Company: Atari
Model #:
Bob Polaro (Programmer) & Alan J. Murphy (Graphics)
Year: 1981
Port of the 1981 Williams arcade game


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.  Bringing this arcade hit to the 2600 however wasn't going to be an easy task, but the results were surprisingly good.


The 2600 version of Defender is pretty respectable considering it's an early 2600 title.  All the basic elements are still here, but changes were made to adapt it to the 2600's limitations.  The jagged mountains at the bottom were replaced with a city skyline (this change was also reflected in the box art) which actually makes more sense when you think about it.  The next concession that had to be made was due to the one button nature of the joystick.  In order to use a smart bomb you have to move down into the city and press the button and to hyperspace you have to move to the top of the screen and press the button.  It's a bit clunky but it works, and honestly there isn't much else you could do other than having to hit a switch on the 2600 itself.


The next change is probably the most noticeable, yet is purely cosmetic.  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 isn't a huge problem but as Defend requires nearly constant shooting, most players never saw their ship except for those brief periods when the action slowed down.  Thankfully this problem was fixed in Stargate, but that was two years down the road.

All things considered, Defender is a pretty decent port and is one of the more memorable 2600 games.  The game plays well, and in the end that's what people care about.  Defender was also one of the first games to have an Easter egg in it (although not the first).  To see Bob Polaro's initials, carry a humanoid to the 25th line of resolution on the 25th level and all the graphics will turn into BP.  It's unknown how many people found this Easter egg on their own, but it was never ordered removed like the infamous Missile Command one.


Version Cart Text Description
10/30/81 Defender EPROM Cartridge Loaned: 9-15-81 Mid level WIP
Late WIP
?/??/81 N/A Has title and different initials
?/??/81 Defender Final Version


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