Today, I look at the legendary 1983 arcade game based on some movie I have never heard of. Bar Wars or something?
Played on: MAME, At an actual Arcade
Also on: Various home computers, unlockable in Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III
Developer: Atari Inc.
Publisher: Atari Inc.
“The Force will be with you. Always.”
Date posted: December 13, 2017
Its 1983, and Star Wars is at the height of it’s popularity. Just around the corner, Return of the Jedi was looking to take over the box office and end the classic trilogy- the perfect time to release the game! Star Wars ’83 came out at the perfect time- within a month of RoTJ release, making it a smash hit almost instantly!
Considered by many as not only one of the best Star Wars games ever made, but one of the best arcade games period, Star Wars proved to the world that you could make a game back in the early 80’s based on an intellectual property that didn’t completely suck!
This review is special, as this time I only used MAME to capture some screenshots- I actually got to play the actual stand-up arcade machine at The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, NV! I don’t like to brag about it (especially since it’s really not as glamorous as you think) but I live in Boulder City- so I can pretty much see the strip from my house! I digress- I just wanted to tell you that for the first time on this blog, I could bring you first person view of what it’s like to play an actual arcade machine, instead of some emulated version.
So let’s see why Star Wars ’83 is so revered!
Though the graphics may be primitive by today’s standards, ’83 captures the look, feel, and even sounds of the classic space opera. Using vector graphics, iconic imagery like the Death Star and tie fighters are astoundingly re-created. Not only this, but various voice clips from familiar characters can be heard as you make your way to the target shaft. Obi Wan tells you to use the force, while Han Solo might comment on your actions. Darth Vader will say “The force is strong with this one”, and of course, getting a game over makes Obi Wan tell you that the force is with you, always.
The game uses a very cool steering wheel that really makes you feel like your in the X-Wing with Luke. It’s easily one of my favorite controllers on a arcade machine, and lets you control the X-Wing with the greatest of ease- in other words, the game controls very well! You have four trigger buttons that make you feel like a complete badass as you blow up tie fighters and various turrets trying to stop you from blowing up the death star.
The game has three phases. The first one is a dog fight out in space, where fend off various Tie-Fighters and even sometimes Vader himself! Next, you close in on the Death Star, shooting down various turrets and defensives as you make your way into one of the Death Star’s trenches. Finally, you find yourself in a narrow trench, evading all sorts of turrets and obstacles, before finally landing a shot in the ventilation shaft- you then fly away and watch the Death Star explode in a grand fashion. The game then repeats, getting harder and harder as you progress though the levels.
While it doesn’t offer a ton of variety, Star Wars ’83 excels at recreating the final climatic scene from the original film quite well, even by today’s standards. The game is easy to pick up to play, but hard to master, as the game soon gets difficult. The wild vector graphics still hold up, in my opinion, and give the game it’s own look.
Like I said, there is not a lot of variety here. You go though the same three scenarios, which get harder and harder. Don’t go in expecting Rogue Squadron or something- this is a simple but effective arcade game.
Other then that, I find it hard to find fault in Star Wars ’83. It’s easy to see why it’s remembered after all these years- It’s fun, simple, and has everything that makes Star Wars, well, Star Wars.
Star Wars ’83 is an arcade classic, though and though. I can see why it’s regarded as one of the best- it’s a simple and fun game that somehow still holds up after all this years, even with its antique graphics and somewhat low-quality voice samples. If your in the mood for a piece of arcade history, see if a Star Wars arcade cabinet is in your area, and remember- the force is with you. Always.
God, this was a “safe” review….
Agree? Disagree? Good! Leave a comment about how terrible my taste is in the comments below!