Air Raiders

Air Raiders
Company: Mattel
Model #:
Larry Zwick
Year: 1982
Originally called Air Battle


If there's one game genre the 2600 could never seem to do right its plane games.  Every attempt from Radar Lock to F-14 Tomcat all had the same problem.  In an attempt to get as realistic as simulation as possible, the programmers had made the games way too complicated for the simple control scheme of the 2600.  Thankfully Air Raiders seems to buck that trend, opting to go for a straight dogfight shoot 'em up rather than an overly complicated simulation.  It is thought that the unreleased CBS game Wings would have followed a similar approach.


Air Raiders is the only Atari 2600 game produced by Mattel that is 100% original.  All previous games were based on existing Intellivision games (although Kool-Aid Man played very different).  Since this game was specifically designed for the 2600 it played to its strengths rather than those of the Intellivision.  The result was a very nice first person shooter that plays surprisingly well.


As you might expect, you start the game on a runway.  Press the fire button to start your departure, and after four seconds pull back on the stick to gain altitude.  Now that you're in the air the real fun begins, this would be a good time to look at your plane's gauges.  The dot on the bottom bar represents your current position, and the red area in the middle represents the heavy flak zone.  Make sure you stay out of this zone unless you want to be cut to pieces!  Your ammo gauge shows your remaining ammo, while the bar above your position indicator shows your remaining fuel.  Your altitude gauge shows your current altitude, which is critical because the higher you go the fewer enemies you'll find.  The hits gauge shows the number of planes you've shot down (naturally).


If you've made 10 hits or more you can land to restore your fuel and ammo.  To land simply go down to an altitude of 0 and watch for a runway to appear (this takes about four seconds).  Push down when you see the runway until the plane touches down, then let go of the stick.  Your fuel tank will be filled, and you will receive an amount of ammo equal to the number of planes you shot down.  After you're done refueling, simply take off the same way you did at the start of the game.


This is one case where simpler is better.  Air Raiders easy to learn and intuitive controls make it a game everyone can enjoy, not just those who like fighter simulations.  The original run of Air Raiders carts had the difficulty switches reversed from the standard settings (A = Hard and B = Easy), so another batch was quickly manufactured.  It is unknown whether or not any of the original run of carts was shipped, so you may want to check your cart.  To date no carts from the first run have been found.


Version Cart Text Description
?????? Air Battle Final Version


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