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Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle - The Atari Times

Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle

Is the Force with this one? Eh...
by Darryl Brundage

May 22, 2006
The year was 1983. The last Star Wars movie (unless creator George Lucas was going to do episodes 7-9...or 1-3), Return of the Jedi, came out, doing huge box office business, MTV was popular (actually playing music back then), and, due to the video game crash, either tons of great games were available for really cheap, or if you bought a game that you did not like, at least you didn't pay much for it.

And speaking of which, Death Star Battle wasn't a bad, nor a great game, but it still had a bit of a charm on me (for some reason), as I played it a bunch.

This game recreates (sort of) the final battle scene with the new Death Star and Lando borrowing (actually he had lost it years ago to Solo "fair and square", as was said in The Empire Strikes Back) Han Solo's ship, the Millennium Falcon, to lead an attack to try to destroy the new Death Star. Granted, it was QUITE convenient for the spaces in the tunnels leading to the Death Star's core to destroy it being juuuuust wide enough to accommodate the Falcon in the movie, but, due to being a video game, changes were made here, just like with some various other, later Star Wars console games that had bosses that didn't exactly happen in the movies.

Instead of actually entering the Death Star, that part's just skipped entirely in this game. There's also no rebel fleet along with the Falcon like in the movie, for some reason (guess they got delayed by having motion sickness from the hyperspace jump and for running the Star Wars TV musical as the in-flight movie). So it's just you piloting the Falcon as Solo attempts to knock holes in the Death Star's energy shield grid, rather than totally destroying it altogether (guess he got held up on Endor for some reason, possibly by trying to explain how he made the Blade Runner movie when he was supposedly in carbonite sleep the whole time).

The Falcon must shoot a certain number of the enemy Empire ships during a wave (the number goes up with every wave) before access to the shield is granted. The T.I.E. Interceptors and another Imperial ship (that more resembles a Rebel A-Wing Fighter, really) pop up and possibly shoot at you, and the Imperial Shuttle might also possibly appear, which is worth big points if you can nail it before it disappears (plus you can only destroy it if a shot hits the top part of the ship). A signal will ring out indicating that enough of the enemy was blown away, which is also your cue to start watching out for holes appearing in the shield grid. If a hole appears, and the outermost shield band itself isn't activated (represented by a gray line right below the grid), you'll fly through the grid and to the second screen of the Death Star; miss the hole before it collapses, and you'll have to wait for another one, and if come into contact with the outermost shield band, you will lose a Falcon in reserve.

Before you can say "punch it, Chewie!" (actually he's on Endor) if you make it through a hole, you will be warped to the Death Star, where it's like Breakout, as you have to shoot enough shots through it in order to shoot and destroy the core from there. However, it's still being built, and it's death ray can activate and follow you around onscreen, if not shoot you as well (plus you have the annoying Imperial ships still appearing and shooting and all as well from the other screen). After you shoot the core, things get weird then, as whatever holes you shot through the Death Star start filling themselves back up, and the Death Star itself starts spewing fireballs in all directions before exploding; it will either explode after you get killed, or it will explode if you survive long enough after it fills back up (maybe the Empire clones are rapidly trying to build it up at the last possible second) to explode in THE blockiest mess of pixels you'll ever see. At least you get bonus points as the Death Star is rebuilding itself in this weird screen, though.

And that's it, you just alternate between the two screens, except the building of the Death Star gets faster, fewer holes appear in the grid, and the Imperial fighters will shoot more often.

I don't exactly know why I played this so much, as it's not that great a game, but it had a bit of a hold on me for a while. After all, it can get pretty frustrating when Imperial ships shoot you before you even SEE them, much less have a chance to turn around and blow them back to the C. G. I. prequels where they belong. At least the sound effects are pretty good, the controls respond decently (although it takes about a second or so to build up the momentum enough to get the Falcon to move [not by bad controls, though, it's just programmed that way], plus trying to position it to making diagonal shots at the second screen [which are important!] can be difficult, and the graphics are pretty good overall, as the Interceptors look decent (although they're purple, for some reason [maybe to make them stand out better?), the grid looks VERY cool, and so does the far-off Death Star in the background on the first screen, whereas the Falcon and shuttle look ok, but the Death Star looks pretty bad and blocky (as does the death ray gun, it's just a rectangle) up close in the second screen. Oh well. This was also one of THE very rare games that actually has a pause function, as not touching a control and pressing Game Select will pause the game, which is pretty nice.

Plus, it was pretty nice for this game to be in good company with several other Star Wars games from back then, like The Empire Strikes Back, Jedi Arena, and Star Wars The Arcade Game as well. So you got to pretty much take your pick, except for playing a game that represented the Dark Side, that would've been good. (Nuts, THERE'S a hole that needed to be filled from back then by Parker Brothers!)

Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle

(c) Parker Brothers

Battle On!
Boy, for an invisible force field...
It's sure is GREEN!
Just be careful of the deadly laser... er... Shuttlecraft.
Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle
System: 2600
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 75%
Sound & Music Score: 80%
Gameplay Score: 70%
Control Score: 85%

Final Score: 65%

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