Watch our run down of the cult classic game Star Wars: Bounty Hunter…
Find out why this game is still worth playing in 2021, how it finally gave Jango Fett the story he deserved, and how you need to check it out to get the most out of Attack of the Clones.
Jango and Boba Fett are often considered two of the coolest characters in Star Wars lore. However, at least within the first 6 episodic movies, they aren’t really shown in all their glory. It’s been up to the extended universe material to flesh out their mystique.
While Boba might be having his time in the sun following his badass appearance in The Mandalorian, his dad Jango has arguably one real highlight, and we’re going to talk about it right now. This is the story of 2002’s Star Wars: Bounty Hunter.
Hey how’s it going guys, this is Tom from UDS, your home for alternative pop culture, and welcome to the latest edition of The Best Star Wars games ever. If you’re a fan of all things video games, Star Wars or otherwise, we’ve got plenty more to watch on the channel after this, but for now, let’s go catch some bounties.
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter was developed in house by LucasArts the same year as Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Ostensibly an 3D, third person action platformer, the game serves as a prequel to the film, adding some sorely needed backstory to our boy Jango.
While we’ve had some great extended universe content set between the films, we’ve had very little between Episodes I and II. This has always felt like a bit of a missed opportunity, as aside from the gaps between trilogies, these films have the biggest time jump between them, clocking in at a decade. Now I’ll admit I’m not that well versed on this time period, both in Legends and Canon, however from what I’ve experienced, Bounty Hunter is by far the most intriguing story.
We start the story almost immediately after the events of The Phantom Menace, where we’re greeted with the usual opening crawl, where we’re told that the aftermath of the Battle of Naboo has left the galaxy in disarray, and a mysterious and deadly cult known as the Bando Gora are causing such a stir, even ol’ Sheevy Sidious is worried they might affect his grand plans.
He asks his secret apprentice Saruman to stop them and their leader Komari Vosa, who happens to be a fallen Jedi, while also finding a suitable host for their clone army. Turns out the Sith are masters of project management, who knew?
We then jump into the shoes of Jango, who after establishing himself as a badass by dispatching a big beastie in the first few moments, is told of an offer he simply can’t refuse. His Toydarian friend Rozatta shares a hologram of Lord Summerisle, who informs Jango he’ll be offered 5 million credits if he can take down Komari Vosa and end Bando Gora.
Mission received, we jump aboard not Slave I, but Jango’s first ship Jaster’s Legacy, named after his mentor Jaster Mereel, first arriving at Coruscant. Here you infiltrate the seedy Death Stick trade to find leads to help your hunt, and before long you uncover a conspiracy involving corrupt senators, drugs laced with neurotoxins and even your own Mandalorian archnemesis Montross.
I won’t dive too much more into the finer details in case you want to check it out for yourself, but after Coruscant, you’ll zip across the galaxy following leads until you find your target. In that time, you’ll lose your ship, acquire Slave I, lose Rozatta and avenge her. It’s quite the emotional rollercoaster.
In the final stages, you track down and defeat Vosa with the help of Zam Wesell (I wonder what happened to her). It’s then revealed that Willy Wonka’s Dad knew where Vosa, who turns out to be his former Padawan, was all along, and the whole job was just a ruse to test whether Jango would be a suitable template for the clone army.
He agrees, under the condition he can have one unaltered clone, fulfilling Rozatta’s final wish for him to find something to live for, other than money.
In my opinion, if you’re going to get the most out of Attack of the Clones, you need to play Bounty Hunter. It adds so much weight to Jango’s character arc, as well as developing the mystery of the clones’ origins. Even if it’s not canon, it’s pretty much the best we have right now, and it’s the sort of thing that could easily be reworked back in, much like the likes of Delta Squad in Republic Commando.
Overall, the game consists of 18 levels over 6 planets, and particularly for the time, it’s really refreshing to see them all from the proverbial street level. What I mean is, not as a righteous, near omnipotent space wizard with enough deus ex machinas to put Doctor Who to shame, but rather as Jango himself puts it, a simple man trying to make his way in the universe. Seeing the seedy underbelly of the Star Wars galaxy is always fun, and playing in it is even better.
So that pretty much does it in terms of story and aesthetics, but how does Star Wars: Bounty Hunter play?
Well, for the most part really well. As I said, it’s largely an action platformer, in which you traverse expansive levels taking down baddies, collecting bounties and completing objectives. The combat can be super fun, with auto aiming making Jango’s iconic duel blaster pistols a joy to use. You can’t help but feel like a badass when you’re mowing down two enemies at a time, and that’s not to mention the rest of your lethal arsenal, including a freakin’ wristmounted flamethrower!
Sidenote, Jango also has one of the most satisfying punch combos I’ve ever come across. I remember spending many afternoons in the garden as a kid, shadow boxing invisible Battle Droids. Yeah, I was one hidden camera away from becoming the next Star Wars Kid.
Following Mandalorian tradition, you also have a dope jetpack at your disposal… some of the time, and this is where the criticisms start. It just runs out of juice far too quickly, making it lose a lot of its oomph. I understand not wanting to make the game too easy, but it’s hard to feel like a powerful hunter when your coolest accessory runs out of puff quicker than a stoner at a Phish concert.
What’s more, the difficulty curve is absolutely brutal. You can breeze through the early stages pretty quickly, but you’ll eventually come up against more and more enemies until you find yourself in seemingly unwinnable situations. I’m hesitant to call it flatout unfair, but by God I can see why I never completed the game as a kid.
This isn’t helped by the optional side missions, in which you have to locate petty crooks with bounties on their heads. In principal this is a neat idea, and adds to the sense that you’re traversing a living, breathing world. The only thing is, you have to manually scan every single NPC until you find them, and even then, they’re probably part of a gang of ne’er do wells, making it almost impossible to bring them in alive, if at all. But don’t worry too much if it all gets a bit frustrating, as all you get is unlockable concept art; there’s no in-game benefit so if it’s not for you, just give it a miss.
But despite these gripes, this is still a largely excellent game over its roughly six hour runtime. It matches the tone of the source material perfectly, from the environmental storytelling to the excellent cutscenes. Many of the issues are simply products of the time; even gems like The Simpsons Hit & Run are guilty of raising the difficulty for some artificial padding, and once you’re wrapped up in the story, you won’t mind it one bit.
Or you might do, I don’t know, let me know in the comments.
So have you played Star Wars: Bounty Hunter? Are you going to check it out now? It’s available on PS4 & 5, so if you have one, it’s definitely worth seeking out. And always let me know what Star Wars game to feature next. I keep on buying these things and if I don’t make videos with them, I can’t write them off as business expenses, and who wants to pay tax on Yoda’s Challenge Activity Centre?