We all have our favourite Star Wars characters. Whether you’re a Han Solo guy or a Darth Maul gal, the universe is massive enough to make sure there’s something for everyone across its countless species and worlds. From Jedi Knights and Sith Lords to bounty hunters and smugglers, Star Wars characters give us all someone to identify with, across those who live in the light side, lurk in the dark side, and just hang out in a murky grey area.
Of course, characters are a key factor in the success of any franchise. Star Wars in particular has had a huge cast since 1977, with hundreds appearing across dozens of novels, comics, and video games. While titles like Star Wars Battlefront, the Super Star Wars series, and even charming-but-futile releases like Masters of Teras Kasi centre on the franchise’s most beloved characters, other games have introduced many awesome original characters.
Okay, so some of these have been duds, but others are so well-designed, likeable, and memorable they can stand alongside the most iconic heroes and villains. Here’s our top five …
Kyle Katarn (Dark Forces)
1995’s Dark Forces could easily have been just another forgettable Doom clone, but instead it became one of the most beloved Star Wars video games ever made. One of the major reasons it remains so important? Its hero, Kyle Katarn.
This mercenary is hired by the Rebel Alliance to steal the Death Star plans (though we’ll see the heroes of the forthcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story do this instead soon enough), and goes on to destroy the Empire’s scheme to cook-up some nasty new Dark Troopers, super-tough soldiers who’ll make the Rebels’ lives even tougher.
The character’s popularity saw him appear in the successful Jedi Knight series, albeit in an evolving form: over subsequent games, Katarn goes on to be revealed as the son of a Force-sensitive, making him ripe to train as a Jedi. Katarn transcended video games to feature in other Expanded Universe media, including novels, and even toys.
Without doubt, plenty of Star Wars fans would be delighted to see Kyle Katarn introduced into the canon. Hey, if Admiral Thrawn can be brought over from the Expanded Universe, why can’t Katarn?
HK-47 (Knights of the Old Republic)
Droids are integral to the Star Wars universe. R2-D2 is, of course, the most recognisable, alongside BB-8 and C-3PO, all of whom have their own unique personalities and appeal to fans of all ages.
Still, not all droids are as cute as Artoo or BB-8, nor as bumblingly-charming as Threepio.
Meet HK-47. This assassin droid is a tough little cookie, with a string of kills to his name and a brilliant distaste for organic lifeforms. That the ‘HK’ stands for ‘Hunter-Killer’ demonstrates just how badass he is, and even though it’s apparently taken from AK-47 guns, it also has to be a deliberate nod to The Terminator franchise, which features Hunter-Killers in its dark futuristic battle-scenes.
HK-47’s a likeable character in Knights of the Old Republic, with witty dialogue (in which he refers to other characters as ‘meatbags’) and some formidable fighting skills. The ongoing story of HK-47’s history, and his quest for memories, is as engrossing as anything else in the game.
HK-47 appears in the mobile game Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes – not bad, considering he’s been around for 13 years now.
Player Character (Knights of the Old Republic)
Okay, so including a character with no fixed name and an adaptable personality might seem a little weird, but as anyone who’s played Knights of the Old Republic will know, your anonymous hero or heroine goes on to become unforgettable. And while you can create a name for them, he or she does end up with a ‘real’ name later on – one that comes as something of a shock.
Your character rises from humble beginnings to master the Force as either a Jedi or a Sith, exchanging her run of the mill blaster for a fetching lightsaber. Part of the fun of the Knights of the Old Republic games is the ability to guide your hero or heroine towards either the light or dark side, and the character’s evolving morality helps to make her easier to engage with; you’re basically directing who and what she’ll become, so feel responsible for her.
Now, it’s tricky to talk about this nameless character without dropping any spoilers. Yeah, we know it’s a really, really old game, but with it still being available (even on mobile), people will be discovering it for years to come. We don’t want to be responsible for ruining the story for them, but we know fans of the series will agree with us when we say a certain plot twist helps to secure your hero’s place as one of the most memorable Star Wars video game characters of all time.
Darth Nihilus (Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords)
As Darth Nihilus is the cover-star of KOTOR II: The Sith Lords, even people who have never actually played the game will recognise him.
First and foremost, Darth Nihilus has what all good Sith characters need: a cool look. With his haunting white mask contrasting with his black robes, Nihilus is a great visual, but he’s far more than this deep down.
Well, kind of. Darth Nihilus was once a human, but within the game’s time-frame, he exists as only a spirit encased in his armour. His affinity with the Force allowed him to live on in a ghostly form – a rare trick, and probably not too easy to pull off. This spectral quality helps to make Darth Nihilus a more memorable villain, and as he’s not just another human or alien, he’s a little creepy too.
Starkiller (The Force Unleashed)
The Force Unleashed may not have as loyal a following as Knights of the Old Republic, but it’s still a fun, exciting game that delves deep into the Star Wars Expanded Universe. One of the most interesting aspects of the game is its hero, Starkiller (otherwise known as The Apprentice).
As a Force-sensitive Darth Vader took under his wing, Starkiller grows to become the Sith Lord’s secret weapon. However, the game sees him set on a path of self-redemption, alongside a likeable cast of characters (including General Rahm Kota, a gruff Jedi who survived Order 66 and developed something of a drinking habit).
LucasArts could have just created a basic video-game character, but to their credit, they went the distance to give players a more fleshed-out hero. First of all, they cast actor Sam Witwer (Battlestar Galactica, Smallville, Being Human) to play Starkiller in body as well as voice. This helps to make the game feel like a more big-budget, legitimate instalment in the Star Wars franchise, and gives the character more presence.
Okay, so Starkiller’s no Han Solo or Rey, but he has some decent dialogue, an engaging arc, and a cool look. He’s also buoyed by his supporting characters, which helps to bring out different aspects of his personality and keeps the game feeling like an ensemble piece rather than a one-man-against-the-world adventure.
Hopefully, future Star Wars games will experiment with casting actors to provide both their vocals and likenesses. There’s plenty of potential, especially with a new line of movies bringing lots of new characters to the series.
Who are your favourite Star Wars video game characters? Let us know!