Whether fan-made or officially licensed by the franchise, anime-style Star Wars features became quite popular around the time when the new movies were coming to a crescendo. Following the release of Episode VII: The Force Awakens, 2015’s TIE Fighter is arguably the greatest piece of animation to come out of this pivotal time for both fans of anime and the popular American sci-fi series.
Here’s a fair warning..
If you’re a Star Wars fan with strong feelings against the actions of the empire, you might want to sit down before watching this film. The seven-minute feature basically shows an imperial fleet destroying rebels to the tune of ‘80s glam metal. With an old school animation style that’s reminiscent of the Gundam series and an epic rock soundtrack that’s comparable to The Legend of Black Heaven, it would be an understatement to say that TIE Fighter makes the empire look good.
The short story is focused on three imperial TIE fighters leading the charge in the space skirmish. The three make short work out of the opposing fleet of X-Wings and other rebel fighting ships in an awesome space battle while dodging asteroids and other debris. Once the smaller rebel ships are dealt with, the film culminates in the imperial fleets general’s command to wipe out the larger rebel ships as epic guitar-slinging rock blares in the background. It almost feels like a propaganda video from the empire.
Watch it once and you’ll feel like signing up as a TIE fighter yourself, which is exactly the film’s intention.
In fact, old school gamers who have played classic space simulation games from the ‘90s and ‘80s may notice very familiar elements in the short film. This is because according to Kotaku, TIE Fighter creator Paul “OtaKing” Johnson actually intended the film to be a homage to a mid-’90s Star Wars space flight simulation game of the same title.
Indeed, from the logo of the film to the meticulous design of the TIE fighters’ cockpits, Johnson lifted elements directly from the classic game of the same name. Johnson explains that it took him four years worth of weekend work to complete TIE Fighter until its release in 2015. And because it is a direct homage to 1994’s Star Wars: TIE Fighter game, this means that its inspiration has been more than 30 years in the making.
The original TIE Fighter was in turn inspired by Star Wars: X-Wing from 1993, which in turn was inspired by Atari’s classic Star Raiders from 1979, a game which not only went on to become one of the most sought-after games from the ‘80s, but also inspired the likes of Elite and Wing Commander.
Apart from being a seminal game in the space flight simulation genre, a feature on videogames by Foxy Games indicates that Atari Star Raiders has today been reinvented into an online slot game. In short, the TIE Fighter short film is the culmination of the nearly 40-year evolution of the space simulation genre. It’s not just a celebration of the Star Wars series, but of the themes and concepts that have made the series great – from the point of view of the evil galactic empire. A must watch for imperial loyalists, rebel scum, and scruffy-looking nerf herders alike.
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