I remember when Star Wars: The Clone Wars came out. Not the 2008 movie that we as a society have agreed not to talk about, but the animated show set between Episodes II and III that caught the attention of every young Star Wars fan with a lightsaber and a habit of trying to use The Force.
On the evening of Oct. 3, 2008, my mother brought me and my sister to visit her friend, whose son went to school with us. Because his mother and mine were close, we often had to hang out together, despite the fact that we had little in common. He was tall, fit, a burgeoning jock even in elementary school, and I … wasn’t.
But we found common ground in any and all Star Wars content. That evening, we dove into our shared interest and watched Yoda and some clones battle droids commanded by a bald witch with a penchant for winged eyeliner, all to win the favor of a bug man with a suspiciously-shaped nose.
As much as I enjoyed new Star Wars content, keeping up with the episodes was difficult. Since it was pre-streaming, I had to catch them when they aired or get lucky and find a rerun. Because I was a child and my scheduling skills were about as good as they are now, I was fighting a losing battle trying to keep up with the series, and I eventually stopped watching.
Last spring, I found myself at home with little to do but ignore online classes. I heard that the final season of The Clone Wars had begun earlier that year, after a six-year hiatus. So I settled in and began plowing my way through the previous six seasons to catch up.
As enjoyable as my return to a childhood favorite was, especially when I encountered familiar episodes, I ran into a problem.
Enter the companion format of my Star Wars love: video games.
Like many 2000s babies with a short attention span, I find it very difficult to do only one thing at a time. If I’m cooking, I’m also watching a show. When I shower, I play music or videos from my phone. Even while I fall asleep, I listen to podcasts.
To some degree, this is to avoid any silence that might force me to listen to my brain and my stupid thoughts. But on another, more simple level, I just always need more stimuli.
It really comes down to needing to do things with my hands. If I’m having a relaxing evening rewatching Avatar: The Last Airbender, my hands feel weird if they’re not doing anything. So a natural solution was to put a controller in my hand.
My situation was the same during my Clone Wars rewatch.
Because I wanted to focus primarily on the show and keep my brain in the Star Wars universe, I needed to occupy my hands with something Star Wars themed. I had plenty of Star Wars games to choose from, so I just had to find the right one for the occasion.
The new Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, while an incredible Souls-like adventure, required too much concentration. The Force Unleashed series was out, as I was doing a run of them at the time and had gotten invested in the story, so I couldn’t watch anything while I played it. And LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga hadn’t and still hasn’t been released.
Finally, I landed on Star Wars: Battlefront 2, specifically, the 2017 EA version. While my love for the 2005 original knows no bounds, I wanted to be able to play online, and my attempts to do that with the original version has been less than successful nowadays.
With this new strategy, I began to tear through Dave Filoni’s incredible Star Wars story, with one part of my brain drawn into the intricate storylines and characters being rendered in a truly disastrous animation style (Star Wars: Rebel’s animation notwithstanding), while the other activity-craving part of my brain was content to shoot lasers at space fascists.
It ended up being the perfect way to spend the beginning of the pandemic. Like many of my other friends, I dove into a childhood favorite with all the love and immersion as I had originally. I just brought a modern day friend along to help me through it.
*Article thumbnail courtesy of Fred Tippett / North by Northwestern