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Missile Command

July 2, 2012

A trackball along with three buttons do not seem like much to most gamers nowadays, but for the core retro enthusiasts, these were the primary defense controls against incoming havoc! Missile Command was one of the many innovative games by Atari and was released in 1980. It featured simplistic gameplay, amazing sounds and a fresh gameplay concept back in the day. You control a crosshair in the sky and as you press one of the three available buttons a missile is shot from the corresponding battery. Upon impact the fired counter missile explodes and destroys all incoming missiles within its blast radius. You have to be careful though as there is a limited amount of counter missiles in possession.


The objective of the game is to protect six cities and the batteries until each attack wave is over. If one of the batteries is hit it will not be able to fire and if all cities are destroyed the game is over. By using the left and right batteries to reach the missiles at greater distance, the center battery can be utilized to fire at the closer range, due to its strategic location. Remember to aim and fire somewhat ahead of the incoming missile and not just straight at it to avoid a fatal miss. Sacrificing a city is sometimes the best choice if the situation becomes too difficult. A destroyed city is equally attractive to the CPU which will not stop to attack it. Thus you can disregard these missiles and focus on the ones that actually matters.

If you reach a staggering 810,000 points you will be awarded 150 cities to defend. This way, Missile Command can be played for many hours. However, the missiles will still drop much faster and their amount increases as the levels increase. After 255 stages the score is increased 256 times, thus giving the elite player insane numbers of points. The gameplay video of Missile Command shown below features one single battery instead of the aforementioned three, which only adds to the simplicity aspect of Atari’s classic jewel.

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