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 Post subject: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Atari 2600)
PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:02 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
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Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
While Aleste Branch, Strikers 2020 and Ginga Force's return are Missing In Action (Hope we get news from them soon), I think it'd be ok to review another Atari 2600 shmup.

The Force is strong on this one. I'm talking Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back on the Atari 2600. Is gonna be a short review, due to its simplicity and being an Atari game, but it's better than doing nothing.

And you tought you were going to a winter vacation.

There's a GALAXY of Star Wars themed games, but not too much shmups. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back on the Atari 2600 is the lone shmup in that vast universe.

Most scenes from the movie are already shmup material, The Empire Strikes Back focus on a specific one: The Imperial assault on Hoth. As Luke Skywalker, it's your mission to halt the AT-AT's advance as long as possible with the help of the Rebel Alliance's new fighter: The Snowspeeder.
This game is an horizontal scrolling shooter where the speed is controlled by the player's controller just like Defender, Chopper Command and Snoopy and The Red Baron. For you, you can loop the scenery by going all the way to the right, get behind the farthest AT-AT and attack it. Those walking behemoths take 48 hits before going down, but they're also capable of firing from behind so you've gotta be quick if "back-stabbing" is your strategy. Also, you don't have all the time in the world, because once the first AT-AT reaches the far right side of the screen it will be Game Over as they destroy Echo Base.

For a shmup, you can land your ship and repair it after getting hit by the enemy. While there's no power ups in the game, ocasionally you'll be granted with the power of the Force, making you invincible for a while as the Star Wars main theme plays. Another point in favor is the "Flashing Spot" that appears randomly on the AT-AT, if you hit that spot, it will destroy the AT-AT instantly, kinda like the Technical Bonus in Strikers 1945 III. As long as you advance in the game, the difficulty will increase by adding new dangers like "Solid" walkers, this means you can't pass through them like in the first stages, increased speed and smart bombs that will follow you until they're destroyed or they will destroy you. Damage is indicated by colors, AT Walkers change from black to purple, blue and finally yellow before blowing up, and so it does your Snowspeeder. So, keep an eye on your ship's color because there's a thin line between landing and repair than crashing and losing Echo Base.

Despite being a very simple shmup, the Atari 2600 featured 32 game variants to increase its difficulty and challenge.

In graphics and sound, the game offers a basic array of colors for the scenery as blue tones for the surface and background resembling the frozen surface of Hoth, although the pink sky is not movie accurate considering the time of the day when the Attack on Echo Base occurred, it was corrected on the Intellivision version with a bright blue sky. The AT-AT's shape is recognizeable even by Atari 2600's standards, while your Snowspeeder looks more like a small asteroid rather than a shape resembling a spaceship. The music is most of the time silent, letting the sound effects to do the job. Only the Star Wars theme plays when the player is granted the Force (invincibility).

- Rex Bradford was the designer of this game.
- The Intellivision version reduces the damage required to destroy the AT-AT's from 48 to 30.
- AT-AT stands for "All-Terrain Armored Transport", they're also called AT Walkers.
- AT-ATs are blasterproof plated vehicles mostly used for tactical advantage and psychological effect on the battle due to their apparent invincibility against blasters.
- These machines are 22m tall and are capable to transport Imperial Troopers to the battle with them.
- The last "In-game appearance" of the AT-AT's were in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order EA.

Despite being simple, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back provides some basic, yet fun shmup action to a franchise mostly focused on Action-Adventure.
May the Force be with you.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

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