Parker Bros.
for Atari VCS
1 or 2 players
Rating: PG
Graphics: 6
Game Play: 6
Longevity: 5

The Empire Strikes Back is actually little more than a mildly challenging Defender variant bearing the fabled “Star Wars” name.

You are the pilot of a Snowspeeder (with Defender maneuverability) over the ice planet Hoth. Your task is to destroy the Empire’s Walkers before they blow up the planet’s power generator. You start with five ships and an endless supply of lasers. If you survive for two minutes the “Force” is with you, and your vehicle is invincible for 20 seconds.

Weaken (with about eight hits) as many Walkers as possible during these opening two minutes (it takes 48 hits to kill a Walker). Then use your “Force-time” to go in for the kill.

We like the graphics in The Empire Strikes Back. And we’d say that it offers acceptable game play for younger, less aggressive players. But you’ll get a purer form of its Defender-like format from Activision’s Chopper Command.


Atari, Inc.
for Atari VCS
1 or 2 players
Rating: R
Graphics: 8
Game Play: 8
Longevity: NA

Yes, the price is rather steep, but if you’re a hardcore strategy buff, we doubt that you’ll regret buying Raiders of the Lost Ark. Atari’s powerful new computer coding system (top secret) makes this game one of the most detailed and intriguing ever to come out of the labs.

Like the movie, the game stars Indiana Jones, eternal seeker of the lost Ark of the Covenant. In his journeys through 13 different rooms, Jones must find everything he needs to rescue the ark, while avoiding a host of environmental and man-made dangers that hinder his quest. Remember: These 13 rooms are actually 13 different games. You must quickly learn which of the game elements — snakes, whips, pits, knives, revolvers, etc. — can be used to your advantage.

Make no bones about it — this is not a “cutesy” cartoon game to entertain the kiddies. Mastering Raiders will require complex strategies, a good memory, and lots of time.


Atari, Inc.,
for Atari VCS
1 or 2 players
Rating: PG
Graphics: 7
Game Play: 8
Longevity: 8

For its complex story line, intricate joystick maneuvers, and multiple onscreen activities, Superman could easily have been retitled, “A Day in the Life of a Super Hero.”

And what a day — Superman (alias mild-mannered you-know-who) races against the clock to put Lex Luthor and his mob behind bars; rebuild the destroyed Metropolis Memorial Bridge; and return to the Daily Planet as Clark Kent to hand in his story. Lois Lane appears occasionally to revitalize the Man of Steel after he encounters power-sapping Kryptonite Satellites released by Lex Luthor.

Learn the playing field well: Superman offers 22 distinctive screens, each representing one block of the city. His X-ray vision allows him one block (screen) of foresight.

We recommend the two-player variation at difficulty setting A. This is a faster game, but it allows you to work as a team to rid Metropolis of evil in the name of truth, justice, and the American way.


for Atari VCS
1 or 2 players
Rating: PG
Graphics: 7
Game Play: 7
Longevity: 6

A fine adaptation on one of the most disastrous of the many disaster theme films, Towering Inferno is, quite frankly, a very noisy game. But after turning down the volume on our television set, we found it to be a hot game for the price.

As in the film, the Plaza Skyscraper is ablaze and hundreds are trapped on its upper floors. Amidst wailing sirens and clanging alarms, you direct your firemen (you get four) through the burning building, extinguishing or evading flames to reach the trapped victims and lead them to safety.

In variation 3, difficulty A (our favorite) you should always aim for the areas that are not totally engulfed by flames — move quickly! The spaces between flames will grow closer with each succeeding level.

Towering Inferno is actually a good test of joystick skills (if you keep the volume down) for non-violent players. Hardcore gamers, however, may quickly tire of its lack of shoot-‘em-up action.

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