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Missile Command Review

Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: 1981 Also On: None

Arcade to console conversions became a big thing on the Atari 2600 after Space Invaders popularized the system. Many classic arcade games of the era found their way onto Atari 2600 cartridges. One of those games is Missile Command. With its simple to understand but difficult to execute gameplay, Missile Command is a fairly addictive addition to the Atari 2600’s library and a game that should be owned by any gamer who enjoys Atari 2600 games.

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The concept of Missile Command isn’t difficult to understand, as I mentioned. You have six cities along the bottom of the screen, three on each side of an army base armed with missiles. Somebody above the screen doesn’t like these cities and has decided to bombard them with missiles of their own. Your job is to use your missiles to destroy those missiles before they destroy your cities, but it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

You see, like most missiles, it takes time for your missiles to reach their destination. As a result of this fact, you need to know not where the enemy’s missile is that you’re firing at, but where it is going to be when your missile gets there. Also complicating matters is the fact that one of your missiles will take out as many of the enemy’s missiles as are within its blast radius, and you get a bonus at the end of the level for how many missiles you have left. You also get a bonus for how many cities survive. These bonuses are necessary because cities are revived when certain scores are reached.

The graphics are pretty good for 1981, with fairly small pixels for the missiles and the trails that the enemy’s missiles leave. The color scheme isn’t too involved though, boasting fairly few colors on screen at once. To get by that though, the color scheme changes every couple levels to eliminate the boredom of the same color scheme for the entire game. The only major sound effect in this game is explosions and, for this being an Atari 2600 game, they sound pretty good. The sound effects for the movement of the enemy missiles that don’t leave a trail or of your missiles firing are also decent.

You can tell where you’re aiming because there will be a little cursor indicating that. You simply move the cursor with the joystick and hit the button to fire a missile. You can have up to three missiles on the screen at a time, and can fire a maximum of thirty missiles in a round. Should your military base get hit, you will lose whatever is left of the set of ten missiles you are currently using, so protecting your base is almost as important as protecting the cities.

Overall, this is a very addictive game with reasonably good graphics and sound for the time period. However, even the games with the best graphics and sound must survive on their gameplay, particularly for an era this old. I would recommend that anybody who enjoys the older games from this era and that don’t have this game yet find it. Its addictiveness alone makes it worth it.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 7.5
Written by Martin Review Guide