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"X-Wing," circa 1994

"X-Wing Collectors Series"

Star Wars Gaming Goes 3D...

By Steven Bilodeau 

Do you remember when compact disks were released about 15 years ago? Not only were the latest titles available in this new but popular oldies were also converted to take advantage of the new technology.

Computer gamers are seeing the same phenomenon with >respect to video cards. " 3D accelerators can make new titles look incredible but they won't do anything for a game that has not been written to take advantage of the technology.

So, just as record companies remastered their music, game developers are rewriting their software. One of the best computer games of all time, "TIE Fighter", has now undergone this remarkable revision. It is packaged together with its predecessor, "X-Wing", which has also been enhanced for the new graphics technology.

"XWing" circa 1998The original "X-Wing" game was released in approximately 1994. At that time a 286 was common PC computer; 386’s were leading-edge. Sounds cards were basic and hard drive space was almost always less than the 100 MB.

"X-Wing" quickly became a best-seller not only because it was set in the Star Wars universe, but also because of its well-balanced gameplay. There was a story involving the Rebel Alliance and its fight for survival against the Empire. Ships flew realistically and enemies made intelligent moves instead of simply circling until they hit you.

Because of its technology limitations, there were no textures on the images and little or no shading.

When "TIE Fighter" made its appearance two years later, the advances in technology and game play made it "Game of the Year." The storyline present in the game combined with the exceptional flight model, music, sound effects and imagery made these games favorites for years.

But, as with all technology, time it takes its toll. Both of them were written for DOS and suffered from that operating system’s limitations. Most notably, computers must have their memories specifically configured to allow the games to run. Present-day PC users who are only familiar with Windows 95 games have missed out on the years of grief provided by memory managers, CONFIG.SYS files and crashed programs. Once they are up and running, the graphics look pretty stale compared to today’s standards.

LucasArts rewrote the graphics engine for its 1997 release, "X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter". That game was not as well received since it was focused at multi-player gaining and offered little, if any, storyline for the single player experience. Critics lamented that this game did not have the fun-factor present in the previous two entries.

Apparently LucasArts heard the feedback. "X-Wing" and "TIE Fighter" have been re-released in the "X-Wing Collectors Series". All of the objects in the game including fighters, capital ships, asteroids and bases have been redrawn with texture mapping and high quality graphics. There is so much detail now that only a computer equipped with a 3- D accelerator could properly handle it. It has also been re-written as a native Windows 95 game; that means no memory problems, no sound card configuration, and no worries about setting up your joystick.

The package is priced with value in mind at around $30Cdn.

It contains the full version of the "X-Wing Collectors Edition" which has 122 missions as well as full of voice narration. The missions include the favourite of Star Wars fans, the Death Star trench attack.

The "Tie Fighter" component includes about 100 missions, again with voice narration.

The bundle also includes 14 missions from "X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter". This will give the player the opportunity to sample multi-player gaming in the Star Wars universe, though only with other players who have this particular bundle.

Even if you already own either or both of the Star Wars combat games you should consider this bundle. The graphics, though not up to the same high visual standard set by "Wing Commander: Prophecy" or "Descent: Freespace", are impressive. And now these games are easily playable on today's modern Pentium Windows 95/98 systems with no configuration hassles.

For players like me who were immersed in the action and thrill of Star Wars combat, Lucas Arts has delivered a real gem. That they priced its so reasonably is a welcomed bonus.

Steven Bilodeau is a columnist for the Edmonton Journal. You can find more of his columns at

Steven Bilodeau can be reached via e-mail at And for more computer news, visit JournalExtra, the World Wide Web site of The Edmonton Journal, at


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January 31, 2006