Platforms: Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, Intellivision, MSX, ZX Spectrum


Main Genre:
Sci-Fi / Futuristic
Gameplay Style:


Atari 5200 version of Beamrider
Atari 5200 version of Beamrider
Beamrider is an action game first published by Activision for the Intellivision in 1983 and later ported to other systems including the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Commodore 64, Colecovision, and more. It is a fixed shooter featuring a pseudo 3-D effect of beams travelling into the distance; players control a spaceship riding the beams with the goal of destroying all enemy saucers across 99 different sectors.


Beamrider takes place above Earth's atmosphere in the Restrictor Shield; players take on the role of the Beamrider on a mission to clear all 99 sectors of the shield of alien invaders. The game screen shows a grid five vertical beams receding into the distance with horizontal beams which move as the player travels forward. The player's ship at the bottom of the screen and can move either direction horizontally but is restricted to riding one of the vertical beams. The goal in each sector is to destroy all fifteen of the white flying saucers. Once all saucers are destroyed, players proceed to the next, more difficult sector of the game. If the player's ship is hit by any of the dangers, it is destroyed; players start the game with three ships and the game ends when there are no additional ships in reserve.

Dangerous Encounters

There are numerous types of dangers in Beamrider; the player's ship is equipped with two types of weapons to destroy them. The first is laser lariats; this type of shot has a limited range and may not destroy all types of enemies. Second are the photon torpedoes; these shots can reach all of the way to the horizon and also can destroy enemies the laser lariats cannot. Players begin each game with only three torpedoes, however more are earned after each sector.

As the game progresses, enemies become faster and more aggressive and additional dangers appear. The types of dangers and bonuses encountered in the game are as follows:
  • White Enemy Saucers: (First appearance: sector 1)
    Players need to destroy 15 of the white saucers in order complete each sector. Saucers can ride both the horizontal and vertical beams and on later levels will fire at the player as well.
  • Brown Space Debris: (First appearance: sector 2)
    Debris cannot be destroyed by the laser lariats. Debris travels towards the player on the vertical beams and will destroy the Beamrider if a collision occurs.
  • Yellow Chirper Ships: (First appearance: sector 4)
    These ships are harmless to the player and travel across the screen on a horizontal beam. Bonus points are earned for shooting them.
  • Green Blocker Ships: (First appearance: sector 6)
    Green Blockers attempt to get in the player's way and cannot be destroyed with laser lariats. They initially travel along a horizontal beam until reaching the same vertical beam the player is on. Once that beam is reached they head rapidly along it.
  • Green Bounce Craft: (First appearance: sector 8)
    Bounce Craft travel both the horizontal and vertical beams rapidly in a bouncing motion across the screen. They cannot be destroyed by laser lariats.
  • Blue Chargers: (First appearance: sector 10)
    Blue Charger can be deflected with the laser lariats or destroyed with torpedoes. They travel down a vertical beam and will remain at the bottom of the screen for a short time if not destroyed or reflected. This essentially limits the player's movement once they are in place until the charger finally falls off of the bottom of the screen.
  • Orange Trackers: (First appearance: sector 12)
    Trackers cannot be destroyed with laser lariats. They travel both horizontal and vertical beams and move back and forth, usually following the player's movements.
  • Red Zig Bombs: (First appearance: sector 14)
    Zig Bombs are launched from the side of the screen and home in on the player's ship. If they are not destroyed quickly they will travel a horizontal beam near the bottom of the screen; this may leave the player with little to no room to navigate.
  • Sector Sentinel: (First appearance: sector 1)
    Once all 15 saucers are destroyed, the Sector Sentinel appears at the top of the screen. Bonus points are earned if it is destroyed with a torpedo. Following sector 1, numerous blockers appear at the same time to block your attacks on the sentinel.
  • Yellow Rejuvenators: (First appearance: sector 1)
    Rejuvenators appear like smaller versions of the player's ship. If collected, an extra life is earned. If a rejuvenators is accidentally shot, however, it turns into debris and will destroy a ship on contact.

Activision Beamriders

Many early Activision games allowed you to earn an iron-on patch for achieving high scores. In Beamrider, the "Activision Beamriders" patch could be earned by scoring either 40,000 or 60,000 points depending on the version of the game. Players could send in a photo of the screen to Activision showing their high score and they would receive the patch.


Platform: Atari 2600
Designed by: David Rolfe
Platform: Atari 5200
Designed by: David Rolfe
Platform: Intellivision
Design & Program by: David Rolfe


Instruction Manual
Atari 2600
Instruction Manual
Atari 5200

Packaging/Label Styles

This game has releases with the following standardized packaging styles: