Atari Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back Turns 40!

There was no way not to mention this major milestone! In 1980, Star Wars fan and game designer Rex Bradford pitched an idea that gave birth to what would become a major cornerstone of the gaming industry, as well as a multi-billion dollar business giving birth to over 100 games under various companies and systems. The best part was that it already had a massive fan base, so it would practically sell itself. His idea was put into motion, with the game published under Parker Bros. in July 1982. It went on to sell 3 million cartridges before the system was discontinued. The name of this game… STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK!

A scrolling shooter game, the pixelated Luke Skywalker riding his Snowspeeder battled his way through levels, trying to hold back the Imperial AT-AT walkers in an attempt to keep them from destroying the Rebel bases generator. Shooting small dashes from his craft, he tried to destroy any who opposed him. While opening to mixed reviews that are now quite difficult to find, it seems most of the commentary largely consisted of praise. Admiring the game’s “out of this world graphics and spot-on sound effects,” as well as the overall idea to launch the popular movies into games at all. Rex Bradford had hit the nail on the head. The game flew off shelves and still, to this day, is selling privately for obscene amounts of money among fans and collectors. It became the second most successful game sold under the Parker Bros. label, with the first being Frogger. Both sold equal units and remain the most well-known and highly sold titles of the Atari games, even including one of the Atari claims to fame, PONG. While the official release date seems to have been lost to history, licensing and other public information all state the game’s official release took place in July of 1982.

Since that time, the Star Wars movies, games, and fandom have become a thing of legend. From legos to RPGs, the games have touched upon and done it all. Star Wars mobile game Galaxy of Heroes was the highest mobile grossing game in history, at a whopping one billion+ dollars in sales since its introduction. Fans gather all around the planet garbed as their favorite characters and meet for conventions, which often include playing the latest and greatest game, or competitions for high scores in older versions. It has truly become a world of its own and shows no signs of slowing! So today, let’s take a moment to thank this old-school, hardly ever-talked-about gem that became the stepping stone for so many great titles and fan-pleasing installations, allowing them to live their Star Wars fantasy at the touch of a button.


Have a great week and please take some time to scroll through some of the amazing content available through our brilliant team! See you soon!