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Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

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Star Wars: Dark Forces is a first-person shooter computer game released on February 15, 1995,[1] by LucasArts. The game introduces the character of Kyle Katarn, a former Imperial stormtrooper and agent, now a mercenary for hire in the service of the Rebel Alliance, and uses the 3D Jedi Engine. The story takes place both just before and mostly after the events of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.[2] A remaster of the game was announced to be under development for PC, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch on August 23, 2023 by Nightdive Studios. It would feature cutscenes redone in higher quality graphics and remastered content.[3] The remaster was released February 28, 2024.[4]

Opening crawl[]

The New Order of the Empire stretches
its evil clutches across the galaxy,
consuming planets with devastating
results. Through many struggles, the
Rebel Alliance has learned of a new
Imperial battle station, the DEATH
STAR, with enough power to destroy
an entire planet.

Unable to acquire the plans to the
deadly space station, the Rebels have
employed the skills of Kyle Katarn.
Known to most as a mercenary for
hire, Katarn is a rogue figure who has
a partial alliance with the Rebels.

Armed only with a blaster pistol and
an intimate knowledge of Imperial
methods, Kyle prepares to infiltrate
the Imperial base where the plans are

Plot summary[]


Introducing Kyle Katarn.

Kyle Katarn infiltrates an Imperial base on the planet Danuta, in order to steal the Death Star plans. The Mission to Danuta results in Rebel possession of the plans that would later be given to Princess Leia and the destruction of the Death Star.

After the Battle of Yavin, Kyle is again contacted by Mon Mothma to investigate an Imperial assault on the Tak Base of Talay, using a type of Imperial trooper never encountered previously. After the attack on Tak Base Kyle infiltrates the ruins of the base and discovers a prototype dark trooper weapon. The initials "M.R." are discovered on it, which are found to stand for Moff Rebus, an infamous Imperial weapons engineer. This investigation reveals the dark trooper project, led by General Rom Mohc, and this leads Katarn to Anoat, where he finds the Moff hiding in the sewage system of Anoat City.

During interrogation, Moff Rebus reveals the location of a testing facility for the mineral phrik, used in the construction of dark troopers, on the planet Fest. After obtaining a sample of this mineral, Kyle is led to the Gromas system, where phrik is mined and the phase-I dark troopers are manufactured. After the destruction of this facility, Crix Madine is found to have been captured by the Empire and sent to an Imperial detention center on Orinackra. Once Kyle has rescued Madine, he provides Kyle with critical information regarding the dark trooper project.

Kyle travels to the Ramsees Hed docking port on Cal-Seti, which is used for Imperial runs to the frozen planet of Anteevy, where the second phase of dark trooper construction was completed. After smuggling himself aboard an Imperial ship, Kyle reaches Anteevy and destroys the Ice Station Beta facility. He is afterwards led to Nar Shaddaa, where he obtains a Nava card. At this point in the scenario, the Empire has placed a large bounty on his head, and as he pulls out of Nar Shaddaa, the Moldy Crow is captured by Jabba the Hutt in the Star Jewel.

Ramsees Hed

Kyle Katarn in Ramsees Hed.

Here, Kyle is stripped of his weapons and has to fight hand-to-hand with a kell dragon. After obtaining his weapons, he and Jan Ors escape to Coruscant, the only place where Kyle can insert the Nava Card into a decoder to reveal data chips used for additional information. On his way to his ship, Kyle finds the Crow missing and Boba Fett (hired by Mohc) waiting for him. He defeats Fett after a hard fight and then travels to the Imperial Fuel Station Ergo, where he sneaks onto the Executor. From here, he smuggles himself aboard the Arc Hammer, where the third and final phase of the dark troopers is being overseen.

Finally, Kyle faces Rom Mohc, spearhead of the operation (who is using the only phase-III dark trooper exoskeleton in existence), and defeats him. Kyle proceeds to blow up the Arc Hammer and escape. Watching from the Executor, Darth Vader comments that this "is an unfortunate setback" and somewhat prophetically notes that "the Force is strong with Katarn."

For his actions and bravery in the face of defeat, Mon Mothma awards Kyle the Star of Alderaan.


The missions follow a storyline, sometimes interrupted by videos to progress the tale. Each mission has its own briefing and objective. The levels were designed to represent actual bases, mines, facilities, and other known places from the Star Wars universe, like Star Destroyer interiors, Jabba's ship, Coruscant, etc.



"Unlike other 3-D games, Dark Forces had to seem real because Star Wars seems real to so many people. This would be the first time anyone could aftually walk around in a Star Wars universe. It had to have the same rich look and feel and sound and detail of the movies, plus compelling gameplay."
Daron Stinnett, project leader[2]

Dark Forces started when Daron Stinnett was hired by LucasArts in July, 1993. Initially Stinnett thought about a flight simulator but turned towards a first-person shooter, impressed by the revolutionary Wolfenstein 3D. As the genre was still an emerging trend, the team he assembled was based simply on talent than on experience. Along with Ray Gresko and Winston Wolff, he started in late August to develop the Jedi Engine, the 3d engine of the game. Stinnett also hired University of California, Berkeley architectural undergrads Ingar Shu and Matt Tateishi as level designers. The core of the team was ten young individuals, occasionally rising to twenty.[2]

Initially conceived as reenacting the adventures of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, it was considered too limited and brief; an original character was then conceived, who would become Kyle Katarn, who followed his own adventures, albeit within the limits of the established canon.[2]

Justin Chin, who joined the team in December of that year, thought that the 3-d engine could tell new stories, and described the original idea about "a special force of Stormtroopers" to Gresko and Stinnett. The first design document described the characters, and a layout of 32 missions (later reduced to 14), each with a different objective, and set on a different planet, with its own look and feel. Chin considered Dark Forces an adventure packed with physical action sequences which, except Star Wars, should have elements from famous action films. Chin provided text notes and concept artwork to the level designers, who worked on their familiar AutoCAD software.[2]

Five individuals worked for the textures, sceneries and surface details, producing thousands of pieces and animations, which were organised by Aaron Muszalski. Technically, the design had to keep a balance between providing rich visual details that would give the familiar Star Wars ambience, but within the technical limitations of the game engine, in order to allow for speed and a fast action.[2]

What was at first an experimental project by an inexperienced team, it was when the game was about 60% complete when they started to figure things out and gained some confidence about the finished result and decided on some additions and changes. Some of the latest changes was the regeneration of enemy sprites, and the creation of a new engine for cutscenes, and the character of Jan Ors to advance the story. Other changes were the addition of extra lives among the powerups, and "restart points" after each player's death, instead of returning to the level's beginning. Brett Tosti and his playtester team arranged the strategic position of powerups, enemies, and their A.I., in order to improve challenge and playability.[2]

A character named Ruu San was meant to appear in the game as an antagonist. However, she did not appear in the final release of the game.[5] In early production, the player's ship was named simply Crow and was intended to be a Baudo-class star yacht. Also, it was not a 3-D polygonal object, but a two-dimensional bitmap sprite rendered from different view angles.[6] The first mission, that would involve the protagonist stealing the Death Star plans, was to take place on the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Avenger. That level was presented as an early demo but eventually was cut during development due to concerns of it being too difficult for new players. The level was replaced with another set on a secret base in the released game and aspects of the level were recycled into other parts of the game.[3][7]

The more than 300 sound effects included signature Star Wars effects provided from Skywalker Sound which were used verbatim (such as for a TIE fighter) or tweaked for newly appearing elements (such as original weapons); others were from professional sound libraries, or from Clint Bajakian's own collection. Processed in high resolution, they eventually had to be carefully sampled down to 8-bit mono sound, necessary for the gameplay. Voice roles were recorded in a Los Angeles studio, and the digital recordings were brought to Bajakian's studio.[2]

Bajakian also worked on the soundtrack. As the game combined classical with original elements, his intention was to emulate the music from the movies, but with variety and uniqueness. The appearances of Darth Vader in the cutscenes corresponded to score from the movies, but new characters had their own original theme, compatible with the established sound by John Williams. Rom Mohc's theme, that accompanies the opening credits, has dark and foreboding, contrasted by Kyle Katarn's theme, which is closely related, but heroic and upbeat.[2] Familiar motifs such as The Imperial March, the Imperial motif or the Rebel Fanfare are incorporated in the soundtracks of some missions.

According to the iMUSE technique, the in-game music follows the action of the gameplay, seamlessly alternating between two moods: peaceful stalk music for the portions of exploration and solo travel, and frenetic fight music when the player is under attack or surrounded by enemies.[2]

The game was released during the hype started with Doom a year earlier. Often labeled a "Doom clone" like other games following that trend, Dark Forces may have been created to counter the many unofficial Star Wars–themed WADs for Doom. LucasArts is rumored to have reverse-engineered the Doom engine to find out how to build their own. The "Jedi Engine" was more advanced than that of Doom. It allowed designers to construct overlapping sectors ("room-over-room") to create multistory buildings, bridges, and similar structures; most earlier first-person shooter engines, such as Doom, do not support this ability. The Jedi Engine does not support perspective correction when looking up and down.[source?]

Doom had shared textures for all levels, one solid objective (which was simply to move from entry to exit), and maps which were designed often very abstractly, with the architecture often somewhat unrealistic. The levels of Dark Forces each had their own unique texture sets that were rarely reused, their own briefings and objectives which often varied, and maps which were designed to represent actual bases, mines, facilities, and other known places from the Star Wars universe, like Star Destroyer interiors, Jabba's ship, Coruscant, etc.

Several cinematics reused images from earlier games, such as Star Wars: X-Wing (Vader's talking animation with Mohc and Mon Mothma's awarding cutscene) and Star Wars: TIE Fighter (Vader's closeup in the final cutscene). Like TIE Fighter, several space scenes in Dark Forces were 3D-rendered.[source?]

Lead artist and author Justin Chin stated that weapons like the Bryar pistol and Packered mortar gun were named after his personal favorites, such as composer Gavin Bryars and 1950s Packard automobiles, respectively.[8]

All Dark Forces cheat codes start with LA- (LucasArts), paralleling the cheat codes of id Software titles, which always began with ID-.



Playstation cover

George Lucas appeared on CNN's Future Watch show and demonstrated/promoted the game. Lucas and Daron Stinnett also promoted it in Disneyland when they traveled there for the opening of the Indiana Jones train.[source?]

A playable demo was available at the Consumer Electronics Show featuring a playable prototype of the game's early first level, taking place on the Avenger. Screenshots from that level was featured in promotional material even after that level was removed.[7][9]

The first level was replaced with another set on a secret base in the released game.[7] The new first mission was also released independently as a demo of the game. The intro of the demo is different from the published product in that it contains a Rambo-ish cutscene showing Kyle preparing his gear for the mission. This was omitted from the final game. The reason for this is not clear since the files of that sequence already exist in the CD. However, it's possible to reinsert the missing scene into the game.[10]

The game was released on February 15, 1995[11] It was originally published with a manual which contained additional backstory text. On April 29, 2015, the game was released on PlayStation Network, and made available to play on both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable.


Dark Forces was the 11th best selling computer game of the period 1993 to 1999, with an estimated 952,000 copies sold.[source?] The game was followed by novelizations and a sequel, Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. Jedi Knight spawned an entire series of games which includes the expansion Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. This series, with the exception of Jedi Academy, focuses on the continuing exploits of Kyle Katarn, many of which take place after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi.

The game was criticized at the time for lacking a multiplayer mode; however, given the growing complexity of games as the 21st century approached, developers had to decide whether to trade off online play for the single-player storyline missions. It also did not have mid-level saves, instead having extra lives like Doom's predecessor Wolfenstein 3D. While Doom's gameplay placed an emphasis on fast-paced action and combat, Dark Forces was considerably slower paced. Dark Forces also included numerous puzzles that the player had to solve to advance. While difficult for the casual player and often frustrating, this gave Dark Forces much appeal among hardcore gamers and critics. The "omission" of the lightsaber was frequently questioned on forums by casual fans who were not satisfied with having the fist as the only melee weapon. However, those familiar with Star Wars noted that only Force-sensitive users could effectively wield such a weapon. This controversy no doubt influenced the direction of the sequel.[source?]

Many of the key data files in Dark Forces were actually plain-text files, allowing fans to decipher the formats and write tools to edit them. These have been used to create a wide variety of new levels for the game.[12] Many of the same fans have gone on to create tools and editors for the later games in the series; and at least two, Yves Borckmans and Don Sielke, joined LucasArts to work on Dark Forces II. In 2002, a team of fans began the Dark Forces Mod project, planning to remake the game utilizing the Quake III engine used in the latest sequel, Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (later adapted to Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy when it was released). Later, they announced that they would be ending the project,[13] and posted a final release containing full remakes of the first six levels of the game.[13] However, an effort to remake the remaining levels was still underway as of January 2009.[14]



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Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Star Wars Year By Year: A Visual History, New Edition
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Dark Forces Official Player's Guide
  3. 3.0 3.1 YouTube Star Wars: Dark Forces Remastered – Official Announcement Trailer on the IGN YouTube channel (August 23, 2023): "Get your first look at the remaster of the classic 1995 Star Wars first-person shooter Dark Forces, which is being developed by Nightdive Studios, the same team responsible for the recent remasters of Quake 2 and System Shock. Star Wars: Dark Forces Remastered is in development for all major platforms (PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch)." (backup link)
  4. StarWars Dark Forces Remaster Comes to Consoles and PC on StarWars.com (backup link)
  5. GalaxyCite "Revving Up the 'Jedi Engine'" — Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 1
  6. PC Gamer article, October 1994 on www.df-21.net (content obsolete and backup link not available)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 StarWars Dark Forces Remaster Comes to Consoles and PC on StarWars.com (February 28, 2024) (backup link)
  8. Email from Chin recorded in The Dark Forces FAQList
  9. Star Wars: Dark Forces Remaster
  10. DF-21.net on df-21.net (archived from the original on May 4, 2006)
  11. Star Wars Year By Year: A Visual History, New Edition
  12. DF-21.net on df-21.net (archived from the original on February 15, 2020)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Dark Forces: A MOD for Jedi Academy on darkforces.jediknight.net (archived from the original on April 7, 2007)
  14. Blogger-Logo DF Mod BlogspotSchool Started This Week on Blogspot (backup link)

External links[]