Defender

aka: Earth Attack
Moby ID: 140

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 70% (based on 4 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 8 ratings with 1 reviews)

A classic

The Good
Defender was a popular game that hit the arcades in 1981, and its success led to it receiving many home ports. The VIC-20 version of the game remains faithful to the original coin-op even with the limited hardware. It was published by Atarisoft who released the game on cartridge only. Before the game begins, you see an attractive title screen with a number of options below, allowing you to play a one- or two-player game and adjust the difficulty setting. This screen is accompanied by a nice futuristic sound, and if it is idle for a few seconds, then a short attract mode is shown.

You control a ship negotiating a landscape littered with five types of aliens, and there is a radar above which you need to constantly keep an eye on. The most common alien you’ll encounter are the “Landers”. These try to abduct any humanoids on the planet’s surface. The best strategy is not to zoom through the landscape in case you happen to run into any mines left behind by “Bombers”. There are also “Baiters”, UFOs that lock onto your location at a blinding speed and fire repeatedly. The most dangerous alien are the “Pods”; when destroyed, they release “Swarmers” that are capable of tracking you through space with the sole purpose of destroying you. It is easy to tell which alien is which, even with the low resolution.

The sound effects are excellent. I like the warning the humanoids give off; it sounds like a bird tweeting. Graphically, everything is as close to the arcade version as possible, including the explosions that occur after you come into contact with an alien. I like the appearance of the status bar and how it is laid out. Like games that were released at the same time, the scrolling is a bit choppy, but this is tolerable. The controls are basic; the standard four directions used for movement, and a single fire button to make a kill.

The Bad
I couldn’t find anything bad about this game.

The Bottom Line
A classic that remains to this day, Defender is one of the very few games where it always pays to keep an eye on certain parts of the screen. What's great about the game is that it was released around the time when a simple objective was important. In this case, you are trying to rescue humanoids on a planet's surface while blasting away at aliens. Its success warranted a sequel that added new features to the mix.

VIC-20 · by Katakis | カタキス (43092) · 2021

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Tim Janssen, Alsy, Ritchardo.