In 1985, Atari released its third arcade game based on the incredibly popular film series Star Wars. Atari's Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is based on the 1980 movie of the same name. Although based on the second movie of the series, this arcade game was actually the third Star Wars game to be produced (Return of the Jedi was released in 1984). Like the first Star Wars arcade game, The Empire Strikes Back features stunning full-color vector graphics produced by the Atari color X-Y generator.
The game play of The Empire Strikes Back features battle scenes taken directly from the movie. As Luke Skywalker, players must first search and destroy Imperial probes on the icy planet of Hoth. Then players command a Rebel snowspeeder in a battle against AT-AT walkers. After defeating the Imperial forces, players become Han Solo, commander of the Millennium Falcon. While warding off TIE fighter attacks, players fly the Millennium Falcon off of Hoth and into an asteroid field. Successful navigation of the asteroid field allows players to move on to the next level- featuring the same game play at higher difficulty.
The Empire Strikes Back was produced as a conversion kit for the first Star Wars game. The third game would never attain the level of cult fandom that the original game did. Nonetheless, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back remains a part of the Star Wars legacy.