Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was a multimedia project created by Lucasfilm in 1996.The original idea was to create a story set between the movies The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and to explore all commercial possibilities of a full motion picture release, without actually making the film. Several products were released, including a novel, comic series, videogames, trading cards, a soundtrack, role-playing games, toy figurines, vinyl dolls and so on. The venture paved the way for the theatrical release of the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition in the following year.
The main plotline is told in Steve Perry's novel, Shadows of the Empire, published by Bantam Books. It introduces Prince Xizor, the alien underlord of the largest criminal organization in the galaxy. His goal is to take Darth Vader's place at Emperor Palpatine's side. The novel also sticks with the usual characters. Han Solo is still frozen in carbonite, being taken to the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt by the bounty hunter Boba Fett. It shows Princess Leia's secret search for Boba Fett, the construction of Luke Skywalker's new lightsaber and Darth Vader's search for his son.
The comic book emphasizes the destiny of Boba Fett and his fellow bounty hunters, first seen in a brief scene on The Empire Strikes Back. It also tells the story of Jix, Darth Vader's assistant, who infiltrated Jabba the Hutt's gang of bikers to prevent that band's attempt to murder Luke Skywalker. The series was written by John Wagner and illustrated by Kilian Plunkett.
LucasArts's Shadows of the Empire game was one of the first made available for Nintendo's 64-bit system, Nintendo 64. The computer version came more than a year later. In the game, you control the mercenary Dash Rendar, in his efforts to help Luke Skywalker and rescue Princess Leia from Prince Xizor's hands.
An unusual soundtrack was scored by composer Joel McNeely, after a suggestion by John Williams. It was published by Varèse Sarabande.