New in the Arcade: Play the Original Star Wars Arcade Trilogy!

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Star WarsThe original 1983 Star Wars arcade game has been a fixture at Ground Kontrol for years. Recreating Episode IV’s climactic battle using impressively detailed and rendered vector graphics, players take control of an X-Wing and blast TIE fighters and laser turrets as they swoop through the Death Star’s trenches to finally land that final shot, destroying the planet-sized warship. Arguably the first really successful example of a game recreating a movie, the game is full of memorable lines like Luke calling out “Red Five, standing by” as soon as you hit start, and Obi-Wan reminding you to “Use the Force, Luke” as you near the end of your ultimate mission. The first Atari game to feature speech, this was a surprising feature for many gamers. The attention to detail extends to the cabinet, too, with molded plastic simulating the X-Wing interior and fantastic artwork on the sides of the cabinet that draws your attention from across the arcade. The flight controls are extremely easy to pick up, and you’ll find yourself playing game after game just trying to perfect that final trench run!

Return of the JediAtari followed up soon after with Return of the Jedi in 1984. Although The Empire Strikes Back had already been released to theatres, Atari decided to shift gears and present a colorful sprite-based game with much different game play than Star Wars.  A classic in its own right, Return of the Jedi takes the player through a variety of “shoot and steer” stages. These involve speederbikes on Endor, an AT-ST marching segment, and an exciting turn at the Death Star run. Set in a three-quarters isometric angle reminiscent of Zaxxon, part of the game’s unique challenge is maintaining your hand-eye coordination through obstacle-laden stages that demand careful steering. Just when you think you’re out of the woods on Endor, a log can smash your speeder bike into space dust! Return of the Jedi also featured an innovative spin on mimicking the film’s simultaneous action in the final battle, with the final stage switching between the Endor and Death Star battles.

The Empire Strikes BackThe Empire Strikes Back was Atari’s final Star Wars arcade game, and a return to vector-based action. Hitting arcades in 1985 as the entire industry was suffering a crash, Atari only released it as a conversion kit for the original Star Wars arcade game. On top of that, only 544 kits were produced, making it the toughest of the trilogy to find in the wild. The Empire Strikes Back takes you through the Battle of Hoth, from the Empire’s ambush on the Echo Base to the Millennium Falcon’s escape. Destroy as many Imperial Probe Droids as possible, take down AT-ATs with tow cables and escape through an asteroid field, but not before destroying as many TIE Fighters as possible. Fans of the first game will feel immediately at home, with the familiar flight controls immersing you in fan-favorite moments while you hear memorable lines from the film. As an added bonus to the souped-up graphics and sound, dedicated players can earn J-E-D-I bonuses in each stage to unlock temporary invincibility for completing every challenge.

Enduring for decades thanks to high quality game play and a legendarily strong license, this trilogy still represents some of the best movie-related arcade games ever made, and classics that are still fun for non-Star Wars fans. Relive the time you spent taking on Darth Vader in arcades and movie theatre lobbies, or play these games for your first time. Remember: There is no try, so do yourself a favor and visit Ground Kontrol today!