Jon Knoles reveals "Ultimate villain" Revenge of the Sith game George Lucas wouldn't allow
Game Developer Jon Knoles is known for his work on Shadows of the Empire, Star Wars Episode 1 Racer, and Star Wars Bounty Hunter. But what he isn't known for is the Darth Vader "Hunting down the Jedi" video game for the release of Revenge of the Sith. That's because George Lucas wouldn't allow it.
We were going to make the game, Darth Vader. The team was super excited about it. It was going to be awesome. It was going to end with a scene like the end of Rogue One as a bonus mission.
Knoles joined Beyond The Blast Doors LIVE to talk about LucasArts glory days, the modern Star Wars game, and the future of the industry. He also had the habit of sharing stories most fans don't know about, including the story behind the video game, Darth Vader, and George Lucas wouldn't allow.
George told me, I could not make the 'Vader kicks ass game, I'd have to do something else. True story on the set of Revenge of the Sith in Sydney, Australia, my art director, Ian Milham and I were able to go down there the week they were doing the final duel," Knoles shared. "I was sitting there with John Knolls from ILM, sitting in front of me and a couple guys working with him and then George would be sitting next to him and then we'd all talking about all the things we think would be really cool.
Knoles said he wanted to avoid making a, "Play the movie," game which just took the player through the events of the movie. He talks about how that didn't work well for The Phantom Menace and is why Star Wars Bounty Hunter was the game created for Attack of the Clones. That's fascinating because many fans regard the Revenge of the Sith game as one of the best of the early 2000's.
"We wanted to do the video game were a little turning bad and the rest of it is Vader hunting down the Jedi, destroying them all - the ultimate bad guy game," Knoles explained. "And that's what we pitched and George Lucas said that's not my movie, my movie is a tragedy. It's about how he's a weakling, you can go out and make the ultimate Vader villain game and that would be amazing but it can't have anything to do with my movie."
Knoles goes onto explain how George's disapproval encouraged the team to go back and redesign the story of the game. But he learned there was no compromising on this game's role in connection to the Revenge of the Sith film.
His words do back up George's vision of the prequel trilogy of a slave boy developing his powers and then falling from grace. The fan divide on the Revenge of the Sith film not exploring the Jedi massacre more is well-documented. This includes the Order 66 sequence cut down and really the only Darth Vader in armor action fans get in the film is the Dark Lord crossing his arms maniacally as he gazes onto the construction of the Death Star with his new master.
"We came back months later with a reworked plan with more Episode 3 in it and less Vader kicks ass but it still had some Vader kicks ass and he said "I'm not sure if you heard me clearly the last time we met. "That's when I had to pull out plan B out of my pocket which was "Play the movie game," which was really depressing but it released the huge pressure the team was feeling because you always want to know what you're making and if there is any uncertainty about what you're allowed to do or what you want to do it just drags everything down. Once that weight was lifted, we banged out a really great Episode 3 game," Knoles said.
The team including, The Collective, a group of developers based in Newport Beach, really did bang out a great game exploring the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker. At the time, the game looked amazing, featured new characters like Cin Drallig (who was based on stuntman, Nic Gillard), and some of the best saber mechanics fans experienced in gameplay.
You can watch the full interview with Jon on BTBD LIVE! directly below.
What do you think about Jon's story about the Darth Vader game that could have been? You can tweet us @BTBDStarWars to continue this Star Wars conversation!