Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

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SHaines
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Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by SHaines » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:10 pm

In July of 1980, Atari released the classic arcade game, Missile Command in North America and Europe. Many games of the time were set in fantasy worlds where the stakes were fairly limited. Missile Command was unusual in the sense that it took the real-world fear that plagued the world during the Cold War and gave average people a chance to see how things could theoretically play out.

Check out our RetroGamer post on this arcade classic here:
https://www.retrogamer.net/retro_games8 ... e-command/

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Story: You're a regional military commander in charge of protecting six cities from being destroyed by a barrage of incoming missiles.

Gameplay: This video game introduced many gamers to the roller ball (track ball) controller. Use the track ball to move a cross hair around the screen while launching defensive missiles to blow up incoming attacks. As you progress through levels, the enemies begin to fire new weapons. These weapons include smart missiles that can evade defensive attacks as well as satellites that can launch additional missiles.

Play: While it can definitely get hectic quickly, the game still brings something to the table for fans of retro games. Check it out in your browser by clicking here:
http://www.arcadedivision.com/classicga ... mmand.html

Popular Culture: While not directly referenced, I'm of the firm belief that Missile Command was a big influence on the visual style of "game play" used in the film War Games. More directly, MC was referenced in one of my favorite tv shows as a kid, Barney Miller. It was also an influence on an episode of the series, Check, on NBC.

Fun Fact: Adding this type of controller to Missile Command adds a realism most players would never notice because track balls were originally created for military use. The six cities you are charged with protecting in the game were based on six California cities; Eureka, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, and San Diego.

Missile Command was an early example of "realistic" military games that used the technology available at the time to give players a glimpse into the ramifications of modern warfare. Was this a game you played as a kid, or later in life?

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SJ_Sathanas
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Re: Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by SJ_Sathanas » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:15 pm

Made a brief appearance in Terminator 2, of course.

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Re: Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by Antiriad2097 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:49 am

The VCS version plays surprisingly well with the trackball (thanks Steve), even with the concessions made to fit the format.

Popular Culture: A whole episode of Chuck (Season 2 Episode 5) centres around Missile Command, with the game being central to the plot.
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Re: Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by Megamixer » Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:13 am

Yeah, the VCS/2600 port is brilliant. It's the only game I play on one of those handheld retro Atari things that I have. Really does have that "one more go" factor going for it and the sound effects are fantastic.
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Re: Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by Antiriad2097 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:06 am

The trackball really raises the bar with it though, making a huge difference to it, it just feels so right.
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Re: Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by hobbes64 » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:56 pm

The Atari Home computer version was very good. It was able to have many more explosions on the screen so it was much closer to the arcade. It also had the bombers and satellites. It has a secret trackball mode too. I think it was enabled by pressing ctrl-T. I tried it once by using an Atari ST mouse since I didn't have a trackball. It worked very well and made the game much easier.
Antiriad2097 wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:49 am
The VCS version plays surprisingly well with the trackball (thanks Steve), even with the concessions made to fit the format.

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Re: Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by kiwimike » Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:47 am

I never got to try the coin op, would have loved to with track ball as I love all the home and handheld versions I have played

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Re: Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by Antiriad2097 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:23 am

kiwimike wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:47 am
I never got to try the coin op, would have loved to with track ball as I love all the home and handheld versions I have played
Get yourself along to a retro event. The first time you walk into a hall full of old arcade cabs and consoles is great, especially as you approach and get surrounded by the wall of old familiar sounds and the smell of hot circuits. Its an amazing nostalgia kick and Missile Command is invariably to be found somewhere.
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Re: Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by Matt_B » Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:57 am

Yeah, it's a game that really loses something without the trackball controls. If you have to play it with anything else, I find the next best thing is a mouse.

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Re: Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by Havantgottaclue » Tue Jul 30, 2019 5:15 am

I remember playing this one on the Atari 2600. I’ve never played it with trackball but I must have played a few remakes with mouse. I may be wrong, but I think this was one of those games that you often found in PD libraries for the Amiga/ST. I think the fact that you had mouse control meant that it was much more playable than the 8-bit versions (I did have a mouse for the C64 but that was almost exclusively for playing Arkanoid, with a bit of fiddling around in paint packages on occasion).

Also, it’s a game which sort of goes nowhere really in the history of gaming, one of those probably many concepts that never really developed. I suppose when you think about it, a great many games from those early times were one-offs.
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Re: Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by kiwimike » Wed Jul 31, 2019 1:53 am

Yeah any times I've been to old arcades or retro events, Missile Command hasn't been there. Which is a shame as the ones I seek out are the ones with unique controls, usually the two sticks like Robotron or Crazy Climber. Our local retro arcade doesn't have it, actually I must send them a FB message as they do change their machines from time or time, on the very (slight) chance they may have it in their storage

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Re: Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by Nin10dofan » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:40 pm

I had missile command on the 2600. I now have it on the 2600 retro atari number 3, amazing the way games like missile command , thrust ,lunar lander, gravitor , gravitar, defender, never get out of date there still great games . I play them alot . I mean games like lunar lander are still in the small retro areas in some arcades. Brilliant🚂🚂🚂🚂🚂
Last edited by Nin10dofan on Sat Oct 19, 2019 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Retrogaming Spotlight: Missile Command

Post by Shinobi » Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:34 pm

I saw Missile Command in arcades back in the day but only played it recently in Arcade Club.

Own the Atari 2600 version so I was surprised to shoot down Satellites and aircraft. Really needs to be played on the original cabinet to fully do it justice with the multiple buttons and trackball
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