Star Wars: The Arcade Game
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9  |  Star Wars: The Arcade Game (Atari 8-bit)
Ditto , 1/17/2004 11:49:49 AM

The Star Wars arcade game was one of my fondest memories as a child. Being a youngen when the movies came out, I was all over anything that had anything to do with Star Wars and that arcade game was the bomb. So imagine my excitement the day I found myself in possession of Star Wars: The Arcade Game for the Atari 800 XL. Wow. I was thrilled…and a bit lucky. That kind of excitement about an arcade port can easily be a formula for disappointment. Fortunately, LucasFilm seemed to have learned a few lessons since the horror that was Raiders of The Lost Ark. This game was an incredibly accurate port of the arcade version. It clearly earned itself the title “The Arcade Game” with accurate sounds, graphics, level design, and play style.

Going into the game you will notice a few discrepancies. There were hardware limitations involved that restricted certain things. A big “for instance” is the lack of voiceovers from the movie. Unfortunately, Luke doesn’t talk to R2-D2 during battle. Obi-wan doesn’t give you encouraging words while you are dogging turret fire, and Han-Solo doesn’t pop in to save your ass. Those clips really helped on the immersion factor of the original arcade. Fortunately, I have an active imagination in instance like this that helps me work around little issues like this.

After that, the rest of the differences are just cosmetic. The original arcade version used vector graphics, which home consoles in that time period never really managed to duplicate. LucasFilm did a good job of trying. The Tie-fighters were definitely Tie-fighters. You have your X-wing at the peripheral of your vision, and the shots being fired at you are relatively accurate. The sounds you do get are not bad either. The opening title sequence is pretty accurate as well as the sound effects you get from actions in the game.

The controls are excellent. The only thing you are going to miss here is the feel of that unique, and very fragile from what I here, arcade controller the original used. I would recommend something like the Archer joysticks, pictured here, for playing this game. The traditional Atari joystick takes a little away from the Star Wars feeling. Seriously, do you think Luke would of made it through all that if all he had to control his ship was a little 2 1/2 inch stick?

Game play goes along the same lines as the arcade. You start out approaching the Death Star fighting off Tie-Fighters along the way. Vader is missing in this port so you will miss the smug satisfaction of sending him spinning off into space. After wave one you have the towers stage. You only get the towers and not the ground level turret blocks. That little difference is easy enough to get over. You get 50,000 bonus points if you manage to take out all of the towers. If you have so far managed to survive all that you will find yourself making your final approach towards the Death Stars weakness. Here, game play almost mirrors the arcade. Baring the voiceovers and the slight graphics differences, you will find yourself doing the exact same things you did in the arcade. Early levels have you dodging incoming turret fire while trying to take out turrets along the way. Later levels include the barriers that you have to dodge as well. Reach the end and you have that one opportunity to drop a shot into the Death Star’s belly. Pull that off and you save the day. The Death Star is destroyed. You are a big hero. Now do it all over again. I just love this game.

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