Star Wars Arcade

Star Wars Arcade

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

It was a dark time for the Rebel Alliance. Atari’s Star Wars had conquered arcades in 1983, but 1984’s Return of the Jedi and 1985’s The Empire Strikes Back had both fallen prey to the great video game crash of the mid-80’s. A decade of chaos followed, brightened only by the occasional release of a Star Wars title for home consoles. But in 1994, a new hope entered the arcade. Sega dubbed it Star Wars Arcade, and an empire was reborn.

On a basic level, Star Wars Arcade was a fancy update of the arcade original. Players still piloted an X-Wing fighter, battling Imperial TIE fighters en route to a showdown with the Death Star. But the similarities ended there. Star Wars Arcade showed what ten years of technological advancements could do, boasting polygon-based 3-D graphics, booming stereo sound and multi-player capabilities.

The large, sit-down game cabinet was built for two, with one player sitting in the pilot’s chair and another operating as gunner. The pilot controlled the X-Wing’s throttle, adjusting the ship’s speed. Both players used joysticks to guide targeting crosshairs, but the gunner’s could move around more of the screen. The game did work as a one-player battle, but that left one poor soul acting as both pilot and gunner, a daunting task even for one strong in the Force.

Set during the time of Return of the Jedi’s final assault, the game moved through four levels of play, each preceded by a briefing from fish-headed Admiral Ackbar. In the first, players zipped and shimmied through an asteroid field, engaging in a dangerous dogfight with TIE fighters. Once that stage was cleared, the game moved inside one of the Empire’s enormous Super Star Destroyers. After navigating through the tight tunnels into the bowels of the ship, your X-Wing had to shoot the craft’s power reactor, leading to its explosive doom.

With the outer defenses breached, the X-Wing now closed in on the unfinished (but fully operational) Death Star, battling more TIE fighters on the space station’s surface. The final stage was an all-out assault on the Death Star itself. Once more, a tight passageway led to a vulnerable reactor, and it was up to you to set off a chain reaction that would turn the tide of the battle and of the Rebellion itself.

Star Wars Arcade was a triumphant return to the fast-action gameplay of Atari’s original Star Wars, but to the dismay of American fans, the game only received a limited release in the U.S. You can’t keep a good Jedi down, however. It took another few years, but Sega’s Star Wars Trilogy finally brought balance back to the Force in 1998. The new game was an unqualified success, and with the start of a new film trilogy in 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, fans can rest assured that the Force will likely be with them for a long time to come.

Arcade Machine Release History

1994 - Star Wars Arcade
1998 - Star Wars Trilogy
2000 - Star Wars Racer Arcade

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