User Reviews

A great game from the Atari era. Atari 5200 Dark Lord (46)
The Apple II version of Defender had none of the appeal of the arcade game. Apple II Droog (522)

Our Users Say

Platform Votes Score
Adventure Vision Awaiting 5 votes...
Apple II 10 3.8
Arcade 7 3.5
Atari 2600 21 3.8
Atari 5200 9 3.9
Atari 8-bit 8 4.1
Browser Awaiting 5 votes...
ColecoVision 9 4.1
Commodore 64 10 3.9
Dedicated handheld Awaiting 5 votes...
Intellivision 9 4.2
Macintosh Awaiting 5 votes...
PC Booter 19 3.5
TI-99/4A 8 4.3
VIC-20 7 4.1
Xbox 360 Awaiting 5 votes...
Combined User Score 117 3.9

Critic Reviews

MobyRanks are listed below. You can read here for more information about MobyRank.
Atari 8-bitHome Computing Weekly (Sep 06, 1983)
The game plays well, but I felt slightly that the attacking types lacked conviction - the swarmers sometimes wander off, whilst the baiters can change course for no apparent reason. Despite this, it is definitely not a game for people with less than three hands.
ArcadeAll Game Guide (1998)
Colorful graphics, explosive sound effects, and intense shooting action makes Defender challenging and loads of fun.
Atari 8-bitThe Video Game Critic (Jan 28, 2003)
This Atari 8-bit version is excellent, maintaining the same graphics, cool explosions, and frantic pace of the original game. It's great to trigger a smart bomb with a screen full of aliens, and watch everything be obliterated. There is some slow-down when the screen gets too busy, but nothing major. Although this version of Defender looks identical to the 5200 one, here you have the advantage of using a normal joystick and keyboard. The spacebar sets off a smart bomb, and any other key initiates hyperspace. I'd have to say that this is the best home version of Defender I've played.
ColecoVisionThe Video Game Critic (Mar 30, 2003)
Ahhh Defender - one of the toughest shooters of all time! This version of the arcade classic is rock-solid, and even features smooth scrolling - a rarity for a Colecovision game! Those Atari programmers were really on the ball when they made this one. The graphics are faithful to the arcade, except your ship doesn't shoot fire from its exhaust (I'm nit-picking now). When your ship is destroyed, the huge mushrooming explosion looks amazing. The control is so accurate that you can even pick off the tiny red "swarmers" with ease. The left button is used to fire, and the right is used for smart bombs. To engage hyperspace (only recommended as a last resort) you need to press zero on the keypad. The one thing I don't like is the single level of difficulty - it's quite a bit easier than the arcade version, and the gameplay is less intense as a result.
IntellivisionThe Video Game Critic (Sep 22, 2002)
As a result, the game is a lot harder than it should be, and your fingers pay the price. But as long as you can withstand the controller, you'll enjoy some first-rate Defender action.
Atari 2600Tilt (Jan, 1983)
Une adaptation rigoureuse du Defender de Williams, le jeu d'arcades. Dommage toutefois que le scanner et le vaisseau Defender clignotent par intermittence. Vraiment pour experts.
ColecoVisionneXGam (Jul 27, 2012)
Rein technisch gesehen ist Defender für das Colecovision sicherlich die beste Version. Zwar ist die Grafik schon ein wenig betagt, dafür sind die Sprites gut gezeichnet und auch die Spielgeschwindigkeit ist zu jeder Zeit flott. Eindrucksvoll sind auch hier die Explosionen, falls man doch einen gegnerischen Treffer abbekommt. Bei der Soundkulisse bediente man sich wie so oft nur an Schusseffekte, eine Musik ist nicht vorhanden.
Atari 5200The Video Game Critic (Aug 17, 2004)
Defender is one truly difficult game, but that's what makes you keep coming back for more. Unlike most shooters of its time, you can't just blast everything in sight because human lives hang in the balance. Alien landers abduct people from the planet surface, carry them to the top of the screen, and combine with them to form red mutants - your fiercest enemy! When you catch a lander in the act, you can shoot it, catch the falling human (500 points), and return him safely to the planet below (another 500 points). This edition incorporates all the complex controls (including the smart bombs and hyperspace) from the arcade. The graphics are very close to the arcade game, and the sound effects are practically identical. The animation gets a little choppy at times, and the screen tends to get messy as artifacts from explosions tend to stick around. That's okay, because chaos rules in this game. Overall, Defender is one of the more intense shooters for the 5200.
Atari 2600Game Freaks 365 (2004)
Make no mistake about it. This game isn't arcade perfect by a long shot. But the Atari 2600 game, even if it isn't the exact same game, still does the name that it was given proud. This game can be replayed to increase one's score, although, of course, the Atari 2600 doesn't save high scores. Still, the game is worth replaying for the Atari gamer just because it's so much fun. I heavily recommend finding this game if you are a fan of the Atari 2600 and don't have it yet.
ColecoVision8-bit Central Retro Gaming (2015)
Defender on the Colecovision is a visual delight and plays well to boot. It's an arcade classic and this is a great platform on which to experience it.
Defender is a classic shooter and if you own an Atari 5200 it would be criminal no to have a Defender cart to shove into it every now & then or daily.
80 (UK) (Oct 25, 2007)
Now regarded as perhaps the most difficult classic game of all time, Defender is more respected than enjoyed: a thing of worship and a harsh test in the education of the arcade stalwart.
Atari 2600The Atari Times (Sep 02, 2002)
All in all, however, this isn't a bad translation of an arcade classic. While I wouldn't swap it for my copy of Stargate, I do enjoy firing up this classic from time to time and protecting mankind from aliens up to no good. It sure as heck "feels" similar to the Defender arcade game, and that's good enough for me. This hated title has received a few knocks too many, I think.
Commodore (Mar, 2007)
Defender ist ein Kultspiel, und es bereitete mir damals schon sehr viel Spaß. So habe ich natürlich unzählige Münzen im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes an diesem Automaten verballert. Auch heute noch ist es ein sehr unterhaltsames Spiel, das man vor allem in den eigenen vier Wänden immer noch auf dem C-64 sehr gut zwischendurch genießen kann. An dieser Stelle bitte ich um Applaus für Williams Electronics für das Original und für Atari für die gute Heimumsetzung!
VIC-20Commodore User (Jun, 1984)
Defender is a fast-moving and enjoyable one or two-player game. Well-defined graphics and good-quality sound make full use of the Vic's limited memory, and it is on cartridge too. The main hitch with Defender is that it sometimes puts you on to the next screen arbitrarily, but who really minds extra points and more lives?
Atari 5200Digital Press - Classic Video Games (Feb 14, 2004)
Along with 5200 Pac-Man, Defender showed very quickly why the Supersystem was super. 2600 Defender was actually pretty good-for the 2600. But it wasn't remotely like the arcade game either graphically or in intensity. The 5200 version is very close to the Williams classic, and certainly represented a quantum leap that made the 2600 cart seem, well, puny. All the familiar evil alien guys are here and they do the nasty things they are supposed to do. The sounds and explosions are at least reminiscent of the arcade experience, if not dead on. If you can find a working joystick, response is very good.
Defender looks OK and plays a little less than OK, but it's fucking Defender! In '81 it was a must-have... now? Not so much. But - it's fucking Defender!! It's not such a bad game and being able to play it at HOME in 1981 was awesome! I can't rave about this release, but I insist you play it often regardless!
VIC-20Micro 7 (Jun, 1984)
Ce superbe jeu de scrolling horizontal ou, dernier rempart de toute une civilisation, vous avez pour mission d'empêcher les envahisseurs de kidnapper vos contemporains, est bien rendu sur le petit Vic.
Xbox 360GameSpot (Nov 20, 2006)
Like most of the other arcade classics hitting Xbox Live Arcade, this one is viewed best with a heavy dose of nostalgia. Defender is certainly a classic, but it doesn't hold up so well that you'd love it to death if you just started playing it today. But if you spent any serious time in arcades during the early- to mid-'80s, chances are there's a soft spot in your heart for Defender, and it's worth playing again.
Atari 2600neXGam (Nov 08, 2014)
Dem in der Arcade sehr erfolgreichem Game wurde leider das gleiche Schicksal wie Pac Man zuteil. Leider fehlt dem Titel gerade dieses gewisse Etwas um auch als Defender erkannt zu werden. Das Original bestach durch eine gute und schnelle Vektorgrafik welche auf dem VCS leider der Blöckchengrafik gewichen ist. Weiteres großes Problem ist auch das extreme Flimmern, welches nahezu alle Objekte auf dem Schirm und bei einem Schuss sogar das eigene Raumschiff verschwinden lässt und somit die Kollisionsabfrage kurzzeitig ausser Kraft setzt.
Atari 2600Atari HQ (2001)
If you're a seasoned Defender who can live with the many shortcomings found in the 2600 version, then you may find some enjoyment -- don't bet on it, though. Do yourself a favor and pop in the much better Defender II.
Xbox (UK) (Nov 25, 2006)
If you're a long-term fan and haven't already bought it on one of innumerable compilations out there, then 400 points is just about tolerable for a game of this importance and stature - just be aware that unless you have some sort of emotional attachment to it that it'll feel like you've just bought some kind of gaming endurance test, rather than a piece of actual entertainment. After that, you can get back to chainsawing people in half and do the whole time travel thing in reverse.
Xbox 360GamesRadar (Dec 21, 2006)
Then again, as noted, we suck. If you don't (and really, we're betting you do), this lovingly preserved Defender's well worth the 400 Microsoft points. But there's more pure fun to be had for $5 in the Arcade - and what's the profit margin on 5% of Xbox 360 owners again?
Xbox 360Game Chronicles (Dec 18, 2006)
Unless you just have to have every gamer score point available or need to dominate all the Xbox Live leaderboards, I’d probably pass on Defender. Then again, I suck at this game so it could be just sour grapes….nahhh…
Xbox 360IGN (Nov 16, 2006)
Defender is a game that needed much more than what was put into it to make it worthy of a download. Like other classics on the Live Arcade, you can find it on compilations along with many other games for a cheaper average price. With the poor multiplayer options and lag-filled Live experience, there isn't anything other than leaderboards that sets this apart from other Defender releases. Hardcore Defender fans will love it just to be able to compete for the highest leaderboard score, but everyone else probably won't need to give this a look.
PC BooterPC Magazine (May 29, 1984)
Both Defender and Stargate make selecting between one or two-player games a confusing process. Neither game maintains a permanent record of high scores. And, though both games allow you to choose a starting wave number, there is no indication of what the numbers mean in terms of difficulty of play. Finally, Defender does not seem to penalize you for shooting the very humanoids you are supposed to rescue. I cannot admit to much enthusiasm for either of these games. Like Pac-Man, they have been surpassed by newer games with more creativity and value. These two are just another blast from the past.
Commodore 64Micro 7 (Apr, 1984)
Le premier d'une longue série de hits d'arcade que la nouvelle division d'Atari, Atarisoft, sort pour le 64. Il faut défendre la Terre et ses habitants de toute incursion étrangère. Peut-être encore plus réussi que la version originale des micros Atari.
Atari 2600Woodgrain Wonderland (Dec 04, 2016)
Defender has a lot of problems, but as a kid I enjoyed it immensely. It’s also the first game I ever “turned over” (999,999 points). As long as you can overlook its flaws, there is enjoyment to be found in this humble port.
Xbox 360UOL Jogos (Nov 24, 2009)
Sem grandes atrativos multiplayer, faltou munição para "Defender" conquistar a Xbox Live Arcade. Em testes online, não era raro receber a mensagem que não havia jogador disponível. Quando isso acontece, o jogo oferece a opção para criar sua própria sala, mas pode demorar minutos até que um adversário apareça. O visual renovado não proporciona uma nova experiência em jogo, mas a dificuldade elevada deve agradar admiradores do clássico que têm um bom desafio para subir no ranking da Xbox Live Arcade. Para o público geral, os 400 Microsoft Points (US$ 5) é um investimento sem retorno.
Atari 2600The Video Game Critic (Jul 14, 2002)
This is the game everybody had but nobody loved. In the arcade, Defender was a huge hit, distinguished by its horizontal scrolling, complicated control scheme, and ultra-high difficulty level. This sloppy Atari 2600 adaptation retains the same basic features, but its graphics and gameplay aren't even in the same ballpark as the original.