Growing up, I was mostly a console gamer. There were some games, though, that pushed the boundaries of what games could do, and they were mostly on PCs. One such series focused on flying the X-Wing starfighters from the Star Wars movies.
The X-Wing games were simulations-- not just about arcade action and shooting. You had to be conscious of the intricacies of flying, including managing your limited energy. You could shunt power from your shields to your weapons to give yourself a little bit of extra punch, or pull all your energy from shields and weapons to dump it all into your engines, in case you needed to make a quick getaway. The games took place in a fully 3D space, where other ships might come from any direction, including from above and below. For a game running on DOS in 1993, this was very impressive.
X-Wing had a sequel in 1994 called TIE Fighter. This one had the same gameplay, but put the player in the seat of one of the Galactic Empire’s starfighters, letting the player fight against the Rebel Alliance for the first time. There were two more sequels, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter in 1997, and X-Wing Alliance in 1999.
Unfortunately, since then, there’ve been no more games in the series, as space combat simulation fell out of favor. Eventually, there were some new games in the genre, like Elite: Dangerous, but none of them were set in the Star Wars universe. Star Wars games themselves stuck to mostly land-based combat.
However, this week, EA announced Star Wars Squadrons. A great looking trailer was released, showing characters you’ll be able to play from both the Rebels and the Empire. Not very much gameplay was shown, but I think I caught some of the same energy-management controls in the cockpit of the X-Wing as I remember from the 1993 game. I hope it has the kind of gameplay I’ve wanted to return to for two decades now.