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keithbk

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (the game)

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I remember when Empire hit the big screens, my love for Star Wars grew even greater and my collection of action figures and playsets blossomed.

 

And I just HAD to have the Parker Brothers game for my Atari 2600!

 

Maybe my expectations were too high, but the game bothered me in two specific ways...

 

First, and perhaps the BIGGEST problem with the game is that, according to the manual, " Right now an army of Imperial Walkers is marching toward the Rebels' power generator on the Ice Planet Hoth." But the power generator is NOT in your game. Seriously, would it have been THAT difficult to put the power generator at the rightmost edge of the scrolling playfield?

 

Second, there is NO payoff for playing. You destroy walkers....that keep coming...and keep coming... and that is all there is to it. If there was something nice at the end of losing, like a rebel shuttle escaping from Hoth, you would feel you held them off as long as you could so your friends could escape... but no, there's nothing. Remember when the Imagic game Atlantis ends? A ship escapes and you feel like, "Well, at least some people got away..."

 

If anyone were ever to hack this game, I would like these two elements added to the game.

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Ah, you have the Sears Catalog Snaggletooth. That is the only one I didn't have, but a friend of mine had it. And it looks like you have the early Han Solo head, which I had.

Edited by keithbk

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You have to use your imagination. It's you against an endless supply of enemies, just like Space Invaders. 
 

Your ideas would make an interesting hack, though. I'd also like the pitch for the music to be fixed, if possible. 

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I do agree with the criticism; the game would have benefited from an ending of some sort.

 

On the other hand, this was the first Atari game where the music really impressed me. I first played it at a friend's place (on a small B&W TV) and it was far and away the best game he had. It was quite some years before I got my own copy.

 

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The lack of an ending and other gameplay elements may have simply been a factor of ROM size. I believe that Empire is a 4K game.  That doesn't leave much room for extras.

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I had ESB way back then and even as a kid, thought there was not enough variety graphics and gameplay wise. Always wished there was a little something more to do or see. A totally different level, better graphics, something... seemed a bit incomplete to me.

 

 

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For me this game got old really fast.   I'd say add these features to make it more interesting:

 

The tow cable manuever-  if you fly around the legs of the walker while holding the button and release it at the right time, the walker trips and falls over

 

Luke's grappling hook trick-  if you crash, you can run along the ground, and if you avoid getting trampled by the legs, you can grapple up and plant a charge on board

 

Also maybe fix the scoring-   Early Parker Bros games had really low scores compared to other games that made you feel like a failure even if you did well 😃

Edited by zzip
add punctuation
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I think there should have been a rapid auto fire rather than the slow one the game has to help preserve the feeling in your thumb when shooting all the time. Jeff Minter's rip off for the C64 "Attack Of The Mutant Camels" has the fast auto fire and in that area is better for it. 

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I really like this game.  I used to play it all the time.  I never really thought of any of the things everyone has mentioned, but looking back on it, yeah, I agree with everyone but I think it is fun and still a very good Atari game and I still enjoy playing it. 

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An ending never really bothered me since the Empire eventually reaches the shield generator.

 

Even as a kid, while I do love this game, it is a little redundant. Someone mentioned a tow cable... that probably bothered me the most about this missing feature. Originally AT-ST's were supposed to have more screen time in the movie but was constrained due to shooting schedules. Would like to see a couple of those included on the Hoth assault. 

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This was one of the first games I bought when I started my recollection about year ago. It never bothered me that you couldn't win; it was always about getting a better score than everyone else. I have such fond memories of this game and today the game play is still fun if short.

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On 10/10/2019 at 3:54 PM, Spector said:

I think there should have been a rapid auto fire rather than the slow one the game has to help preserve the feeling in your thumb when shooting all the time. Jeff Minter's rip off for the C64 "Attack Of The Mutant Camels" has the fast auto fire and in that area is better for it. 

Totally agree with this. As a kid I liked the game, but the constant firing in conjunction with the original Atari joystick totally did my thumb in, to the point where I had to stop playing the game because it became so painful. Otherwise I thought it was an engaging game, especially on the smart bomb settings. I also liked the fact that you could land and repair the ship after a hit, a feature that to my knowledge no other game had at the time. 

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On 10/10/2019 at 3:54 PM, Spector said:

I think there should have been a rapid auto fire rather than the slow one the game has to help preserve the feeling in your thumb when shooting all the time. Jeff Minter's rip off for the C64 "Attack Of The Mutant Camels" has the fast auto fire and in that area is better for it. 

Exactly this.  The auto fire isn't fast enough.  You have to keep pressing the fire button and after a game or 2, your firing hand just wants to die.

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3 hours ago, WolfAmongWolves said:

Totally agree with this. As a kid I liked the game, but the constant firing in conjunction with the original Atari joystick totally did my thumb in, to the point where I had to stop playing the game because it became so painful. Otherwise I thought it was an engaging game, especially on the smart bomb settings. I also liked the fact that you could land and repair the ship after a hit, a feature that to my knowledge no other game had at the time. 

 

52 minutes ago, insertclevernamehere said:

Exactly this.  The auto fire isn't fast enough.  You have to keep pressing the fire button and after a game or 2, your firing hand just wants to die.

Someone needs to edit the code to improve it. Time to phone Thomas Jentzsch- he's got a new job to do!!!! 😀 😄

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I loved that game. I collected aluminum cans throughout the neighborhood so I could purchase it...

 

Sure, it was limited by the 4K size but at least the 2600 had an official release. Parker Bros didn't release it - or Jedi Arena - for the Atari 5200 and Atari 8-bits. They did make an Intellivision version of ESB and apparently, there's now a homebrew version for the Colecovision. Maybe those versions have extras in them...

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3 hours ago, Lynxpro said:

I loved that game. I collected aluminum cans throughout the neighborhood so I could purchase it...

 

Sure, it was limited by the 4K size but at least the 2600 had an official release. Parker Bros didn't release it - or Jedi Arena - for the Atari 5200 and Atari 8-bits. They did make an Intellivision version of ESB and apparently, there's now a homebrew version for the Colecovision. Maybe those versions have extras in them...

Yes but the Intellivision version is not much different from the VCS even with the extra memory.  An opportunity lost.

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1 hour ago, Foxsolo2000 said:

Yes but the Intellivision version is not much different from the VCS even with the extra memory.  An opportunity lost.

 

Well, the Intellivision is pretty weak-sauce. Just imagine had Atari gone with their original plan and released a console version of the Atari 400 in 1979 - to replace the VCS/2600 - even before Mattel started test-marketing the Intellivision...  :)  But I digress...

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F...k that noise, we would have missed out on Atari's 8-bit computers.

 

Anyway, the point of the scenario is not defeating the Empire (which is impossible)...but to provide the Rebels enough time to evacuate as much as possible.  You did see the movie, right?

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On 10/15/2019 at 3:52 PM, Foxsolo2000 said:

Yes but the Intellivision version is not much different from the VCS even with the extra memory.  An opportunity lost.

Yeah, with a little more memory, the VCS game could have at least depicted the base generators to the right of the screen. Would have been nice if the Intellivision version had provided that little extra level of detail. Same with better graphics depicting the snowscape - but nope.   :(

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4 hours ago, Nukey Shay said:

Anyway, the point of the scenario is not defeating the Empire (which is impossible)...but to provide the Rebels enough time to evacuate as much as possible.  You did see the movie, right?

Which was my original point; it would have been nice at the end of the game to see a Rebel Shuttle escape at the very end, just as a payoff for playing. Could have been a "potential" ending as well; destroy 12 walkers and see the Rebels escape. Yes, you still die in the end, but it would be a more interesting ending than just a "high score."

 

How about a final "mini-game," where after your last ship crashes, you have to run back to the shuttle (before it escapes), dodging the feet and shots of the Walker...

 

I know, that is asking WAY too much, but it would have been fun.

Edited by keithbk
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4 hours ago, save2600 said:

Yeah, with a little more memory, the VCS game could have at least depicted the base generators to the right of the screen. Would have been nice if the Intellivision version had provided that little extra level of detail. Same with better graphics depicting the snowscape - but nope.   :(

I seem to remember seeing screenshots of this game showing the power generators.   It may have been fake screenshots which were fairly common back then

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