by Mark Nobes, chief editor

First up, you really need to see this very amusing review of the Atari 2600 console and the Missile Command Rom game by Rob the Robot - there is a little bad language so please be warned!  

Missile Command turned out to be a huge money-maker for Atari. It was originally released into the arcades in 1980 by Atari inc., but also licensed to Sega for the European versions of the game.

The basic idea of the game is to defend six cities from incoming ballistic missiles using anti-missile batteries. The player moves a crosshair across the screen and must fire ahead of each missile just at the right moment. 

The game becomes more difficult with each new level, with an increasing number of missiles that also become faster.

One thing's for sure, Missile Command exemplified the constant threat during the 80s that we were all going to die in a nuclear missile attack, as did Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Two Tribes" single. 

Missile Command Atari 2600 screenshot

Screenshot from Atari 2600 version

The original arcade release was (1980) was designer by Dave Theuruer, who was also responsible for those iconic vector graphics in Tempest. His first game for Atari was Four Player Soccer released into the arcades during 1979/ It was the sequel to the 1978 game Atari Football.
The Atari 2600 port (1981) was created by Rob Fulop and this version became the third best-selling title for the console. Fulop also created Demon Attack for the 2600.
Missile Command also came built into the Atari XE Video Game System which launched in 1987, which was the same as the version released for the XL/XE computers and the Atari 5200 console. Enhanced versions were also released for the Nintendo Game Boy and Atari Lynx. A 3D version was released for the Atari Jaguar in 1995, which was one of the best titles for the system.
Overall, the original Missile Command game is considered a classic from the 1980s, and received positive reviews from the critics upon its release.
Missile Command red cartridge box for Atari 2600 / VCS


This conversion was decent enough, but even with the improved graphics on the 16-bit ST version (released in 1987), personally, I found that it lacked the excitement of the earlier versions on the Atari 2600 and 8-bit computers, proving that graphics aren't the most important factor in a game. This version was designed and programmed by Rob Zdybel, with the graphics and animation by Gary Johnson.

ST Action magazine gave the game a score of just 55/100 in its August 1988 issue.