Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, was, in 1982, the first Star Wars game that was ever released for consoles. The game was developed by Parker Brothers, a studio that produced many games for the Atari 2600 within the 80s, such as Frogger, Q*bert or Popeye, for example.

In the game, the players were able to play as Luke Skywalker, and take control over a Snowspeeder to fight the Imperial AT-ATs. The goal of the game was to stop the enemies for as long as possible, from destroying a generator in the rebel base.

Players could choose their preferred difficulty in the game; at the harder levels the Imperial Army walked much faster than at the lower levels and used different types of shields and ammunition too.

To destroy the Imperial AT-ATs, the player had to shoot them with the lasers of the Snowspeeder.

The players got points for every destroyed AT-AT. If players reached the end of the map, they just came out at the other end, where new enemies appeared.

The Imperial AT-ATs also attacked the player with their lasers, when it was hit, the Snowspeeder changed its colour for a while, until it exploded. That happened after three hits, then the player was forced to start again, for up to five times, until the game over title appeared on the television screen.

While attacked by the AT-ATs, the player was able to aim at the shots fired at him, and protected himself from getting hit.

At the higher stages, the enemies were armed much better, so the player was challenged much more than at the lower stages of the game. If the player crashed into an enemy at a higher stage, he could probably be killed, which wasn’t possible at the beginning of the game.

Besides the much better shield, the AT-ATs at the higher stages could also use so-called smart bombs; these bombs were able to follow the player for a while, like a missile that follows its target.

If the player got hit by one of these smart bombs, the Snowspeeder exploded directly.

At some points of the game, the player could get the Jedi-force as a bonus, which was displayed by a glowing Snowspeeder. After getting the force, the player was invulnerable for a short period of time, and he couldn’t get hit by the hostile lasers. As a bonus, the well-known Star Wars theme was played, while the player got the force.

Like many other games for the Atari 2600 at that time, the player wasn’t able to win the game. The game ended if the enemy reached the base, right at the end of the map, and destroyed the generator, or if the player died five times. So, the only motivation for the players was to beat the high-score, by winning time and points over, and over, again.

By that time, many players developed strategies that helped them to get a better high-score in the game.

In 1983, the developer Jeff Minter released the game “Attack of the Mutant Camels”, which was nearly identical to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.