Also available on Apple II, Atari 8-bit computer, Atari 5200, Colecovision, Intellivision, Commodore 64, VIC-20, TI-99, Adventure Vision, SAM Coupé, IBM PC, and arcade
Defender was one of the juggernaut arcade games from the early 1980s "Golden Era" of arcade games, and it's not hard to see why. The concept and controls are simple, and the game is easy and fun to play. Drawing inspiration from both Space Invaders and Asteroids, Defender would go on to become not only Williams most successful arcade game (a company of pinball fame) but one of the highest grossing arcade games in history.
While the Atari 2600 port of Defender has obviously had SIGNIFICANT compromises made to fit the system's primitive hardware, the game does retain that charm that made the arcade game such a hit. Mountains have been replaced with blocky buildings, the single button nature of the 2600 controller means you don't have a dedicated smart bomb button (those are used by moving to the bottom of the screen and pressing the button), and the ships are much less detailed. The core of the game stays the same, though; fly around a horizontal cityscape, blow up enemy spaceships, and try not to explode.
For the sake of authenticity, I played with an Atari 2600 controller, but given how stiff that joystick can feel, I definitely recommend using a Sega Genesis controller if you've got one available. For those who aren't as awesome as I am and don't have an Atari 2600 or 7800, there's also the option to emulate. Anyway, the control is my biggest complaint; it feels very stiff, and in the later levels when enemies are more relentless and shoot faster, you really need good control. It's by no means unplayable, though, and once you get used to the stiffness, the game is still a lot of fun.
This isn't the best version of Defender out there, but it's still Defender. Once you get used to the so-so control stiffness, there's a lot of fun to be had here. If you own an Atari 2600, you've probably ended up with a copy of this by accident at some point, but if you somehow don't already own one, they're dirt cheap and easy to find. It's perfect to pick up and play if you've got ten or fifteen minutes to kill.
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.