Star Wars

aka: Star Wars: The Arcade Game
Moby ID: 3929
Arcade Specs
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Description official descriptions

Star Wars is a first-person shooter based around the final scenes of the original Star Wars film. It first appeared for arcade coin-operated machines and was subsequently converted to other gaming platforms.

You take on the role of Luke Skywalker, aiming to destroy the Death Star. In the first phase you have to pass swarms of TIE Fighters, including dogfighting the one piloted by Darth Vader himself. In the second phase the station's surface is protected by laser towers, third involves attacking its weakest spot - the unprotected exhaust port - with proton torpedoes. Your X-Wing starts with six shields, but more can be awarded for good performance. Complete the game and it loops back around at ever-increasing difficulty.

The game uses vector graphics, which allow lots of action at high speed on comparatively slow systems.

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Credits (Arcade version)

6 People

Audio Engineer



Average score: 77% (based on 31 ratings)


Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 114 ratings with 4 reviews)

Fun little arcade game.

The Good
I used to play this game back in my younger days, when I'd boot this up at DOS's launch (ah, the DOS booter days...a lot of people missed out on an era). And it was pretty good fun. Not a patch on the X-Wing series, of course, but it was a simpler version of Rebel Assault.

Game controls are pretty reasonable. It's best with a joystick or mouse, but still possible with a keyboard. Most of the game play revolves around dodging/shooting enemy fireballs shot out of TIE Fighters (?) and Darth Vader's TIE Advanced (??), lest they sap away your shields and kill you. And there aren't any continues (at least, not that I can remember), so staying alive is nice if you want to rack up a good high score. If you survive the approach to and the surface of the Death Star (though you don't have to worry about the second sequence on easier difficulty levels), you've got the trench run, with is probably the most difficult section of the whole game - it usually doesn't get too insane until the higher difficulty levels though.

Actually, the game is pretty reasonable on the difficulty scale. It's a reflex based game, but if they are up to snuff then you really shouldn't be having any problems until level 7 or 9.

Also the graphics are pretty decent, using a very fast wireframe vector system. The colors are CGA-only, but you have enough to work with so that everything is legible. The designs on the models are simple, but nice.

The Bad
The sound on this game isn't anything to write home about. It's PC Speaker, but not quite ear-grating as some soundtracks of that type can be. It would have been nice to have some Adlib support, though, which would have been possible around this time. FM modulation would have been a nice bonus.

But it's a minor point, it doesn't really detract from the game too much.

The Bottom Line
It was a fun game, and I'd still play it if I had a 5.25" floppy drive laying around. Still, if you have a copy floating around on your hard drive and a copy of DOSBox, give it a spin.

DOS · by Longwalker (723) · 2010

The Force arrives on the PC

The Good

  • Nonstop arcade action.
  • Easy to play.
  • Nice vector graphics, you can easily recognize the TIE Fighter and the TIE Interceptor.
  • "Use the Force" bonus, survive the Trench without firing your lasers, and you'll be awarded this extra bonus.
  • It's Star Wars, which makes the game just that little bit better (for me at least).

**The Bad**
  • Audio is almost non-existent. I know it is an old game, but the developers could have used the PC speaker to at least produce something which resembles the Star wars theme.
  • You play the same three stages over and over again. It seems a bit illogical to destroy seven Death Stars and it also gives me that "been there done that" feeling.

**The Bottom Line**
Star Wars is an arcade shooter that's so action-packed, you don't have the time to think about how dated the graphics are. But due to it's repetitive nature you probably won't play it for a very long time.

DOS · by Roedie (5239) · 2001

A painstaking experience

The Good
I played it after the DOS versions and loved the sound - the intro music, laser shots sounds and off-screen voices of Luke, Han, Obi-Wan and Wedge. This is exactly what was missing from the PC version and killed the atmosphere there. The gameplay, like in other versions, consists of three stages - space fight against TIE-Fighters and occasionally appearing Vader's TIE-Interceptor, shooting towers while avoiding battery missiles flying over the Death Star's surface and finally the race through the exhaust shaft that gets more and more crowded with obstacles as you progress to the next level (called 'wave'); you get extra points here if you don't fire a single shot during the whole level (called 'using the force'). After firing at the exhaust port at the end of the corridor the battle station explodes and you move on to the next, tougher sequence of levels.

The Bad
It's MUCH more difficult than it should be. The enemy fighters stay on the screen for a relatively short time and fire almost immediately they appear; the Vader's vessel doesn't depart when shot (as in the DOS versions) but lingers on the screen as long as it pleases while constantly attacking you; the missiles and obstacles are far too hard to avoid and seem to hit you too early. All this would be bearable if not for the screwed up targeting system. The cross-hair movement appears to have less frames than in the PC version and so aiming can be a chore. Playing the DOS port I managed to shoot all the laser towers on the Death Star's surface every time - something I've never yet pulled off on the Amiga version. Not being able to shoot what you feel you are targeting properly is very frustrating. Consequently the game is not as much fun as labor to play.

The Bottom Line
I have mixed feelings about this one. It can only be recommended to expert arcade players. Other should choose the PC version which - although devoid of sound candy - provides more fun and less frustration.

Amiga · by Lukasz Gorski (11) · 2009

[ View all 4 player reviews ]


1001 Video Games

The Arcade version of Star Wars appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Arcade version

The original coin-op Star Wars game was built using Ed Rotberg's incomplete spaceflight fortress assault game entitled Warp Speed. Add the joystick from his Military Battlezone and some licensed properties, and voila -- Star Wars!

Commodore 64 versions

There were two licensed conversions of Star Wars: The Arcade Game for the Commodore 64. The first was a cartridge by Parker Brothers. This version used simple sprites for the TIE fighters and clusters of dots to represent the fireballs. Several years later, Domark put out a much more faithful conversion which used vector graphics for all the game elements. Unfortunately while it was quite accurate, it suffered from poor frame rates which often made it difficult to play.


My hazy memory recalls: The front of the box contained an embedded LED that blinked slowly, like once every 3 seconds. I believe the LED was part of R2D2's head poking out of the top of the X-Wing.

References to the game

In the 1984 Christmas horror film Gremlins some of the Gremlin's can be seen briefly playing the original Arcade cabinet version of Star Wars.

Rogue Squadron III

In the Gamecube title Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III - Rebel Strike, the full version of Star Wars: The Arcade Game was an unlockable bonus feature.


Resourceful programmer tricks #2: The function keys serve as multiple different functional boss-keys, information about the programmer, and other neat little functions -- way above and beyond a typical boss-key. Poke around the keyboard while the game is running and see what you find!


  • Retro Gamer
    • September 2004 (Issue #8) – #87 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)

Information also contributed by Guy Chapman, Pseudo_Intellectual, Rekrul, vedder and FatherJack


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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Roedie.

Arcade added by Rola. GameCube added by Lain Crowley. BBC Micro, Electron added by Sciere. ZX Spectrum, Amiga added by Martin Smith. Amstrad CPC added by Skitchy. Antstream added by lights out party. Atari 8-bit added by Terok Nor. Commodore 64, Atari ST, Atari 2600, ColecoVision added by Servo. Macintosh added by Scaryfun. Atari 5200 added by Jeanne.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Servo, Martin Smith, LepricahnsGold, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Game added April 26, 2001. Last modified February 13, 2024.