|Atari 8-Bit Version: Doug
Atari 5200 Port: Joe Copson
|Star Raiders has
the largest manual of any 5200 game (38 Pages)
Star Raiders... The game that single handedly sold more
Atari 400/800's than any application ever could. When
people by a $600 or $1200 system just to play one game you know
it has to good. Upon its release in 1980 Star Raiders
amazed the world with it's combination of Star Wars and Star
Trek. No game before had ever before so caputred the
imagination of nerds and geeks everywhere. If Atari was
looking for a killer game for its new computer system, this was
After enjoying two years of unprecedented success,
Atari decided to port Star Raiders to it's new 5200 super
system. Although Star Raiders was old news by this point,
the game was still popular with many sci-fi/computer geeks.
Since the 5200 was pretty much the same as the Atari 400/800
the port was basically identical except for the controls.
However programmer Joe Copson took the time to clean up some
bugs that were present in the original version and even added a
few new features. The biggest differences between the two
|- The Atari 400/800 version always says "Star Cruiser 7
was destroyed by Zylon fire" when you die even if you were
destroyed by an asteroid. The 5200 version fixed
this by shortening this to "Star Cruiser 7 was destroyed".
|- The Atari 400/800 version used different icons for
your current position and target sector on the galactic
map. The 5200 version also updates the Star Base
|- The Atari 400/800 version had digital control, while
the 5200 version fully supported the 5200's analog sticks.
|- In the Atari 400/800 version players had to manually
switch to Fore View once hyperspace is engaged on the
Galactic Chart. In the 5200 version the game
switches to Fore View automatically.
One major advantage the 5200 had over the 400/800
was the keypad. One the Atari 400/800 players had to reach
over and push keys on the keyboard to access the ships functions.
Normally this wasn't a problem, but when there's a Zlyon
ship on your tail the time it takes to reach over and press the
key could be deadly (not to mention you have to take one hand off
the stick to press the key). With the 5200 keypad all the
ships functions were at your fingertips and could be accessed
quickly with little effort.
Although Star Raiders looks complex at first
glance, much of the game is pretty much common sense (turn on your
shield, bring up the map, hyperwarp to the desired sector,
etc). While it may have been new and mysterious back in
1980, it's pretty standard fare in this day and age. With
the help of a the keypad overlay most of the games functions can
be mastered in a few minutes.
The main functions on the keypad are Fore View,
Aft View, Scan, Galactic Chart, Tracking, Shields, Attack,
Hyperspace, Manual, and speed control. Fore and Aft view
change your main view from fore (in front of your ship) to aft
(behind your ship). Scan turns on your long range scanners
(giving you an overhead view of the whole sector). Galactic
Chart brings up the galactic map. Tracking turns on your
tracking computer, this locks onto the enemy target and moves your
ship accordingly. Shields raises and lowers your shields
(don't ever mess with this button). Attack turns on your
attack computer (the crosshairs) and the targeting display (the
little box in the lower right). Hyperspace warps to the
desired sector (selected from the galactic map screen).
Manual allows you to manually choose which target you want
to attack. Speed Mode lets you set your current speed (1-9).
The display at the bottom of the main screen may
look like a mass of confusing numbers and letters, but it's pretty
straightforward. V is your current velocity (speed), K is
the number of kills you've made, E is your current energy, T is
the current object your tracking computer is tracking (this
becomes a C if you have your combat computer on). The little
ovals on the next line represent your current horizontal and
vertical positions in the sector, while R shows the targets
current range from your ship.
The Galactic Chart screen displays the current
locations of enemy and friendly units across the galaxy. The
Galactic Chart also displays vital diagnostic information about
your ship. The letters DC: PESCLR stands for Damage Control:
Proton Launcher, Engines, Shields, Computer, Long Range, and
Radio. If the letters are displayed in blue you're in good
shape, but if any of the letters are yellow or red then one of
your systems have been damaged. Depending on the system and
the extent of the damage (yellow is damaged but working, while red
is destroyed) this can affect your ship in all kinds of ways
(flickering shields, slow movement, hard steering, scanner
failure, etc.). To repair a damaged system you'll have to
dock with a Star Base.
Star Bases appear in several sectors of the map,
and are prime targets for Zylon forces. Pay attention to
your subspace radio and make sure that when a Star Base comes
under attack you get to that sector quickly. If Zylon forces
destroy a Star Base you'll loose its services for the rest of the
game (and you'll need them!). To dock with Star Base for
repairs or refueling line up the base in your sight and make sure
your horizontal and vertical coordinates are at + or - 3.
Slowly approach the Star Base until the distance reads 0,
then cut your engines. If all went well you'll get a message
say "Orbit Established" and a little ship will come out, if not
The Galactic Chart also allows you to choose your
hyperwarp destination. By moving the cursor to a new sector
on the map and pressing the hyperwarp button, you will begin the
hyperwarp process. The amount of energy the hyperwarp will
take is displayed at the bottom of the screen as Warp Energy (make
sure you have enough!). Unfortunately for you, Hyperwarping
isn't an exact science. You're going to have to steer your
ship through out the jump. To steer, make sure you keep the
warp icon lined up between your crosshairs until the warp ends.
If you didn't keep it lined up you may end up in a different
sector than you planned.
The rest of the game is pretty simple. Hunt
down and destroy all the Zylon ships in the galaxy. There
are three different types of ships that you'll encounter:
Fighters, Cruisers, and Basestars.
|These little guys look like Tie-Fighters and are the
most common of the three ship types. Fighters are
fast and hard to target, but go down in one hit.
Fighters will be your main enemy throughout the
| Cruisers are patrol ships which resemble a large
purple lowercase n. Cruisers will only attack in
self-defense, but they can be deadly if annoyed as they
pack more of a punch than the normal fighters.
| These mobile battle fortresses come equipped with
shield generators enabling them to withstand several hits.
Basestars can only be attacked at close range, so
use extreme caution when approaching them.
Depending on how you do, you will be assigned a
rank at the end of the game. The game will end when you
either destroy all the Zylon forces, run out of energy, or get
destroyed. Your rank is based on several factors such as
number of enemies destroyed, amount of time taken, number of Star
Bases destroyed, and amount of energy remaining. While Star
Raiders can be easily beaten, getting the higher ranks will take
lots of practice.
Much like its 400/800 counterpart, Star Raiders was
one of the top reasons to own a 5200. Star Raiders proves
that even games that were keyboard dependant could easily be
ported to the 5200. The analog joystick with its built in
keypad seems like it was made just for this game. Star
Raiders ranks in the top 10 of most peoples favorite 5200 games,
and belongs in every owner's library.
||Praid Crt PAL 2/23/83
to 5200 Software