Launched in 1979, there was little doubt where Exidy got the inspiration for StarFire. From the logo to the ship design to the very concept, everything about the game screamed Star Wars – and back in 1979, that was a very good thing to scream.
StarFire recreated the outer space dogfighting of the 1977 blockbuster movie, putting your craft in a battle against a force of ships that looked suspiciously like Imperial TIE fighters. Seen from a first-person view, the game forced players to line up the enemy ships in their crosshairs, firing when the computer locked on.
As the game went on, the ships changed from blue (lowest point value) to green (medium) to yellow (big points), but the hunt remained the same.
And just to prove it was an equal-opportunity game, StarFire threw in an “Exidy Pirate Spaceship” that looked exactly like a Battlestar Galactica Viper Starfighter.
The enemies fired back with giant fireballs, which had to be evaded with the pilot’s steering yoke and speed control lever.
Since the game was timed, the fireballs didn’t cost any lives, but they did knock you back down to fighting low-point-value blue ships.
The dogfight continued until the fuel ran out (essentially a timer), and the only way to keep the fighters coming was to pop in another coin.
StarFire may have borrowed a few (or several) ideas from Star Wars, but the tables were turned in 1983. In that year, Atari released a Star Wars arcade game with a first stage that was eerily similar to Exidy’s 1979 game. Even the fireballs and control yoke were co-opted – proving that the Force knows a good idea when it sees one.