As most of you may know, it was announced earlier this week that Disney bought Lucasfilms Ltd. With this purchase comes the ownership of the both Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. It also means that Disney now owns Lucasarts, maker of dozens of games over the last few decades.
So, with that, let us discuss one of their greatest games: Rebel Assault!
Released in November of 1993, Rebel Assault had the honor of being the first CD-ROM only game, set in the Star Wars Universe, to be released by Lucasarts. Following the September 1993 release of MYST, the game helped spur the rapid adoption of CD-ROM drives in desktop computers.
This CD-ROM exclusivity, as opposed to being simultaneously distributed on floppy disks, meant that games could be much larger and more graphically advanced than their predecessors. To give perspective, a floppy disk allowed 1.44 MB of storage, while a CD-ROM can hold 650 MB of data. That’s the equivalent of 451 floppy disks! It should be noted that the largest SNES game of the time was only 6 MB in size. Optical Disk technology was the future, and with it came a slew of amazing games.
Rebel Assault utilized this expanded storage by providing pre-rendered environments for your spacecraft to fly through. Namely, this allowed the developers to create levels which were much more detailed than what the PC hardware could render in real time. Needless to say, the game was strikingly more beautiful than any other rail shooter at the time, and was graphically amongst the best in regards to what was on the market.
Now your first reaction may be that graphics aren’t everything, and that they really have no effect on the quality of the game. While I agree with the fact that graphics don’t make a game, I believe that evolving technologies allow the ability to tell a story, or present a scene, in greater detail and finesse. This allows the creator to realize their creative aspirations, and can lead to greater narrative accomplishments in video games.
From attacking the aforementioned Star Destroyer, to taking down Imperial Walkers on Hoth, the game let you experience the grandiose nature of the
Star Wars universe for the first time. While the story itself was a knockoff of the original game (you are a kid from tatooine, and you do all the missions from the movies), it was still a thrilling experience to fly through these familiar Star Wars environments.
If you’re interested in playing the game, you can do so with the often mentioned DOSBox. Be warned though, the game can be punishingly hard. But that’s part of the charm of an arcade style rail shooter, isn’t it?