoholic refreshment before rewatching it should’ve tipped us off…


      Jay’s right about the game he’s enthusing about above, though. It’s brilliant, engaging, funny, touching, geeked-out, etc. Also, I really enjoyed watching him play The Force Unleashed (though I haven’t played it myself). Basically, I have erased the real prequels in my head and filled them in with the cut scenes and major battles from The Force Unleashed.

      (Boys weren’t the only Star Wars rabbis on my playground.)

      • (Uh, *needed* some alcoholic refreshment, of course … I am so spoiled by FriendFeed and its retroactively-edit-everything feature.)

      • In my own defense, I was a different person then. But I’ve grown to see the error of my ways. I recommend just watching The Big Lebowski again. It’ll really pull everything together.

    • I am right there with you, amigo. I will never be able to respect George Lucas the same way again, made worse by his idiotic desire to tamper with the original trilogy.

  4. I know I’m a heretic, but:

    Star Wars was cute. Worth re-watching once or maybe twice.

    The next two were unnecessary, but kind of OK. It’s a shame H. Beam Piper wasn’t still alive to get some money out of Lucas for stealing the Fuzzies. And “Come to the dark side, Luke!” “No!” has to be the dumbest portrait of resisting temptation ever filmed.

    The last three were laughably bad. TPM is probably the worst, for Jar Jar, midichlorians, and Anakin’s virgin birth, but it leaves out Hayden Christensen’s whining, so maybe not. On the other hand, it inspired the best Weird Al parody ever.

  5. The irreparable bad elements of the Star Wars movies gets a little better when you remember that the movies are aimed at kids. When you look at them with the cynical, jaded, and most of all experienced eyes of an adult, they become simplistic, poorly-written, and seem to somehow inspire underperformance by the actors, sometimes quite good actors, thrown in to the performance. (Sir Alec Guiness’ turn as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first movie was about the only decent turn by any of the actors in any of the six movies that conveys what seem like sincere emotions.)

    But when you’re a kid, you don’t appreciate the difference between good acting, bad acting, and worst of all, an otherwise-good actor who just mailed it in. A child hasn’t seen enough movies yet to distinguish between good writing and bad; children are moved by the spectacle alone.

    To enjoy them as an adult requires a sustained effort to suspend one’s distaste for bad acting and bad writing in favor of that spectacle that so powerfully moved you as a child.

    • I’ve encountered a variant of this argument before. “The only reason Star Wars was cool was because you were 5 and the reason that Phantom Menace sucked was because you were 27” has been said to me before.

      I don’t think that this is entirely accurate. While I could attempt to write an essay, it would fail to be half as good as this (NSFW!) 70 minute review of Phantom Menace.

      It’s got some severely off-color humor (and, I suppose, I should say “trigger warning” for those who know what a trigger warning is… “what kind?” you ask? “all of them”).

      But, if you’re home and you have a little over an hour to kill, check out the whole thing. Heck, even if you only have 10 minutes to kill, check out that one 10-minute segment. It makes some decent points between the jokes about suicide and kidnapping.

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