Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1982 video game)

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Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Atari 2600 cover art
Developer(s) Parker Brothers
Publisher(s) Parker Brothers
Platform(s) Atari 2600
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Scrolling shooter
Mode(s) One or two players
Distribution Cartridge

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is a scrolling shooter video game published by Parker Brothers in 1982 for the Atari 2600. It was also republished in 1983 for the Mattel Intellivision. It was the first video game to use the Star Wars license.


Intellivision screenshot

The player must control Luke Skywalker in a snowspeeder to battle against Imperial AT-AT walkers on the planet Hoth. The objective is to hold off the walkers as long as possible before they blow up the power generator at the Rebels' Echo Base. The difficulty levels included several variables, including the initial speed of the walkers, whether or not the walkers were solid, and whether or not the walkers included a "smart bomb".

The player can destroy a walker by shooting it repeatedly in the head or torso; shots to the legs are ineffective. As the walker is damaged, it changes colors - transitioning from black (undamaged) through various shades of gray, red, and orange to yellow (critically damaged). The player can also destroy the walkers by shooting a small flashing spot that randomly appears during gameplay. On the Intellivision, the walkers require thirty hits to take down, compared to forty-eight hits on the Atari.

The walkers shoot back at the player, whose speeder also changes colors as it receives damage. The player can land a damaged speeder to repair it. On some game levels, the walkers are solid, meaning that the player can crash into them, damaging them and destroying the player. Other levels include a smart bomb which periodically launches from the flashing port on a walker and follows the player for a time. If the player is hit by the smart bomb his speeder is destroyed. Occasionally, the player is granted the power of The Force. When this happens, the speeder flashes colorfully and becomes invulnerable for a short time.

The game ends when five speeders are destroyed or when the lead walker reaches Echo Base, destroying it. As the game progresses, the walkers move more rapidly, increasing the difficulty level.


The Empire Strikes Back was the first Star Wars video game released for the 2600, as well as being the first official game overall.[1]


The game has received a fairly good reception. Most critics call it a good game.


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