Playing Star Wars: Bounty Hunter and Pretending it’s a Mandalorian Game

I'm desperate for a video game based on The Mandalorian so I tried to quench my thirst with 2002's Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. It didn't go well...

The Mandalorian is the best video game adaptation not adapted from a video game. It’s now a trite point to make, but no less true, that the series certainly feels like a video game. It may have an overarching narrative but each episode is its own mission, with a boss to fight and a quest-giver to provide Mando something to search for. So much so that every time I watch it, I want to pick up a nearby controller and pretend like I’m controlling the action. Perhaps the show felt a little too much like a story told in the gaming medium in the third season. The big story beats felt somewhat underdeveloped, as if key moments were just brief cutscenes between fights with giant monsters, which took up too much of the focus, when I wanted more exploration and depth.

And yet, despite suiting it perfectly, there is no game of The Mandalorian. Other than Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi duology, EA’s exclusivity deal has borne disappointing, yet unsurprising, results. Thankfully that deal is now at an end and other developers can begin their own projects. Hopefully one is a Mandalorian game but even if so, it’s likely a long time away from being published. Star Wars Outlaws may fill the void but it’s only just been announced; who knows when we’ll get to play it? I’m impatient. After season 3 wrapped up I wanted to jump into Mando’s N1 starfighter and continue the adventures, and if I couldn’t do that, I’d have to find the next best thing.

Enter Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. A PlayStation 2 game from 2002 I never played back in the day. I had been meaning to rectify this for a while, had purchased the game and had it downloaded on my PS5 just waiting for a reason to play. Now I had it. I don’t know why it’s a game I had previously ignored. 2002 was the year my Star Wars fandom exploded: Attack of the Clones is my favourite in the series, the one I collected all the toys from and imagined being in while playing on the playground. I loved other Star Wars games of that era like the original two Battlefronts, which truly made me a gamer. And Bounty Hunter is a Jango Fett game! I loved Jango back then, he was the coolest. Even now compared to Din Djarin and Boba, Jango Fett is the true badass.

What a nostalgia trip loading up the game for the first time; it’s been an awful long time since I’ve played a game that old. Showing a trailer for the game you’re playing at the start of the game? Sure, why not. “Choose memory card slot” still showing despite now being irrelevant? Yes please. A thirty-second unskippable animated LucasArts logo you have to watch every time? I could have done without that one, actually.

I was looking for a Mandalorian game and it seemed like Star Wars: Bounty Hunter was hitting the spot. The first thing Jango says is “dead or alive;” That’s near enough Mando’s catchphrase. We fight a big monster in the first couple of minutes; that’s basically now the MO of The Mandalorian. Jango begins without a jetpack and then receives one, just like Din in the show. Jango’s handler Roz is a lot like Cid from The Bad Batch; a different show but close enough. And then there’s the hunting down/scanning of optional bounties, although that’s probably the most awkward mechanic in the game, which isn’t great for a game called Bounty Hunter. Initially this seemed like the game I was looking for.

Then it started feeling its age, and I did too. The geography of the map wasn’t clear and I spent far too long lost in an area before ultimately having to resort to an online walkthrough to find my way. I kept dying, mostly by missing platforms with the limited burst of jetpack and falling into oblivion. But, most of all, the constant single sound effect of Jango’s blasters firing gave me a massive headache. It all started falling apart. This wasn’t my dream Mandalorian game after all. I wish I had played Bounty Hunter back in the noughties so, upon returning to it in 2023 I could at least have something to latch onto, some nostalgia, even just memories of where to go, anything to keep me playing it now that I’m wanting for this kind of game.

Since playing Bounty Hunter (for about 90 minutes) I completed Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and it has only made my pining for a Mandalorian game more potent. You get to explore (a very small slice of) Coruscant which made me think of the tragically cancelled game 1313 and how that could have filled my Mando gaming void. Survivor even features side missions where you can hunt bounties, collecting those unexplainable tracking bounty pucks as currency, and it all leading to a cool bounty hunter cameo at the end of it. Why do you have to tease me like this, Lucasfilm?!

The Mandalorian season 3 ends with the perfect set-up for more adventures. Din Djarin is back to his old complicated profession of bounty hunting, his adopted son Din Grogu under his wing, but now he’s traveling the galaxy working alongside the New Republic, his quarry Imperial warlords as well as criminals. Yes, these adventures are sure to continue in the form of episodes of a streaming series but why not a video game too? The story is built for the medium and I’m desperate to play it. Bounty Hunter sadly didn’t scratch the itch.


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