Star Wars: The Arcade Game

Star Wars: The Arcade Game
Company: Parker Brothers
Model #:
Bob Smith & Wilfredo Aguilar
Year: 1983
Port of the 1983 Atari Coin-Op


Star Wars was one of the most popular arcade games of all times.  With its sleek vector graphics, voice synthesis, and awesome gameplay, Star Wars was a mainstay in arcade for many many years.  Since Parker Brothers owned the rights to Star Wars games on home systems, Atari licensed the home port of the game to them.  Thankfully this is one of the few arcade translations that PB got right.  Incidentally in case your wondering about the name, "The Arcade Game" was added to the title so people wouldn't confuse it with Parker Brothers other two Star Wars games: Jedi Arena and The Empire Strikes Back.


Normally the 2600 and vector graphics don't mix, but somehow PB was able successfully reproduce a reasonable (although not totally accurate) approximation.  All three scenes are present in this version (Tie-Fighters, Towers, and the Trench), which in itself is huge accomplishment.  However given the limitations of the 2600, some corners hard to be cut here and there. These cuts are only noticeable in a few areas, and don't really affect the gameplay.


The first scene starts with your X-Wing, which represented by two guns and the nose of your ship, blasting Tie-Fighters into pieces.  The Tie Fighters are armed with a kind of energy fireball, which will slowly approach your ship from a distance.  You have a few seconds to shoot down a fireball before it hits your ship and take out one of your shield units.  Occasionally Darth Vader will appear in his custom Tie Fighter and launch a barrage of fireballs at you.  If you can shoot him a few times you'll score some bonus points and he'll go flying off somewhere.  After some fighting the computer will take control of your ship, and you'll make your approach on the Death Star.


The second scene involves blasting the towers on the Death Stars surface.  These towers look like giant obelisks, and will shoot fire balls at you (instead of the vents like in the arcade game).  You can blow off the tops of the towers for points, but it's not necessary to do so.  If you destroy all the towers you will get a hefty bonus and be taken to the next scene.  If you choose not to shoot the towers you will have to dodge fireballs and the towers themselves for a few minutes until the next scene starts.


The final scene take place in the Death Star trench, here you must shoot fireballs while avoiding walls and barriers.  The first time through the trench there are no barriers, but each successive time through the barriers become larger and more numerous.  In later levels barriers only have small holes in them to fly through making this level extra tough.  Once you pass all the barriers you'll see the exhaust port, shoot it before you fly over it and you're off to the next level.  If you can complete this level without shooting at anything (except the exhaust port), you will get a bonus for "using the force".


For being ported to a system which probably shouldn't have been able to handle it, Star Wars turned out pretty well.  The only real complaint I have is that the controls are a little mushy.  In the arcade you had a flight yoke, which made for very accurate controls.  In the 2600 version it feels as if there's almost a slight pause before you move in the direction you've pressed.  This can really distract from the game, especially in the first scene where you need to aim at all the Tie Fighters.  Other than this minor issue, Star Wars: TAG is a wonderful conversion of the classic coin-op.


Version Cart Text Description
12/05/83   Very early one screen demo
12/15/83   Very early demo with different colors
12/23/83   Demo with space screen
1/3/84   Demo with Tie Fighter
Atari 2600 SWAG WIP 11
Late level WIP
4/5/84 Atari 2600 Starwars 8K WIP.16 4/5/84 Nearly complete
4/9/84 Starwars 2600 RLS.1 4/9/84 Final Version


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