When I go to classic arcades nowadays, one of my stops is always at Missile Command. In my book, it was and will always be a pillar of classic arcade play, right up there with Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Back in the early 1980s, when they ported Missile Command over to the Atari 2600, I took all my saved money and did chores for a month to save up the dough to buy a copy. Oh and I played the pudding out of it and got pretty good.
Then I put the game in a box and never played it again. That is until this week. I was in a classic retro mood, so with DEVO blasting from my computer, I opened up my Atari collection to dig up Missile Command. I located it, but also made a shocking discovery. Missile Command can procreate! I now had 5 copies of Missile Command!
Now I am not sure how and when this happened. Perhaps I bought some copies at a garage sale or on eBay and forgot about them or maybe, my controversial theory of spontaneous Atari-generation, holds water. Sure they laughed me out of the Science Club when I presented my findings, but all great men are laughed at, right? I will show them all one day! I have activated a webcam with a livefeed of another classic 2600 game. If we just watch it for long enough, we are bound to see proof of my phenomenon (and I will be rich).
While that bit of science percolates lets get to the review.
So last time I played Missile Command was at an arcade in Wisconsin last year and I was horrible, but I am glad I did, because it reminded me of what the “real” game is like. The Atari 2600 of the game holds up really well, and for the tech, does a bang up job. Sadly they needed to make some concessions for the VCS version, that simplify the game a great deal but not really in a way that detracts from the big picture fun of the game.
The game has only one base instead of three, which isn’t a big deal. What is a big deal, it the reduced number of missiles you can shoot at any one time. With the arcade game you could pepper the sky with shots. Here you need to pick and choose wisely. While that is a switch it is not really annoying, instead it just makes you rethink your gaming. This is a port that degrades nicely tech-wise and they slap some nice polish on the game with near arcade quality sound and a color changing screen.
I played this game with a joystick, but I remember trying it with the Atari trackball and finding it much more difficult to play. So stick to the stick.
Missile Command is in a word, awesome. A classic arcade game that makes for an amazing console game. I started playing and was still clicking reset an hour later. Simple, playable, made with loved and polished to perfection, Missile Command is a must own game for any Atari 2600 owner. That is why Missile Command deserves the very rare 5 star rating.