Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1982-1983 Atari 2600-Intellivision Video Game)

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1982-1983 Atari 2600-Intellivision Video Game)

Developer(s) Parker Brothers
Publisher(s) Parker Brothers
Designer(s) Rex Bradford[1]
Platform(s) Atari 2600, Intellivision
Release 1982: 2600
1983: Intellivision
Genre(s) Scrolling shooter
Mode(s) One or two players

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is a scrolling shooter video game written by Rex Bradford for the Atari 2600 and published by Parker Brothers in 1982. It was the first licensed Star Wars video game. An Intellivision version was released in 1983.

The player must control Luke Skywalker in a snow speeder to battle against Imperial AT-AT walkers on the planet Hoth. The objective is to hold off the walkers as long as possible before they blow up the power generator at the Rebels’ Echo Base. The difficulty levels included several variables, including the initial speed of the walkers, whether or not the walkers were solid, and whether or not the walkers included a “smart bomb”.

The player can destroy a walker by shooting it repeatedly in the head or torso; shots to the legs are ineffective. As the walker is damaged, it changes colors – transitioning from black (undamaged) through various shades of gray, red, and orange to yellow (critically damaged). The player can also destroy the walkers by shooting a small flashing spot that randomly appears during gameplay. On the Intellivision, the walkers require thirty hits to take down, compared to forty-eight hits on the Atari.

The walkers shoot back at the player, whose speeder also changes colors as it receives damage. The player can land a damaged speeder to repair it. On some game levels, the walkers are solid, meaning that the player can crash into them, damaging them and destroying the player. Other levels include a smart bomb that periodically launches from the flashing port on a walker and follows the player for a time. If the player is hit by the smart bomb his speeder is destroyed. Occasionally, the player is granted the power of the Force. When this happens, the speeder flashes colorfully and becomes invulnerable for a short time.

The game ends when the player’s fifth speeder is destroyed or when the lead walker reaches Echo Base, destroying it. As the game progresses, the walkers move more rapidly, increasing the difficulty level.


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