Missile Command

Missile Command
Company: Atari
Model #:
Rob Zdybel
Year: 1982
Missile Command was one of the first five games developed for the 5200.


One of Atari's most beloved classics, Missile Command was almost deemed too scary for the general public.  The original plot was supposed to feature a missile attack on California, but this idea was scrapped due to fears of the game causing a mass panic (this was during the Cold War after all).  Programmer Dave Theurer actually woke up in cold sweats due to the nightmares he had about nuclear war after working on this project.  In the end the location was made generic, and the name was changed from Armageddon (meaning the end of the world) to a more subdued Missile Command.


The 5200 version of Missile Command is very close to its arcade counterpart with one exception, the player only has one base!  Even though the 5200 could have handled all three bases due to its extra buttons, the game had to be able to be ported to the 400/800 which had only one fire button, so the extra bases had to go.  While most hardcore arcade junkies were dismayed with this change, many players found it easier to only have to worry about one base instead of three.  


Despite the lack of Alpha and Gamma bases, the 5200 version of Missile Command plays well, and the non-centering 5200 stick is actually a help for once rather than a hindrance.  However it's when Missile Command is hooked up to a 5200 Trak-Ball that the game really shines.  Trak-Ball designed Dan Kramer has said that he created a special three button Trak-Ball that worked with a modified three base version of Missile Command, giving the player a true arcade at home experience.  Sadly this version was never released, but a prototype (for the 400/800) has recently been found.


Although the graphics may leave a bit to be desired, the 5200 version of Missile Command is a pretty decent port.  The missile shooting planes and satellites have been included in this version (they were left out of the 2600 version), which adds to the arcade realism.  The lack of the other two bases isn't really a big problem and after a few minutes isn't even really noticeable (unless you're an arcade purist).  So plug in your Trak-ball, and start defending those cities.  The world is counting on you!


Version Cart Text Description
4/4/82 Missile Cmd 4-4 PAL version!


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