Star Wars Bounty Hunter 4

A Criminally Underrated Mandalorian Game Deserves Recognition on Star Wars Day

A retrospective on one of Star Wars' most disrespected games

The Disney Plus television show The Mandalorian officially concluded its third season on April 19, 2023. The series led by Pedro Pascal has been instrumental in revitalizing the Star Wars brand and generating interest in the lesser-explored Mandalorian lore of the popular media franchise. While I appreciate the Disney Plus show’s unique role in the Star Wars mythos, for me, when I hear the word “Mandalorian” one name comes to mind… Star Wars: Bounty Hunter.

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Long before the adventures of Din Djarin and Grogu, this GameCube/PS2 era title introduced one of my favorite Mandalorian-centric Star Wars stories to date, and on a personal note, set me on the path to becoming a contributing writer at Prima Games. Let’s examine Star Wars Bounty Hunter and demonstrate why this critically panned game deserves a second look in 2023, over 20 years after its initial release.

Jango Fett – A Star Wars Story

Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is a third-person shooter and action adventure game that puts players in the Beskar armor of Jango Fett, the notorious mercenary and secondary villain from Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The Lucas Arts title tells the origin story of the Mandalorian bounty hunter, canonically taking place between the first two prequel films. The narrative centers around Jango’s trials and tribulations through the galaxy, as he competes against his ruthless rival, Montross, in a contest to locate and capture Komari Vosa, a former Jedi turned deranged cult leader with a five million Republic credit bounty, dead or alive. The game initially launched in 2002 for GameCube and PS2, but has since been remastered for the PS3 and PS4 as well.

Scum and Villainy

One of the most striking aspects of Star Wars Bounty Hunter is the evil, self-dealing nature of virtually every character featured in the game. In a brilliant artistic choice, Lucas Arts made no effort redeem Jango Fett, opting instead to embrace the character’s greed in his relentless pursuit to collect the 5 million-credit reward on the leader of the Bando Gora cult. Bounty Hunter gives gamers the unique opportunity to play as genuinely evil character, yet one who is almost saintly compared to the even more horrific, villainous foes Jango encounters in the dark underbelly of the Star Wars universe, while on the trail of the Bando Gora.

Throughout the course of Bounty Hunter, players will witness Jango committing a variety of unsavory actions including shaking down drug dealers… I mean “death stick” dealers, threatening merchants, handing informants over to crime lords in exchange for information, breaking inmates out of prison, fighting police/security guards, and even political assassination. Basically, Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is more “GTA” than “galaxy far, far away,” and provides a one-of-a kind villainous experience, uniquely of its time, which could definitely not be made in the current landscape of Disney’s Star Wars.

Star-Studded Wars

Lucas Arts certainly did not cut corners on their Jango Fett origin story, as they brought back Temuera Morrison to reprise his film role as the game’s protagonist, along with Leeanna Walsman, who returned to portray Zam Wesell, Jango’s sidekick. However, Bounty Hunter truly shines thanks to the new characters the game introduces into the Star Wars mythology, including Jango’s humorous Toydarian compatriot Rozzatta (Lucille Bliss), as well as the intimidating Bando Gora cult leader Komari Vosa (Tamara Phillips), and most importantly, Bounty Hunter’s primary antagonist, Montross, played by character acting legend Clancy Brown. The game also features voice performance veterans like Corey Burton, Grey Griffin, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Wally Wingert in smaller roles, rounding out a supremely talented roster of actors who help to bring the original and returning Star Wars characters to life.

Jango Unchained

Star Wars Bounty Hunter’s gameplay spans a total of eighteen challenging levels interspersed with cutscenes replete with cheesy action-film style dialogue. The settings range from the bustling nightlife of Coruscant, to the maximum security prison moon of Oovo IV, as well as the craggy canyons of Tatooine, just to name a few locations. With an arsenal weaponry including twin blasters, a flamethrower, a sniper rifle, toxic darts, a whipcord, thermal detonators, and a powerful missile launcher affixed to the Mandalorian’s iconic jetpack, Bounty Hunter sees Jango Fett go on a warpath throughout the world of Star Wars. There is a huge variety of enemies in Bounty Hunter, running the gamut from space gangs, to Bando Gora cultists, prison guards, bandits, competing bounty hunters, Tusken Raiders, Krayt Dragons, and so much more on the way to an epic final confrontation with the dual-lightsaber wielding Komari Vosa.

Don’t be mistaken, despite my praise, Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is far from a perfect gameplay experience and is extremely dated in terms of its control scheme and mechanics. Unlike the modernized accessibility options and common controls that spoil current-gen gamers, Star Wars Bounty Hunter has mind-boggling button mapping decisions that somewhat hinder the overall experience. However, despite its flaws, I can’t help but love the game’s unique Star Wars vision, as well as the fun arsenal of weaponry, and formidable challenge found in Bounty Hunter, even twenty years later.

Related: Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review | A Powerful Epic for a More Civilized Age

Just a Simple Game, Trying to Make its Way in the Universe

There are certainly plenty of minor problems in Bounty Hunter that can be nitpicked, but the critical consensus around the solid Star Wars gaming experience has been shockingly negative, as the 2002 title holds disappointingly low critic Metascores of 67 on GameCube and 65 on PS2. To put this in perspective, even the scandalous, microtransaction plagued launch of Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) managed to meet or outperform Bounty Hunter’s critic ratings on each of its platforms. However, despite the reviewer negativity, Star Wars Bounty Hunter has developed into somewhat of a Star Wars cult classic, thanks to its loyal fanbase. The game’s audience score is significantly higher than the critic consensus on both platforms, with the game garnering a 7.9 and 7.8 on PS2 and GameCube respectively, highlighting the reality that even though Star Wars Bounty Hunter may not be perfect, it is still good.

Nostalgia Hunter

On a personal level, Star Wars: Bounty Hunter will always hold a special place in my heart and remains one of my most nostalgia-inducing games to this day. I first encountered the unique Jango Fett-centric adventure at my uncle’s house and was later gifted a copy of my own shortly after, along with a guide book from some random company called Prima Games. The strategy guide helped me navigate the challenge of Bounty Hunter, collect the many secondary bounties hidden throughout the game’s world, and would later inspire me to write for the same company who created the book. As a contributor at Prima Games, I owe Star Wars: Bounty Hunter a debt of gratitude for inspiring me to write gaming guides of my own.

Related: Letter From the Editor: A Prima Games Year in Retrospect

Star Wars Bounty Hunter 2023

I’m not saying Bounty Hunter is the greatest Star Wars game of all-time, as there are numerous others that exceed it, but this game is truly a Kyber crystal in the rough, and remains unlike any Star Wars title that has come before or after. Simply, on this day of Star Wars celebration, if you are a subscriber PlayStation Plus Premium, have an old PS2 or GameCube copy you can dust off, or if you even prefer emulation, I just ask that you give Star Wars Bounty Hunter a try, or a second look. Who knows, it just might change your life, like it did for mine.


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Author
Grant Testa
Grant Testa is a writer at Prima Games, who specializes in achievement hunting and horror gaming. He is also an avid comic book reader/collector, fantasy footballer, and rock music fanatic. Thousands who have been defeated by Grant in online multiplayer games have cried to themselves, wondering, "How did he get so good?! Why can't I be a gaming demigod like him?" They would probably be surprised to learn that Grant actually inherited his elite gaming skills from his mom, Joann Hansen, one of the speediest stenographers/typists in the nation, (and probably the world). Fun fact: he is also the son of the world’s first “let’s player” and comedy legend, Tim Testa.