Long ago, in the early years of the second age... Hang on, that doesn't sound right... Ah yes... Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away there was a movie called Star Wars (OK, it was Earth 1977). The film did megabucks at the box office and subsequently, inevitably, there was a sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. Arcade games appeared of both films and, furthermore, Star Wars came out for the CPC, but not in that great a version. Now The Empire Strikes Back has arrived. Have they done a better job this time?
Most of the screen is taken up with a view through your cockpit and the rest is a status area. The evil forces of the Empire are viewed in 3D vector graphics as they attack. The status area has the number of shields, score, wave number and the number of enemies to shoot. You have five shields to begin with and death results when they disappear.
The sequence of events loosely follows the plot of the early part of the film. There are four stages: probots, imperial walkers, tie fighter attack and the asteroid belt. In the probot stage, you have to stop a message reaching Darth Vader which informs him of the rebel base's location. To do this, you have to blast the messages as they leave the probot, and destroy incoming fire and the probots themselves. Eventually the message does get through and it's time to blast the walkers. There are two sorts of walker: AT-ST's and AT-AT's. AT-ST's are small bipedal attach craft that are easy to destroy. AT-AT's are much bigger and trickier, but you can fly through their legs for bonus points.
Stage three is a "blast-the-tie-fighter" sequence similar to the Death Star approach in Star Wars and the asteroid belt is a matter of dodging out of the way of the big rocks that hurtle towards you. If you complete a specific task in each stage you're awarded a "JEDI" letter and if you collect all four you become temporarily invulnerable to enemy fire.
There are three difficulty levels and a rebel instruction manual, which just gives you a bit of information on the enemy that you're about to face. The vector graphics move a little slowly and there's some flicker. Colour is not used very well either, there being only a handful on screen at any one time. Fast vector graphics are essential in a game of this type and unfortunately they're absent. A good tune plays throughout the game, but sound is simple and ineffective.
A couple of years ago this would have been a good game, but it looks badly dated. It's an improvement on Star Wars, but the lack of speed lets it down considerably, because fast reactions are what the Star Wars games are all about. What will they do with Return Of The Jedi?
Here we go again, saving the universe by taking on some rather basic bad guys, who look like they come from an etch-a-sketch factory.
The problems with Empire are that it has poor design, not enough stages, is too easy and occasionally crashes. Save your energy for a more intellectual pastime. Like fly swatting.
Complete wave four.
N. Vector graphics are a little slow.
N. Some flicker too.
P. Very good continuous tune.
Grab Factor 55%
P. Easy level to get you going.
N. Little variation from stage to stage: just the enemies change.
Staying Power 48%
P. Three difficulty levels.
N. Too easy, even on hard.
You'll get more fun hiring the video.