Missile Command

Missile Command is awesome, but sometimes I just want to skip the first 9 waves.

Review Date: January 12, 2021

Release Date: April X, 1981 (my quest to find the exact date bombed)

Platform: Atari 800 (and others, but the 800 version really blew up in my house)

Genre: Shooter

Anecdotes: In the summer of 1985, 8 year old me was up really late one night. I had no memory of ever being up past midnight, so it was exciting for an 8 year old. My parents had people over so we could all enjoy the swimming pool. At 10 o’clock, they kicked us out of the pool and made us kids go inside. My brothers fell asleep, but I didn’t, so I fired up the Atari and played some Missile Command. Good God, I loved that game. I’d play and play, even the variations “Skip0” to “Skip9.” The palette changes after every two waves intrigued me. The goofy random musical notes when getting a bonus city were funny. Good playthroughs tended to end on the yellow waves; bad ones didn’t get that far. I once saw the gray waves. It was that playthrough late at night when I first saw the red waves and learned the colors reset after red. I hopped into the swimming pool the next day thinking about my great accomplishment.

I got to the first gray level, but a smart missile dodged my shot and it was game over.

Description: You are tasked with protecting six cities (rumor has it they’re all California cities) by controlling a missile base. You have three types of weaponry to destroy: linear bombs, war planes, and smart missiles. Meanwhile, the enemy (who the enemy is is never specified) will target up to three of your cities per wave, plus they can get your missile base. Your missiles are stocked in groups of six, with a limit of 30 per wave. If the base gets bombed, you lose what’s left of the stock of six, but it’s refilled if you haven’t used all 30 missiles. The game ends when you lose all six cities.

1-2-3-4-5. Bonus cities keep me alive.

Positives: There’s a lot to like here. Shooting for a high score was almost addictive. With a bonus city every 10,000 points, scores could go even higher. The game also “banks” bonus cities if you finish rounds with all six cities standing. Smart missiles don’t appear in the first five waves, so new players have it a bit easier. Smart missiles require either a dead-on hit or a complete surround of bombs to defeat. It’s harder, but not excessive or unfair. Once you get past wave 8, the background colors vary and seeing the new colors is an achievement, until the palette resets to the first palette.

And my best game came to an end here.

Negatives: You will fail to protect the cities. It’s inevitable that you get to the “The End” screen.

Grade: A

1 comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *