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Missile Command (Atari 2600)

Atari 5200 Guy



Introduction Header

Ahh. Missile Command. A game that reminds me of the ABC Network movie called The Day After. If you've never seen the movie I will share it on the forums here at Atari.IO. Watch it and you will see why I feel the two are almost connected.


Missile Command is an arcade-style game where the player is protecting six cities from wave after wave of attacks. First a few missiles, then a few more missiles. These are soon joined with bi-planes, satellites, and more to increase the challenge as if there already wasn't enough. It's enough to make one pull their hair out.


GamePlay Header

Popping the cartridge in the 2600 I am greeted with a game screen where I can change skill levels and settings. I go with default settings. First wave of missiles I fend off easily. The next round introduces a few more missiles than before. By the third round I'm fending off bi-planes as well, by the fifth round there are these little, annoying, small triangles coming down that manage to avoid my shots. But I manage to save all six cities. I lose my first city by round eight. As the game progresses the speed at which things are coming out of the sky is overwhelming and by the tenth round it's game over.


Overall Header

Being played on the 2600 Missile Command is a very well made port. But it is also a game where the player will lose, it's only a matter of how skilled a player is and how much time they are willing to spend playing it. The visuals of the game are not too different from the arcade. I didn't notice any flickering and the sounds are OK. Despite being a track-ball game the controls are very well done for the joystick controller.


Missile Command appears to be about an era when worries of nuclear attacks were an everyday fear. I'm not so sure if those fears still exist or even if the underground facilities for such an event are still around either. Missile Command might have more to do with history, not video game history but actual history, in the fact that it portrays what would happen in an all-out missile attack anywhere in the world. Even with the most sophisticated technology to help protect against such an attack, cities would be wiped off the map, lives would be lost, civilizations destroyed. But, it is only a game and well made one at that. And the 2600 does a very decent job of bringing home the arcade that was once a hit.


Missile Command is one of those games you either like it or you don't. It is a very common 2600 title so it shouldn't be too difficult to find. No Atari 2600 would be the same without Missile Command in a game library. I'm just not too sure how often I would play it.


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