Tag Archives: star wars

Dave Filoni Talks the Challenge of Working on The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian.
Image: Disney/Lucasfilm

It’s only a couple months now until The Mandalorian launches on Disney Plus, and to whet our appetites for morally ambiguous space fantasy action we’ve got even more details to go through.

In a lengthy report by IGN, Dave Filoni talks the challenge of directing and executive producing The Mandalorian, his first live-action work, and we also get our first look into the cockpit of the Mando’s ship, the Razor Crest.


“I was taught by George and there are a lot of things that I want to do with Star Wars, that I feel make something feel like Star Wars and very classic,” Filoni said of his experience working on The Mandalorian, his first live-action series after over a decade working on the animated end of the Star Wars universe. “But of course everything I was doing was the first time I was doing it, in a way, because it’s live-action. So while it’s a world that’s familiar to me, it was a medium that was not as familiar to me— though George had prepared me well over the years with his training. I was fortunate to have Jon, people like Greig Fraser [director of photography on The Mandalorian and Rogue One] on board to help guide me through the process and help realize what I was trying to do shooting-wise and performance-wise. So that was all a challenge, but an exciting one.”

He was brought into the process early, Filoni explained, to work with series lead Jon Favreau to discuss ideas and then, ultimately, to direct two episodes, including the pilot, which marked the first time Filoni worked on material he himself hadn’t written in a very long time.

“I really appreciate that he brought me into this process and that he values my point of view because I’ve been with Star Wars so long,” Filoni told IGN, “but I really wanted to accomplish the story that he set out to make. It was wonderful. I was very flattered that he was willing even to have me direct the pilot. So that was a great honor and responsibility.”

Interestingly, parts of the process were actually familiar to Filoni, as the filming—as Favreau has discussed in other interviews—was done using virtual reality and videogame engine technology, allowing for blocking out scenes in digital environments before putting them together on a practical set, not dissimilar to animation techniques used for similar purposes.


Filoni explained:

I would liken it in some ways to what I was doing with George on The Clone Wars, where now through digital technology you can visualize scenes and sequences earlier. In animation, we call it a previs and it was a natural fit for me in this process because it did have these digital elements, but some of it when we were shooting was really brand new technology. And that also was good for me because I didn’t have any preconceived notion about how anything should be done. I was learning the process with all the new technology… And there’s a strong animation component in the way that we visualize some of the things early on in the virtual blocking… It’s one of the reasons why Kathy [Kennedy] thought this would be a great connection for me. Not just because I knew Jon, but I had some insights into the technology.


And while Filoni didn’t dish much on the actual content side, IGN does have a quick first look at the interior of the Mando’s ship, the Razor Crest, in the form of a sharp piece of concept art.

IGN’s image of the Mandalorian’s ship.
Image: Disney/Lucasfilm


The art shows the Mando at his one-man cockpit, which looks… well, like a Star Wars cockpit. I wonder where the bathroom is. Do these things have bathrooms? Also, IGN confirms that the cockpit will be represented on-screen by a practical set, which is always nice to have. That tactile feeling always makes Star Wars pop.


The Mandalorian launches alongside Disney Plus on November 12th.

For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom.


Source: Kotaku.com

Battlefront II’s New Clone Commandos Know How To Survive The Chaos

Since Star Wars Battlefront II released in 2017, fans have wanted to know: Where are the clone commandos? These long-awaited badasses are finally in the game, bringing a rough-and-tumble play style that’s focused on staying alive and adapting to any situation.

It’s been a long time since Star Wars: Republic Commando. Released in 2005, the tactical shooter introduced players to a whole new sort of clone trooper. It was a tense game, mixing in hints of Rainbow Six for a grittier experience. Since then, clone commandos have shown up in book series and television shows. They felt like a natural fit for Battlefront II, whose matches are packed with hero characters and special troops. Play enough and you can hop into an assault walker or take to the field as Luke Skywalker.


But commandos were nowhere at launch, and Battlefront II needed time to rebound from its controversial microtransactions. Since then, the game has expanded, focusing particularly on adding more content from the Clone Wars. It’s brought excitement to a once-troubled game. The arrival of clone commandos doesn’t radically alter Battlefront II, but it brings some welcome fanservice and flash. Each new addition to Battlefront II makes it noticeably more Star Wars, and alongside new maps like the strange fungal world of Felucia, clone commanders add new surprises to the battlefield.

Playing as a clone commando gives you a few neat tools. In addition to incredibly durable armor and a stylish blaster, players can add an explosive attachment to their weapon that damages vehicles and lays waste to enemy infantry. Like officer-class heroes, clone commandos can temporarily boost the defense of anyone around them as well as themselves. This ability pairs nicely with their armor, allowing them to stay in the fight longer. A short-range repulsor blast also allows them to knock back nearby enemies.

It’s not the most dramatic kit, but it picks and chooses skills from multiple different classes and heroes to create a durable amalgam.


The clone commando can do a little bit of everything, but that jack-of-all-trades status comes at a cost. Having explosives is nice, but just because you can make things go boom, that doesn’t mean it’s a smart idea to square off with a tank. Likewise, you might have a stabby vibroblade mounted on your wrist, but that doesn’t leave you in a good position to tangle with Darth Maul.

The Clone Commando’s strength rests in survivability. Played well, you can last most of the match and will always have a useful tool at your disposal even if other classes might do those things better. As a result, reactions from players during my matches were contentious. Some took to chat boasting of their long-lived sprees on the battlefield, while others bemoaned that the commando wasn’t as powerful as they thought.


More than anything else, commandos are just stylish. They only cost 1,000 points to unlock, which is something you can earn after one or two enemy kills. Right now, that means the battlefield is usually full to the brim with the maximum amount of commandos, with their iconic helmets and looks. It’s just cool to see them around, running next to an armored Obi-Wan Kenobi, as capital ships duel in the skies above.

Source: Kotaku.com

So, What Can a Force Ghost Do?

Yoda, Obi-Wan, and a younger Anakin coalesce before Luke after the Battle of Endor.
Image: Lucasfilm

In the mythos of Star Wars’ cosmic energies, the ability to exist after death as a Force Ghost is one of the most rare and powerful abilities a wielder of the Force can master. Or rather, attempt to master. Because if anything, despite its importance to the Star Wars saga at large, what we think we know about Force Ghosts is not all that much.

With The Rise of Skywalker months away, it stands to reason that we’ll be getting some Force Ghost action. The trailers have already given us Luke communicating messages to Rey and then there’s the whole however-the-hell Emperor Palpatine is going to worm his way back into existence (although we’ll get to that in a bit). But perhaps most fascinating to ponder over is that, in fits and starts, current Star Wars has been quietly establishing that there’s so much more to Force Ghosts than simply showing up in a nice translucent shade of blue—in fact, they’ve become more powerful than we could possibly ever imagine.

So what can they do? The short answer is we have no true idea. The long answer is, well… below.

Obi-Wan’s spirit returns to a wounded Luke on Hoth.
Image: Lucasfilm

As far as we know, only Light Side practitioners can do it…

In terms of the current Star Wars canon, technically every being, especially those strong in the Force, returns to the Living Force when they die (slightly different from the Cosmic Force, but that’s a tale for another time). But to return from death as a spirit with your own sentience in tact requires not just strength in the Force, but a dedication to the Light Side’s concepts of selflessness and sacrifice.

As far as we’re currently aware, only four Jedi beyond the mysterious Force Priestesses at the Wellspring of all Life have ever learned how to do it: Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker. Luke will no doubt join them in The Rise of Skywalker, given that Mark Hamill has previously said he’ll be playing a Force Ghost in the movie, instead of just cryptically whispering in Rey’s ear á la Obi-Wan in A New Hope.

But what about Anakin, you ask? He murdered a bunch of kids, was involved in the rise of a fascistic Empire, and was pretty dang evil for a good chunk of his life. Well, aside from being the Chosen One, a seeming manifestation of the will of the Cosmic Force from birth, Anakin’s redemption in Return of the Jedi was basically so powerful and complete, and done in a moment of total sacrifice—killing himself and Palpatine to save his own son—that he basically just naturally had the ability without having trained in it.

Lord Momin’s spirit, bound to his mask, reveals itself to Vader.
Image: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini, David Curiel, Dono Sánchez-Almara, and Joe Caramagna (Marvel Comics)

…but Sith can cheat a little.

So yes, while Dark siders can’t necessarily manifest as a spirit—we don’t really know what it is about the ability that makes it explicitly connected to the dichotomy of light and dark (beyond, like, y’know, the moral repercussions of being a dick)—that doesn’t mean they haven’t tried. Sith covet earthly power and ways to cheat death before they’ve popped their clogs for a reason!

The one way we really know that dark practitioners of the Force can gain some semblance of Force Ghost powers is a bit of a cop-out method. Instead of being able to manifest as a spirit, the Force user instead binds their spirit to a specific artifact—like a Holocron or, in the case of the ancient Sith lord Momin from Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli’s Darth Vader comic, his own mask. After death, some semblance of that spirit persists, although it is inherently linked to that physical object forever.

Of all the cases we know of with this, Momin is the most detailed and most interesting: from his mask, if people wore it his spirit could overwhelm their body and take control, killing the unfortunate victim while Momin gained physical form and sentience again. It’s how, using what looked an awful lot like the World Between Worlds glimpsed in Star Wars Rebels, Momin managed to use his bound mask to reach back into the past while he was still alive, and bring his old body into the present… if only for a brief time before Darth Vader smeared him against the side of a wall. Womp womp.

Sometimes, not even binding can work for a Sith—Darth Atrius’ spirit was bound to his twin lightsabers, for example. But it didn’t necessarily capture his sentience essence in the way Momin did with his mask, just his anger and rage, which could then overwhelm anyone who used his blades with those emotions. Not quite living on after death, but at least some level of influence.

Yoda goes through the trials of the Force Priestesses at the Wellspring of Life.
Image: Lucasfilm

It takes years to learn…

Beyond requiring an alignment to the Light Side, even learning how to manifest as a spirit takes years of training. Even Qui-Gon, the first to successfully utilize the ability after being taught it by the Force Priestesses he discovered at the Wellspring of all life—a mysterious planet that acted as a seeming nexus of the Force itself—had not fully mastered the ability by the time Darth Maul struck him down.

It’s only through his advance knowledge of it that Yoda and Obi-Wan got to actually take the time to take the time to learn it themselves: in the latter days of the Clone Wars, Yoda also sought out the Wellspring of Life and, like Qui-Gon before him, learned of the secret from the Force Priestesses. Obi-Wan, in turn, spent at least some of his exile on Tatooine learning it from Qui-Gon’s own spirit. I mean, what else was he meant to do, stare at sand all day long?

Although at this point Qui-Gon had yet to master taking form as a Force Ghost, his appearance to Obi-Wan on Mortis represented the planet’s vast power as a nexus of the Living Force.
Image: Lucasfilm

…but you can kinda keep learning to control it.

It’s not a be-all-and-end-all-thing, either. You don’t just learn how to live on and then womp, you’re done—that’s the funny thing about retaining your sentience after you’re dead, it means you can still learn. And what better way to learn how to physically manifest yourself in the Force than when you’re actually, intimately part of it again? Which is good—because if Qui-Gon hadn’t continued to build on his own mastery of the ability, no one beyond him might have ever actually got the hint to try and learn it themselves in the first place.

Even a spirit likes to rest their ghost-legs, every once in a while.
Image: Lucasfilm

Tangibility comes with practice…

Being a Force Ghost actually has almost distinct stages of evolution—like a Pokémon, but it’s your soul. Initially, Qui-Gon could only manifest himself as a disembodied voice, making himself known to Yoda and pushing the Jedi Master to go on his own quest to learn the ability (the Qui-Gon spirit we see in The Clone Wars’ Mortis arc was actually a different situation altogether, a vision amplified by Mortis’ peculiar position as a nexus of the Force itself). Eventually, by the time of Obi-Wan’s exile on Tatooine though—approximately half-way through it, according to the anthology book A Certain Point of View—Qui-Gon had taught himself to retain his former form in the Force, appearing to his former apprentice as almost solid enough to be real and could even subtly interact with the world around him, like retain his sense of smell.

We see Obi-Wan himself go through a similar process in the movies, of course—first appearance to Luke as a disembodied voice after his death in A New Hope and then as a spirit in Empire and Jedi. He could even, like his master before him, interact with the real world in some particular ways, if not truly be corporeal. After all, we did see him sit down on that log.

Yoda may be the most powerful Force Ghost we’ve seen so far.
Image: Lucasfilm

…and eventually, corporeality.

While Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon apparently got pretty good at forming there spirit, Yoda is the only Force Ghost we’ve really seen so far that has almost mastered essentially becoming back to life whole hog—in The Last Jedi, he physically interacts with objects and living beings around him and can can have a physical impact on the world beyond merely showing up in it again.

Presumably he had a much longer time to teach himself the ability than Qui-Gon did and simply because he himself may have already been stronger in the Force than Qui-Gon was at the point of his death, meant he kind of got a running start on the whole learning curve. But it bears remembering: just because we call them Force Ghosts doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ghostly in the sense we’d expect.

Yoda conjures a bolt of lightning to seemingly destroy the sacred texts of the Jedi.
GIF: Lucasfilm

Power, unlimited power.

Being pure manifestations of the Force that were born of masterful practitioners of it, it should be no surprise to learn that Force Ghosts can indeed use Force powers as they did when they had actual physical forms. While we’ve not seen Force Ghosts push and pull things around like your average Jedi, we know they can communicate telepathically. We also know they can perform some form of astral travel, manifesting themselves across different planets—we don’t know for sure, but it might require a familiarity with that place or someone there to do so though. We’ve only ever seen Force Ghosts appear before people they knew while they were living, of course.

That’s the basic stuff, too. In The Last Jedi, Yoda could summon lightning—previously shown as a distinctly Dark Side ability, but presumably his came about through more of a manipulation of the atmosphere on Ahch-To rather than the manifestation of electrical energy as a weapon. Qui-Gon, according to his appearance in A Certain Point of View, could get even weirder: he could see through time, literally all at once. A passage in the anthology describes a moment where Qui-Gon looks at Obi-Wan and sees him as he was during his exile, as a Padawan, as a Jedi General during the Clone Wars, and even his impending death, all at the same time.

So, at the end of the day, what can a Force Ghost do? Kind of anything, with enough time and practice.

There are still many mysteries as to what a Force Ghost is really capable of that we are yet to truly understand—not just because a select few Force users have ever been able to achieve the ability to manifest as spirits in the first place, but because, like the Force, our understanding of what a Force Ghost is constantly growing and evolving.

Luminous beings, are we all. It’s just that some can shine a little brighter than others, even when they’re gone.

For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom.


Source: Kotaku.com

My New Favorite Way To Play Pinball On Switch

Today’s release of Zen Studios’ Star Wars Pinball for the Nintendo Switch gave me an idea. I’ve been playing my Switch docked and connected to this cool little portable 15.6-inch Viotek monitor, and Zen’s Switch pinball games support vertical play, so what if we turn the portable monitor on its side? Perfection.

There are plenty of full size monitors out there capable of being rotated from landscape to portrait mode, but I don’t have a lot of space. And yeah, I could just play the Switch in handheld mode, turning it on its side, as demonstrated earlier year by my boss and in 2017 by me, but my eyes aren’t what they used to be and that 6.2-inch screen isn’t exactly spacious. The slim, tablet-like portable monitor is the perfect solution.

Okay, maybe not the perfect solution for screenshots, but for playing in tate mode (tate is Japanese for vertical), especially on highly-detailed pinball tables like the 19 included in the $30 Star Wars Pinball package, the extra screen size is exquisite.


Incidentally, I did not realize Zen Studios had made so many Star Wars tables. I must have missed a few during hospital stays, or maybe I just wasn’t excited enough by the newer movies to be excited by the tie-ins. I may not know what the hell the… Battle of Mimbam? Mimban? Whatever. I don’t know what it is, but the pinball table based on it is fun to play. If you’re into Star Wars and pinball, the game is definitely worth checking out. Zen’s added a career mode and all sorts of online and offline challenges to the bundle, giving all this pinball a purpose.


Meanwhile, I have given it a place. It’s a place that will be shared by any number of other pinball games, as well as vertical scrolling shooters and whatever else supports the mode. I’ve launched my own vertical.

Source: Kotaku.com

Adidas Is Making A New Star Wars Sneaker, And Um

Perhaps hoping to recapture a little of the magic from their older collaborations, Adidas is once again teaming up with Star Wars for a sneaker release ahead of the Rise of Skywalker in December.

The result is this X-Wing-inspired Ultra Boost. Which, when you only read about the news in text form, should be great! The Ultra Boost, despite losing its 2015-17 hypebeast lustre, is still maybe Adidas’ best sneaker silhouette, and definitely its most comfortable. And who doesn’t love X-Wings?

And yet, look at this thing. It’s an adult sneaker with a four year-old’s K-Mart shoe aesthetic. There’s print on the boost and heelcup that looks like it was applied in Microsoft Word. The heel tab has a super corny “THE FORCE WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS” slogan running all the way down it. And worst of all, it’s based on the shoe’s S&L model, which with its mesh construction (most other Ultra Boosts are made of very comfortable knit) is the absolute worst Ultra Boost.

If you’re really into the idea of an Adidas x X-Wing collab, but are passing on these, Adidas released this Samba back in 2010 that was a bit more subtle:

Source: Kotaku.com

EA Received A Guinness World Record For Most Downvoted Comment In Reddit History

Back in 2017, EA was dealing with the mess that was Star Wars Battlefront II and its hated loot boxes. During that time an unknown community manager used the official EA Community Team Reddit account to respond to a complaint about unlocking characters. Over 600k downvotes and two years later, EA’s infamous comment has officially earned a Guinness World Record.

The record was spotted by Reddit user -amasha- who posted a photo from the Guinness World Record book for 2020 showcasing the record on the Star Wars subreddit. The post has racked up over 80k upvotes.

The comment was posted on November 12, 2017, to the Star Wars Battlefront subreddit. The comment is posted in full below.

The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.

As for cost, we selected initial values based upon data from the Open Beta and other adjustments made to milestone rewards before launch. Among other things, we’re looking at average per-player credit earn rates on a daily basis, and we’ll be making constant adjustments to ensure that players have challenges that are compelling, rewarding, and of course attainable via gameplay.

We appreciate the candid feedback, and the passion the community has put forth around the current topics here on Reddit, our forums and across numerous social media outlets.

Our team will continue to make changes and monitor community feedback and update everyone as soon and as often as we can.

Since being posted it has accumulated 683,000 downvotes. This comment is hated on a scale that no other comment in Reddit history has reached. The second most downvoted comment in comparison only has 88,906 downvotes.

If you create a free account you can look up every record on the Guinness World Records website and find the EA record, listed under “Most downvoted comment on Reddit.”

So, I guess, congratulations EA?! I highly doubt they will be celebrating this record anytime soon.

Source: Kotaku.com

Why It Matters That Star Wars Jedi Knight Is Coming To Switch

Total RecallTotal Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.  

2002’s Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and 2003’s Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy are coming to the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. These games have been available through Steam and GOG, but plenty of players missed out back in the day. A whole new generation of Jedi will get to experience these classic games. Since it’s been nearly 20 years since they were released, you may be wondering: What’s the big deal? Well, when Star Wars is good, it’s very good. The Jedi Knight games (and the Dark Forces games that preceded them) are good Star Wars and good video games.

As someone who has read literally hundreds of Star Wars comic books and purchased damn near every book and game that took place in the now non-canonical “Legends” timeline, I want to say that Star Wars is ridiculous. Sometimes, it makes no sense. When you find a story that moves you or a protagonist that compels you, it’s a big deal. The Jedi Knight series is one of those stories, and Kyle Katarn is one of those protagonists. First appearing in Dark Forces, Katarn was a Rebel spy responsible for stealing the original Death Star plans and thwarting the development of killer robots called Dark Troopers. He also punched a dragon to death while escaping a gangster’s animal-filled death pit. That sounds silly and it is, but Katarn’s journey from hard-nosed scoundrel to wise Jedi Knight is one of the most interesting character arcs in the franchise. Dark Forces and the Jedi Knight series use their pulp qualities to tell a story of growth that’s just as interesting as the tale of Luke Skywalker.

Katarn’s role as a rough-around-the-edges hero and reluctant Jedi provide a lot of variety. Early in Jedi Outcast, Katarn has rejected his family history as a Jedi to focus on spec-ops work for the burgeoning New Republic government. The first segment of the game plays like a throwback to older first-person shooters like Wolfenstein. You have blaster pistols, flak shotguns, and thermal detonators to play around with. You explore hidden Imperial facilities and find keycards to unlock doors. These levels are claustrophobic and packed with corridors where gritted teeth and a fully charged Imperial heavy repeater makes all the difference. It’s only after a swerve in the plot that Kyle returns to his Jedi origins. As he does so, levels expand and so do the player’s abilities.

When Kyle takes up his lightsaber, Jedi Outcast explodes into an entirely different kind of game. Force-powered jumps mean more platforming and vertical levels; access to both light and dark abilities like lightning or mind tricks bring new possibilities. Maybe you use a mind trick to distract a guard and sneak around them. Maybe you throw caution to the wind and Force Pull a cluster of enemies off a ledge. Jedi Outcast and its spin-off Jedi Academy use these mechanics to explore the idea of responsibility and the lure of the dark side. It’s something that later games like Dishonored would build upon. When you have exceptional powers, there is exceptional temptation. Navigating these dynamics as Kyle⁠—or his student Jaden Korr in Jedi Academy⁠—is true to Star Wars’ themes.

Of course, there are the lightsaber battles, too. Jedi Outcast introduced a combat system with three combat stances: a fast but defensively sloppy light stance, a reliable basic stance, and a slower heavy stance that (if used right) could slay an enemy in a single swipe. As you start to encounter dark Jedi and other foes, lightsaber combat takes a greater focus. Corridors of stormtroopers lead to battle arenas where managing your stance and Force abilities is crucial. One or two faulty decisions will lead to your demise. A well-timed swipe will result in victory and a slow-motion finale as your lightsaber slices off an enemy’s arm or darts cleanly through their torso. Before Jedi Outcast, there hadn’t really been serviceable lightsaber combat in a Star Wars game. These games captured the fantasy of having a laser sword duel while also expressing how powerful and dangerous a lightsaber could be.

Star Wars is many things. In the best cases, it is a setting where heroes grow and learn, and we learn alongside them. It can be a philosophical; it can be trashy schlock. There are spy stories, podracing, extragalactic foes, and dancing Ewoks. Jedi Outcast has a little bit of everything. It never forgets its pulp roots or video game lineage, resulting in a fantastic adventure.

Source: Kotaku.com

In true Star Wars fashion, the greatest thrills of Galaxy’s Edge are the humblest in appearance

It’s not quite 9 a.m., but the line for Oga’s Cantina is already snaking down one of the main thoroughfares of Black Spire Outpost. Earlier, in Southern California, it was a surprisingly overcast August morning; but here on the planet Batuu, the sun (one of them, at least) is breaking through the clouds. This meteorological shift adds another layer to the transportive illusion of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the latest volley in an escalating arms race to translate pop culture’s most beloved fantasy worlds into our world’s most immersive theme-park experiences. From the patina coating the familiar-yet-unfamiliar surroundings to the hidden speakers transmitting the roar of spacecraft overhead, the sights, sounds, and soul of a galaxy far, far away are coming to life all around us.

And then there’s the broom.

The broom sits at the top of a staircase a few yards away from Oga’s, a part of the scenery that’s off-limits to guests. That would be enough to create an air of mystique around what is, for all intents and purposes, a prop. But the broom can do mystique all on its own.

Its placement must be intentional. This is Disneyland, after all, where no amount of grime on the blue milk tanks can disguise the well-oiled machinery below the surface—no Wookiee’s hair out of place, nothing left to chance. Is it meant to invoke Broom Boy, the new hope who makes himself known at the end of The Last Jedi? If we watched it long enough, might the broom begin sweeping up, as if manipulated by The Force? And, if so, would that be too similar to the “spells” that make witches and wizards out of the muggles at the rival park across town? This is the power of Galaxy’s Edge: the suggestion that a broom is not just a broom—that it could be, and maybe is, so much more than that.

There’s a motif running through the Star Wars franchise of greatness hiding behind a modest façade. It’s Yoda in the original trilogy: two feet tall, 900 years old, and also the last and most powerful in a line of noble warrior monks. It’s an entire galaxy being brought to its knees and/or pulled from the brink by desert-rat nobodies. It’s the second of those unlikely masters of the Force getting one look at the visual centerpiece of Galaxy’s Edge and declaring “What a piece of junk!

Galaxy’s Edge continues this tradition, with the epic theme-park attraction’s biggest thrills deriving from some of its humblest features. Everyday activities like going to the neighborhood bar or standing in line are elevated by Star Wars accoutrements like blast points and Aurebesh glyphs. Sure, we’ve all been shopping, but have you ever been shopping, looked up from the shelves of merchandise, and seen Chewbacca stroll by?

As of this writing, there’s only one ride open at the Disneyland Galaxy’s Edge; the same will be true when Walt Disney World gets its Galaxy’s Edge on Thursday, August 29. Yet for all the fantasies Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run realizes by handing riders the keys to the Corellian freighter’s cockpit, there’s just as much excitement in the photo op afforded by a replica of the Falcon’s dejarik board. Tools lie scattered everywhere, a workplace paused in action. There’s a tremendous amount of detail. Rich environments are par for the course at Disney parks, but even by those standards, the Smugglers Run queue is next-level, rivaled only by that of Universal Studios’ Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey, which asks you to wander through the offices, classrooms, and corridors of Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry. You could be forgiven for wanting to linger—and with the speed of the line, you’ll probably be required to do just that.

Photo: Joshua Sudock (Disney Parks)

All told, your Smugglers Run “mission” is over in less than five minutes, during which part of every six-person crew has split their attention between the action playing out in front of them and the (impressively screen-accurate) lights and displays in their periphery. (It’s the one major aspect of the Galaxy’s Edge experience where the attention to detail tips over into distraction.) But those minutes aren’t the whole of Smugglers Run—they’re the climax to a story that’s told through the scenery of Ohnaka Transport Solutions HQ, given context by onscreen and Audio-Animatronic versions of profit-grubbing Clone Wars rogue Hondo Ohnaka, and heightened by stepping foot into the hold of the goddamn Millennium Falcon. The understanding that your time spent waiting is going to far outweigh your time spent riding is baked. But there’s enough going on around you at any given time that you’ll never really notice.

Screenshot: Play Disney Parks

Simply put, being at Galaxy’s Edge is the best part of Galaxy’s Edge. Sitting around, inside the cantina or on the street somewhere, trumps Smuggler’s Run or the Droid Depot, easily. But Disney has made it possible for even the sitting around to be more active, for better or worse, through use of the Play Disney Parks app. Like many such games, it offers a bounty of mindless tasks, some of them environmental—count the red panels on the back of the Falcon, snap all the QR codes you can—and others maddeningly uninventive, such as “puzzles” that aren’t really puzzles at all. Through the tasks you select, you earn credits (the currency of the Star Wars galaxy and a word used uniformly and with needless frequency by every person who works at Galaxy’s Edge) as well as points toward your affiliation with the various factions of the Star Wars sequel trilogy: the good-guy Resistance, the Empire wannabes of the First Order—or declare yourself a free agent and take the Scoundrel track. It’s reasonably amusing, but the two real joys of the app underline the park’s strength: the environment, and existing within it.

The app (your “datapad”) gives you four tools: Hack, Scan, Translate, and Tune. Of the four, the translation tool is by far the best and most useful. Crates, signs, even drink coasters throughout Galaxy’s Edge are covered in alien languages. Squint hard enough to make out the faded characters on a plastic barrel perched on the top shelf at the cantina—properly transcribe them on your datapad, and you’re rewarded with the word “BREW.” The podracer engine that cooks the “meat” at Ronto Roasters dangles behind a fence that bears the sign “CAUTION,” while an 8D droid—the sinister-looking model that Jabba The Hutt employs to torture a GNK in Return Of The Jedi—slowly turns the spit. They’re details you have to work for, and that makes them strange, sweet surprises. But the other surprises are somehow better. Play the game and stand outside Oga’s Cantina, and you may be prompted to hack a transmission, something that could be valuable or dangerous. Another mindless task? Resistance points? Credits that mean nothing?

No, it’s an inappropriate mass message. Spam. The droid R-3X would really like his friends to come to his next DJ set, starting now at Oga’s. Who cares about tasks when you can have texture?

It’s appropriate, then, that the peak of the Galaxy’s Edge experience is based in an earthbound activity that can be both event and time killer. Oga’s Cantina is the land’s must-see attraction, whether you’re old enough to indulge in Disneyland’s only (publicly accessible) alcoholic beverages or not. If you’re just on the hunt for Easter eggs, Oga’s is a treasure trove: Check out the mouse droid on the host stand! The stills are replicas of the type that wound up being used for the head of the bounty hunter IG-88! There’s the top of a gaffi stick, repurposed as a tap handle—right next to one that looks like those dainty little control rods from the Millennium Falcon’s control console! That aforementioned DJ droid, R-3X? He used to be RX-24, the pilot of Disneyland’s original Star Wars ride, Star Tours—and he’s still voiced by Paul Reubens, and still saying “I’ve always wanted to do this!”

But that’s all surface-level stuff. There’s also the atmosphere, which Oga’s cultivates in a manner invoking, but not replicating, the Mos Eisley cantina from the original Star Wars. They share the same dingy, hazy quality of light, which is a marvel considering a) that movie cameras and the human eye process light differently, and b) the absence of any murderous Anzati puffing on outer-space hookahs. It’s noisy from a visual standpoint as well as an auditory one, but it’s a lively noisiness—much of which has to do with the cast members tending bar, who eschew “We don’t serve their kind here” surliness for a multitasking hyper-hospitality that involves pouring drinks, indulging their dorkiest guest’s “May the force be with you” salutations, and gamely performing their way through bits like the “power outage” that struck during our second reservation. (And it ought to continue being this way, since it’s not like the greater Los Angeles area is hurting for actors with mixology certifications.)

Photo: Richard Harbaugh (Disney Parks)

The secret of Oga’s success is that Disney built a rock-solid bar before painting it with the “Art Of The Show” brush. It’s a bit of a miracle that the company would allow for something so ostensibly unwholesome to exist in the middle of the happiest place on earth, but for all the real booze, faux-gunk, and authentic jizz at Oga’s, order still prevails: 45 minutes per seating, two drinks per patron max. The cast members working the cantina are afforded some moral gray areas. We shared a conspiratorial laugh with the reservation-taker who pointed out the loophole we’d found in the cantina’s time limit: Just make multiple reservations throughout the day. Such rule-bending is 100 percent in-character.

As the theme for Cheers famously put it, a good bar is a place where everybody knows your name. The bartenders at Oga’s absolutely did not know our names; after our 45 minutes, we ceased to exist. Such is the way of things. Yet they somehow made us believe that, should we land once again in that port, they’d remember us, and maybe pour one on the house. Of all the illusions on offer at Galaxy’s Edge, that’s the one most impossible to fathom. In other words: You know a good bar when you step into one, and Oga’s is a good bar.

And now, beverages consumed at Oga’s Cantina during two reservations with one little fudging of the two-drink maximum, ranked

1. Fuzzy Tauntaun

Now, this is basically just a Fuzzy Navel, which is (traditionally) orange juice and peach schnapps. The orange juice is Simply Orange With Tangerine—a product of The Coca-Cola Company, naturally. (More on that below.) Oga’s also throws in Cîroc’s peach-flavored vodka and pure cane sugar, because apparently that’s not sweet enough? But forget all that: The real story here is the “buzz button foam” ladled onto the top of the cocktail, which numbs the lips and tongue and is the one thing in the whole damn park that truly makes you feel as if you’re in another galaxy. (As a preventative against panicking guests, our bartender warned “Tingle alert!” with every Tauntaun she served.) A must-try.

2. The Outer Rim

This was our magical past-the-maximum drink, ordered when our second bartender spotted us staring with longing at the order placed by our neighbors at the bar. (This, too, came with a conspiratorial wink on the side.) Patrón, an açai liqueur, lime juice, and more sugar, naturally. The addition of black salt and a healthy glob of fruit purée floating on top is what makes it feel otherworldly.

3. Gold Squadron Lager

A golden lager with elements of lavender and plum, made for the park by Blue Point Brewing Company. From here on down, they were just good drinks, but not particularly space-worthy.

4. Dagobah Slug Slinger

A cocktail that comes out in a vivid green hue, made with a reposado tequila, blue curaçao, “citrus juices,” ginger, herbs, and bitters. A refreshing, slightly savory cocktail.

5. Bad Motivator IPA

A decent IPA made by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., using Galaxy and Comet hops. (Get it?) Fun fact: This beer has a page on Wookieepedia that by virtue of its tense essentially makes Sierra Nevada a part of the Star Wars canon.

6. Yub Nub

A rum-based cocktail we ordered mostly because we’d just come from the Enchanted Tiki Room and it seemed appropriate. Uses both Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and Malibu Pineapple Rum, more of those mysterious “citrus juices,” and passionfruit. Fine but very sweet.

7. Espresso

Just espresso.

We also tried the blue milk, the green milk, and two Arnold Palmer-esque creations we got at lunch. All were fine, but (there’s a theme here) very sweet. The milk is dairy-free.

The closest comparison that exists to the kind of environmental pleasure Galaxy’s Edge offers is, of course, The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. That’s not a coincidence: J.K. Rowling at one point signed a letter of intent with Disney, which had plans to build a Hogsmeade of its own (reportedly based off of the books, but not the films); that reportedly stalled because Disney was unwilling to cede the amount of creative control sought by Rowling and Warner Bros. Universal stepped in, and the result is three attractions—which, like Galaxy’s Edge, are more like parks-within-parks—at Universal Studios in Florida, California, and Osaka, Japan. Disney’s Pandora, a similarly immersive Avatar-themed experience found in Orlando’s Animal Kingdom, can easily be seen as a response to the Potter parks, and the same is true of Galaxy’s Edge. (And Cars Land. And Pixar Pier. And the newly announced Avengers Campus.) “We’ll see your butterbeer,” you can imagine Disney’s Imagineers saying, “and raise you some blue milk.”

There’s a link, to say the least, and as such, the comparisons are both inevitable and illuminating. Paul Daurio, a former Imagineer who led the team responsible for designing The Wizarding World, told Bloomberg that Rowling insisted that the parks should serve dishes like shepherd’s pie and fish and chips, rather than hamburgers and fries; she also put her foot down about Coca-Cola products, which you won’t find inside Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley. (You can, however, buy pumpkin juice, several beers exclusive to Universal, and Gillywater, which we regret to inform you is just water.) You can get strawberry peanut-butter ice cream, a favorite of Harry’s in the books, cauldron cakes, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, but not Sprite.

You can buy a Coke at Galaxy’s Edge. It comes in small spherical bottles, designed exclusively for the park. You can translate the logotype with your datapad, but there’s no need. The Dasani logo is always the Dasani logo, even in Aurebesh.

Once you’ve been to both places, it’s easy to see where Galaxy’s Edge improves on The Wizarding World, and where it stumbles. Wander Hogsmeade and you hear highlights from the Potter soundtracks on an endless loop; on leaving, you could be forgiven for hoping you’d never hear “Hedwig’s Theme” again for the rest of your bloody life. The sound of Galaxy’s Edge is, in contrast, rich and textured. You hear ships departing and arriving, engines powering down and back up again, and the beeps and blips of droids. Walk past Oga’s Cantina when the door swings open, and the muffled sounds of a DJ set suddenly become insistent and clear, just as it would at any other bar on any other planet. One looks right, the other feels right. Point: Galaxy’s Edge.

The shops of Hogsmeade all look different, but once you’re inside it becomes clear that what you thought was a quill shop, an owl emporium, and a clothing store are really just one big gift shop with different themed doors, and the sweets shop and the joke shop are one and the same. The market at the Disney park doesn’t have that problem. It, once again, feels right; like a place, not a store. But there are few, if any, items on offer at Galaxy’s Edge that pack the punch of spotting a Weasley sweater. You can bring home a commemorative Porg mug, and you can spend $100 “building” a “droid” from mismatched plastic pieces that traipse past you on a conveyor belt, but there’s precious little that maintains the illusion in the way that a prefect’s badge or a Hogwarts alumni shirt might. Point: Wizarding World.

The contrast that’s most revealing, however, is in the must-have accessory of both lands: the lightsaber, and the wand.

Photo: Joshua Sudock (Disney Parks)

The best “ride” at The Wizarding World isn’t a ride at all, but a short play that’s also sort of a commercial. Waiting in line for Ollivanders wand shop isn’t an experience in the way that wandering through Hogwarts to get to Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey is, but once you’ve made your way to the front of the queue, Ollivanders is the experience that really strikes a chord. You stand in the sun, then enter a small, quiet lobby, before walking into an even smaller, even quieter room. A “wandkeeper” tells you all about how the wand chooses the wizard before picking a person (usually a child) out of the audience and asking them to try different wands. Flowers wilt, boxes fly, lights go mad. It’s wonderful. Then the wand chooses the wizard (or witch), and it’s over.

You then exit through the gift shop, which itself is quite a sight, and many leave with a wand of their own (they’ll set you back around $50). There are interactive versions of the wands, which allow the wielder to make different things happen in shop windows throughout the park. Go through the line again, and you see a different show—new kid, new tests, new results. It is, forgive the word, magical, and if you leave empty-handed, the magic is undiminished.

We’d like to tell you about the experience of building a lightsaber, but you can’t get in the door without coughing up $200.

There are videos of this experience out there. It looks cool. Not quite as evocative a show, perhaps, but cool all the same. The actual device is, without question, much cooler-looking than the Potter wands, but there’s something tawdry about both the cost and the fact that without shelling out, you can’t even watch the process happen. Most damning, it doesn’t feel remotely like something that would happen in a Jedi temple. Come, build our most sacred weapon, a key part of your training to become a Jedi (or a Sith lord); we take cash or card. (Er, make that “credits.”) That’s Scientology, not Star Wars. Like the sight of Coke bottles that look like thermal detonators, it’s a reminder that this is a money-making enterprise first and all else second. The Wizarding World is, too—but J.K. Rowling seems to be better about hiding all that.

Disneyland currently contains its own cautionary tale on how not to bring Star Wars into an extant theme park. Before the franchise occupied its own spot on the map, it gradually colonized Tomorrowland, beginning with Star Tours in 1987. Various Season Of The Force celebrations led to Rebel and Imperial paraphernalia accumulating across Walt Disney’s space-age vision of a great big beautiful tomorrow; even after the opening of Galaxy’s Edge, guests could head to Tomorrowland to fly alongside X-Wings on a limited-time revamp of Space Mountain, watch highlights from the films in Path Of The Jedi, and “celebrate everything Star Wars” in the pavilion that once housed the Carousel Of Progress. It all sits uneasily within an area of the park that has received multiple facelifts in order to outrun the futures it did and didn’t predict.

With the Season Of The Force makeovers bumping up against rides and a restaurant inspired by Toy Story and Finding Nemo, today’s Tomorrowland feels like it’s been used as a proving ground for Star Wars and Pixar’s expanded presences at Disneyland. It’s haphazard where Galaxy’s Edge is so elegant—but then again, what’s a more perfect Star Wars image than the artifacts of multiple regimes with conflicting visions piled on top of one another? The design of Galaxy’s Edge sure gets that; all the tubes and wires and droid parts dotting the landscape really capture the interstellar scrapyard aesthetic of the original trilogy. (It’s not for nothing that one of the earliest and best Star Wars parodies looks like it was built from the contents of the director’s toolbox.) The guests have only been coming to Batuu for a few months, but there’s a whole repertoire of Jedi mind tricks to convince you that the place has been there for eons—even one as simple as the cast members posted outside what will soon be ride No. 2, Rise Of The Resistance, turning guests away from the “ancient ruins” and suggesting they return in January.

Unlike other areas of the park, there is no explicit demarcation that you’re entering Galaxy’s Edge. No overhead signage like Frontierland or Adventureland, no unmistakable landmark like Sleeping Beauty Castle. Instead, you know you’ve reached Batuu because the rocks change. In the land’s two entrances off of Frontierland, the scenery makes a sudden and noticeable transition, the wind-and-sand-smoothed rocks of Big Thunder Mountain’s gold-rush desert becoming rougher and more alien. We passed by these formations and the industrial-looking light sconces affixed to them, and then the tunnel opened up, and we were there, in a fictional universe that, for decades, largely existed either on screen or in our heads.

Photo: Joshua Sudock (Disney Parks)

You take enough tours of Frank Lloyd Wright properties and you learn a lot about the “path of discovery,” the concept that Wright and his associates utilized to add wonder and delight to the act of moving from exterior to interior and room to room. Galaxy’s Edge is made up of such paths, where a tunnel opens up onto eyelines of craggy rock formations and pepper-pot architecture, or how the bend near Oga’s Cantina keeps the Millennium Falcon out of sight just long enough to make it feel like the ship has leapt out to surprise you. This sense probably diminishes with every visit to Galaxy’s Edge, but it’s a real trip the first time around.

That trip is amplified after dark. Go to Fantasyland once the sun has set, and it changes some. Night does that anywhere, especially if the place in question has lots of tiny pretty lights strewn about. But there are things in Galaxy’s Edge you won’t notice before the moon rises. Work lights in a garage subtly highlight a door through which a mechanic—human or droid—might have passed mere moments ago, tools abandoned briefly, scattered on a cart. Beneath the Millennium Falcon, more lights glow, utilitarian, surely indicating an approaching takeoff. Shadows lend new dimensions to the buildings. They look stranger, like relics of a society other, and older, than this. The lightsabers glow, earning their keep. The broom is still there, but it’s unlit, even easier to ignore. It waits in the dark for the morning, for a new flock of travelers, and the stories they’ll begin to tell themselves.

Source: Kotaku.com

Rey’s New Lightsaber Is Peak Foldy-Gadget Hype

GIF: Disney

Did Samsung’s still-not-released but definitely-really-coming-sometime-next-month Galaxy Fold influence Rey’s flashy folding lightsaber in the next Star Wars film? Probably not. But it’s undeniable that flippy gadgets are having a moment. Rey’s lightsaber would look a lot more silly if that weren’t the case.

I mean, consider the fact that she is using a tuning fork as a blade and that it has a clear weak point (the hinge), which will likely be the first point of failure when the weapon is exposed to extreme Forces. Or that there is no way she doesn’t chop off a limb with one errant swing of the hinge.

And how much give is in the hinge anyways? Is it mean to be more like giant nunchucks or a three-section staff, and if it’s the latter, will her fighting with it hopefully look cooler than every Youtube video I’ve found? (Editor’s note: Cranz insists only three-section staff users look stupid and that nunchucks are always cool).

Presumably, it’s got a flashy hinge but is ultimately similar to previously seen hinged lightsabers. My colleague James Whitbrook immediately noted to me that Pong Krell has two folding lightsabers in the animated Clone Wars saga.

But the folding action in Krell’s lightsaber never exactly had the flashy flippy moment Rey’s blade gets in the latest footage for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Krell only really ever lit one half of the weapon at a time, and it is very easy to miss that his blades fold. Rey’s blade is undeniably more gadget-like.

It’s not uncommon for lightsabers to tap into the gadget lust. The original ones were constructed from old camera parts, and later ones borrowed from the industrial design of everything from staple guns to a vibrator (Palpatine straight-up wields a lightsaber dildo). We reached out to LucasFilms to see if Rey’s blade was inspired by devices like the Galaxy Fold and will update should we learn more. But even without comment from a Star Wars propmaster, it’s clear this lightsaber is coming from the same headspace the bulging breakable flip phone, long-in-gestation flip tablet, and probably-never-gonna-happen dual-screen laptop come from.

Overly complex gadgets are neat. No one you know actually wants to own a Galaxy Fold, but if you’re a regular reader of Gizmodo’s gadget coverage you probably, on some level, covet one (or at least want to check it out). There’s a pleasure in a goofy gadget like the foldy phone. A quaintness to its complexity that leaves you with a smile. For me, the Fold and Rey’s dumb sword seem akin to devices tugged out of Skymall catalogs and Sharper Images stores that gave me a love for gadgets in the first place. I’ll honestly be disappointed if that lightsaber doesn’t at least have a calculator built in.

Source: Kotaku.com

Four Years Later, Star Wars Fan Isn’t Done With His Death Star II Diorama

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On July 5, 2015, Star Wars fan and Twitter user C3poC3 started working on his Death Star II diorama. Now in 2019, he’s not done.

As you can see, he is currently painting the Death Star II’s northern hemisphere.

The level of detail is staggering.

The model measures 50 centimeters in diameter. Here are some earlier work-in-progress photos to give you an idea of how much work has gone into this:

That’s no moon. It’s a diorama! 

Source: Kotaku.com