Star Raiders

For: Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST

Also Known As

Genres

Main Genre:
Action , Simulation , Strategy
Perspective:
1st-Person
Setting:
Sci-Fi / Futuristic

Overview

Atari 5200 version of Star Raiders
Atari 5200 version of Star Raiders

Star Raiders is a first-person space combat simulator by Atari first released for Atari 8-bit computers in 1979 and later ported to the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, and Atari ST. In the game players need to save the galaxy by destroying all of the enemy Zylon fighters that are attacking.

Gameplay

The goal in Star Raiders is to locate and destroy all Zylon fighters (renamed Krylons for the Atari 2600 release) while protecting friendly starbases. To do so, players will need to navigate their ship to the various sectors in the galaxy where the fighters are located and defeat them in battle. During the game players can switch their view between three perspectives: a first person perspective view from the ship (used for battles, docking with starbases, and navigating hyperspace. Forward and aft views are possible.), a third person long range scan of the current sector the ship is in (this can be useful for locating enemy fighters or a starbase), and a galactic chart which shows the entire galaxy broken up into sectors and indicates where enemy fighters are located along with the location of starbases. From the galactic chart view, players can also select a destination and enter hyperspace to arrive there quickly (on all but the novice level, players will need to navigate by keeping cross-hairs aligned or the ship will be off course and possibly miss the desired destination).

The player's ship has various types of equipment which can be utilized via either a keyboard or touchpad depending on the version of the game. Shields are available to protect against attacks, photon torpedoes for attacking opponents, a sub-space radio, and navigation equipment.

Throughout the game players will encounter three types of Zylon spacecraft:

  • Zylon Fighters: Fast ships designed to attack at close range.
  • Zylon Cruisers: Patrol ships which do not attack unless attacked first.
  • Zylon Basestars: The most difficult of the Zylon fighters, Basestars are equipped with shields so they can only be destroyed at close range.
During battle, if players are hit by enemy fire the ship will take on damage; following too much damage, some of the ship's equipment will become limited or completely destroyed (for example, players can lose hyperspace ability if engines are destroyed, lose navigation ability, lose partial photon power, or lose shields). As the game progresses the Zylon's will be attempting to destroy friendly starbases; to do so, they will first surround one which will display a warning. Once surrounded, players have a limited time to destroy at least some of the Zylons before the starbase is destroyed. As long as all starbases aren't destroyed players can still win the game (albeit only with a lower ranking), but the game is over once the last starbase is gone. As a last resort, players can also destroy a starbase themselves if they are unable to defend it from attack; doing so results in slightly less performance penalty than allowing Zylons to destroy it as debris will then be unavailable for Zylons to use.

The Zylon attack in Star Raiders continues in real time; whether players are travelling through hyperspace, viewing the galactic chart, or engaged in battle, the Zylons are on the move attempting to surround and destroy starbases. Especially on higher difficulty levels, this can add an additional challenge as players may need to carefully plan their strategy to avoid wasting too much time in hyperspace or fighting. The player's ship also has a limited energy reserve that is depleted by flight and hyperspace, use of shields, and by being hit by enemy fire. If the energy runs out the game is over; player's can replenish energy (as well as repair damaged equipment) by docking at a starbase. Additionally, if players are hit by enemy fire when the shields are down (or destroyed), the game is over.

Unlike many action games of the era, Star Raiders didn't continue on indefinitely and it was possible to win by successfully destroying all of the Zylon fighters. There is no score, however when the game ended (either successfully or unsuccessfully) a rating was provided ranging from Garbage Scow Captain or Galactic Cook all the way up to Star Commander. The rating is based on a number of factors including the skill level selected, the amount of time and energy used, whether or not any starbases were destroyed, and whether the player successfully destroyed all Zylons.

Video Touch Pad

Due to the limited controls available, the Atari 2600 version of Star Raiders came packaged with the Video Touch Pad, a 12 button keypad designed to replace the keyboard used in the original version of the game. The touch pad was designed to support overlays over the keys allowing it to potentially be used by other games, however Star Raiders ended up being the only to game to support it.

Star Raiders

Credits

Platform: Atari 2600
Game Credits
Programmed by: Carla Meninsky
Designed by: Doug Neubauer
Cover Artwork by: Terry Hoff
Comic Book Credits
Created and Written by: Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas
Visual Concepts: Ross Andru
Art: Gil Kane, Dick Giordano, Mike DeCarlo
Design: Neal Pozner
Lettering: John Costanza
Coloring: Adrienne Roy
Editor: Dick Giordano
President and Publisher: Jenette Kahn
Vice President, Editorial Director: Joe Orlando
Editorial Coordinator: Karen Berger
Production Manager: Bob Rozakis
Vice President, Operations: Paul Levitz
Treasurer: Arthur Gutowitz
Platform: Atari 5200
Programmed by: Joe Copson
Cover artwork by: Robert Hunt
Platform: Atari 8-bit
Programmed by: Doug Neubauer
Cover artwork by: McCormack
Platform: Atari ST
Designed & Programmed by: Robert Zdybel
Graphics & Animation by: Jerome Domurat

Documentation

Instruction Manual
Atari 2600
Atari Force Comic Book
Atari 2600
Instruction Manual
Atari 5200
Instruction Manual
Atari ST

Marketing

Product catalogs, magazines, flyers, or other documentation Star Raiders has appeared in.
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Product Catalogs
Atari 1982 product catalog

Packaging/Label Styles

This game has releases with the following standardized packaging styles: