Knights of the Old Replay: Leviathan

I’ve been looking forward to the Leviathan part of the game since the very start because it’s when everything changes and it hits me in the feels every damn time. This is the part of the game that completely blew my mind when I was 14 years old and I still love it to pieces over a decade later.

Everything starts when you leave whatever planet had the third Star Forge map piece and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Saul Karath’s ship, the Leviathan, yanks you out of hyperspace and everyone on the Ebon Hawk is about to be very screwed. We get about five minutes to come up with an escape plan aka: picking a teammate to come save our skins. I think that I usually use Canderous or HK-47 here but I made Twitter pick for me this time so Jolee got his marching orders. He wasn’t quite as easy to use for this as the tank that is Canderous but I just whirlawinded everyone who got in my way and ran away when there was too many of them and it worked out just fine. Continue reading

The Dichotomy of Revan

darth revanOne of the easiest ways to see the divides in the Star Wars fandom is to have them vote on characters. is currently conducting a poll to determine what character should be Hasbro’s next 6” Black Series figure. The results, thus far, have been causing a lot of chatter.  The favorite right now is Darth Revan from the Knights of the Old Republic games. A lot of fans on Twitter, myself included, have been advocating for Sabine Wren (who is currently in second place) because she’s not only an awesome character but also the only (for sure) female character who made it into the finals. Watching the back-and-forth on Twitter has made me realize that how myself and a bunch of other fans view Revan is almost the exact opposite of how others, including many who aren’t very attached to the KOTOR games, view Revan. (Trust me: the irony of this is not lost on me.)

At his/her core, Revan is a self-insert character. Revan is exactly as cool and as dark side or light side as you choose to make him/her. That’s part of the fun of the games. Revan is played up through the first two-thirds of the game as being this incredible strategist who beat the Mandalorians and probably would’ve beaten the Republic if Malak hadn’t turned into a power hungry betrayer. In Legends, the character was declared to be canonically male for the purposes of The Old Republic game which… is what it is. (I’m already on record as saying I think everything that was post-KOTOR2 canon is dumb but that’s neither here nor there.) Regardless, it’s pushed forward this view of Revan as being this super cool and badass Sith Lord who is badass enough to survive being tortured for a few hundred years and then do… whatever that storyline in the TOR game is. It’s how a lot of those who aren’t KOTOR fans see Revan. After all, what’s all that groundbreaking about another brown haired white guy gone evil and then good and then… possibly good or evil again?

To some fans though, she is way more. To a strong minority, Revan is the woman of color Jedi turned Sith Lord turned hero that we never otherwise get to see. Keep in mind, the first KOTOR game came out back in 2003 when there weren’t too many great female Sith villains never mind many Sith who were people of color. Revan was something different. She was an opportunity. She was a wish fulfillment character that a lot of us had never really had before. In case anyone doubts the lasting affect of Revan, one only has to go check out the KOTOR community on tumblr. We may have our own thoughts on whether she stayed on the light side or fell to the dark again or even which member of her crew she fell in love with but it’s clear that idea of this very capable woman who finds success against all odds holds strong over ten years after the game’s release. Needless to say, she still means a lot to this part of the Revan fanbase, myself included.

Does this all boil down to headcanon? Of course. Again, that was a part of the game’s charm. Does it suck for the (admitted) minority of KOTOR fans who love female Revan that the chances of Hasbro creating a female Revan toy are approximately 3720 to 1? Hell yes. However, despite what Legends canon says, the two Revans are still very much a part of the Star Wars fandom and to completely ignore one when discussing the character in broad strokes is to do part of the fandom a disservice.

Three Video Games and a TV Show

KOTOR logoKnights of the Old Republic: The best Star Wars game that was ever released and that ever will be released.  Yes, I know.  You’re all tired of hearing me talk about how much I love KOTOR but that doesn’t stop it from being a great story and taking another look at it would give Lucasfilm a chance to help fix a few of the problems currently facing them.  I won’t repeat myself and go into how very Star Wars the story is and how great the characters are.  Instead, I’m here to pitch you an idea for the new canon.  Ready?  Here’s the pitch: Revamp both Knights of the Old Republic games for modern consoles and take advantage of the chance to update the graphics and to properly finish the second one, finally make that third KOTOR game, tell the lead up story as a television series on a major network (or even cable), and canonize both Revan and the Exile as women.

Let’s start from the top.  Knights of the Old Republic was fun.  Regardless of what you think of the second game, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Star Wars fan who didn’t enjoy playing the first game.  It’s a well-liked and familiar property set in an era that’s almost definitely unaffected by the Story Group’s new overarching canon.  Bringing the games out of Legend and into official canon could quite possibly go a long way towards making some of those still upset about the canon change happier.  Also, imagine getting to play the games except created with modern technology.  The original games continue to have their charm but modern graphics paired with an awesome story?  (Just think about it, we’ll wait.)  This is also a great opportunity for Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords to be properly finished so we can finally play the droid factory planet without having to mod beyond belief.  A third game to round out the trilogy is a no brainer really.  It’s been ten years and portion of the fan base is still clamoring for KOTOR3.  It’s a license to print money.

A prequel (don’t look at me like that’s a dirty word) would be the best plot line for a tie-in show that would let the games stand alone and it would give the writers plenty to work with.  To tell the story, I’d imagine that perhaps three to four seasons of 10-13 episodes each would be ideal.  They could chronicle the attack of the Mandalorians, the refusal of the Jedi to answer, Revan and Malak going off and becoming heroes as they lead the fight back, their descent into darkness, and then rise of their Sith army.  It would ultimately culminate in Bastila’s mission that results in Revan’s capture and amnesia.  Is it ambitious for a television show?  Sure but we now live in a world where Game of Thrones is wildly successful and has a huge budget.  I could see Disney green-lighting it.

One of KOTOR’s greatest strengths was its characters and Lucasfilm would be wise to take advantage of them.  The supporting crew were all well-rounded with their own backgrounds and motivations and the protagonist was, well, entirely dependent on you.  The best thing though was how diverse the cast was in terms of race, gender, and species.  It’s something more properties should take a note of.  That said, it wasn’t perfect and this is where the game should take a hint from Saints Row IV.  Yes, that Saints Row IV.  In Saints Row, you play as the Boss who is a character you customize completely and your crew treats you the same way regardless of gender including romancing.  During a recent replay of KOTOR, I got frustrated that the game prevented me from being able to romance Bastila as female Revan.  I’d love to see a version of the game that isn’t quite so tied to turn of the century social rules especially since we’ve now seen what Bioware can do.

darth revanI don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that Star Wars continues to have a gender problem though.  We’ve discussed it ad nauseum here at Tosche Station from the lack of representation in merchandise to the painfully unequal casting announcements.  While I will always adore that KOTOR lets YOU decide what gender Revan is and even what they look like, I do thinking officially canonizing it would be a good thing but this time as a woman.  Same goes for the Exile.  John Jackson Miller’s Knights of the Old Republic comics did a pretty good job of skirting the issue of Revan’s gender but if Disney wanted to capitalize on this property and make a live action television show, they’d have to make a definitive call.  By making Revan and the Exile female in what would undoubtedly be a very popular storyline in the franchise, Disney would essentially be forced into giving them the respect that they (and the other female characters) deserve when it comes to merchandizing.  Even in this unfortunate Natasha-less, Gamora-less, and Hera-less world that we live in, I have a hard time seeing them be able to justify NOT making toys of the two main characters.  (Just imagine if they even canonized Revan as a woman of color…)

Three video games (revamped and finished for the modern world) and a TV show are really just the bare bones of the KOTOR initiative.  There’s an opportunity for tie-in novels and comics and toys galore but most importantly, it’s an opportunity to please Star Wars fans both new and existing, make strides towards putting more women in the leading roles, and play around in a part of the timeline that won’t interfere with the films at all.

Also I just really want more KOTOR.  And a TV show about Revan-the-Jedi-Master-Strategist as she defeats the Mandalorians.

Say it with me now: three video games and a TV show!

EU Retrospective: The Really Old Republic

It’s taken slightly longer than anticipated thanks to some difficulties with the library but I’ve finally finished the first leg of my Expanded Universe reread.  The short version?  There were certainly some ups and downs and WOW am I glad to be getting out of these eras and away from these old school Sith.  (Sith Fatigue is a real and dangerous disease, folks.  It claims hundreds of readers every year.)

The Old Republic: Revan:

I’ll freely admit to being a HUGE KOTOR fangirl back in the day.  Somewhere, buried on a harddrive, is probably a lot of half-written fanfic about the characters.  I was obsessed with Revan and had slightly ridiculous crushes on both Carth Onasi and Atton Rand.  (That was totally my right as a 14 year old girl.)  If you’ve never played either of the Knights of the Old Republic games, the one thing you should know is that your character (Revan in the first game and the Exile in the second) is essentially a blank slate.  You decide their gender, their looks, and their personality.  Therefore, I spent most of the first half of the book trying to reconcile the Revan in my head (a very snarky lady) with the canon Revan who is decidedly not her and is, in fact, a man.  (Curse you, canon!)  Also, I insist that Natalya Donn is totally a better name for the Exile than Meetra Surik.  I mean…. Meetra?  Really?

As a whole, the book left me feeling mostly underwhelmed.  The basic premise?  Great.  I’ve always been intrigued about what made Revan originally turn to the dark side and where he disappeared to in the time between games.  I wasn’t as thrilled with the execution.  For starters, the book falls just short of 300 pages; something that makes me glad I didn’t purchase this book as a hardcover.  I also felt that the many of the action sequences fell victim to video game syndrome where paragraphs often felt like they were queues of action commands.  Additionally, I found myself missing the presence of characters like HK-47 and Jolee although I can understand why they were left out of the book.

My biggest issue was with the pacing.  Obviously Karpyshyn was aiming to answer some of the questions players had about the gap between games which, as one of those players, I appreciated.  However, the ending felt rushed, weirdly open ended and I still don’t really know what happened.  (I’m also a bit miffed about the Exile’s unceremonious exit but that’s another rant entirely.)  Two-thirds of the book occurs in the gap between games and the last third post-KOTOR2.  It certainly could have benefited from a more even split and more pages.  Actually, upon further reflection, I’m comfortable with saying that I hated the ending.

This all isn’t to say that the book is horrible but it won’t be making my ‘Essential EU Reads’ list any time soon.  It’s certainly worth the read if you were a KOTOR player and if your Revan was male, you’ll probably have a much easier time getting into the book than I did.  I did enjoy the parts with Canderous (even wished there had been more of them) and I especially appreciated the nods to the Mando language.

At the end of the day, it’s not a replacement for KOTOR3 (honestly, nothing really could be) but at the very least, it’ll help fill the KOTOR shaped void in your life for a little bit.

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‘Revan’ Now Available in Paperback

The Old Republic: Revan by Drew Karpyshyn went on sale today in paperback form for those of you that are looking for the book in a trimmer form factor. You can get your copy for $7.99 from your local bookstore online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Hero, traitor, conqueror, villain, savior—the man called Revan has been all of these. He left Coruscant a Jedi, on a mission to defeat the Mandalorians. He returned a Sith disciple, bent on destroying the Republic. The Jedi Council gave Revan his life back, but the price of redemption was the loss of his memories. All that’s left are nightmares—and deep, abiding fear. What happened beyond the Outer Rim that Revan can’t quite remember or entirely forget? One thing he’s certain of: Something dark is plotting to destroy the very existence of the Republic. With no idea how to identify the threat, let alone stop it, Revan may be doomed to fail. For he’s never faced a more powerful and diabolic enemy. But only death can stop him from trying.