Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
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3  |  Empire Strikes Back Review (2600)
larsoncc , 8/12/2003 9:38:48 AM

"That armor is too strong for blasters!" -or-
"Detach Cable!" -or-
"Cable Detached!"

You'll never hear those phrases in this game. You'll never hear them, or see them, or think them. I hope you have your trigger finger ready, because it's time to play the Atari 2600 version of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back!

In the Empire Strikes Back, you fly a slightly squished triangle. The triangle gathers speed quickly, so don't expect much maneuverability. The objective of the game is incredibly complex. Your ferocious triangle is equipped with the ability to project massive rectangles at all the other hideous screen anomalies that come your way (the word "graphics" is too generous to use here). You are being attacked by a single-file line of AT-ATs, and you have to shoot each AT-AT a total of 42 times. Yeah, 42 times. Each. Let that number ring in your head for a bit. That's right, the objective of the game is to hit an endless supply of AT-ATs an endless number of times. No. It does not have a "cable" button. NO! You don't get to train in the ways of the Force. No - no light sabers. Look, I already told you what your objective is. Don't whine to ME about how this isn't the game you wanted.

A little part of me dies each time I think about the millions of kids that had their hearts stabbed by this "game". Here's a thought: this was one of the biggest sellers on the Atari 2600. Picture millions of little boys opening gifts on Christmas - they've begged for Empire Strikes Back stuff for months, and here was the fruit of their efforts. Then they open this stinking, heaping PILE of a game.

Oh sure, it plays the Star Wars music. If you decide to fly to the moon at the beginning of your turn (straight up), you'll hear the music after a few seconds. Yeah, the AT-ATs look reasonable, too - I mean, how hard is it to make a square thing out of squares, you know? But, can you imagine playing this for more than a few minutes? The horror.

There was only one programmer, Rex Bradford, that worked on Empire Strikes Back. I think he must've been regularly beaten to unleash this game on the unsuspecting public. I hope he didn't get paid much for his efforts. I give Empire Strikes Back a 3/10. And it only earns 3 points because I'm a Star Wars nut.

7  |  His Lack Of Faith Is Disturbing
Darryl B. , 1/17/2005 9:36:48 PM
I tell ya, Larsoncc is pretty off by his review...

And I don't mean in the "hey, this is a great game, and he's wrong!" type of view either. There's a lot of false/missing/misleading information in there.

I guess Larson was either playing a variation without the Force and/or on Difficulty A, not to mention he missed mentioning shortcuts in order to destroy the AT-ATs much faster.

First off, the Force: at random times during the game, your snowspeeder (oh yeah, it's not a "triangle" that you pilot, it's the snowspeeder ships from the Empire movie) WILL (unlike how Larson misstated) gain the Force, which will make you invincible for several seconds. This helps a lot.

Also, at random times, a flashing bomb hatch will appear on the AT-AT...shoot it, and you'll destroy the AT-AT with only one hit. Seriously, Larson, look up the game instructions at

Occasionally an AT-AT will launch a smart bomb at you, which will chase you for several seconds, which are a pain (not to mention it adds some strategy to the game as well). Also, if your craft becomes damaged, you can land to have it repaired in one of the valleys.

There are also game variations where, once you become overwhelmed with AT-ATs, you can crash your ship into them to weaken or destroy them, or you can just pass right on through, if you wish, but that variation is too boring and easy, in my opinion.

This still isn't the greatest game ever made for the 2600, but once you know that there are several more variations and obstacles than are outlined in the previous review, you'll find that there's more to it than that, as I've known several people (not to mention thumbs up reviews from back in the day) that enjoyed this title a bit.

May the farce be with Larson. ;)

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