Revenge Of The Jedi Game I (Return Of The Jedi: Ewok Adventure)
The Game: They’re responsible for the deaths of countless Imperial officers in battle, and served as a vital ally to Luke, Han, Leia and the Rebel Alliance in their darkest hour. Surely every gamer wants to join their ranks and experience the battle of Endor from their perspective! That’s right, you’re an Ewok, flying a primitive hang-glider behind enemy lines, avoiding AT-ST fire and trying to take out as many Imperial troops as you can. Stormtroopers on speeder bikes are both tempting targets and formidable foes for you; if you can, try to fight your way to the Imperial bunker and clear the way for your friends. Good timing can allow you to temporarily take over the Empire’s walking terrors and use them against their own forces. Face it: you’re a short, stubby teddy bear, armed with rocks, and the fate of the universe depends on you. (Parker Brothers, 1984 – never released)
Memories: A real curiosity, this was planned to be the fifth in a series of Star Wars cartridges for the Atari 2600, and yet it never saw the light of day. A prototype of the game exists in completed form, as does a prototype of the packaging, bearing the obvious work-in-progress title of Revenge Of The Jedi Game I. (There was a Game II as well, of which more in a moment.) Obviously, Parker Brothers wouldn’t have licensed the Star Wars name and characters for nothing, so what caused this particular release to vanish from the schedule may lie not in a galaxy far, far away, but in economics much closer to home – namely, the crash that cut such a destructive swath through the American video game industry that the Emperor himself would’ve been impressed.
The game itself, though, isn’t that exciting. The battle on the forest moon was compelling on film, but in order to make it playable as a game, had to be reduced until it almost has a slo-mo effect. It’s easy to see why Death Star Battle moved to the head of the class and was released first: it was faster, more challenging, and perhaps being space-based also worked in its favor. Though more recent times have brought the ground combat scenarios of the Star Wars universe to gamers, conventional wisdom in 1983 seemed to be that a space-based game would sell better (The Empire Strikes Back notwithstanding) – and both of the hyped-but-untitled Revenge Of The Jedi games were ground battles.
As for Game II, a prototype hasn’t even been located for it, so it may have been no further along than a concept on paper and another mock-up box showing the fierce battle over the gaping maw of the Sarlacc. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would’ve been all for a game where you could turn Boba Fett into dinner.