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Return of the Jedi - The Atari Times

Return of the Jedi

Well *I* think the Force is with this game anyway!
by Darryl Brundage

November 19, 2004
Upon joining several video game forums nearly two years ago -- and LOVING it! Well, mostly -- I got somewhat bummed with some people, upon seeing a few posts here and there popping up about this game, who didn't like it very much. Granted, it's just an opinion (and in the words of Dave Barry, "and yours is wrong"!), but it was a surprise to me. (However, one guy said something about it having vector graphics, which it obviously DOESN'T, so he probably doesn't know what he's talking about -- although he knows about a lot about other video game-related stuff though -- but then again, he's literally half my age...)

I assume that part of the problem, though, lies that there are a lot of people out there that think that the original Star Wars (YES, that one HAS vector graphics!) arcade game was the best vector graphic game EVER. The Empire Strikes Back (also vector) looked like a bit of fun, but I personally am yet to play it, so I don't know how good (or not) the game is. So maybe those expecting yet another first-person flying/shooting game were automatically disappointed in that respect, although I'm thinking that Atari might've gotten wary of releasing yet a third version of the same theme, and wanted to try this one out in a new, different direction.

Well, like it or not, Jedi is presented this time around in the three-quarter 3-D slant, similar to Zaxxon (and yes, with raster-scan graphics). Like the original Star Wars game, it is divided into several sections, starting with the Speederbike sequence on the Endor moon, with Luke yelping "wait for me!" (yes, we get voice samples from the movie here too, just like in the original Star Wars arcade game) as his sister Leia, who's probably disgusted that she's royalty and he's a farm boy, and is tired of his whining, rides off.

In this stage, you must dodge trees as you zoom through the forest on your Speederbike (man, thank God they slowed it down from the movie, since, even though I've got good reflexes, I don't have JEDI reflexes!), fallen logs, and watch out for Stormtroopers, who appear behind you. They can shoot you as well, so when one appears behind you, either back up and off to it's side (i. e. away from it's laser range) and ram it into a tree, or at certain points there will be traps with the little Ewoks standing by, and if you go through those real quickly, they'll yank up a rope and dispose of the Stormtrooper (who knew that all the technology and weapons the evil Empire developed could be defeated with a rope welded by these furry little Teddy Ruxpins from hell?). Once you reach the end of the stage, C-3P0 will say that we're now "part of the tribe"; oh yay! As Han Solo said, it's just what I always wanted, to be a member of these little Chewbacca rejects! Oh well, at least they can fight...

And speaking of Chewie: another Endor section of the game centers around him taking control of the AT-ST, like in the movie. You move around in pretty much the same manner as the Speederbike scenario, although this time you shoot a bunch of rolling logs that come tumbling your way. Uh, just WHO is rolling these logs anyway? The Ewoks? Well gee, thanks guys, I thought we were on the same side. Help a furry brother out, especially one that's about fives times your size, huh? Maybe it's vengeful carpet cleaners who are out for blood for Chewie not paying a big cleaning bill (note: see Star Wars Episode 4 for when Leia calls him a big "walking carpet" to get that one), or maybe it's Pitfall Harry after he went nuts from jumping over all the logs in the original Pitfall! game, and he's venting his frustration because George Lucas didn't make a movie based on his daring exploits. Oh, go play in a crocodile-infested bog, Harry.

We also get to go to outer space -- yay! -- as Lando piloting the Millennium Falcon, either attacking a Star Destroyer or entering the Death Star, as he says "here goes nothing!" (GOTTA love those voice clips!) Like the Speederbike scenario, you've got the enemy right on your tail, although this time it's in the means of T. I. E. Interceptors; again, don't be right in their line of fire, and again, bash 'em into a wall of the Death Star (no trees in outer space here, unless you catch something like that episode of Lost in Space with the talking vegetables, which is close enough). You must shoot the reactor, then the Falcon will automatically turn around and your flight will be reversed this time. This is a real tough part here, as I spent many a quarter on this before I was finally able to get out before the Death Star blew up; I usually went with it most of the time. Oh well, Lucas originally had it slated (and filmed) for Lando to die when the Death Star blew anyway, so I guess it's fitting...

And of course, you repeat everything (if you get that far) over and over until you lose your last life. At least the control is a dream, due to the same flight yoke that was used in the original Star Wars coin-op, even though some of the graphics aren't proportional (i. e. T.I.E. Interceptors being about half the size of the Falcon, yeah right!), I thought they were pretty good (even if they weren't vector; sheesh), and you can't beat the sounds, especially the samples.

Just try it out on the emulator, since it's probably extremely difficult to physically locate a machine nowadays; probably the only one of this trilogy of games that you'll be able to find anywhere will be the original Star Wars.

And may the hairballs of a million Ewoks be with you if you hate this game.

I am your father's cousin's former roommate.
What does that make us?
Absolutely NOTHING!
Umm... He did it.
Return of the Jedi
System: Arcade
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 88%
Sound & Music Score: 97%
Gameplay Score: 85%
Control Score: 100%

Final Score: 80%

Reader Comments for Return of the Jedi

Used to play the heck out of it by Greg George on 2014-02-15 11:51:42
In the early 80's when the game was released, I always saved a couple of quarters for it. And when I found it in the (awesome) arcade over at Disney's Contemporary Resort in Orlando in the late 90's I couldn't stop playing it!

It's got some quirks (the control on the speeder bike) but that won't keep me from playing it. Was tough getting past the Chewbacca level but I loved piloting that AT-ST!

In retrospect, there should have been a Luke vs. Vader level, but I'm not sure how that would work with the piloting controls!
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