T ake a listen to this and see if it sounds familiar. An evil emperor holds sway over a distant galaxy far away. He lives in fear of rebellion so he builds a huge battle station with awesome fire power. Meanwhile a young farmer, Luke Skywalker, discovers his destiny, rescues a princess, meets a space pirate and joins the rebellion. The rest is cinematic history.
In this Amiga version of Star Wars – the game, your fighter is equipped with eight shields and four lasers, with which you have to fend off the entire empire’s elite fighter squadron. This is the first stage. The battle takes place some distance from the battle station itself with the enemy fighters swooping in at all angles blasting fireballs at your lone craft. Under your shield status it does in fact say shoot fireballs but this is only to protect your shields, it is the fighters you want.
The vector graphics on this section are pretty neat, especially Darth Vader’s own customised fighter which really does look good as it weaves around the screen. Vader’s fighter is the only craft you cannot destroy on this level, if you hit it, it spins out of control for a short while before correcting and coming at you again. The only thing lacking on this stage from the arcade version is the great noise the enemy fighters make as they scream past your ship. The laser blasts are different, sounding more like the digitised machine gun fire from Operation Wolf than the old fashioned zap effects.
The second stage involves flying over the surface of the station blowing hell out of everything. You get this section on level two and above, but on level two you only get laser bunkers as opposed to the laser towers which figure on level three and above. At the start of the level you are told how many tower tops to destroy for a fifty-thousand points bonus, plus a running total throughout the level on how many points the next tower is worth.
The last stage is the trench section. Along the sides are laser gun emplacements, who, as soon as you reach the same altitude as them open up on you with fireballs. On level two and above you get catwalks spanning the trenches which have to be avoided. On level Seven, the catwalks sometimes take up the whole width of the trench with only a small negotiable gap near the middle. At the end of the trench is the exhaust port, you know when you have reached it because the voice of freebooter Han Solo blurts out, “You’re all clear kid, let’s blow this thing and get home”. So sight up on the port and let rip with a barrage of laser fire. A direct hit will result in your torpedoes being launched and your craft flying away from the station just in time to see it erupt. If you miss you collide with the force shield at the end of the trench, lose a shield and have to repeat the stage again.
When the level is completed, your score tacked up and are given an extra shield along with the voice of Han Solo this time saying “Great shot. That was one in a million kid”. And so to the next level.
Star Wars is an accurate conversion in most respects, the speech is there, but rather than being digitised from the arcade version it sounds as though it was lifted straight from the film with the incidental music still hovering in the background. It is also unintentionally camp as an awestruck voice exclaims when you fly over the battlestar “Look at the size of that thing!”. The graphics are as smooth as might be expected but not always fast. In the stage where you fly over the surface of the battle station the whole game slows down to about half speed. Apart from that I have no other complaints.
It might sound as though game appeal might be limited with only three stages, but Star Wars plays well enough to overcome this hurdle.
CU Amiga, April 1988, p.60