The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes BackThe Game: Derived from an action scene in the second of a trilogy of little-known films about a budding Jedi Knight named Luke Skywalker, The Empire Strikes Back puts you in the cockpit of Luke’s snowspeeder in a desperate bid to beat back huge Imperial Walkers – also known as AT-ATs – from destroying the Rebel back on the ice planet of Hoth. The AT-ATs’ heavy artillery can seriously deplete your snowspeeder’s shielding with a single hit, though you must score numerous direct hits before you can even begin to have the same effect on the onslaught of Imperial Walkers, let alone destroy one. Occasionally, a weakness will be exposed in the “neck” region of the huge mechanical monsters, and you’ll have a few seconds in which you may take advantage of that and blow the machine away. And even less frequently, the triumphant strains of John Williams’ Star Wars theme – as squeaked out by the Atari 2600’s limited sound facility – will signal that the Force is with you, rendering you invincible for a short period of time. You’re going to need it. (Parker Brothers, 1982)

Memories: The Empire Strikes Back is just one in a series of excellent Star Wars-themed game cartridges released around this time by Parker Brothers (other titles included Star Wars: The Arcade Game, an excellent adaptation of the Atari vector arcade game, and the intriguing Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle).

The Empire Strikes BackRelentless, fun, and faithful to the movies to which they paid homage, Parker’s games were also excellent, even on the Atari 2600. I heartily recommend cranking up the soundtrack to The Empire Strikes Back while playing this one – especially, naturally, the “Battle In The Snow” cue!

4 quarters!Even the primitive, blocky graphics aren’t a detriment – the 2600 probably could’ve pulled off better AT-ATs than this, the truth is, what we have here conveys the essential visual information needs to play and interact with the game, which is all you really need. Of Parker’s quartet of released Star Wars games for the 2600, Empire is far and away the strongest with the Force.