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My Atari 5200 Star Raiders prototype


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Star Raiders was the first in-depth video game I ever played...and I originally played it on my 5200 during my childhood years.  I still remember Mom taking me to an audio store that some how got some 5200 games in and was allowed to pick one.  There was at least seven or eight games I didn't have on a shelf and went straight to Star Raiders because the box art looked interesting.  I looked at the back screenshot and said, "This one."  Mom asked, "Are you sure?" and looked at the box.  "Yes" I said and it came home with me.  I spent a good week reading the manual and learning how to play the game.  Often times I would just fly around aimlessly because I liked how the ship moved in conjunction with the joystick.  Those analog controls allowed for some precise movement of your spaceship...what you can see of it.  Once I dug into the heart of the game it quickly became a favorite.  Just like my 5200 it is my all-time favorite game above all others.  And I have lots of favorites but this one ... this one ... is my most played game out of a collection of almost 500 games which half of that is physical games...the rest are digital downloads.  

 

You have a neat piece of history there, Lance.  Try it again and be sure to use a keypad overlay to help you see what button does what because that game there really makes you do the keypad dance.  Turn on your shields and computer then hit the Galactic Map to find your enemies.  Move your pointer to a section with enemies and then press the Hyperspace key.  Then get ready to battle!  

 

The creator of the unreleased Star Raiders II actually made an interesting note about the original Star Raiders saying that the player was their own enemy in the game.  The game's logic has a small invisible "box" that is part of a collision detection routine.  If the player is in that "box" when an enemy shoots then the player will get hit.  I never knew of this until recently but the more I played the game after the more that "box" became present.  And to get the best shot in the game you have to aim at the enemy just right (the computer radar on the right-side of the screen will show double-dashes on all four sides) which is also inside that "box".  Interesting, huh?  

 

What you shot down a couple of times, Lance, were asteroids...while they are part of the game they are not a part of the player's goal.  However, that is how I warmed up to the controls and learned to aim my shots so practice on those asteroids when you see them.   

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Star Raiders is one of my all-time favorite games.  But it's the 8-bit version that I love the most.  It came out about 3 years before the 5200 version.  I love the use of the keyboard for the various functions ("S" for shields, for example).  It gave it a real "Star Trek" feel.  This game was a true "killer app" for the 8-bit computers when they first came out. 

 

From what I've heard, the 5200 fixes a few bugs in the 8-bit computer version, but I haven't really noticed a difference.  This was a 5200 game that used the controllers (especially the keypad and overlays) to great effect. 

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I played the 8-bit version in '05 when I picked up an 800.  I wish I still had that computer.  While I enjoyed the game and did like the game displaying, "What is wrong?", when the wrong key was pressed, I did miss the ability to adjust how fast or slow I could move my ship around with the controller.  On the 8-bit the player is stuck with one speed while on the 5200 the speed can be determined by how far you move the joystick in any direction.  To me the 8-bit version player movement seemed a tad bit slower than the 5200 version.  And the fact I had 360 degree movement allowed for more precision targeting.  Both are great games regardless if it's the computer or 5200 version (2600 version is OK).  It does give that Star Trek feel even on the 5200.  Just pretend you are using a communicator ;)

 

"Scotty...send us to this sector!"

 

"Aye, Captain!"

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No, man....speed is controlled on the 8-bit using the 0-9 keys.  "Speed 4, Mr. Sulu". 

 actually both of you are right, and i agree. i should not be to hard on the game, i know it was ground breaking at the time. i guess i am partial to the first person view in star raiders II, it always impressed me, but as games and memory expanded, i should know better.

 i used to carry a atari 8-bit 128k first person perspective game, i cannot remember it now, but it involved a asteroid, and it was impressive.

 

lance

www.atarisales.com

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Oh yeah, I see what you meant now.  Control speed on the fly with the controller.  That is a nice feature on the 5200 version. 

 

The game uses calculated 3D particle effects when you destroy an enemy ship.  The math involved slows the animation down to a crawl...but it looks cool anyways.  I know there has been a homebrew patch to fix this...but it doesn't look as nice. 

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