Strategy Session

Striking Back—At Stars and the Empire!

by Frank Tetro Jr.


Mattel Electronics/Intellivision

In Star Strike, a “trench” style space battle reminiscent of the assault on the Death Star from Star Wars, it is your mission to destroy an alien station planning to annihilate the Earth. There are a quintet of red enemy outposts, each of which must be wiped out in order to stop the station from doing its thing.

As you maneuver down the trench, you will be continually assaulted by pairs of enemy scout ships who attack, initially, from the rear, then overshoot your craft in hopes of escaping. Each time they hit your ship, the damage grows worse until control is ultimately destroyed and you crash. Accidentally slipping into the walls of the trench will instantly end the game in a blaze of fiery glory.

If you should miscalculate and miss bombing an outpost, all is not lost. The station will continue to rotate, and that same outpost will soon revolve into view once again. However, if the Earth is in line with the trench and you miss the outpost—oops!—the enemy will launch their planet atomizer and our beloved home planet, ending the game with a bang.

The game begins with 8,000 points, and the score decreases rapidly as you go. Hitting an enemy ship adds 250 points to your score. As the game begins, you will be instantly attacked by a pair of scouts. Remember, when you are behind these ships you can’t hit them, only get out of their way. The best evasive action involves circular movement, and random, side-to-side weaving. But keep moving at all costs!

Once the ships turn light blue, they have moved in front of you and can be gunned down. Get behind them and start blasting, keeping in mind that all shots head toward the center of the trench (consult your instruction book for complete details). If the two ships are moving away and are out of the trench, leave them be. The enemies’ strategy is to pull you from the trench so you will miss the outpost when it appears. Once the enemy ships are destroyed or exit the screen, another pair will appear and should be dealt with in the same manner.

At the sound of the outpost warning klaxon, immediately disengage from the attack with the enemy ships, and fly to the lowest possible position in the trench. You will know you are low enough if your pink shadow is nearly touching the bottom of the ship. When the red outpost appears about one-half to three-quarters inches in front of the ship, (depending on your TV set), drop a bomb. Whether or not you hit, get out of there quickly.

If you remember which posts you hit and which ones you miss, the game will be made considerably easier. If you know the upcoming post is destroyed, you can ignore the warning buzzer and concentrate on destroying enemy ships for more points.

Keep in mind that whoever is in the rear has the firing option.


Parker Brothers/VCS

This epic video simulation of the opening battle sequence from George Lucas’ film of the same title, captures all the grandeur and excitement of the original. It is set on the ice planet Hoth, where the rebels have established a base station. Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith and hatchet man for the evil emperor, has discovered their presence and dispatches a column of AT-AT’s—the elephantine “Imperial Walkers”—that move inexorably toward the rebel power station.

The gamer takes the role of Luke Skywalker, sole hope of the downtrodden rebel alliance. Boarding your snow speeder, you take off after the phalanx of mechanical dreadnoughts in an attempt to hold them off for as long as possible while the rest of the base is evacuated.

The snow speeder is controlled via the joystick. The ship is raised or lowered by moving the controller shaft vertically, and thrust is applied in either direction depending on whether it is moved left or right. The action button fires the front-mounted cannon in the direction the ship is facing.

As mentioned previously, these AT-AT’s are not exactly fish in a barrel, despite their enormous size. It requires 48 hits to the body of an All-Terrain Armored Transport to destroy it. Each hit is worth a point and every eight blasts on target changes the Walker’s color to indicate mounting damage.

Your snow speeder can absorb up to five hits—dependent upon how much the computer likes you. Once the ship is damaged, however, it turns white and you must carefully pilot it into a canyon where it will be instantly repaired—unfortunately, however, this quick fix is only good twice for each ship.

For each two-minute period during which the snow speeder eludes a hit, 20 seconds of “The Force” accompanies you. When the Force is with you during this period, players will be able to fire indiscriminately, throwing caution to the winds, since the Walkers cannot harm you during this phase. This sequence is signalled by the playing of the Star Wars theme, a delightfully appropriate sound track that perfectly compliments your twenty seconds of unbridled mayhem.

Once the Force splits, however, it’s back to hit and run tactics. Remember, the Walkers can fire in a 360° range, enabling them to clip you from any angle, no matter how unlikely it may seem.

At the base of the screen is a radar tracking device that allows you to monitor the progress of the five Walkers as they near the power installation. As the game begins, head for the lead AT-AT instantly. Though it isn’t imperative, flying low is generally a sound strategy. Once you reach the first Walker, start to blast away as fast as your little trigger-finger can twitch. Avoid getting too close at the beginning, hanging back until the AT-AT fires its first round. Duck it, and return to your previous position and re-commence firing. Repeat this process over and over. Eventually, you’ll develop a “feel” for when the Walker’s getting ready to fire, making avoidance all the easier. Blow your timing, however, and the big guy will re-track you, lock on and blow you into Star Wars Heaven.

Once the lead Walker is damaged to the point where he has turned yellow, stop firing! This color change indicates the AT-AT will be destroyed within eight shots. Keep in mind that each color change not only weakens the Walker further, but also slows it down. At level yellow the AT-AT is at minimum speed, thereby slowing down the Walkers in line behind it who are unable to pass their leader, giving you more time in your battle to save the base.

Next, move on to the following Walker and deal with it in the same manner. Scan the radar at regular intervals, however, in order to monitor the lead Walker’s progress. When it makes the generator, spin around and polish it off. But make certain that the AT-AT’s new leader is immediately brought down to minimum speed in order to slow down the trailing column.

When playing a game using the “smart bomb” variation, stay clear of the bomb hatches as smart bombs may launch at any time. Once it does launch, begin flying straight in one direction. If it looks as though the speeder is going to be totaled, change direction abruptly while pulling up or down on the stick. This should both confuse the tracking explosive and provide a bigger lead. Stay ahead, and the bomb will eventually give up and disappear.

Another helpful hint: Bomb hatches periodically open, indicated by a glowing, red block. Hit one, and the Walker is instantaneously obliterated, regardless of previous damage inflicted before the blast.

One final caveat, however—when the “Force” is with you, disregard all strategy tips and head directly for the Walker posing the greatest danger. Get in line and start hitting the big, metal monstrosity with everything you’ve got. Don’t stop until the smoke clears and the Empire’s deadly toy is just an unpleasant memory. After all, Ben Kenobi would have wanted it that way…



Cosmic Avenger is a horizontally-scrolling shoot-out along the lines of such arcade favorites as Scramble, Super Cobra, Defender and…Cosmic Avenger, itself! The game is actually a home adaptation of the coin-op by Universal that allows players to pilot bomb and laser-equipped fighter jets over three distinct landscapes. The ship must first breach the alien city, including its buildings, missile launchers and searchlight, and move over a tank track and through an underwater blast-up with submarines, heat-seeking missiles and depth charges.

The trick here is to fly at absolute lowest-level speed and hug the landscape. Staying in the air makes your ship into a sitting duck. Speed up and climb only to avoid otherwise certain death.

In the cityscape scenario, bombs are much more effective than lasers, but since the ColecoVision uses a joystick controller with two action buttons, it becomes possible to fire both weapons simultaneously.

Staying low has several advantages: most of the enemy’s weapons are aimed skyward, for example, and these are all thwarted by hugging the ground. It also allows—with some timing practice—an all but sure-fire way of destroying the missile launchers. Breezing along just over the tower-silos, drop a bomb a heartbeat before passing directly overhead. This bomb will not only take out the silo, but any just-launched heat-seeking missile as well.

On each level of play, however, a joker invades the deck—in the form of a hovering attack ship. Whenever this ship comes flitting into view, diverge from normal tactics and fly up to engage it—otherwise you’ll be facing enemies beside and above you.

On the tank course, drop right to the ground - except, of course, to take on enemy saucers. Otherwise, remain on line with your target’s hindquarters. You can then either obliterate oncoming shells, or simply leap-frog them.

Underwater, as on the tank grounds, bombs are a luxury and your laser becomes your prime weapon. There are no saucers underwater, but you must maneuver through a twisting sea cavern and destroy targets almost entirely horizontal to your position.

Some players prefer to streak through the scenarios—a fruitless approach that garners few points. With each round, the cityscape rises, cutting down on maneuverability—but low-flyers will find this makes play even easier!

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