A Long Time Ago in a VHS Player Far, Far Away…

May the Fourth be with you! It’s Star Wars Day! I love Star Wars! We love Star Wars! Let’s all dance like the happy Ewoks at the end of Return of the Jedi and celebrate the glorious saga!

I believe we should do this because Star Wars is a bit special and as a fan I think it’s important to take a moment to cherish the precious pop culture phenomenon that’s touched us all, whether we personally wanted it to or not. I will be doing this by listening to John Williams’ scores and by flagrantly dropping quotes and references into as many conversations as possible (this is easy if most of your conversations are with yourself). I will also snatch a few moments to watch some classic movie scenes and may also consider upping the ante on my inactive ‘I Am Han Solo’ campaign.

Swept up in the excitement I thought I might head out today for a frenzied shopping spree and pick up a load of action figures or some Star Wars Lego but I’m best off keeping a tight hold of my few credits and remembering that a Jedi does not value possessions. Still I do have some Star Wars paraphernalia from my childhood knocking around and today is the day for looking at it with a little extra love in my eye. It’s the day for digging it out of cupboards, holding it in a suffocatingly tight grip to then exclaim in your Vader voice “I have you now!

Here’s what I have: triumphant orchestral blast to salute something from a long time ago…

Star Wars! Interactive video board gaming! Destroying the evil Galactic Empire with plastic pieces and cardboard thermal detonator cards!

Star Wars! Interactive video board gaming! Destroying the evil Galactic Empire with plastic pieces and cardboard thermal detonator cards!

Manufactured in 1995, it’s Star Wars: The Interactive Board Game.  It’s here in my hands and I’m desperate to play it with my Rebel comrades for some timely competitive fun on May 4th. Alas, I can’t because I don’t have a VHS player. Star Wars may be eternal, but technology marches on and out-of-date devices die out. Cue sad Wookiee howling or, if you can stand the prequels (and you should stand them and enjoy them), press that Anakin Skywalker Wail button.

Nevertheless, my memories don’t die but linger on and talk to me in moments of cold despair (they’re just like Ben Kenobi appearing to Luke when he’s freezing on Hoth after his escape from captivity beneath the claws of the Wampa). I remember fun sessions in front of the gameboard and TV, listening the instructions of Darth Vader on the screen before me. I remember trying to thwart his villainous plan to destroy the Rebel base on D’rinba IV by depositing bomb cards around his Death Star recreation. Look at those figurines and the nice artwork that graces the playing area!

... nice game with nice details..

… I don’t know what they’ll achieve by putting an R2 unit in the Detention Block…

At a particular point in the game Lord Vader would point at players and say something along the lines of “You! You now taking your turn! I have you now! You will now serve me and exchange your playing piece for the Stormtrooper figure!” And so, the Power of the Dark Side claimed a helpless innocent and they were compelled to bow down and serve the Sith Master. As a child this blatant undermining of any notion of freewill in a boardgame shocked me to the core. Still, the Rebels tended to get it together and triumph over Evil by the time the 60 minutes were up. The Force was strong with them… and they had the remote control to pause if the clock was working against them.

All in all, it was great fun and I’d be forcing it on my family tonight for May the Fourth celebrations if I had the right kit. I don’t so I’m just going to sit and look at it while listening to the Cantina Band tune. It’s also highly likely that I’ll have done a whole load of other saga-related stuff to pay tribute to the space opera that raised me. I urge you to do the same. May the Fourth be with you and May the Force be with you, always…

... and now I'm all choked up...

… and now I’m all choked up…

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