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Based on the original Star Wars film, this game had players reliving the climactic assault on the Death Star in the Battle of Yavin. Players fly their X-Wing through three stages to destroy the Death Star. After that, they attack it again at a higher difficulty until they get a game over.
The arcade game had two different kinds of cabinets: a traditional stand-up cabinet like most arcade games, and also a sit down cockpit version similar to what you'd see in driving games. The controller was an analog yoke which offered a high level of precision when aiming the on screen reticle to attack various targets.
The gameplay was split into three sections. In the first section, you approach the Death Star in what is essentially a rail shooter
. In this section, players do not have control of where their ship flies. TIE Fighters
shoot "fireballs" at players, which can then be shot down to avoid taking damage. Players can also shoot Darth Vader's TIE Advanced
for a large bonus, but it is not possible to destroy his ship.
In the next section, players skim the surface of the Death Star to attack turrets and towers. In this section, players have full control of where they fly and must weave in between the towers while also shooting them down. Each tower they destroy offers a much higher point bounty than the one before it, and a bonus is awarded to players who can destroy all of the towers before time runs out. This section of the game is skipped on level 1.
The final section of the game recreates the climactic trench run. Turrets shoot more fireballs at the player while they navigate the trench. Players can fire at the turrets and fireballs to help defend themselves, but will receive a huge bonus if they are able to "Use the Force" to fly through the trench without firing any shots. At the end of the level, the player must fire a proton torpedo at the exhaust port to win the game and start again on the next difficulty. Depending on the arcade machine's dip switches, bonus shields are sometimes awarded for the next round.