Sunday, October 17, 2010

Game of the Week: Missile Command

When the arcade game explosion hit in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were a ton of video games in which the player controlled a spaceship or some-such that shot down alien spaceships in the sky. Space Invaders is the grandfather of this genre, but there were plenty of other games along similar lines, such asGalaga.

But then in 1980 along came Missile Command, which at that time was quite the unique game. First off, Missile Command did not have a joystick, but had a controller ball instead, and that was many players' first experience using a controller ball.

And then there was the unique gameplay. Instead of shooting down alien attackers from the sky, the player had to use missile bases to protect cities while shooting down incoming enemy missiles. One a wave of enemy missiles was defeated, then the player went on to the next round of attacks. It might not sound that different from those alien-shoot-em-up games, but the gameplay actually is quite a bit different.

It was also a lot of fun. For me, I never could catch the knack of mastering Missile Command, but I still had loads of fun with the first screen or two that I could get to. I think it was the controller ball that threw me off, because thirty years later I still can't seem to master controller balls and prefer a mouse or joystick for my gaming.

Missile Command is an iconic game from the golden age of gaming, and it has proven so popular the game has been ported to many different home, computer and handheld gaming systems. Missile Command even pops up in new, graphically enhanced versions from time to time on modern home video game systems. But why shouldn't it? It's an awesome game.

Related links
What was the very first video game?
Star Castle nearly forgotten, but great arcade game
Classic Video Gamers, a blog for old school gamers

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