Defender

Name:
Defender
Company: Atari
Model #:
CX-2609
Programmer:
Bob Polaro (Programmer) & Alan J. Murphy (Graphics)
Year: 1981
Released?
Yes
Notes:
Bob Polaro's initials are hidden in the game.  On the 25th level carry a humanoid to the 25th line of resolution.

 

Defender was an instant classic when it hit the arcades due its unique blend of speed, difficulty, and addictive gameplay. Many gamers would spend hours studying the enemy's patterns trying to come up with a strategy that would allow them to play for hours.  When Atari announced Defender for the 2600 the fans rejoiced, but when they saw the results they were left scratching their heads.

 

All the basic elements were still there, but the graphics and addictive gameplay had been severely watered down.  Due to the limitations of the 2600 the jagged mountains at the bottom were replaced with a city skyline, this change was also reflected in the box art.  Gamers grumbled but grudgingly accepted the change in graphics (they all knew some compromises would have to be made), but what happened next was unforgivable.  Whenever your ship fires, it disappears!  Due to the limit on the number of graphics that can be displayed on a line, your ship briefly disappears after firing your laser.  Normally this wouldn't be a huge problem (Atari had used this trick many times before), but in a game that requires almost constant shooting this is unacceptable.  Many players never saw their ship except for brief periods when the action slowed down.  Another concession that had to be made was that to use a smart bomb you had to move down into the city and press the button.  This was due to the 2600 joystick only having one button (not much else you could do).

 

If it weren't for the flawed shooting Defender would be a pretty decent port.  Atari tried to get around this by adding an addendum to the manual stating that the graphics wouldn't look exactly like the arcade game.  I think most people figured that out when they plugged in the cart...

 

Version Cart Text Description
10/30/81 Defender EPROM Cartridge Loaned: 9-15-81  
11/??/81 Defender EPROM Cartridge Loaned: Nov.'81  
?????? N/A Has title and different initials
?????? Defender Final Version

 

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