Star Wars: The Arcade Game

Atari 5200

Review by Clint Dyer

Parker Bros


Graphics: 6

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

Iíve been a huge fan of Star Wars since I saw the movie when it first came out. Iíve made it a point to get every Star Wars game I could, for every system, boxed and complete. The Star Wars games have a special mystique about them that no other games have. Perhaps thatís only in the mind of this Star Wars collector wanna-be, but I have thought that since I played the first Star Wars games on the 2600 and their arcade counterparts. Iíve also always thought that you could take a piece of dog poop, attach a Star Wars logo, and it would sell millions of copies. Which is unfortunate. It gives the company doing the game no incentive what-so-ever to make an enjoyable video game! Just throw some programming into it, add some graphics and donít worry about things like gameplay, fun or presentation. Itís going to sell a million without all that, so why bother? Fortunately, the people at Parker Brothers werenít interested in that mentality. The Star Wars games, as a whole, for the classic home systems are pretty good. Star Wars: The Arcade Game for the 5200 is one of the better games. While certainly not perfect, it does hold up pretty well against the "Star Wars" arcade game. The action, just as in the arcade game takes place on 3 different fields of play: in space, on the surface of the Death Star and in the trenches. Each level is similar, yet different enough to make the game player want to come back and play the game after the first time. The flash that was in the arcade machine is sadly missing. There are no huge lined Death Star explosion when a level is finished, there is no Luke voice saying "Red 5, Iím goiní in" and no R2 voice beeping the beeps that he beeps. In short, there are no little extras that would make this game a 9 or 10. Other than those drawbacks, gameplay is actually quite fun and rather addicting (Iím fighting the urge to go back and play it after 3 games to refresh my memory as we speak). The levels are as follows:

Level 1: You control Lukeís X-Wing while you try to shoot down Tie fighters to gain access to the surface of the Death Star. You start the game with 9 shields, lose Ďem and the game is over. The Tie Fighters, at first, move and fire slowly and in later levels, the action gets faster and more furious and you find yourself fighting to save your precious shields. The action, however in this version never gets quite as fast and furious as the arcade game. The control in this level of the game is decent enough. The cursor moves around quickly and I never found myself not being able to get to the bullets shot at me. Speaking of which, the bullets in this level are incredibly weak compared to the arcade game. They are just tiny blobs of something coming at you. When they get to a certain point, they hit you, you canít get away from them, only shoot them. The point at which they hit you doesnít make much sense at all. They seem to be too small to really be close to hitting you, and throughout the 3 levels, this is the biggest problem. Unlike the arcade game, where the enemies stick around and fly into the Death Star, the enemies just disappear when the Death Star comes on the screen and then the next level "loads", which, by the way is a rather long time. The level, overall however is a lot of fun and is fast enough to make your hands sweat, which is, in the long run, all a gamer could ask for.

Level 2: The object in this level is to hit all the tower tops while avoiding blasts from the ground. The arcade game also had turrets on the ground that shot at you, and they are removed from this version, though the shots still come, apparently from hidden turrets in the ground. There are a few problems with this level as well. The towers are incredibly choppy. There are 3, maybe 4 "frames" of animation until they get past you or hit you. Again, the towers donít appear to be close enough to hit you, but they do and it really detracts from your task of shooting the tops off of them. After about 2 or 3 levels, I just gave up shooting at the tops and tried to hit the shots coming at me. This level would probably be more fun if the towers had a couple more frames of animation and got a bit bigger before they hit you, allowing you more of a chance to hit the tower tops. The level, after a while (maybe 2 times through?) ends and the next level "loads", this time itís a little less of a wait.

Level 3: Here, the object is to avoid hitting the beams and blasts coming at you in the trench on the Death Starís surface. The arcade version had turrets on the walls that you could shoot, and this version has those invisible, non-hittable turrets. The beams are, much less choppy than the towers, but some choppy animation can still be seen. At the end of this level, you have to push the fire button at the correct time to blow up the Death Star once and for all. Er, until you do it again in the next level (the Empire does indeed build fast, donít they?!). This last task is a much more difficult one, since the spot that you have to hit appears and shows maybe 3 or 4 frames of animation, then is gone. Itís much more difficult to hit than the arcade version, though certainly not impossible

All these bad points may sound like I donít like the game. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I DO like it. I like it a lot and will play it over almost all other 5200 games. But, the points mentioned above do definitely distract from the game and should, as I have done be noted. Some of these problems may be due to the limited power of the 5200. I honestly donít know. Either way, it doesnít make much of a difference, because a distraction is a distraction, no matter it be from system limitations or bad programming. I would, however, definitely suggest picking up this title and giving it a LOT of plays. Just donít expect a perfect arcade translation! May the yada, yada, yada, yada, yada. (like you donít know the saying)!


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:32 PM