Friday, February 08, 2019

Missile Command

[ my video recording shows both colour and monochrome games ]

Straight out of the golden age of Atari's retro gaming archives is Missile Command, a phenomenal shooter I played a lot but possibly more so on my old Speccy thanks to Ocean's Armageddon, a fantastic conversion.

This cold war era shoot 'em up was all about protecting the cities of Zardon from a constant ballistic missile attack: aliens from Krytol noticed how prosperous Zardon is so want to free-roll in and take everything for themselves. You are Zardon's only hope so grab hold of the mouse and use your arsenal to defend us all from annihilation!

Yeah, baby!! You heard that correctly, Missile Command supports colour AND monochrome.

This game has always been darn cool and the ST has received a faithful conversion that feels just as good as I hoped. There's support for one or two players which can also be configured to enable/disable other features like the enemy's multiple warheads and smart bombs. Initial attack waves start at a slow and sedate pace (can be skipped) but this war soon gets crazy when the Krytolians start using faster missiles and dreaded smart bombs. Trying to detonate these is so tricky, especially during the heat of battle when you don't wanna run out of ammo!

Unlike other home conversions, the ST game makes convenient use of its tank mouse which is just perfect for precise control. Both mouse buttons are used to fire a limited supply of ammo - the left button fires from the left base and, well, I'm sure you've guessed what the right button does? The controls are simple and genius.

The action soon gets hectic and it's a panic trying to hit everything. Yeah, I fail pretty quickly...

Visually, don't expect to be blown away. The graphics are typically crude for such an early arcade game - most of the screen is simply a blank canvas. However, that's the charm of early retro games when gameplay mattered most and I feel they've captured this (ahem) very well. You know, I do admire those blocky cities (which I'm supposed to save from an explosive death) but I also love the whacky colours and font. Yep, it's silly but so am I :)

Sound effects are fine but I am a little disappointed Atari didn't roll their sleeves up and go that extra mile as we've all heard (far) better from the old YM chip. Also, this isn't exactly pushing the Atari ST to its limits, so why not use samples? Hmm, it's a little bland in the audio dept and definitely needed a something with a little pizzazz.

You're almost done when the missiles explode far too close for comfort [my old man reactions!]

Missile Command is such a simple game and one of the best from that early era. Fans of the original should appreciate what is an authentic arcade conversion and one which certainly brought back lots of great memories for me. This is fast, frantic and bucket loads of fun so that's a thrilling win in my book. A timeless classic.

Okay, this was hardly a mind-blowing review as I'm sure everyone knows this great game so grab a floppy or the hard disk version and defend Zardon from its inevitable annihilation. I hope you last longer than I did in my video!!


  1. This is one of the Few ST Atari coin-ops (Joust being another good one) that in feel were better than their 8-bit counter parts.

    1. That's a great game isn't it. Yes, there are some cracking conversions but there are also some sloppy ones too. All depends on the developers, of course. Look on this site for Berzerk. I personally was blown away by the ST game, but of course, look at the developer.... :)

  2. never try it, but one thing for sure, The ST could really have use some more Conversions of old arcade games, like tracker field, time pilot ect.