In a galaxy not too far away, IE my local mall, a new era of entertainment was making the jump to light speed.  Well to be more accurate, blasting quarters into incredible new starships of kid-dome, arcade games.  If you were a kid in the late 70’s or early 80’s, you’ll likely remember these gaming experience clearly, but being THE MONTH for we Star Wars Fans, I thought it might be fun to write about one of my all time favourite games.  So Punch It Chewie - let’s take a trip down memory lane to explore my favourite title & its impact on the gaming industry and Star Wars fandom.

To quickly recap how this all started, it was 1971 - the year of my birth, when Atari founders Nolan Bushnell & Ted Dabney released the first ‘arcade game,’ Computer Space.  In my very young years, I will always remember the day my dad brought home PONG and that was it - HOOKED.  When Taito released Space Invaders in 1978 things started to pick it steam.  Nameco’s PAC-MAN hitting the scene in 1980 was akin to 2021 when Marvel & VeVe released MARVEL COMICS #1 as a digital collectible - there was no turning back, the “industry” had arrived.

It’s now 1983, video game arcades were pumping, and George Lucas' epic space opera, Star Wars, continued captivating audiences around the world.  Expectations for Return of the Jedi’s May 25th release were PALPATINEABLE. When May 5th ’83 arrived though, a techno innovation hit arcades – the very first Star Wars arcade video game.  Atari, THE pioneer of video games (IMHO), introduced "Star Wars: The Arcade Game." Its vector graphics and first-person perspective were considered revolutionary for the time. You stepped into the game’s cockpit as a Rebel Alliance pilot, featuring a yoke controller allowing full control of your X-wing, stereo sound, and the thrill of experiencing space battles firsthand. It was, at the time of course, as immersive an experience as you may have later felt when Star Tours showed up at Disneyland.

The gameplay was simple, but addictive. Players had to navigate the treacherous trench run on the Death Star and destroy it with a perfectly timed shot, all while fending off TIE Fighters and avoiding obstacles. The game's difficulty level added to its appeal – it was no T16 shooting womp rats, but this kept you coming back for more…we couldn’t stack enough quarters! The 3D graphics were cutting-edge at the time, and the sound effects, including the iconic Star Wars music transported players immediately into action.

What made this game particularly memorable though, was its ability to tap into the (growing) Star Wars fandom. Its release coincided with the thriving popularity of the Star Wars franchise. With the original trilogy well underway, the game provided fans with an opportunity to engage with their favourite universe in a completely new way. The arcade cabinet itself was as appealing as a great comic cover or movie poster, featuring a vibrant, hand-painted rendition of the iconic Star Wars poster on the side. It really was impossible to resist the urge to dive in.

When it FINALLY released for home-gaming on the Atari 2600, oh yeah…it was added to my collection.  For those of you who really enjoy those 1980’s TV commercials, you’re going to love re-watching this one, but back in the day when my hair was thick, the ‘effect’ made perfect sense!

As we make the jump to the present day, we all know the gaming industry has come a far, far way. Graphics are hyper-realistic, immersive, web-connected experiences are abundant and we’re at the galaxy’s edge of seeing NFT gaming & associated blockchain rewards and collectibles become as popular as your favourite Star Wars plastic figurines.

Nevertheless, the first Star Wars arcade game left an indelible mark as a pioneer in combining movie tie-ins with video games, which we see frequently today. This game laid the foundation for the countless Star Wars video games that followed, from the X-Wing and TIE Fighter series to Knights of the Old Republic and the modern Battlefront titles.

Great recent examples include Marvel dropping it's PHANTOM MENACE 25th Anniversary comic edition, or a legion of FAN-tastic Star Wars titles on the VeVe Comics app to coordinate & engage May-the-4th / Revenge-of-the-5th fans in fun, new ways.

Beyond its impact on gaming, it also demonstrated the potential of gaming as a source of immersive entertainment. Arcades were our social hubs, drawing crowds of enthusiastic players, building community and amplifying the Star Wars brand. It exemplified the idea that video games could be more than just a pastime; they could be an experience that brings people together.  Looking back, I can't help but appreciate the nostalgia it evokes from those dimly lit arcades, taking down the Death Star. While it may not be at the forefront of modern gaming, it played a crucial role in shaping the industry and bringing the magic of Star Wars to a new medium.


That innovation, combined with the power of nostalgia is a reminder how brands and communities can grow together to achieve incredible things.  Looking ahead, I am THRILLED to own some of Star Wars’ first ever DIGITAL COLLECTIBLES that are already offering millions of new collecting experiences, while still enjoying the Kenner Vaders, Stormtroopers & Fetts that still adorn my office desk.

Pairing with advancements in augmented reality, virtual gaming and yes (I’ll say it again), METAVERSES, we’re about to enter a galaxy that is no longer, all that far away. Whatever your virtual arcade room looks like, MTFBWY - ALWAYS!!!

Thank You for Reading!