As with the movie, you play an American pilot who has to steal the Soviet Union's top-secret superplane, the MiG 31 "Firefox", and fly it out of the country. In gameplay terms, this translated into a First Person Rail Shooter similar to the first level of Atari's Star Wars — you moved a cursor shooting down radar traces, enemy missiles, and pursuing jets, all while trying to avoid hits to conserve fuel. The only "flying" comes from periodically choosing whether to fly in the sky (which uses less fuel) or near the ground (which had fewer enemies). The game used video footage for the various backgrounds, enemy jets, and occasional cutscenes.
Firefox was unveiled with a disastrous showing at the fall 1983 AMOA convention; unfortunately for Atari, its release didn't fare better — arcade operators were growing hesitant into spending more money on expensive and unreliable laserdisc games, and the game relied on too many bleeding-edge hardware components prone to frequent breakdowns. The game's scarcity and expensive upkeep leaves it relatively obscure even among longtime collectors.
Firefox demonstrates the following tropes:
- Cool Plane: The MiG 31 Firefox, of course.
- Easter Egg: While in Attract Mode, turn the control yoke sharply clockwise, then counter-clockwise, and hold it; the names of the developers appear in the high score table, read vertically. Move the controls forward and backward to scroll them.
- First-Person Shooter
- Grand Theft Prototype: The premise of the game.
- Nintendo Hard: The game was initially released with a steep difficulty, to ensure short playtimes and increase revenue. Later software updates eased the difficulty.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted; while the movie only features two Firefox jets, the game has you pursued by dozens of them, all providing targets to shoot down.
- One-Word Title: Also a Portmantitle made by fusing "Fire" and "Fox".
- Portmantitle: Also a One-Word Title. Made by fusing "Fire" and "Fox".
- Rail Shooter
- Stock Footage: Game footage was drawn from almost thirty hours of first-personal flight footage shot especially for the film.
- Synthetic Voice Actor: Despite using footage from the movie, Mitchell Gant's voice is done this waynote .
- Timed Mission: The difficulty levels have different "flight path" distances; completing the flight wins the game.
- Endless Game: The hardest level ("Endless Journey") removes the limit, allowing players to continue for as long as they can.