Contrary to popular belief, the entire Star Wars franchise has not been total crap since 1983. No, one of the high points of the post-Boba-Fett-dies-like-a-moron era of Star Wars was the phenomenal 2003 video game Knights of the Old Republic -- or KOTOR for short.
Not to be confused with Leaders of the New School.
KOTOR was developed by BioWare, the folks who'd later create the famed Mass Effect series. The game hit stores when Star Wars malaise was cresting; Attack of the Clones had come out a year prior. The actors in that movie groaned out their dialogue as if the Star Wars universe only had one toilet and everyone was waiting to use it.
Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox
Obi-Wan Kenobi wouldn't use the bathroom until Empire, and he was a ghost at that point.
But KOTOR was the opposite. The game took over 30 hours to beat, but was zippy the entire play. And a major reason KOTOR was so breezy was because the game gave you the option to act like the biggest dildo in the universe.
Unlike Luke and Darth Vader, your Jedi hero in KOTOR couldn't be seduced to the Dark Side in one fell swoop. No, your protagonist's slide into intergalactic evil was more insidious and hilarious. The game offered you dozens of banal opportunities to score Dark Side points, such as berating old people.
You could also while away pointless hours in a massage parlor, but these rubdowns didn't sway you to Light or Dark. In fact, they didn't offer any benefit whatsoever.
"Like the prequels, but with plot and tug jobs." -The Decade-Late Cracked Review
I first beat my old roommate's copy of KOTOR back in 2004. The game was recently rereleased for iPad, so I gave the new version a whirl last month. And nine years since first playing the game, I noticed three things:
1) KOTOR still holds up;
2) KOTOR retained the power to turn me into an unwashed shut-in for a week; and
3) I still had no idea how the hell to play KOTOR.
Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox
Picture 30 hours of this.
The main reason I sucked was because I accidentally made my Jedi knight -- whom I dubbed Dick Earthquake -- pretty useless. I chose to make him a scoundrel like Han Solo and a Jedi Consular like Yoda. This skill set gave him less health than my character's goddamn utility droid.
Furthermore, I never fully committed to either the Light or Dark Side, instead choosing to spend my entire quest as a morally erratic assnut. Sometimes I mugged beggars, other times I lavished them with money for intentions unknown. Dick's moral compass pointed in but two directions: hell and back. Consequently, most of his snazzy Force powers were frustratingly expensive to use.
Finally, I maybe-kinda-sorta forgot to teach Dick Earthquake how to use a lightsaber. So yeah, Dick Earthquake was boned proper for his duel with the boss of the game, the nefarious Darth Malak.
Spoiler Alert: He's on the box art.
The first dozen times he fought Malak, Dick got housed. He'd rush into battle and flail his lightsabers like he was a majorette in an all-dipsomaniac production of The Music Man. When that failed, he tried killing Malak with repeated blasts of Force Lightning, but -- because Dick wasn't Dark Side enough -- he promptly ran out of Force juice, at which point he defaulted to his original tactic of panickedly pinwheeling his lightsabers, not unlike a raver clawing his way out of a K-hole with glow sticks.
I'd have been better off arming him with flashlights.
After much trial and error, I finally found a strategy that stuck. This method required me to abuse the game's AI and my Jedi to prance around like an idiot. What resulted wasn't simply the dumbest way I've ever beaten a video game boss -- no, THIS WAS THE SADDEST JEDI BATTLE IN STAR WARS HISTORY. John Williams would've scored this fight with nothing but a comb and wax paper. I have chosen to immortalize this duel of shame using the unsung literary medium that is video game novelization.
His long adventure had come to an end. Dick Earthquake's footfalls echoed against the corrugated star-alloy walkway. Before him stood his final foe, Darth Malak. The normally bombastic Malak met Dick with silence and a vacant glare.
Imagine the sound of two eyes looking.
Was Malak engaged in some form of Dark meditation? Dick could not say. But he did know exactly how to defeat his dread nemesis, as Dick's flimsy, mannequin-like body was but a vessel animated by an all-knowing quintessence: The Force.
Actually, scratch that. Dick was pickled senseless on drugs. A goddamn shit-ton of drugs.
How do you think Luke Skywalker made it through the day?
You see, Dick Earthquake had spent almost the entirety of his quest hopped up on a rip-roaring speedball of exotic painkillers, muscle relaxants, and brain ticklers. Whenever he slew a Dark Jedi or xenobiological gangster -- and Dick slew hundreds -- he inevitably found a passel of stims tucked away on the corpse. Yes, our hero had amassed a mighty collection of mind-altering stimulants. It was as if the entire cosmos was populated solely by truck drivers.
It was a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, laughers, and screamers.
Make no mistake -- Dick was totally fucking stoned the moment he stepped into Darth Malak's chamber. Minutes earlier, he'd dismantled a swarm of battle droids while goosed to the gills on a pharmaceutical cocktail of adrenal dazzlers. Dick didn't remember this fight, but then again, he didn't remember a lot of things nowadays. In his mind's eye, all he saw was a clan of Wookiees shrieking pornographic haikus.
[CAPTION: Unfathomable perversions.]
The drugs were telling him to do more, so he obliged them. Injecting a hyper-battle stim into his gluteus medius, Dick stared back at Malak as the chemicals whipped his serotonin receptors into a fancy souffle. Was Malak high, too? This was a valid question. After all, the poor son of a bitch did have a VCR for a mouth.
Whatever Malak's ploy was, Dick wasn't itching to disturb him. No, he'd let the drugs do the talking.
Dick Earthquake put a moratorium on his curiosity and his motor cortex on autopilot. The Wookiee howlers riding in his skull told him to reach into his star-pocket, yank out half a dozen anti-personnel land mines, and plop them down a few meters in front of Malak.
"Hey, I'm carrying volatile explosives on my person!" Dick marveled aloud.
The mines weren't a hallucination. In his journeys, Dick had acquired a few proximity mines. At one point, Dick chose to disarm and requisition minefields he found. But as the stims grew more plentiful (and his limbic system more loosey-goosey), he preferred to use his own body as a minesweeper. Demolitions set, Dick sauntered up to Malak.
To Dick's delight, Malak's monologue came out entirely in emoji.
At 5 meters, the Sith Lord sputtered to life like a potato-sack banshee in a carny haunted house. (Dick didn't know what a potato was, but somehow he always did.) Malak started pontificating about how the Dark Side is monotheism for dickheads or something. Dick would've listened, but the Wookiees in his brain were cannibalizing each other.
SUBTITLE: [Inchoate screaming]
After either two minutes or 9,000 years passed, Malak turned off his mouth and brandished his lightsaber, his wicked musculature tensing into an astro-shogun dueling stance. Indeed, no quarter would be given on this star-day.
Dick answered Malak's call to arms by hiding in a corner and pumping stims into his veins until his eyes bulged out like cocktail olives. Malak gave chase, inexplicably opting to sprint through the minefield Dick had tossed down (either two minutes or 9,000 years) earlier.
"A minefield in my own secret lair!" howled Malak. "What are the chances?"
Chunks of evil Jedi flew everywhere, yet Malak barely survived Dick's mutton tunnel. Fortified by neurochemistry and cowardice, our hero slapped Malak with his laser batons like a dumb-shit marionette. Improbably, the lightsabers hit their mark, and Malak beat a retreat to his Dead Jedi Pervert Tubes.
Malak yelled a bunch of claptrap about how he was vampirically draining Jedi corpses for sustenance. His speech was so boring that the real world began hooking its tendrils into Dick's nostrils, like a wet fart in a hot shower. But Dick's trip had moxie yet, so the cartoon stink lines of reality pupated Malak into a singing telegram at Dick's door of perception. Malak evolved into a man-size, disembodied Ewok head, his villainous ramblings into C-3PO rapping.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: C-3PO rapped a lot.
After Malak quit monologuing hard and deep, he fired up his lightsaber. Dick Earthquake was now stone sober and out of land mines, so he bravely began walking in the opposite direction. This irritated Malak so much that he threw his lightsaber at Dick, lawn-dart style. Everybody felt ashamed.
"Die, you caitiff!" screamed Malak. Dick's epiglottis burbled incoherent crap.