The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

Released in 1985, Atari’s The Empire Strikes Back was a return to the look and feel of the first Star Wars game back in 1983. This adaptation of the 1980 film used the same first-person color vector style, this time flying through four different missions.

In the first stage, players controlled Snowspeeders as they tried to destroy the Imperial Probe Droids sent to find the Rebel base on the ice planet Hoth. The Droid’s transmissions could also be blasted, but eventually, the word would get out. Once that happened, those same Snowspeeders had to deal with enormous AT-AT walkers, trying either to shoot their vulnerable viewports or to trip them up with a limited supply of tow cables.

In the third mission, players took the pilot’s chair in the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo’s legendary spacecraft. TIE fighters tried to shoot down the Falcon as it escaped Hoth, launching those ubiquitous fireballs at Han and crew. In order to escape the innumerable Imperial forces, Han piloted the Falcon into a dense asteroid field. That kicked off the fourth and final stage of the game, as you tried to pilot your way around the ship-smashing space rocks.

Along with the new stages, The Empire Strikes Back added a new power-up feature to the Star Wars formula. By blowing up a set number of Probe Droids, AT-AT walkers or TIE fighters, or by surviving the asteroid swarm in the fourth stage, players earned the letters J-E-D-I. Once the magic word was completed, all enemy shots would be destroyed for a limited time.

The Empire Strikes Back had the same great graphics, controls, gameplay and sampled movie dialogue of the original Star Wars arcade game, but it didn’t have the same good timing. The infamous arcade market crash hit in 1984, and The Empire Strikes Back was one of its many victims.

It took nearly a decade, but the franchise finally returned to the coin-operated world in 1993’s Star Wars Arcade, and the Force was once again strong with arcade owners everywhere.

Arcade Machine Release History

1983 - Star Wars
1984 - Return of the Jedi
1985 - The Empire Strikes Back

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