Several products were released, including a novel, a junior novelization, comic book series, video games, trading cards, a soundtrack, role-playing games, toy figurines, vinyl dolls, a series of Micro Machines toys, statuettes, model kits, a series of action figures and vehicles, and so on. The entire Shadows of the Empire project, along with The Force Unleashed, though not technically a film, can be collectively considered the closest project to a film in the Star Wars official continuity, without actually being a film. This story is significant in the fact that Lucas reportedly said he would have made a story like this into a movie if he had had the time and effort to do so back in the early 1980s.
The main story is told by the novel written by Steve Perry, the comic series by Dark Horse, and the Nintendo 64/PC game. Each is designed to tell one part of the overall story; the story is complete only when all three venues are explored. The novel tells the overall story, focusing on the main characters. The comic book series focuses on bounty hunter Boba Fett's battle to keep possession of the frozen Han Solo. The video game allows players to control new character Dash Rendar, whose adventures in the game weave in and out of the overall storyline. All the while, a battle for the life of Luke Skywalker takes place between Darth Vader and Prince Xizor, as each tries to please Emperor Palpatine.
LucasArts's Shadows of the Empire was one of the first games available for the Nintendo 64, and later for Windows. The most commercial product in the Shadows of the Empire line, the game was first released in December 1996 as an exclusive N64 title 4 months after the console's launch. The PC version came nearly a year later in September 1997.In the game, players control mercenary Dash Rendar in his efforts to help Luke Skywalker and rescue Princess Leia from Prince Xizor's hands. It is divided into four parts (or chapters):
Chapter 1: Dash is drawn into the Battle of Hoth.
Chapter 2: Dash Rendar confronts bounty hunters from the original films — IG-88 and Boba Fett — in an attempt to reacquire Han Solo.
Chapter 3: Boba Fett has escaped and the player's mission changes: you must now save Luke Skywalker's life by fighting a deadly gang of swoop bikers in Mos Eisley, then recover secret Imperial plans for the second Death Star with Luke's help.
Chapter 4: Dash Rendar, with Luke and Lando Calrissian, travels to Coruscant to rescue Princess Leia from Prince Xizor's stronghold.
Certain parts of the game contradict elements from the book and comic book, but the overall story remains the same.
The N64 and PC versions of the video game differ somewhat. The PC version has sharper and smoother gameplay graphics when using a 3D card. Both versions have slightly different cutscenes - the PC version has full-motion cinematic cutscenes with sound effects and voices, while the N64 version utilizes artwork with text at the bottom of the screen.