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Tech Demo
Wednesday, 22 June 2022
Darth Who?

Sometimes, a prototype of an unreleased game like Full Metal Planete makes its way into the wild. There’re no manuals or in-game instructions, so you have figure a lot of stuff out for yourself. Likewise, a port to another platform may mean that controls and other things are different or even unclear, as seen in the Playstation prototypes of Urban Assault. Thankfully, other versions of these two games have enabled us to figure out a lot of these issues.

Even when games are released, some aspects remain obscure. This may be related to a plot point or character, and other games or related media may be useful for finding out more. One example is Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. This came out on multiple platforms in 2008, but there were variations in levels and characters. The PSP, PS2 and Wii versions had two unique bosses: Darth Desolous and Darth Phobos. Within the game and the Star Wars universe generally, their exact natures were unclear, as both Sith Lords were supposed to have been dead for thousands of years prior to their confrontations with Darth Vader’s apprentice. Were they holograms, or some sort of Sith Spirits or Force Ghosts?

Both characters could be played throughout the game’s main campaign and in Force Duel mode. But even though they are both one-game characters, these individuals have also appeared in a number of other places. They are referenced as darkside monsters in The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force (as confirmed by the author in his blog). The pair also have their own entries in The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia. Just in case there’s any doubt about the current Disney canon, Phobos and Desolous are also mentioned in the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Visual Dictionary. In the game Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided, the design of Phobos’ lightsaber was located and offered for sale to members of the Rebel Alliance.

In the Star Wars universe, individuals who use the Force tend to be either benevolent (Jedi) or invidious (Sith). Desolous was definitely one of the latter. In a break from this dualism, Darth Phobos was a woman who became a deadly threat to both sides, so much so that they had to team up in order to defeat her.

What else do we know about Phobos? Here’s her official bio from the game:

Born on the former Sith world Korriban eons before the Clone Wars, Darth Phobos focuses on developing incredible mental powers, learning to use the force to warp the minds of the weak and control them to do her bidding. A manipulative and evil creature, Phobos murders many of her rivals in her bid of power. Eventually, her Sith brethren turn on Phobos, destroying her ship in low-orbit. But Phobos survives and flees Korriban. During the long decades that follow, Phobos secretly assembles a fanatical cult devoted to her. She sends her acolytes into the galaxy to recruit others and assassinate powerful Jedi and Sith leaders. The Sith begin to suspect that Phobos has somehow returned from the dead, and begin refering to her only as "The Hidden Fear".

Recognizing that Phobos and her sect pose a major treat to the galaxy, the Jedi grudgingly join forces with the Sith to hunt her down. She is killed in battle with Jedi and Sith warriors, but her cult remains active for many years afterwards, finally disappearing around the time of the "Fourth Great Schism" almost 2000 years before the Clone Wars. Rumors that "The Hidden Fear" and her followers have survived persist for centuries, and Phobos gradually becomes the subject of ghost stories repeated in hushed whispers by scared Padawans. The embodiment of terror, a visage of Darth Phobos is a key part of the Jedi Trials on Coruscant, forcing Jedi hopefuls to confront their deepest fears.

There’s quite a bit of information in there, but as a few people have asked on various forums, her exact era is harder to determine. If she lived eons before the Clone Wars, just how many thousands of years was that? Let’s start from the end. Her cult vanished some 2000 years prior to the Clone Wars, and they had been around for a good number of years before that. Another indicator is Phobos’ signature weapon, the double-edged lightsabre. This variant appeared during the Sith Wars nearly four thousand years before the Clone Wars, or 3996 before the Battle of Yavin (BBY).

So Darth Phobos lived at some point within a two thousand year period. That’s a lot better, but still very vague. To narrow it down even more, we can turn to another Star Wars game, The Old Republic. This approach is an interesting way of obtaining further information about a specific character, organisation, event or time period within a particular universe. Now you might say that The Old Republic is part of the new Star Wars timeline, while The Force Unleashed existed in the defunct universe. Well, Darth Phobos and her fellow Sith villain Darth Desolous are both canon due to the aforementioned book, The Rise of Skywalker Visual Dictionary. Two of Emperor Palpatine’s Sith Legions were named after them.

Back to The Old Republic, then. The events of this game took place between around 3643 and 3630 years prior to the Battle of Yavin in the first Star Wars film. Here, we learn of a number of things about the Sith and their homeworld of Korriban. Firstly, if someone wasn’t a human or Sith pureblood (who were the original inhabitants of that world), they became a slave. During the Cold War period, Sith forces had become very depleted, forcing the Sith academy to admit aliens as students. This upset the purebloods and humans, but gave other inhabitants of Korriban a means of escaping slavery. The person who became Darth Nox was the first of these, and was still an acolyte around 3643 BBY.

Being a Theelin rather than a human or Sith pureblood on Korriban, the woman who would become Darth Phobos would have gone through a similar experience if she trained at the Sith Academy and graduated after this time. Carrying on with the story of Darth Nox, they eventually defeated a rogue group of Sith warriors called the Dread Masters in 3638 BBY. These individuals are relevant for a number of reasons. As their name suggests, they were Sith Lords who could instill fear and terror in their opponents. They served the Sith Emperor until they became renegades. The sources of their power were the Phobis devices. These ancient artefacts could drive the unwary insane, but could also be used by Sith warriors to develop sinister powers. Up until the time of their demise, they were the only ones to have successfully utlised these devices.

Considering her ability to confuse and terrify her opponents, Darth Phobos would have at least been aware of the Dread Masters and the Phobis devices. It is most probable that she used the latter to develop and enhance her own Force powers. So we can be fairly certain that she was an active Sith warrior after 3638 BBY.

We have seen that Phobos wielded a double-bladed lightsabre, and used Force lightning, telekinesis and teleportation. The last of these powers was also used by Dread Master Raptus, so there’s another connection with Phobos. Can we elucidate any further information from Phobos’ known abilities? In The Old Republic game, there were a number of classes of Sith warriors, such as Inquisitor, Assassin and Marauder. The first of these is interesting, as the signature weapon of a Sith Inquisitor was a double-bladed lightsabre. Within this class were two specialities, namely Assassin and Sorcerer. According to the official game website for The Old Republic: “Sorcerers use their mastery of the dark side of the Force to hurl Force Lightning and other dark techniques to damage and decimate their enemies.” On balance, Darth Phobos was probably a Sith Inquisitor/Sorcerer while working for the Sith Empire. As seen with the player’s character in the game, former slaves could eventually join the Sith Council and gain the title of Darth.

As of 2022, The Old Republic has reached 3626 BBY, with ongoing conflicts between the Republic and the Sith Empire. The next significant date in the Star Wars chronology would be 3522 BBY, which is ironic as this was the year that Darth Desolous was born.

Desolous eventually became the sole Dark Lord of the Sith and waged war against the Jedi. This might suggest that Darth Phobos was alive sometime between 3626 and 3500. One question remains: did Desolous and Phobos know, or know of, each other?

In conclusion, Darth Phobos probably lived around the time of the Sith Empire and became a Sith Inquisitor before turning on her fellow darkside warriors and waging war against both the Empire and the Republic.

If we use other sources within a franchise, we can learn more about a particular aspect of a game, such as a character. Researching video or computer games is not just about hacking, codes or mods, but using different techniques to find out more about a particular element of interest.



Posted by zenade at 11:43 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 23 June 2022 12:34 PM EDT
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