Every Monday, we’re going to take a look at a classic game that redefined, embodied, or perfected a genre.  This week, we revisit TIE Fighter.

Warning sirens are blaring.  My shields have almost failed, Rebel ships swarm like bees, and a Rebel Frigate marches ever closer to my currently crippled home ship.  My only hope is to go on a suicide run, in the hopes that I can get in range before being blasted to oblivion.  All I have to do is hit that frigate with this final payload, and it will go boom.  I shove my TIE Avenger into an immelmann, shaking off an enemy Y-Wing. “Divert all weapons power to the shields, and move whatever is left to the engines! All ahead full!”  I hear a few clicks and clacks, then my wing-man responds with “Copy!  Power diverted, shields rebalanced towards the front!”  Dodging enemy fire, my shields quickly draining, I finally get into range and let loose with my two bombs.  “Bombs away!  Full power to the engines!  Divert the remaining shields to the rear!” “Copy!” 

I swoop out of danger, and come to a halt at a safe distance, keeping an eye on my radar to make sure no enemy fighters are following me.  After what seems like an eternity, the slow moving bombs finally impact the Rebel Freighter’s hull.  The ship explodes in a brilliant light, as it slowly drifts apart in pieces.

The joystick I used for TIE Fighter: a Logitech Wingman Extreme Digital.

This was how my friend and I used to play TIE Fighter.  The game utilized almost every key on the keyboard, and although you could play it by yourself, it was far more satisfying to have someone controlling the various systems while the other person piloted the craft.  Even though you COULD use a mouse and keyboard, obviously a flight stick was preferred.  I can’t even begin to imagine how many hours we spent on this game…entire weekends were washed away in a haze of lasers, shield calibrations, speed matching, evasive maneuvers, and Hyperspace jumps.

You weren’t just flying for the Imperials in TIE Fighter; you were also flying for the Emperor himself.  Each mission had a primary, secondary, and tertiary set of objectives, some of which were used to serve a secret society that did the Emperor’s dirty work.  While there wasn’t a huge expansion of the Star Wars universe, there were some notable tidbits that helped fill things in. 

There were two versions of the game: the original version was released on 3.5″ diskettes, while the other was released on CD-ROM.  The CD-ROM edition bumped the resolution up (640 x 480 was serious business back then!) included two expansion packs, added a bunch of voice work, and a few other enhancements. 

So, why cover Tie Fighter and not X-Wing vs TIE Fighter?  X-Wing vs TIE Fighter has multiplayer and better graphics, but there was a certain charm that was lost in the transition.  This isn’t just nostalgia talking…even back when it was first released, I found myself preferring TIE Fighter to its sequel (or for that matter, X-Wing, which was the first entry in the series.)  There was just something about TIE Fighter that clicked in my brain, something that shook me to my very foundation.

If there was ever a game that deserved to be updated with modern graphics/sound and given a proper rerelease, it’s TIE Fighter.  What are some of your memories with it?