Star Wars
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8  |  The Force Is With This Remake
Darryl B. , 9/22/2009 11:09:10 AM

Star Wars screenshot - fatmanstarwars.jpg

Ahhhh, the vector graphic genre, a dying one (has been for quite some time now) in the world of video games.  There was quite a few gigantic arcade hits in that arena back in the day, such as Asteroids, Tempest and Star Trek, but there isn't much going on with that style of graphics nowadays, although some gaming apps for the Iphone keep breathing some life into the vector world.  Those, along with the occasional web game having a vector look (such as Tank Hunter) and a new Vectrex homebrew here and there are about all that keeps the vector memory alive.  Oh sure, there's the occasional arcade package here and there as well with Battlezone (among others) included in them and all, but arcades are almost as extinct too, and those Atari compilations for home systems have been done to death as well, but that's old news now (if that's even considered "news" in the first place, that is).

Star Wars, the arcade game from Atari, is still looked on by many today as to being the best arcade vector game that was ever released.  Having voice samples from the movie (the first one, which was actually known as 'episode 4'), blowing away T. I. E. Fighters in space, bunkers and laser towers (something barely mentioned in the movie for only a few seconds) on the Death Star's surface, and then blowing up the latter as well really brought about a great gaming experience.

Then, all these decades later, a modern remake of the game was created, and it wasn't screwed up either.

Star Wars and the vector memory lives again, even though the graphics aren't vector in this game.  But that's ok, as they're pretty good to look at anyhow (the trench run is especially interesting, due to a lot more, color-filled bunkers this time around). The sound effects are also great, especially with the added sound effects of the T. I. E.s from the movie roaring by (although the music sounds more cheesy this time around, although maybe that was intentional?), and there's several additional voice clips from the movie that weren't in the original game, although one of them tends to repeat too much (Vader can say "I have you now" about eight times during the first section of the game; yeah, sure!  But I won't believe you since you're not my father anyway!). The control also works fine, although the flight yoke controller on the arcade original can't be beat, although we'll just go with what we have here, ok?  After all, there's no C. G. I. annoying characters to worry about screwing up this Star Wars entry like in the episode 1-3 prequels here, no siree...

As in the original, the player controls Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter as he begins his assault on the Death Star, gunning down T. I. E. Fighters in space.  Luckily these model T. I. E. Fighters deploy these big, slow-moving fireballs, rather than the way quicker lasers than in the movie, or else all game players would instantly be Bantha fodder.  Darth Vader is also there, who's easy to nail, which I would question how a Sith lord wouldn't be able to dodge any laser blasts when he has the Force, but then I guess he somehow used it for his shield generator, since he cannot be destroyed, just knocked around space.  Hope you have some space Dramamine there, Darth...

Then on the Death Star surface, there's bunkers and the aforementioned laser towers to deal with (actually if you start the game on the easiest level, the first time around the surface run is skipped).  The towers rise up in a funny way, looking more like they're alive, rather than coming closer into view (which is what they're supposedly doing, but in this version it looks like they're rising up from the surface, like they sensed your presence [or the Force?]). However, that was one of the advantages of vector over raster back then.  

Screenshot of the trench section - fatmanstarwarstrench.jpg

Then comes the most daring aspect of it all, the chance to blow up the Death Star in the famous trench run! After the first round of this, catwalks that you have to dodge are added in the later levels; get too many hits on your shields from them (or any other weapon in the game) and the game's over.  It's too bad there weren't any Stormtroopers added walking on top of the catwalks, that would've been funny to 'accidentally' hit the catwalks with your ship and to send them spiraling away into space, but oh well, just blow up the Death Star to have the game start over again, but at a harder level.  And the distance counter actually works on your ship's instrument panel this time around too!

This is a pretty decent remake, although the control just doesn't respond quick enough as compared to the arcade game's though.  It's still a lot of fun though, and Minionsoft, who's responsible for it, has done a lot of other classic remakes, such as the arcade games of Galaxian, Phoenix, Asteroids, and the like.  There was also another update in the works of The Empire Strikes Back, as I saw on the Atari Age forums a while back where the creator was asking how he could gradually change the size of the enemies' crafts as you approached them, rather than having them 'jump' in size (again, an advantage of vector over raster).  Hopefully this will eventually come to light, as he seems to do good work.

So even if you don't have the original arcade game to play at home (or even the version of this which was hidden in a Star Wars Gamecube game), or no cool flight controller to play with the ROM on MAME, perhaps this is the next best thing...along with there being no Jar Jar included! (Actually maybe he could have been added to one of the catwalks in the later Death Star trench levels...that would've been good.) 8/10


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