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Only Sith Deal In Absolutes!
date posted: Nov 01, 2005 6:21 PM  |  updated: Aug 30, 2006 1:09 AM
Deconstructing Dark Forces Part 1: The (Pen)Ultimate Easter Egg
Okay, a Jedi, a bunny, and a deconstructionist walk into a bar.

Stop me if you've heard this one.

Easter eggs! Star Wars fans love 'em. Whether its playing "Where's the 1138?" game while watching the Star Wars movies, accessing the hidden features on the DVDs, spotting the references to Star Tours or the nods to the earliest drafts of The Star Wars in Expanded Universe literature, Easter eggs reward the sharp-eyed and obsessive with more bang for their buck.

So then, eagle-eyed Star Warriors, tell me what's funny about this paragraph I wrote in the first installment of the Dark Forces Saga:

Kyle continued working with Jan for the New Republic on odd missions, hooking up with living legend Bey and the mercenaries Dash Rendar and Guri on an insertion mission to the Tof fortress world Saijo, and teaming up with a demented, pint-sized lagomorph and nearly razing Space Station Kwenn while apprehending the freelance Ketton spy Derrida.

If you said, "Abel, that's one helluva long sentence," you're right. But I meant besides that.

If all you spotted was the references to Dash and Guri, characters from the Shadow of the Empire multimedia project, you get a high-six from General Grievous. Folks who spotted the references to Bey, the Tof, and Saijo from the early Marvel comics did a little better, and they get a No-Prize. These continuity nuggets were for the hardcore fans. But for something truly twisted, heh heh heh, read on.

First an introduction: the last characters mentioned in the above paragraph -- Kyle Katarn, the "pint-sized lagomorph," and the Ketton spy Derrida -- have a rather unique origin. Kyle is the most easily familiar to Star Wars fans as the star of multiple LucasArts video games developed for the PC, including Dark Forces, Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, and Jedi Knight II: Outcast, the titles which are the subject of the Dark Forces Saga. Kyle, it seems, is the product of a simple inquiry: what would happen if you crossed the rough charm of Han Solo with the Force powers of Luke Skywalker? (Which, let's be honest, is really asking what if you or I on our coolest day suddenly discovered we had Force powers).

The experiment worked. Popularity-wise, the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight games were the Knights of the Old Republic of the 90s. In the first game of the series, Kyle starts off as a wisecracking mercenary who works for the Rebel Alliance, on account of those evil Imperials murdered his family. In the second game, Kyle actually discovers that he inherited the power of the Force from his pops, and begins to fulfill his destiny as a Jedi Knight. Old time gamers, however, will recall a little something extra that the developers at LucasArts threw into the second Dark Forces title.

The name of that little something is Max.

Like the warp tunnels of Super Mario Bros., and perhaps foreshadowing the "unlockable" character and vehicle feature now common in video games, the character Max was a secret in Jedi Knight that you could find in Mission 5 at the city of Baron's Hed and temporarily unleash on your enemies.

As if Star Wars didn't already have its share of silly rabbits (control Jaxxonians and Hoojibites, you must learn control!), Max is a lagomorph with a big gun, a big mouth, and psychotic tendencies, one half of Steve Purcell's off-the-wall comic crime fighting duo, Sam & Max: Freelance Police. Written in the irreverent, no-holds-barred vein of Gen-X contemporaries like Peter Bagge (Hate) and Evan Dorkin (Milk and Cheese), Sam & Max tell the adventures of a dog and bunny private investigators who try to rid the world of both evil and not so bright people, taking the fight from the mean streets of New York to the conjectured vistas of the Philippines.

Sam and Max were licensed to LucasArts in the early 90s in order to produce games based on Purcell's sociopathic good guys. In 1993, the game Sam & Max Hit the Road was released, and LucasArts had the license up until this year. As a fun Easter egg, LucasArts decided to include Max in the Dark Forces sequel Jedi Knight. Practically invincible, he would wail on bad guys in essentially the same indestructible cartoony fashion he does in the comic, and Godspeed if you decide to betray your little buddy and attack him for a cheap laugh.

So, though it makes little sense to speak of actualities in a fictional universe, we're gonna do it anyway, because, by thunder, that's what fans do. The question is this: is it canon that Kyle Katarn actually teamed-up with a character from another fictional universe - a psycho, gun-totting, anthropomorphic rabbity-thing, no less - not just once, but twice?

Ask the third player in this unholy trinity, Derrida.

Qui?

This is the end of Side One. To continue the story on Side Two, please stop the page, turn it over, and press "Play". ~ Abel G. Pe´┐Ża

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