Friday Flyers: The Empire Strikes Back (1984)

Sadly I’ve never had the pleasure of playing the Empire Strikes Back arcade game. I remember hearing about it from a fellow student in my youth and since I had never actually seen one in the wilds of the arcades I firmly believed the person telling me about the game was just full of it. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned this was a real product, a conversion kit, to the original Star Wars arcade game.

As always a Huge thanks to the Arcade Flyer Archive for the scanned flyer you see below.

Another thanks goes out to rmueller1492 for his awesome YouTube video of the game in action. Lots and lots of wonderful dialogue and great music!


Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

Never Miss an Episode

Stay up-to-date on the latest from the Retroist Podcast. Sign up and receive email notifications when there's a new episode of the Retroist Podcast or when we launch new podcasts.
* indicates required

7 thoughts on “Friday Flyers: The Empire Strikes Back (1984)

  1. Earblast says:

    I was a big fan of the Star Wars game, but not so much on Empire. Seemed like a rehash and wasn’t as fun for whatever reason.

  2. hitfan says:

    The arcade of my youth (Top Hat’s Amusements in Timmins, Ontario, Canada) had a sit-down version of this game. It was supposedly priced at 50 cents per game, but the arcade owner had put in by error the incorrect dip switch settings and it only cost 25 cents for 2 credits. Nobody reported the error of course :)

    I love the 2 Star Wars vector-based games. What was so cool about them was that they were very easy to finish the first level of missions to make you feel that you were doing well by finishing the first round (in Star Wars: any beginner can experience the thrill of blowing up the Death Star or in ESB, destroy those gigantic imperial walkers. But after finishing level 1, the games became progressively more difficult and you would eventually lose all of your lives (or shields) by attrition. But the experience was enjoyable enough so that you would play the games over and over again, because they didn’t make you feel inadequate by barely finishing the first level.

    “Empire” was clearly the best of all the Star Wars arcade games. The variety of music used, 4 missions (probots, walkers, tie fighters, asteroid field) and the lines of the movie with the same name were quite memorable (such as “The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi!”). Who doesn’t want to be like Han Solo and humble a nagging hen like Princess Leia by

    “Return of the Jedi” was not a vector-based game like the other 2 (using pixel-based raster graphics) and was quite forgettable. I always wondered how sequences like flying through the Endor Forest, controlling a walker or better yet, a space battle sequence where you got to attack and destroy imperial cruisers (as we saw in the movie) would look like with vector graphics. But it was not to be. As well, the ROTJ arcade game was quite difficult on the first level compared to it’s vector-based predecessors.

  3. hitfan says:


    “Who doesn’t want to be like Han Solo and humble a nagging hen like Princess Leia by ….” by flying through an asteroid field just to impress her? “Empire” represented the Star Wars movies when they were at their peak, and the arcade game that inspired it also reflected that.

  4. Quite so, hitfan!

    @Earblast I think it’s interesting that it’s a kit game though, know what I mean? “Hm, we sure aren’t getting as many people playing that old Star Wars arcade game these days. Let’s just switch the board and slap on a new sticker for Empire!” ;)

  5. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Y’know, if you’d ask me if I ever tried this game, I woulda said “yeah, sure”.
    But seeing its awesome adaptation of the ESB themes and ideas, I dunno.
    It would’ve been engrained more deeply in my psyche and I would’ve been short of several dozens of dollars in respect to its awesomeness.

    And yeah, hitfan, the ROTJ game kinda sucked, mostly cuz it had some odd sideways controls for the forest chase, lacked the sleek coolness of vectorized Star Wars, and you couldn’t shoot the Ewoks.

  6. Quite true, Atari! I can remember getting a little frustrated at trying to pilot the Millenium Falcon during the Death Star assault. Yeesh. :)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.