The Dreadnaught Factor

Platforms: Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, Intellivision


Main Genre:
Gameplay Style:
Sci-Fi / Futuristic
Visual Presentation:
Scrolling (Horizontal or Vertical)


Intellivision version of The Dreadnaught Factor
Intellivision version of The Dreadnaught Factor

The Dreadnaught Factor is an action game originally released for the Intellivision in 1983 and later ported to the Atari 5200 and Atari 8-bit computers. The game is a scrolling shooter where players control a ship with the goal of defending the planet Terra from gigantic battleships.


A fleet of Zorban Dreadnaughts are arriving and threatening to attack the planet Terra; players control a Novaray Hyperfighter (a small, agile spacecraft) and need to destroy all of the Dreadnaughts before they are in close enough range to the planet to launch an attack! The Dreadnaughts are massive; they are large enough that they don't fit entirely on the screen, are well armored, and have numerous defenses. To destroy a Dreadnaught, players need to destroy all of the energy vents located throughout the Dreadnaught's hull. The player's ship can only move forward; it can speed up or slow down, but can't reverse direction. Due to this, it will take several passes to destroy each Dreadnaught. When a pass is completed, the Dreadnaught will move slightly closer to Terra and then players begin the next pass. Each Dreadnaught is equipped with up to four engines; although not required to destroy the Dreadnaught, if players can destroy any or all of the engines the Dreadnaught will slow down buying some additional time.

The Dreadnaughts are, of course, well defended; various types of canons, drones, and other obstacles are found guarding each Dreadnaught. The player's spacecraft is equipped with two types of weapons to attack and defend against the Dreadnaughts; the first are laser bolts which can destroy airborne targets, and secondly strontium bombs for destroying both targets on the Dreadnaughts and the energy vents. Enemies and defenses don't re-generate between passes; anything destroyed on one pass of a Dreadnaught remains destroyed on the next pass, so it's to a player's benefit to destroy as much as possible each time to make subsequent passes easier.

The Dreadnaughts appear in five different varieties, each having a different size and shape. The game includes 7 levels of difficulty; the type and number of Dreadnaughts players need defeat will depend on the difficulty selected. In addition to more Dreadnaughts, higher difficulty levels also increase the game speed, the number of engines the Dreadnaugts have (with more engines, the Dreadnaughts are faster providing less time to the player), and the rate at which enemies fire. Points are earned in the game for each target destroyed along with bonus points being awarded for completely destroying a Dreadnaught.

Activision Dreadnaught Destroyers

Like many Activision games of the era, players were awarded with a patch for high scores. Players who could destroy an entire Dreadnaught fleet on level 4 or above and sent a photo of the screen to Activision received the Activision Dreadnaught Destroyer patch.


The original Intellivision version of The Dreadnaught Factor scrolled horizontally as players flew past the Dreadnaughts; due to sprite limitations on the Atari 5200 and Atari 8-bit computers, the game was modified to scroll vertically on these systems.


Platform: Atari 5200
Designed by: Tom Loughry
Adapted by: Eric Nickell
Platform: Intellivision
Conceived and designed by: Tom Loughry


Instruction Manual
Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit
Instruction Manual


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