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Was Star Raiders a Good Game?


Justin
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Was Star Raiders a good game? On the Atari 2600 or the Atari 8-Bit Computers? How does it hold up today?

When I first bought Star Raiders I was very excited. It was 1993 and I was beginning my "classic gaming" journey, beginning to collect not only for games I had grown up with, but those I had missed. Star Raiders was one of those games. I had seen so much about it, but never had it and felt like I had missed out on the Star Raiders hype when it was new. I was able to acquire a nice Star Raiders complete in the box, one that came not only with the Star Raiders Atari Video Touch Pad, but also with the Star Raiders Atari Force comic book. It seemed like Atari had gone all out for this game, it was to be one of their pillar titles. And it seemed to have sold well in its time!

Once I got home from the flea market that Saturday night and got set up to play Star Raiders, I found it more confusing and uneventful than I had expected. I really wanted to enjoy the game, and I did to some degree, but it seemed like another one of those games like E.T. where Atari had a fun idea of delivering the "Star Wars experience" at home, but they were forcing it onto hardware that, even at the time, was dated. But I enjoyed what it was supposed to be, dove into the the little universe Star Raiders tried to create, had fun chasing after the pseudo-"Tie Fighters" and appreciated what Atari was able to do on the 2600. I think it's time I pull out Star Raiders and give it another go!

So what do you think? How was your experience with Star Raiders? Did you enjoy it when it was new, and do you enjoy it today? Was Star Raiders effective with the Video Touch Pad? WAS IT A GOOD GAME?

 

 

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On the 2600 it  captures the spirt of the computer version.  I think Starmaster is a better game but I come back to this one because of the touchpad which makes it feel like I am in the bridge of a space ship.

On the Atari computer though Star Raiders is flat out amazing.   I had it as a kid and had no clue how to play it since I got a free copy from my friends dad at Atari and did not have a manual.  Recently played it and was blown away.  I am getting better every time but far from mastering it.  The strategy of managing your shields, energy, computer and the shooting is great.  One of the best games on the Atari computers.   It is also a unique experience vs anything else.

Edited by AtariSphinx
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I'm not a fan of the 2600 version of the game at all. Like @AtariSphinx stated, Star Master is a better game in this regard. The touchpad was a cool idea to include, but the actual game play was far too choppy overall to be enjoyed. And yes, it was actually the 5200 version of the game along with Fractalus that made me seek out and get a 5200. Star Raiders on the 5200 is even better than the 8-bit as it takes advantage of the analog controls of the 5200 while having the keypad also right at your easy reach for the functions. 

See what I'm up to over at the Ivory Tower Collections: http://www.youtube.com/ivorytowercollections

 

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I enjoyed the 2600 version but, to be honest, it doesn't hold a candle to Starpath's Phaser Patrol.  It was the pack-in game for the SuperCharger and it showed off what could be done with the add-on. It, instead of a keypad, it uses all the buttons on the console for the different functions.  The shield raising and lowering also looks cool!

🖖 Going to the final frontier, gaming...

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The 5200 Star Raiders was my first time stepping in this game.  As mentioned before me it took full advantage of the controller features.  I later got the 2600 version and was disappointed with it.  Not that it was bad it just didn't hold up to a version I had played prior.  After that I got the 8-bit version and was OK with that but I missed my analog controls.

If the 2600 was all one had to play Star Raiders on, and you were OK with it, more power to them.  Personally, I stick with the 5200 version 

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The 8-bit version of Star Raiders is in my top-10 all-time favorite games.  It felt like Star Trek for real to me.  I loved it and I still play it now.

I bought the 2600 version too, probably because it was on clearance sale and that big box with the extra controller was too appealing to ignore.  It's amazing to me how much of the original game they captured.  However, the actual battle play is way too choppy and random. 

@TrekMD mentioned Phaser Patrol.  I agree with that being a far superior game.  The only thing that would have made it better is usage of that Star Raiders gamepad.  I also really like the M-Network Space Attack. 

To answer the original question -- the 2600 version IS a good game.  It pushed the envelope on what the 2600 could do and the few games with special controllers were always a treat.

The 8-bit version is a classic.  It's astoundingly good.  It was an early release too.  A "killer app".  One other note -- I doubt any other computer of that era could handle that game as smoothly as the Atari 8-bit did. 

 

 

 

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I also agree that Phaser Patrol is superior to both Star Raiders and Star Master on the 2600. But I didn't even know that game existed back in the day. In fact, the first time I even heard of the Super Charger was shortly after I got back into retro gaming and a buddy of mine at work at the time mentioned the game and SC and I was like...what heck are your talking about? He then brought it up to work one day for all of us to check out.

I only finally got around to buying a SC with Phaser Patrol as the pack in about a year ago to test with my 7800. Good to report it does work just fine on my 7800 but did require me to modify my cartridge port to allow it to fit all the way in.

 

See what I'm up to over at the Ivory Tower Collections: http://www.youtube.com/ivorytowercollections

 

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2 hours ago, DegasElite said:

I thought the SuperCharger cartridge needed to be modified itself before it could be used on the A7800. Not the console itself. Interesting. I thought it was an internal issue in the cartridge, not a problem with fitting. 

That is what has been reported in the past. But so far every 7800 I've attempted to use my SC with has worked just fine. The main issue is that the dust pegs on the SC are not spring loaded and they extend quite a bit forward. As a result, the SC is not able to be seated in all the way into the cartridge port of the 7800. Even if you have one that has been modified to allow for 3rd party carts to fit, it still won't without further modification.

The issue is that the section on the cartridge port on the ends where 7800 carts fit? You know the extra cart slot section? Well, just off from those is where the dust pegs enter for 2600 carts to fit. But, at the very bottom of those openings is additional molding on the cartridge sleeve where screws are used to hold the sleeve down onto the main board and against the actual cartridge slot. If you remove those sections of plastic, then the SC can seat down all the way to make proper contact and work. Same with Tigervision carts that are similar. However, doing this means that the only way the cartridge sleeve can stay in place, is with the small plastic snap tabs that also lock it down. If those should break, then the cartridge sleeve would have too much slop and move around making it kinda of a challenge to insert games sometimes.

Curt Vendel was supposed to be working on a solution for that but I never got to see the designs he came up with to try and counter again this. The most obvious solution would have been to extend the plastic molding downwards through the main board openings and then use a small piece of plastic that you would then attach the screws into. This way it would be attached below the PCB and not through it and topside of the PCB as it does currently.

 

See what I'm up to over at the Ivory Tower Collections: http://www.youtube.com/ivorytowercollections

 

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Some Supercharger games have issues with certain 7800 variations:

http://www.ataricompendium.com/faq/faq.html#software18

There's a mod you can do to the 7800 to make it fully compatible with the Supercharger, but I don't know of any mod for the Supercharger.

 

VCS Star Raiders was certainly adequate at the time.  Not the best, and not the worst.  That, Starmaster, and Phaser Patrol all got rave reviews back then, with Star Voyager, Space Attack, and Star Ship bringing up the rear (http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/reviews/reviews.html)  No, none of them are equal to the original 800 Star Raiders.  The entire VCS package was impressive for the reasons you mentioned.  I had hoped Atari would have utilized the VTP for more games, but much like the Driving Controllers, it was another 'one and done'.  Although Star Raiders wasn't the first "1st-person cockpit" space game (Atari's Starship 1 and VCS Star Ship) get the nod, Star Raiders was the 800's first 'killer app' and influenced a slew of similar games, with 800 Rescue on Fractalus and VCS Solaris being the best for those systems IMO (XTAL for the 800 also gets my vote).  

Edited by Scott Stilphen
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12 hours ago, Scott Stilphen said:

Some Supercharger games have issues with certain 7800 variations:

http://www.ataricompendium.com/faq/faq.html#software18

There's a mod you can do to the 7800 to make it fully compatible with the Supercharger, but I don't know of any mod for the Supercharger.

 

VCS Star Raiders was certainly adequate at the time.  Not the best, and not the worst.  That, Starmaster, and Phaser Patrol all got rave reviews back then, with Star Voyager, Space Attack, and Star Ship bringing up the rear (http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/reviews/reviews.html)  No, none of them are equal to the original 800 Star Raiders.  The entire VCS package was impressive for the reasons you mentioned.  I had hoped Atari would have utilized the VTP for more games, but much like the Driving Controllers, it was another 'one and done'.  Although Star Raiders wasn't the first "1st-person cockpit" space game (Atari's Starship 1 and VCS Star Ship) get the nod, Star Raiders was the 800's first 'killer app' and influenced a slew of similar games, with 800 Rescue on Fractalus and VCS Solaris being the best for those systems IMO (XTAL for the 800 also gets my vote).  

Correct, the same fix for the Activision carts work for the SC games as well. Disabling the extra timing circuit by clipping (or better desoldering) one of the legs from C64 on the right hand, middle portion of the main board. 

In fact SC games not working or not, can be replicated using the UNO or Harmony since it is the extra timing circuit that makes those games incompatible with the SC. I did a video showcasing all of this sometime back.

 

See what I'm up to over at the Ivory Tower Collections: http://www.youtube.com/ivorytowercollections

 

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14 hours ago, Scott Stilphen said:

Driving Controllers, it was another 'one and done

At least for the VTP you can also use them instead of the kids controller and the keypads if you don't mind not using the overlays (not that those are great to play).  Agreed shame they did not use it for any "real" game.

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