The Micro User1st August 1989
Published in The Micro User 7.06
The final conflict
Return Of The Jedi is the third and probably final offering in the Star Wars series of films, and also the latest arcade game conversion from the Star Wars license holder, Domark.
As with the previous offerings, the game is inspired by three different scenes from the film. Unlike the first two, the rather coarse but colourful Mode 5 graphics have been replaced with a two colour but higher resolution Mode 4 display. The effect is preferable to the earlier efforts.
The title screen is hi-res, colourful and accompanied by an up tempo little number. However, once into the game proper the sound effects are limited to the simplest of beeps and explosions.
When we last saw Luke and Leia they were running towards a pair of speeder bikes. Leaping astride her hovering steed, Leia makes a dash for the cover, if not safety, of the forest.
Coded with smooth diagonal scrolling, you can move the speeder in any of four directions as you weave your way through the ever increasing number of trees.
Enemy activity takes the form of Imperial troopers attacking in pairs on their own speeders. On the lower levels these chaps are easy to dismount - a combination of rapid acceleration and braking will soon have a tailgating trooper floundering in your gun sights.
On the higher levels you will find yourself falling for the same routine. Alternative tactics involve running theunwary opponent smack into a tree, or enlisting the help of the friendly Ewok population.
The Ewoks - no lovers of Imperial troopers - lay in ambush at various points along your route. Grasping both ends of a trip wire these Care Bear lookalikes allow the first rider to pass unharmed then quickly tighten the wire in order to unsaddle - but more likely decapitate - the pursuing trooper.
Even more dastardly is their log crush routine - two bears, two logs, and an arrow gap between them. The skilful player will flash through this gap leaving one pureed trooper in his wake. Iavoided this second type of ambush since I had a nasty habit of misjudging the gap myself.
Safely at the Ewok village the action switches to scene number two and three and one again. To be honest, I wasn't 100 per cent certain which scene was which, since the program switched between them quite frequently. In all instances the software employs the same diagonal scrolling routine from scene one, but with a change of sprites and background.
At the helm of the Milleneum Falcon, Lando Calrissian heads for the Death Star pursued by TIE fighters. Success on this section revolves around your ability to remember the safe route through the labyrinth of tunnels and move onward to face the challenge of the armada of Imperial Star Cruisers, fighters and shuttles.
The size of the enemy cruisers and the presence of large numbers of smaller craft tends to give this scene a claustrophobic air - there is just too much going on.
Interwoven with Lando's escapade is Chewbacca's journey through the forest aboard a Scout Walker. Lumbering relentlessly onwards you guide the walker around the stationary log piles, blast the pieces of rolling lumber and dodge boulders catapulted from the sidelines.
Once again the scene has a rather clumsy feel to it, as though it had been hurriedly completed in an effort to meet a deadline. It has none of the polish that is evident in the first scene.
An irritating feature is the scoring system. Your current points total is displayed on screen at all times during your valiant struggle against the Empire. However, since you are concentrating solely on staying alive you have little time to glance at the score.
When the inevitable happens and you go to meet that great Jedi in the sky you are immediately returned to the starting screen. The only score on show here is that of some guy called Sam who scored close on 700,000 - there is no high score table, or even a record of the previous game's total.
As with previous "Star Wars" games, you are given a choice of three degrees of difficulty on which to start - these correspond to levels one, three and five respectively. You are awarded a suitably sized bonus for the successful completion of your selected level.
Return Of The Jedi is a game that starts off as a winner but finishes as an also ran.