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Star Wars - The Atari Times

Star Wars

May the force be with you
by Matthias Jaap

May 21, 2002
Since the release of the first movie, the Star Wars franchise was one of the most successful ever. Because the movie is full of action scenes, the idea of turning the series into a computer game seemed to be a good idea. By that time, Lucasfilm did not have their own game company. Therefore the task was up to other developers and Atari bought the rights to develop arcade games for the Episode four to six.

Star Wars uses vector graphics to reproduce important scenes of the first (or the fourth) movie. The game starts impressive with the story zooming from the foreground to the background. If you throw in a coin (or just press the right key in MAME) you will hear Obi Wan say "The force will be with you - always". If you play using MAME make sure that you do not use the keyboard to play - it is nearly impossible. A mouse is more suitable.

First, you can select between three difficulty levels. If you choose a higher difficulty, you will gain a bonus.

The first stage is a battle in space against the Emperor's TIE fighters. The fighters are very quick and fire back at you. Fortunately you can destroy the enemies projectiles. After a while R2-D2 beeps and your ship is attracted by the Death Star.

There are two different scenarios on the Death Star. The first one is the famous trench sequence. You fly through the trench and avoid or hit ground stations and walls. At the end, you destroy the Death Star by firing at the exhaust port. This is quite easy compared to what Luke must have done in the movie.

The second scenario is on the Death Star's surface. Battle towers fire at you while you fly slowly over the surface.

Graphically, the game is excellent for its time. Due to the usage of vector graphics, fighters and projectiles zoom in and out seamlessly. The "ego" perspective makes it sometimes harder to avoid shoots.

The sound consists of the movie's theme and digitized speech. Star Wars was Atari's first game to feature speech and the voices are understandable.

There are also lots of hidden cheats in the game. For example, if you hit Darth Vader's ship more than 30 times you will get 27 extra shields and in some rare cases 255 extra shields. On the death star you can achieve bonus points by not shooting until you are at the very end.

All in all, Star Wars certainly rocks. It's no surprise that this game was a hit in the arcades and I think that the tunnel sequence is still great although you can play a modern version of it on the Gamecube.

I know you're humming the Star Wars theme right now!
Vector graphics was the only way to make this game 3D back in the day.
Getting hit on this level sends your fighter out of control!
Don't fire during the trench level to get your Force bonus.
Star Wars
System: Arcade
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Shooter
Graphics Score: 90%
Sound & Music Score: 81%
Gameplay Score: 87%
Control Score: %

Final Score: 88%

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