Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - Death Star Battle

Atari 2600

Review by Rob "Dire 51"

Parker Bros


Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

This is the moment the Rebel Alliance has been waiting for. The second Death Star is being built in orbit of the Forest Moon of Endor, and Emperor Palpatine himself is personally overseeing the construction. Now that a small Rebel strike team has landed on Endor in an attempt to destroy the shield generator that's protecting the battle station, Lando Calrissian - piloting the Millennium Falcon - is leading the Rebel fleet's attack that will, if all goes well, destroy the Death Star and return peace to the galaxy.

I'm willing to bet this is a familiar story to all of you. This, of course, is from the film Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, the final film in the original Star Wars trilogy. Released by Parker Bros. in 1983, the same year as the film, VCS owning Star Wars fans were able to assume the role of Lando Calrissian and live that final battle... sort of.

Due to the limitations of the VCS, there has to be some changes made. Instead of the Rebel fleet versus the Imperial fleet, now there's only one Rebel ship, the Millennium Falcon, versus a never-ending wave of Imperial TIE Interceptors (and the occasional Imperial Shuttle). What you see when starting the game is the Falcon, floating in front of a giant, multicolored layer of blocks, which represents the shield protecting the Death Star. There is a white line in front of it that fades in and out. Off in the distance, you can see the Death Star, still uncompleted. Small gray blocks of various hues float towards it from both the left and right. You must destroy the Death Star before these blocks complete building it.

You first goal is to start shooting Interceptors. They do shoot back, so dodge their shots. Every so often an Imperial Shuttle will fly by, and if you can destroy it, you'll score 3000 bonus points (it can be hard to hit, though, and if it collides with the Falcon you'll be destroyed). Once you've destroyed enough Interceptors, you'll start to see holes appear one by one in the shield, accompanied by a musical tone. These holes will close after a few seconds. What you must do is - once the white line fades - pilot the Falcon toward one of the holes. If you succeed in getting to one of the holes before it closes, the Falcon will go into hyperspace, then reappear right in front of the Death Star.

On the Death Star are two things you'll notice instantly. In the center, there is a flashing block. That's the reactor core. Tracking the Falcon near the bottom of the battle station is a bright green block, which represents the Death Ray. This is the Death Star's main weapon, and if too much time passes, you'll hear an electronic blip, which signifies that it's been activated. Now you must REALLY be careful, as not only are there Interceptors and Shuttles flying around, but now the Death Ray will be firing at you. Luckily it can only fire straight down.

What you have to do is blast a tunnel through the Death Star's superstructure and hit the reactor. Once you do succeed in hitting the reactor, the Death Star will start flashing red and white, and fireballs will start flying out of it in all directions. Dodge the fireballs until the station reaches critical mass. It then explodes, and you get to do it all over again at a higher difficulty level.

Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi: Death Star Battle is a one player game only. You start the game with six Falcons in reserve, and will gain an additional one every 10,000 points. The difficulty switches affect play: the left switch, when set to the "A" position, will cause the Falcon to explode when it collides with a Interceptor. The "B" position is the opposite. The right switch, when set to the "A" position, causes the Death Ray to move across the ENTIRE screen; in the "B" position, it will only move across the length of the Death Star. You can only fly the Falcon about halfway up the screen, but you can maneuver freely in the area below that.

Let's talk about the graphics and sounds for a minute. The graphics are okay in some areas, and damned impressive in some others. The Falcon resembles its cinematic counterpart, as do the Interceptors and Shuttles. The shield looks extremely cool, and the musical tones that accompany the opening of the holes are quite nice sounding. When the Falcon enters hyperspace - well, to be honest, I didn't think the VCS could pull of that kind of effect. It's in 3-D, and resembles the actual hyperspace effects from the films, to an extent. You don't hear the Star Wars theme at all, which is a little disappointing. The controls, while slightly ice skate-ish (the Falcon glides for a second after you let go of the stick), are adequate. Maneuver the Falcon with the stick, and press the button to shoot. Much like the game Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, if you plug a Sega Genesis controller into port one, you'll find you have a lot more control over the Falcon. For some reason, in both games, using a Genesis controller gives you a more accurate degree of control.

Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi - Death Star Battle is another excellent entry into the VCS line of Star Wars games - and is a must own for both Star Wars and non-Star Wars VCS enthusiasts alike.


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Last updated: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 05:27 PM