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Classic Games (Games) Games

A Look Back At Star Raiders 104

blacklily8 writes "Gamasutra has just published our history of Doug Neubauer's Star Raiders, a 1979 game for the Atari 8-bit that offered 'high-speed first-person perspective through a fully navigable 3D-like environment in just 8K of RAM (memory) and 8K of ROM (storage).' Designed by the creator of the Atari's POKEY chip, Star Raiders was a hit on its home platform but now seems to have fallen into obscurity: 'Star Raiders is a shining example of what happens when a developer is told that something can't be done, does it anyway, and then is promptly forgotten for having done it.' In addition to describing the game itself, the article focuses on its impact on later games such as Wing Commander, X-Wing, and Elite."
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A Look Back At Star Raiders

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  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:09AM (#29363301) Homepage Journal

    Lucas Arts announces an upcomming space sim followup to X Wing and Tie Fighter, lo and behold, someone Named Matt Barton ( [] ) who is an online marketing consultant posts a story to the front page of Slashdot, plugging X-Wing (a true nerd would have plugged the fan favorite, TIE-Fighter), thus increasing marketing buzz for the new X-Wing title. Now, two questions for you slashdotters,
    1. Am I reverse-psychology marketing you slashdotters for the new Lucas Arts game, and
    2. Who will be the first one to find a monetary link between Matt Barton and Lucas Arts?

  • My experience playing Star Raiders was pretty poor. I'd sit there pecking at the controls for a few minutes, then something mysterious would happen and I'd get blown out of the water.... uh, vacuum. It seemed more like a technology demo than an actual game.

  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @06:24AM (#29363635)

    One of the problems with Star Raiders on the 2600 is that it required a keypad to play, and if you didn't have a "Video touch pad" you were screwed. I nearly screwed over my chances to get a NES when I asked for the video touch pad as an alternative. (My parents never could find the device. It was extremely rare, even in 1989.

    Star Master on the other hand had no such requirement. The game required two Atari controllers and the switches to play. It had superior game play. (It had a rank called Wing Commander. a Foreshadowing of the Wing Commander series?)

    Years later I played star Raiders on an emulator, and based on what I had seen, if I had gotten that video touch pad instead of the NES, I would have been furious. Star Raiders for the 2600 was horrible.

    God I feel old.

  • by BikeHelmet ( 1437881 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @06:43AM (#29363699) Journal

    Even now, it seems the C64 scene is alive and well.

    Recently I stumbled across another, newer project. The Fuzebox. It's a 28mhz dual-chip(chip, not CPU) retro console, with 4KiB of RAM and 64KiB of flash. Someone actually got a movie player working on it...

    Video - []
    - []
    - []

    Apparently many people are fascinated by working with minute amounts of memory.

  • Re:No kidding (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Rewind ( 138843 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @06:59AM (#29363761)
    Eh, I don't know about that. I am 10 years older than a 15 year old, but I know games older than myself. The topic game included. It was released just shy of 5 years before I was around, and yet I know of it and played it. When I was a kid friends and I would actually "two player" it. One on the extra pad and one on the joystick. It was actually pretty fun, at least for little kids after it got too dark to play outside. So that said, I bet plenty of 15 year olds know some older games.
  • Re:Elite lives on... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zr-rifle ( 677585 ) <> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @07:15AM (#29363813) Homepage
    Actually, many years ago I tried Eve Online hoping to satisfy my cravings for another Elite game, but was quite disappointed.

    Elite is primary a spaceship simulation game, with elements of commerce thrown in to a good measure, while Eve is a massively multiplayer role-playing game with strong elements of economy and politics.

    The opportunity is still out there for a developer who wants to create a Frontier - Elite II clone that is massively multiplayer. No software house seems to have hit the spot yet.
  • Re:No kidding (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @07:41AM (#29363921) Homepage

    The port to the Atari 5200 was sweet and, at least by the screenshots, was faithful to the original.

    That's hardly surprising- the 5200's internal hardware was apparently near-identical to the 400/800, with only minor tweaks to the memory map and replacement of ths OS with a simpler monitor program.

    Aside from changing references to a few memory locations and altering the joystick handler to allow for the 5200's different controllers, the 5200 version is probably the same code as the original!

    Although I was never a massive fan of Star Raiders personally (it was already almost ten years old when I first saw it), in retrospect I can see that it was a brilliant game and technical feat by the standards of its time. It definitely deserves a lot of respect for that along with adding some depth to the shoot-'em-up genre.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) * on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @11:18AM (#29366371) Journal

    Why? If you imagine yourself piloting a space fighter, these are all things you'd have to do in real time. Star Raiders was a conscious effort to combine the strategy of the Star Trek mainframe game and the Star Wars arcade game. IMO, it was a great success. To this day, I spend a lot more time playing Star Raiders than I do either of those games. To me it sounds like you just don't like it because you're bad at it.

Information is the inverse of entropy.