Kyle Katarn is back. If not in Disney’s Star Wars canon, at least on your Switch and PS4.
On top of all the other hopes and dreams Nintendo realised in last night’s absurd, 40-minute dollop of video game news, one of the most out there reveals was the shock announcement that classic Star Wars games Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and its sequel, Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy are coming to the Switch and Playstation 4.
Being ported by Aspyr, only the single-player portion of Jedi Outcast — following the hero of Dark Forces and Jedi Knight, former Rebel spy-turned-Jedi-turned mercenary Kyle Katarn as he battles the Imperial Remnant and a fallen student of the New Jedi Order — will launch on both consoles September 24.
Meanwhile, the full version of Jedi Academy—its single-player campaign and its totally rad multiplayer, which still thrives on PC thanks to a dedicated modding community - will come sometime in early 2020. While Jedi Knight II and Jedi Academy have long been easily accessible on PC, this is the first time they’ve been on consoles since their original releases on the first Xbox and (and in Jedi Knight II’s case, the Gamecube) in the early '00s.
Aside from the fact these are two of the funnest Star Wars games around—with some absolutely killer lightsaber combat that is maybe the closest games have come to replicating the intricate duels of the films, outside of something like the VR experience of Vader Immortal — what’s so interesting about these decade-and-a-half old games getting official re-releases is that they depict a post-Return of the Jedi galaxy that no longer canonically exists.
Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy are set in the old Expanded Universe timeline—a reality where, long before he became a Master in Luke Skywalker’s New Jedi Order, Kyle Katarn was one of the (many) agents responsible for securing the plans for the first Death Star. They’re set in and around a New Republic that has been replaced by a, err ... much less enduring version of itself.
Characters like Kyle and Jan Ors and institutes like the Imperial Remnant and the Dark Jedi no longer officially exist—or at least, familiar shades of them do in the re-imagined continuity that leads up to Star Wars’ sequel trilogy.
None of this is an indicator that Lucasfilm and Disney have plans to bring some of these elements back, of course. Don’t expect to see Kyle brushing shoulders with Rey, Finn, Rose, and Poe in the Resistance just because you can play Jedi Knight II on a Switch. But to see these games brought back up in an official capacity, and celebrated, is both heartwarming and fascinating in an era where Lucasfilm and Disney very deliberately want to root all current Star Wars material in its ever-growing, all-connected canon.