The idea of having an actual arcade cabinet at your house is somewhat of an aspirational desire that dates back to the glory days of the video arcades that were prevalent during the 1970s and 1980s. At that time, unless you were Ricky Schroder on Silver Spoons or that obnoxious kid from The Toy, the idea was fairly ludicrous — akin to Marty McFly telling his ’50s family that he owned two television sets. But, as kids of that era grew up and made money, owning a home arcade became an attainable goal with some legendary “holy grail” machines on the wish list. Among them, Atari’s 1983 Star Wars cabinet has held a top spot for decades and almost immediately became one of Arcade1Up’s most-requested titles.
At this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Arcade1Up revealed a partnership with Atari that would make the legendary machine available to the masses, complete with a replica of the famed flight yoke and two additional games. Upon playing the prototype at Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) and the production version at the Toy Insider‘s Holiday of Play this summer, the Star Wars Home Arcade Game immediately hit the top of my personal wish list.
The Star Wars Home Arcade Game packs a Death Star-sized punch with a trio of classic games. At its core, Atari Star Wars (1983) is the main event, faithfully reproduced in all of its 3D vector graphics glory. Complete with the original soundtrack that features digitized voices from the movie, the game puts players at the cockpit of an X-Wing Fighter as they evade Imperial TIE Fighters while attempting to take down the Death Star by firing a well-timed shot into its suspiciously obvious thermal exhaust port.
Nearly 40 years later, it’s still a challenging game.
The experience is faithful, and aside from the wonderful cabinet graphics and marquee lighting, it all comes down to the “real feel” four-button trigger-style flight yoke. Having spent a ton of quarters playing the original machine, I believe that Arcade1Up did a stellar job at capturing the right balance between weight and responsiveness for the yoke on this cabinet.
Atari’s The Empire Strikes Back — originally offered to arcade owners in 1985 as a conversion for its Star Wars machines — features 3D vector gameplay that swaps TIE Fighters for Imperial AT-AT Walkers and moves the setting to Hoth. Atari’s Return of the Jedi (1984) completes the trilogy, but it feels a bit detached from the others as it uses full-color raster graphics that feel more akin to a home game as the action shifts to the forest moon of Endor for a speeder bike chase through the Ewok village before challenging players to pilot the Millennium Falcon toward the reactor core of the unfinished Death Star II.