Our moment of triumph? X-Wing, TIE Fighter, and LucasArts catalog on GOG

The cover for TIE Fighter, showing Darth Vader's grim visage in the backdrop of a raging space battle featuring TIE Fighters and a destroyed X-Wing.

In 1998, LucasArts released updated versions of X-Wing and TIE Fighter. A year later, they bundled them alongside X-Wing Alliance. Nobody knew it at the time, but it was the last time those games would be widely available, and functional on modern hardware.

Tomorrow, at long last, GOG and LucasArts will rectify that situation. TIE Fighter, X-Wing one of the best Star Wars PC games and a number of other LucasArts classics are coming out on GOG.com.

This news is unofficial… sort-of. Someone over at GOG, using the official GOG account on the forums, published a series of threads for a number of announcements set for tomorrow. GOG forum users spotted the new threads and the original press release thread (citing about 30 Lucas games as part of the deal).

In the meantime, the GOG countdown clock is still working it way to the official reveal.

GOG members spotted announcements for The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition, the original KOTOR, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and Sam and Max Hit the Road. They also confirmed that GOG will be publishing TIE Fighter Special Edition and X-Wing Special Edition.

That means users will get both the original versions of the games that many of us remember so fondly, and also the updated versions released in the late 1990s. Those versions used the X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter engine.

Among X-Wing and TIE Fighter fans, they were always controversial. They looked good, but they were markedly different from the earlier games. They were a bit like Black Mesa is to the original Half-Life. A good idea and a nice luxury, but not a substitute for the real deal.

GOG publishing both the original and updated versions is a clear win-win, since it gives us the choice of going for the more modern graphics or enjoying original games. What’s not clear is whether we’ll also get 1995’s TIE Fighter CD, which offered the original game at a higher resolution and the Enemies of the Empire campaign.

But let’s be honest: Enemies of the Empire kind of sucked. I’m sorry if that hurts you, but it did. The Missile Boat was the Jar-Jar of Imperial starfighters.

But the important thing here is that the LucasArts PC gaming catalog is finally coming home in an updated, accessible form. That’s tremendously good news for anyone who cares about the history of PC gaming.

LucasArts’ neglect of the X-Wing series and, indeed, the entirety of its catalog of classic PC games, amounted to an act of cultural theft.

In terms of consistent quality and brilliance, the LucasArts of the 1990s is matched only by Valve and Blizzard, and LucasArts were far more daring than either of those studios. While I’ve mostly focused on Lawrence Holland’s space combat sims, this opens the door to new versions of Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle, Loom… the list goes on.

It’s also maybe the single most encouraging sign we’ve had of how Disney is going to manage Star Wars. By acknowledging the past, Disney has given us reason to hope for the future.

It’s been a long time since Star Wars and LucasArts fans have had much cause for hope. George Lucas never respected his own legacy. He disdained the games division and practically dismantled it around the time of the new trilogy, and he tried to erase the original films with increasingly ill-advised Special Editions.

By putting these classic games on GOG, Disney have at least proven they’re not actively hostile to the history of Lucasfilm, LucasArts, and Star Wars. It’s an important step.

We may, at long last, be returning to a world where Han shot first.

Yub, yub, Commander.