Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Missile Command

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bill-swift - May 7, 2014

It's pretty darn likely that humankind will eventually wipe themselves out. We do seem to love the whole guns, violence, polluting, developing-super-ass-whupper-weapons-in-secret-labs thing, after all. Science fiction is full of sentient robots calling us out on this; remember V.I.K.I bitching at Will Smith in I, Robot?

So there's a grim thought to chew on on a Tuesday morning. While we're... chewing, let's take a look at Missile Command, reminding us of this sad fact in piss-poor blur-o-vision since 1980.

Another Atari arcade release, it's a simple shooter. Much like every other effing game of the era, you may think. But wait! Come back! This one plays quite differently. We're taking a defensive role here, as opposed to the usual blowing shit right up. Well, that is to say we're defending the world by blowing shit right up, but let's not get pernickety there.

You're the commander of three anti-missile artillery batteries, and must save the asses of the tiny imaginary residents of six tiny imaginary cities. This is achieved by targeting the incoming ballistics with your big ol' angry cannons. See those little blue spiky dudes at the bottom of the screen? That's them, right there. The bigger blue spiky things are the cities. One must explode so that the other freaking doesn't. With us so far?

How you know shit has got real: there are red lines everywhere.

Missile Command, in its original form, is renowned for being quite an oddity. It was a bugger to aim your shots at first, what with those peculiar trackball controls, and the arcade cabinet was quirky to say the least. It was also decorated with all manner of complex looking buttons which didn't damn well do anything. But hey, when you wanted a touch of what-the-shit-is-this, NASA mission control complexity in your Eighties gaming, this was the title to turn to.

As is always the case with such games, the difficulty steadily ramped up to butt-kicking levels. Later stages herald the arrival of the terrifying Super Missile-y Mofos (or whichever personal name you chose for them), which could only be dispatched by a pixel-perfect shot. You had to take some freaking care at the best of times, because each battery had limited ammunition and was rendered useless for the rest of the level if it ran dry.

Missile Command
is regarded as a classic of the Golden Age of arcade games. It has, as such, been ported and/or remade across every damn machine you care to mention. It stands alongside Pac-Man and Tetris as one of those truly timeless games.

Source of images: FromtheArcade.

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