Star Wars: Jedi Arena

Star Wars: Jedi Arena
Company: Parker Brothers
Model #:
Rex Bradford
Year: 1983
The second Star Wars game released for the 2600


Often called the forgotten Star Wars game, Jedi Arena is a fun but flawed action title for the Atari 2600.  Based on the training sequence from the first movie where look attempts to deflect a droidís (seekerís) shots with his lightsaber, Jedi Arena idea just didnít have the Ďgravitasí of the other Star Wars games.  Youíre not attempting to blow up the Death Star as in SW: The Arcade Game or RotJ: Death Star Battle, and youíre not shooting down waves of AT-ATís like SW: The Empire Strikes Back, instead youíre involved in some lightsaber training with a fellow Jedi Knight.  Itís hard to get psyched up over some training when you could be blowing something up instead.

While the story is somewhat disappointing, the actual gameplay of Jedi Arena is pretty fun.   One of the rare games to use the paddle controllers (possibly another reason for itís unpopularity), Jedi Arena has the player controlling his lightsaber in order to deflect the laser blasts being shot by the seeker in the middle of the screen.  Since the game uses paddles the lightsaber moves in an arc from side to side while the button causes the droid to fire at your opponent who is on the opposite side of the screen.   You can change the angle of the laser being fired by using your paddle controller, this simultaneously moves the lightsaber as well so you can use the direction your lightsaber is pointing as a rough guide as to where the laser bolt will go.  However the seeker is constantly darting around, which makes precise aiming mostly impossible.  Usually matches end up with the player randomly mashing the button and hoping for the best.

Protecting the Jedi Knights are a layer of force fields.  These force fields (3 or 5 which are selected by the difficulty switches) are actually made up of several pieces which are slowly blasted away when the laser hits it.  The goal of the game is to be the first person to blast through your opponentís force field and hit their Jedi.   Complicating this goal is the fact that the seeker will slowly build up energy over the course of the battle and will eventually go wild.  When the seeker goes wild it will start shooting out lasers at both players incredibly fast and the player is unable to control the angle of the blasts.  The only thing you can do when the seeker goes wild is to defend and hope for the best.   The game also features an invisible seeker option which adds a lot more challenge to the game, especially when the seeker goes wild.

Jedi Arena is filled with interesting ideas that ultimately just donít come together well.   The controls take a bit to get used to, but the game just isnít fun enough long enough to justify putting the effort in.  While Jedi Arena has a computer controlled opponent, the game is best played between two people as theyíre more likely to be on an even playing field.  Although Jedi Arena didnít exactly take the gaming world by storm (it was never ported to any other platform), it still has its charm.  Perhaps with a better framing story (maybe Luke vs Darth Vader) and some more options it could have been a bigger hit?  Still, itís well worth a look even if itís just for the curiosity value.


Version Cart Text Description
Late Beta
?/??/83 JED F2N Different Music


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