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Missile Command

Entry updated 2 April 2015. Tagged: Game.

Videogame (1980). Atari. Designed by Dave Theurer. Platforms: Arcade, Others.

Missile Command is a two-dimensional arcade game (see Videogames) in which the player must defend their home planet against endless waves of "Inter Planetary Ballistic Missiles". Players have a limited supply of anti-missile missiles with which to protect six cities from incoming warheads. Unusually for a combat-based arcade machine, Missile Command is purely defensive; there is no way to strike back at the enemy. Another interesting aspect of the game is that, as was conventional for arcade machines at the time, it is impossible to win. As the player reaches higher levels of the game, the number of incoming missiles steadily increases until all the cities are inevitably destroyed. This evocation of the likely results of an actual nuclear war between the USA and the Soviet Union was sufficiently disturbing that the setting was changed during development from the American West Coast to a distant planet. Even so, the designer suffered from frequent nightmares while working on the game.

Related works: Missile Command 3D (1995 Virtuality Entertainment, Jaguar) included a three-dimensional version of the basic game as well as a variant which could be used with Virtuality's unsuccessful Virtual Reality headset. [NT]

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