It’s been 14 years since Star Wars fans got to meet Starkiller. Now, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is coming to the Nintendo Switch, well, the Wii Version is. Developed by the Australian-based Krome Studios and published by Aspyr, The Force Unleased immerses the player into the dark side as Starkiller, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, who has been trained to hunt down and destroy the Jedi.
For those who haven’t played the game before, it takes place between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – though continuity doesn’t matter as it did upon its original release since its been struck from canon by the Mouse. That said, bringing the Wii version of The Force Unleashed stands to introduce new fans to Sam Witwer as the moody and extremely powerful son of a Jedi turned Sith apprentice.
It should be noted that nothing has been changed from the game outside of mapping the gameplay to Switch Joy-cons and their motion controls. That said, the best part of this port is still the story and the voice acting, even if 2008 hits you in the face hard if you play on a large television screen. Even then though, the motion controls from the Wii seem to be back in full force and it’s not great.
To be honest, having played the original release on Xbox, it’s hard to get myself into playing with motion controls. Not only does it keep you from just vibing on the couch, but having the lightsaber attacks which are usually fun combos to execute reduced to flailing my right hand feels wrong. The gameplay in The Force Unleased is hack-and-slash fun for sure, but there is something so completely missed by reducing it to a flick of the wrist.
Add in the uneven balancing of fight mechanics when you have the motion controls on versus when you have them off, and no matter what mode I chose, I just couldn’t get into the flow I remember from playing the original. Now, this isn’t Krome Studios’ fault, especially because much of this was noted with the Wii release of the game.
That said, it holds up even worse now. While the force push motion is fine since it’s more limited in use than your main attack, using the Force results in really uneven gameplay. At times it’s fun and at others, the smart lock system will target something behind you or the TIE Fighter parts and not the soldier you’re trying to target.
While the motion controls struggle to stay on target and the camera isn’t your best friend, you can disable them. While this is good for players with mobility issues, disabling the controls has an odd effect on the gameplay. First, you’ll have to learn new buttons for the same actions you’ve been doing which aren’t intuitive like the Force Push being moved to the “x” button, but some powers I couldn’t even figure out how to use when I made the switch.
Namely, while “x” Force pushes your adversaries, ZL doesn’t grab them and the lightning you once controlled with “L” is nowhere to be found. The odd choice of removing those from the existing button configuration you had while the motion controls were enabled makes playing the game harder in some ways that ultimately resulted in me changing back to motion controls, wrist pain be damned.
In addition to the campaign, you can also play local multiplayer in the game’s Duel mode. To make playing couch multiplayer better you can unlock 27 characters to play as in the mode. Though most of my time was spent on the campaign over the local multiplayer, the motion controls make for some fun friend competition because even the jankiest of controls are great to play with someone else.
Starkiller kind of means a lot to me. The Force Unleashed series were some of my first 100% games, Starkiller was my first dive into non-canon material, and man was he attractive. That is to say that Star Wars: The Force Unleashed has a big place in my heart even if the most devastated I’ve felt getting an achievement was for killing a lot of Wookies on Kashyyk. So, I was beyond excited when I heard my favorite Star Wars video game (fight me) was coming to Switch. But to be honest, though, this port is uneven at best, and not what the series deserves.
The Force Unleashed is fine enough. The game does what it says it’s going to do: bring the Wii version to the Switch. It does that, so it’s hard to knock it for delivering on its promise, even if it doesn’t feel like it’s enough. That said, if you played the game on any other console, the Wii version of the game ported to the Switch isn’t the way to go when Xbox Game Pass has the game available on the Series X|S. While the story still hits, the gameplay is beyond dated and ultimately the motion elements remove any feeling of combos and replace them with constant wrist flicks and frantic waving.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is available now on the Nintendo Switch.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
- Rating - 5/105/10
If you played the game on any other console, the Wii version of the game ported to the Switch isn’t the way to go when Xbox Game Pass has the game available on the Series X|S. While the story still hits, the gameplay is beyond dated and ultimately the motion elements remove any feeling of combos and replace them with constant wrist flicks and frantic waving.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.