Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Does Something That George Lucas Couldn’t

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Does Something That George Lucas Couldn’t

Josh Wise

What is it with frogs in games of late? For the past two years or so, it has seemed as if game developers were doing their work not from dim offices and ergonomic chairs but from ponds, sitting serenely on lily pads. Kena: Bridge of Spirits had frogs, wholly unimportant to the plot. OlliOlli World featured a frog businessman, named B.B. Hopper, who wore pastel pink trousers and a white trilby hat. Then there was Frogun, a platformer in which a young girl wielded a frog as though it were a gun, squeezing it to make its tongue lash out like a grapple hook. Time on Frog Island, meanwhile, allowed people to spend time on a frog island.

All of this can, of course, be traced back to 1981 and to Frogger, the hero of Frogger, who simply wished to cross a road. One can see, perhaps, why frogs and video games make such natural companions; after all, frogs, with their hefty hind legs, make for natural platformers. Now, this trend has reached its apotheosis, with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. The game centres on Cal Kestis, who, despite carrying a nifty rebreather and thus being, for all intents and purposes, amphibian, remains dryly human throughout. Fortunately, it isn’t long before he meets Turgle.


The joys of Turgle are manifold. First, he is a frog. Only, he isn’t quite a normal frog. He is bipedal, his eyes jut from the sides of his head, and his mouth is a worrisome, mile-wide line that meanders into a smile now and then – and out of which pours a stream of mischievous words. There is more than a touch of Toad about him; you suspect that Turgle would gladly shun any and all responsibilities in favour of crashing cars. Turgle is a resident of the planet Koboh, which is rich in coffee-coloured rock and bursts of green. A good habitat for him. However, he spends most of his time lurking in and around the Pyloon’s Saloon, hoping to convince someone to buy him a drink. Cal rescues him from a band of thugs, and Turgle is eternally grateful.

If I had to nominate the best thing about Turgle, it would not be his voice – a high and croaky whine, courtesy of Richard Horvitz, always poised on the edge of manic excitement. Nor would it be his body: tinted with shades of green, orange, and beige, and wonderfully wide, as though someone had click-dragged him widthways with no heed to maintaining sensible proportion. No, the best thing about Turgle is his movement. One hesitates to call it a gait, or even a run. When in need of transporting himself from one place to the next, Turgle performs a kind of lolloping bound – as if his limbs were being tugged into motion by a drunk puppeteer. When he meets Cal and beats a hasty retreat from the hotspot of impending battle, we see him jiggle and jolt out of frame, charging a heavy scene with light comedy.


What the developer, Respawn Entertainment (now there's a clue), has managed to do, in other words, is to give us a Jar Jar Binks that works. For anyone who has, understandably, banished Binks from the memory, he was a Gungan, a race of amphibious beings who dwelled in luminous capsules under the sea, in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. He had ears like flippers and a tongue that was practically motorised, deployed in waggish nonsense. He was intended as comic relief but was profoundly unfunny; indeed, you longed for the hum of hot laser and the relief of his end, praying that Obi-Wan Kenobi or Qui-Gon Jinn would run him through and put us out of our misery.

George Lucas presumably wanted Jar Jar to be a splodge of loose-limbed CGI, carefully spliced into the company of human actors and meant to provide a laugh, in and amid the talk of taxes and trade routes, for any kids in the audience. (For Lucas, indeed, kids were the audience.) Respawn has managed to pull off Lucas’s vision, and the developer allows us to glimpse how Phantom Menace might have turned out if one of its worst characters was, in fact, a delight. Ideally, we should petition Disney to re-release that movie, in true Lucas fashion, with a patch. We need it to be Turglified.

There are other ways in which Star Wars Jedi: Survivor outperforms the films. For one thing, being a video game, it doesn’t forget the need for mechanical action. Also, it delivers the fantasy of being a Jedi, which mainly consists of swinging a laser sword and lugging heavy objects to and fro with the power of your brain, or your soul, or the strength of your Wi-Fi-like connection to the Force. For me, though, its most potent improvement, and its best contribution to games in 2023, is its treatment of Turgle, prince among frogs, and the figurehead (an especially wide and goggle-eyed figurehead) of the recent frog invasion of video games. Hopefully, he will appear in future instalments, or, better yet, be granted his own spin-off (or rather hop-off) where we can relish his presence in full. Until then, we can but appreciate his vital contribution to the Star Wars canon. May the frog be with you.

  • I don't trust Turgle at all. Get the feeling he'd fold give up everyone if it meant credits or saving his own skin. Dunno why everyone loves him so much
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