STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK / Atari / Arcade
 
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Though there's an arcade game for each of the original trilogy movies, the games were released out of order. Atari initially skipped Empire (the second movie), released a Jedi Strikes Back game in 1984, then came back to this one in 1985 as a conversion kit for the existing Star Wars arcade game.
 


The Empire Strikes Back was very rarely seen in arcades as compared to the original Star Wars game. Part of that is probably just that the concept was less novel when it came out, with one prior game that was basically the same thing (and two years old at that point to boot). But an even bigger factor is that Empire was released solely as a conversion kit, so an arcade owner would have to either sacrifice their existing Star Wars machine (which was usually quite profitable) or invest in a second one. Clearly, most opted not to bother.
 


So it ends up basically just being a new levels pack for the old vector graphics prequel. This time out you fight some Probots, take down some AT-ATs (by launching trip wires with a new button added to the control yoke, though you don't seem to have to specifically hit their legs, just kinda hitting their polygons somewhere does the trick), fight a pack of TIE fighters, then dodge asteroids. Though easy to tackle, the AT-ATs are large and the most striking new bit of the whole affair ... it's also packed with a bunch of new voice clips to accompany the action, and when you complete each cycle you get a pretty sweet vector Vader mug for your troubles.
 


This one gets the NR rating because for the life of me, I can't get MAME to capture anywhere near the level of precise control really needed to enjoy the game. The play control jumps around too much, you can hobble through the Easy difficulty wave but you're screwed in the later reaches where the incoming fireballs are thick and numerous. Maybe it's due to being exposed to the formula already, but it doesn't seem as impressive as the first game, however. There's nothing like the awesome trench runs, and you never seem to duke it out with Vader ... he always just cruises off all cool on his battle cruiser, putting you back at the beginning of the cycle.
 
 
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