(Note: I posted this item before being notified about an affiliate blog about the same game. I apologize to that author. I did not intend to step his toes with this, so, sorry Graeme. Please view this as a second opinion, just like in the mags of old, as everybody likes differing opinions. Thanks - JSW)
. Back in 1974, a bloke with a beard called George Lucas wrote an initial 9-part saga called 'The Star Wars', which he drew inspiration for from the old television serials from the 30's, 40's and 50's like Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, et al. It involved basic plot elements like good vs. evil, spaceships, a guy with a really bad asthma problem and a mystical power called 'The Force'. At first, The Force was supposed to have come from an artifact called The Khyber Crystal. This all changed and was turned into a mystical energy instead. Hawked around the different studios, only 20th Century Fox seemed interested in it's space battles, mysticism and the damsel in distress and green lit it.
Fast forward 3 years later, and Star Wars became the big box office hit 20th, and Lucas had hoped for, and made stars out of Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. Fast forward another 5 years, and Atari decided now would be the best time to release an arcade based upon the films climatic Death Star Battle. Based on the wireframe technology used in it's earlier Battlezone arcade cabinets, Star Wars captured the thrill of piloting an X-Wing fighter and engaging TIE-Fighters, gun emplacements and finally the final assault on the exhaust port.
The cabinet was an upright affair, with a joystick that looked like the same one used in STUN Runner another 6-7 years later. The two handles tilted back and forth, which allowed the craft to move up and down as well as left and right. The handles also had a fire button on each, which funnily enough, fire the laser blasters and the proton torpedoes when you placed the cursor over the exhaust port. There was also a deluxe sitdown model, which a picture of Darth Vader with his lightsaber drawn.
The game was just as ground braking as Battlezone was, with use of speech, authentic sound effects and a great rendition of the Star Wars theme, with some great wireframe graphics to boot. You really did get the feeling you were fighting the empire in that far, far away galaxy from a long time ago.
The Empire Strikes Back came in 1984, in the form of an upgrade kit and was basically more of the same, except it was based on the second film. And, while it was a good game, it wasn't as good as Star Wars.
Red 5 standing by......