I've had to fight to suppress my urge to write about this before it happened. Since last Saturday when instead of typing 'arcade' or 'arcade cabinet' into the Craigslist search bar, I decided to try 'upright' which yielded a ton of results, so I added the keyword 'game' and got one result back. It was not the result I was expecting.
Over the next few days I wrote back and forth with the owner, requesting additional photographs of the interior, and scarcely believing the quality and overall cleanliness of what he sent back. This game has some issues, which is my preferred method of saving money on the purchase price. I had little hope of ever finding an Atari Star Wars upright in my area, much less in my ballpark range, but there it was. With a little haggling and the assistance of my very strong friend who came with me (always bring a friend on a Craigslist arcade purchase, a hand truck and tools), well, the result you can see in the photo.
What are the issues? There is a video rendering problem that is immediately apparent when the system is turned on and warms up a bit. Lines are all over the place, and have a tendency to bounce up and down. Firing lasers causes them to travel off in different directions instead of focusing toward the center of the screen. The screen blinks periodically during game play, almost as if the entire machine is having a big hiccup. However, there is a clear response from the flight controls, the buttons all appear to work, and there is midi music and sound effects. I have noticed a lack of voice audio, however, so I will need to review the manuals for this system and try to figure out what causes what.
As far as the graphics are concerned, I am under the assumption that there is some mild corrosion built up on the socketed ROM terminal contacts. The PCBs for the monitor in this system that I've seen so far are very clean, but I have not yet removed the ones inside the metal cage for inspection. The audio regulator (AR-II) appears to be very clean also, but I have not yet inspected it, and I need to see whether it is eligible for the AR-II mod, or whether that is even a recommended practice for this system.
The former owner had this machine in a finished basement for around six years, and the big blue capacitor attached to the isolation transformer at the bottom of the cabinet looks nearly identical to the ones in my Pole Position, so I'm assuming it is old, has dried out and needs replacement. I'll even go out on a limb and suggest that there's a high probability that this one part is the only part that needs replacement for the graphics and audio issues to sort themselves out, but I intend to do a formal inspection and will also research "bullet-proofing" on the Atari Star Wars before I allow it to be used for extended play. The one possible issue I may run into is vector monitors are notoriously difficult to deal with. This one was reconditioned about four years ago, so I'm hoping it's still in decent shape. I saw no indications of corrosion in the monitor PCBs or in its vicinity, so I rather hope I'm correct there.
When I get a chance to take better photos I will be updating the Arcade Games section of this site. I also plan to update this post with less technical info.