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HotRod FAQ

Empire Strikes Back - November 9, 1999 by BMan2
Game:Empire Strikes BackCompany:Atari
Type:ShooterPlayers:1

Empire Strikes Back is a game that was vaunted on it's arrival to MAME earlier this year - due to the defeat of one Atari's favourite tricks - a slapstic protection chip. Empire Strikes Back was a rom addition/package available for the original Atari Star Wars cabinet game - and many say was an improvement on the game. While I have never seen the original Empire Strikes Back cabinet - I have much experience with Star Wars - and any improvements on the original are a good start.
Graphically, ESB is almost identical to Star Wars - with the trademark vectors running around the screen - with your crosshairs flying around the screen. Unfortunately on my computer - my mouse just doesn't have quite the same feel as the chunky "flight wheel" the sit down cab - so the feel never quite makes it. But I digress.
Atari took the concept of Star Wars technically and bumped up the level a bit. Again you must complete a set of four stages without losing all of your precious shields. Once this is done - you receive a bonus based on the difficulty of the stage - and how well you performed in completing each of the stages - and the game loops around with a higher level of difficulty.
These four stages are where the game comes apart from the original Star Wars. Instead of the standard shoot the tie fighters/fly down the tunnel - you first must stop the probots get their signal away - next bring down a load of walkers. Thirdly - you encounter the usual amount of Tie Fighters while finally having to avoid an asteroid shower - all in the midst of a fireball shower from the enemy. These stages ensure that it is your agilty and control that get a workout - rather than just your trigger finger.
Criticisms are hard to level at a game that has such a cult following. It's sound is unparallelled for bleep and blop themes - especially once inside the cabinet. It adds the perfect atmosphere for the game. If anything - the game does tend to get repetitive after a while - but the ever increasing difficulty level (and fireballs flying at you) ensure - you won't get much of a reprieve while playing it. ESB is a good addition to the Star Wars idea of game - and shows that even classics can do with a retouch.
Graphics
8
9
Sound
Play Control
7
8
Challenge
Replay Value
6
8
Performance

Screen Shots

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1999 EmuViews