When you take command of Atari's newest coin-operated video game, Star Wars, you become Luke Skywalker, the young Jedi warrior, at the controls of Red Five, the rebel hero's X-Wing fighter. As Luke, your mission is to blow up Darth Vader's Death Star before the awesome battle station uses its frightening power to eliminate the forces of the rebellion. To destroy the Death Star, you must torpedo its small exhaust port to cause a nuclear chain reaction...
To sustain the fantasy that you are Luke Skywalker, the Star Wars game incorporates a number of technological innovations. The first dazzling innovation is a special all-in-one flight controller that both steers, controls the ship's altitude and contains the firing mechanism. The flight controller is a scaled-down and simplified version of the controller used in the models of Battlezone™ that Atari modified so the Army could train tank gunners. In test marketing, the Star Wars flight controller received the highest rating of any controller in Atari history. Explains project leader Mike Hally, "It's like driving a tricycle. You want to go right, you turn right You want to go left, you turn left. You know how to use it automatically You don't have a panel full of buttons to figure out, plus the firing control is mounted directly on the steering mechanism."
The second illusion-enhancing feature is the game's audio. Senior programmer Earl Vickers took bits of dialogue from the movie's original voice track and put them on a custom sound chip. At cer tain points in the game, you will hear such phrases as: "Use the Force, Luke"; "Great shot, kid. That was one in a million"; and "Red Five, I'm going in." Comments senior programmer Greg Rivera, "The game's audio is so faithful to the movie that when we were testing the game in the field, people were trying to see if they could spot a hidden eight-track tape recorder.
With all this space age wizardry making the fictional events that occurred "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" an arcade reality, you must be dying to climb into the cockpit of Red Five. As play begins, Luke must battle the Imperial tie fighters while R2-D2 controls the movements of the rebel fighter. Once he has cleared the way to the Death Star, the second wave begins. R2-D2's work is done, and Luke must navigate through laser towers and bunkers on the face of the Death Star in search of the trench where the vulnerable exhaust port is located. On the surface, the towers fire lasers at Red Five, and Luke must return fire. Simultaneously, he must steer his way through the maze of towers and bunkers.
If Red Five is hit by the laser fireballs or if the ship glances the side of one of the towers, the player loses one of his eight protective shields. If Luke's clumsy handling of his ship costs him all his shields, then his mission comes to an end.
The third and final wave begins when Luke finds himself in the trench, surrounded by laser-blasting gun tur rets. He must destroy them and block the fireballs launched at him as he approaches the exhaust port. Suddenly, there it is- the Death Star's Achilles heel. Split seconds remain for Luke to score a direct hit with a proton torpedo and save the rebel planet.
If the Force is with Luke, he zooms away from the Death Star and witnesses a holocaust of color and sound as it explodes into a supernova. Norm Avellar, who programmed the pyrotechnic death throes of Darth Oder's spacecraft, says that it's so overpowering that people put their hands over their eyes to shield them from the brilliance of the explosion.
When the spectacular fireworks fade, then the next level of play begins, with a more formidable Death Star for Luke to vanquish. In all, there are ten levels of play to be completed. Points are scored by destroying tie fighters in the first wave, laser towers and bunkers in the second wave, gun turrets during the third wave and fireballs throughout the game. Bonus points are scored for destroying the Death Star and for the number of shields left when the Death Star bites the radiant dust.
High scorers become members of Princess Leia's Rebel Force and can enter their scores alongside the entries of Obi, Wan and Han, which are already on the high scorers' chart. "To get really high points," Greg Rivera hints cryptically, "the player should see 'Return of the Jedi' and not give in to the dark side of the Force." All you sharpshooting and sure-steering Jedi masters will be pleased to know that there are two more Star Wars games presently in the works.
|< Prev||Next >|