Gamestyle Archive intro: this review stems from another discovery; a set of spreadsheets that may hold some of the earliest Gamestyle reviews. The site had a great retro section during its early incarnation and now we’ll be able to put some of this back online – there are some drawbacks but we’ll tackle those in a separate article. In essence we cannot say when this review was posted online but we know the writer is Lee Bolton. Welcome back.
(As I started this review, Episode II’s title has been released, Attack of the Clones, A title which harks back to Flash Gordon serial days which in all is a good thing but back to the early 80s…)
Here’s I’m looking and playing the superb Atari 1983 arcade release, Star Wars which at the time boasts the top whack vector graphics and superb sound FX. Atari then, Were the biggest arcade developer and Star Wars was a welcome addition (Until then we had to play the rather good but limited Star Fire (Exidy), A game that ripped off SW ships that as a kid I knew no better) Star Wars puts the player in charge of Luke Skywalker on his battle against the evil empire and the dreaded Death-Star. Set against three levels, Luke must first dog-fight the TIE-Fighters and Darth Vader in battle around the Death-Star. Luke then hits the surface and has to nav between towers and fireball spitting towertops to reach the trench in which he must dodge catwalks and laser-bases and even more fireballs. Luke’s ultimate aim is to reach the all-Important port which he must fire two deadly missles into to blow the Death-Star away. You only have 6 sheilds to protect yourself with against attack (or fiddle around with MAME great dip-switch settings for 9 shields if thats your bag) and these must be guided wisely.
All this is shown in superb Vector Graphics. Now Vector Graphics are a love or hate affair. Anyone old bloke who remembers such C64 and Spectrum titles as Elite (Firebird 1985) or Starglider (Rainbird 1986) either remember the chunky slowness of it all or another world..but in lines! Star Wars used this to a tee. The Graphics wizz around with such speed, it gets all of a frenzy as the TIE-Fighter float around the screen giving you hell. The Sound is another plus point, For 1983 this was the bees knees and it still is. Anyone dare put 10 pence into the slot and hear Ben shout out “May the Force be with you” will remember THAT gaming moment.
The sound is sampled straight from the movie which adds anormous atmosphere to the game and even adds tension (Lee was shooting down fireballs in the dogfight on Level 5, fireballs and TIE’s attack, Luke shouts out “I can’t take”, Vader “I have you now”…and Lee crumbles to the floor, that sort of thing). Cool stuff indeed. The game is a faultless one, I’ve played loads of Arcade games and only one has ever come close to this (Atari’s underrated I-robot) But I will save that for another time, Star Wars shows that classic games never go out of style and that goes with good game design. Yes, the game repeats itself but as a sure-fire blaster nothing comes close. If you see it in an old arcade somewhere, play it and see how games should be made.
Star Wars Facts: Star Wars was constructed from a two year old game project, Warp Speed. Strange Like the films, Empire SB was also a great arcade game, Return of the Jedi was not. Although released by Atari through a hardly seen rom release for C64 and Atari machines, The official Coin-op conversion to home computers came in late 1987 many years after the arcade game first appeared by Domark and was pretty poor. Play the MAME emulated version.