"What's the bluntest point made by this game? That you can't win. No matter how many stages you survive, or how much time you spend playing, you can't beat Missile Command. Nuclear war has no winners. Your job is futile, but you do it anyway because you can buy people a few more minutes of hope."Missile Command
(1980) was the most violent video game ever released, at least until DEFCON
came along. Missile Command
portrayed a stark view of nuclear war at the height of Cold War
paranoia. The player was given command of three anti-ballistic missile bases, with which six otherwise defenseless cities had to be defended against wave after wave of ICBMs, nuclear bombers, and orbital battle stations. The game featured simple yet realistic animations of mushroom clouds wiping out entire cities whenever the player failed to intercept an incoming warhead, and a nightmarish explosion effect when the player (inevitably)
finally lost the game.
GCC created an enhancement kit called Super Missile Attack
for Missile Command
machines. Atari was not amused and sued GCC. They settled on GCC producing three games for Atari (Food Fight, Quantum, and a never-finished game).
Just a year later (1982), a sequel for two players competing to destroy each other was prototyped and tested, but ultimately never released. It has recently resurfaced
and will be shown to the public in 2012, the first time in 30 years.
Missile Command has examples of:
- Atari 2600
- Atomic Hate
- Cold War: Who knew an arcade game could have a political message?
- Cosmetic Award: If you make the high score screen, you'll bypass the usual Game Over screen. However, this was only in the arcade version.
- Destructible Projectiles: The whole point of the gameplay.
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom
- The Eighties: Because let's be honest, a game that focuses on preventing Nuclear Armageddon would never have been as popular if it had been released in the post-Cold War period.
- Endless Game: Because in a war fought with nuclear missiles, nobody really wins.
- It's a Wonderful Failure: THE END
- Game Over
- Hopeless War
- Kill 'em All
- Macross Missile Massacre: Taken to its Logical Extreme, especially considering the times.
- Missiles Fall, Everyone Dies
- Palette Swap: To shake things up every few levels.
- Protection Mission
- Recursive Ammo: MIRV missiles
- Unwinnable by Design: No matter how good you are, and no matter how long you manage to hold out, eventually you will lose. There is no way to win the game.
- Urban Legend of Zelda: Rumors in arcades in the early 80s convinced several teens that NORAD kept track of high scorers, just in case.
- Video Game Caring Potential: It's pretty standard practice for players to name the six cities after cities and town they're familiar with. Hell, the lead programmer himself did it too (see below).
- What Could Have Been: The cities in Missile Command were originally based on California citiesnote and the idea of reloading the missile bases by train was considered. An additional set of levels involving firing back at the never-seen enemy was also dropped.
- Working Title: The game was originally called Armageddon but was changed at the last minute.