Air Raiders for the Atari 2600

Last night I was moving some stuff around here in my office and decided to move my Atari 2600 to a different TV and clean it up. This inevitably got me playing it again. Which is good because I would end the night playing one of those under-appreciated gems, Air Raiders.

Air Raiders is a simple flight simulator that puts you in the cockpit of a jet fighter. When I say simple, I really mean simplified, this game is super easy to get into, but once you master its simple gameplay, you realize just how much is involved.

First off you need to take off, which is pretty easy, but just as I remembered as a kid, it is extremely satisfying (as is the landing). Once you take to the sky, you will need to use your machine gun to take out enemy planes and dodge enemy ground missiles. Making sure to keep an eye on your altitude. All the while watching your ammo and and fuel, both of which can be replenished by landing the plane. In the end your score is based on how many planes you shoot down.

“The Baron” enters the room

You might not know this, but The Baron struts when he walks. He struts even though his light blue pajamas are wrinkled and torn on the sleeve and even though his hair is standing on end from sleeping weird on it. This skilled aviator moves across the brown living room carpet, like a predator. He does not merely sit, instead he plops down at the yoke of his trusty aircraft. It is a plop filled with the dignity of a skilled hunter. The type of plop you would associate with an eagle or a falcon.

“Today is a good day to take to the skies”, he thinks to himself as the TV warms up and he flicks on his trusty VCS. He will rain death upon his enemies this morning, of this you can be sure. All Hail the Baron!

*Author’s note: I was the baron.

Modern flight sims are fun, but I remember every detail about playing this game as a kid now. It all came rushing back as soon as I pulled back on that joystick and took to the sky. I found myself smiling ear to ear as I pushed that button and sent my first enemy into digital oblivion. It was Air Raiders that would inspire me to want to play flight sims on my computer later in life.

For that, I will always be grateful. As you can probably tell, I am happy I rediscovered it, it is a real gem (if you cannot tell I am stalling because I cannot believe I am about to do this). So I am going to have to give Air Raiders 5 stars. I cannot wait for tonight so I can play it again.

Watch Air Raiders gameplay

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