Continuing my overviews through the different eras through Star Wars that have already been covered on my YouTube channel, I’d like to spend today’s topic on arguably, one of the most popular era’s in all of Star Wars history, the Old Republic.
As I discussed during my piece on the Dawn of the Jedi era, the Old Republic was conceived very early within the Expanded Universe, when Dark Horse decided they wanted to separate themselves from the novels and go into an era that hadn’t been explored yet. The Old Republic was a perfect way to start.
For me, hearing the news was a little disappointing. Why would anyone care what happened 4,000 years before the movies? I thought. Turns out the answer is “millions” And from the very first issue of Tales of the Jedi, it was easy to see why.
I remember reading it for the first time. I was fresh in college and eager to read more of the comics now that I knew they tied in with the books. Bruce was able to loan me his copies to read and though I wasn’t that excited at first, all it took was the first few pages and I was hooked!
Unlike Dawn of the Jedi, this had a look and feel to it that oozed with uniqueness. (yep, I said Oozed!) It was wonderful to look at and Veitch put together one heck of a story! I found myself capture within this time. The artwork felt archaic enough to believe you were reading some long buried text. But the story wouldn’t end there. Veitch would go on to write many more adventures within the era, eventually handing the story off to Kevin J Anderson to finish. A wonderful tale!
But as good as the initial comics were, that wasn’t the reason for the Old Republic’s fame. It was in the video games.
Now if you’re reading this, I’m sure you know by now that I don’t play video games. I haven’t since Batman: Arkham Origins. And the last Star Wars game I owned? X-Wing Rogue Squadron 2. (which I thought sucked) I can’t explain why, but even when I loved video games I was never that in to Star Wars. Sure if they made a book or comic about the game, I was the first in line to get it but I never had a desire to play Star Wars games.
I didn’t think they were that good and the fact that every video was (and still is under the new Disney Canon) S-Canon. Meaning “Secondary Canon” the events depicted in the game did occur, yet not exactly as how the game puts forth. Any novel or comic of the game was official (C) canon.
Side note: The same isn’t true for Star Wars board games though. To date I have 9 in my collection, all of which I love playing except for two. A vintage R2-D2 that sucks and a Jar Jar game I was never existed. The rest are well worth keeping!
So when Knights of the Old Republic was all the craze, I had zero interest.
There is no denying however that this game alone brought just as many people into the EU are Timothy Zahn’s books did back in ’91. I wish I had more appreciation for the game from that one simple fact.
I tried playing a copy of both the first and second game that were loaned to me from a friend 2 years ago but the gameplay and graphics were dated by then and I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy it. I don’t even think I could make it past the first level it was so confusing to me as to what to do.
Laugh all you want or call me an “old man”, I don’t care. It wasn’t my thing. Yet, neither is videos games these days. Again, I wish someone more skilled could talk about these games more in depth. All I can attest to is the impact they had on the EU and that’s it.
As for the Old Republic online game, it’s still going strong today. Though not established in the new canon, they still come out with expansions for it as well as a little Legends stories as well. Like Drew Karpyshyn’s short from 2016.
I love the fact it’s still going strong and has keep its huge following. But no matter how many people try to convince me to play it I have to be honest and say I won’t. Sorry, video games just don’t appeal to me.
One thing I can be thankful for is all the comics and novels these games spawned. I’ve reviewed them all on my channel and loved most of them. (the exception being an awful comic reprint of some online stories that was done clearly for money and not love of a sensible story)
So why does the Old Republic work so well? The story, the characters and the universe they created. Each aspect I named gives depth and meaning to stories no matter what they’re talking about. Who can say there’s not a storyline you aren’t interested in knowing more about. Even though I admitted to John Jackson Miller’s Knight Errant series to have a flat character, there are people out there who disagree with me.
And speaking of Mr. Miller, I think everyone can agree that his comic series “Knights of the Old Republic” is one of the best things he ever wrote! So again, you’ll be hard pressed if looking for a reason NOT to like this era in Star Wars.
But is this a good place to introduce someone to the Expanded Universe? My answer would depend on whether they play any Old Republic games or not. If they do, then it’s a no brainer to show them the Old Republic first. Darth Bane Trilogy for novels or Tales of the Jedi for comics.
If they don’t play the games they should start elsewhere in the timeline. Don’t introduce them to something this foreign if all the knowledge they have is from the movies. You’ll just confuse them by having the focus on a story that’s over 4.000 years in the past.
Overall the Old Republic was a brilliant story that had many a good tale spun from the Expanded Universe about it and I hope they’ll be many more, in the years to come.