Missile Command is a 1980 arcade game by Atari, Inc. that was also licensed to Sega for European release. It is considered one of the most notable games from the Golden Age of Video Arcade Games.
The player's six cities are being attacked by an endless hail of ballistic missiles, some of them even splitting like multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). New weapons are introduced in later levels: smart bombs that can evade a less than perfectly targeted missile, and bomber planes and satellites that fly across the screen and launch missiles of their own. As a regional commander of three anti-missile batteries, the player must defend six cities in their zone from being destroyed.
The game is played by moving a crosshair across the sky background via a trackball and pressing one of three buttons to launch a counter-missile from the appropriate battery. Counter-missiles explode upon reaching the crosshair, leaving a fireball that persists for several seconds and destroys any enemy missiles that enter it. There are three batteries, each with ten missiles; a missile battery becomes useless when all its missiles are fired, or if the battery is destroyed by enemy fire. The missiles of the central battery fly to their targets at much greater speed; only these missiles can effectively kill a smart bomb at a distance.
The game is staged as a series of levels of increasing difficulty; each level contains a set number of incoming enemy weapons. The weapons attack the six cities, as well as the missile batteries; being struck by an enemy weapon results in destruction of the city or missile battery. Enemy weapons are only able to destroy three cities during one level. A level ends when all enemy weaponry is destroyed or reaches its target. A player who runs out of missiles no longer has control over the remainder of the level. At the conclusion of a level, the player receives bonus points for any remaining cities or unused missiles. Between levels missile batteries are rebuilt and replenished; destroyed cities are rebuilt only at set point levels (usually every 10,000 or 12,000 points).
The game inevitably ends when all six cities are destroyed, unless the player manages to score enough points to earn a bonus city before the end of the level. Like most early arcade games, there is no way to 'win' the game; the game just keeps going with ever faster and more prolific incoming missiles. The game, then, is just a contest in seeing how long the player can survive. On conclusion of the game, the screen displays 'The End', perhaps a poke at oncoming Nuclear Holocaust rather than the standard 'Game Over' text. This conclusion is skipped, however, if the player makes the high score list and the game prompts the player to enter his/her initials.
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