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Anti-Ballistic-Missile DOS Welcome to the game!


Written by  :  Daniel Saner (3253)
Written on  :  Jan 29, 2021
Rating  :  1.75 Stars1.75 Stars1.75 Stars1.75 Stars1.75 Stars

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Not a clone worth going back to

The Good

Having the chance to play "Missile Command" on your PC must have been an interesting idea back in 1982. Initial impressions are promising. You can choose various difficulty levels, and the game's visuals don't look too bad for a medium-resolution CGA game written in BASIC.

The Bad

However, the promises are not being held. One of the main problems is that the game is controlled by keyboard, as opposed to a trackball in the Arcade original. That would be clumsy enough in itself, however, the game also uses standard BIOS routines for keyboard readout, which means that holding down a cursor key comes with the notorious, annoying delay before it is registered as repeated key presses. In other words, moving the target reticle in the game is very frustrating.

Also, one of the main challenges of the original is absent here: you don't have to estimate where the enemy missile will be by the time your defense charge gets there. You're just spawning explosions exactly where your crosshairs are placed, at the exact moment you push the button. What sounds like it should make the game easier, actually makes it feel more confusing. And then, the explosion is always drawn at the same size, regardless of the actual, effective blast radius that you set before starting the game. All of this combined means that hitting those enemy bombs feels more like luck than skill, and that doesn't translate to fun.

There are other issues with this game, such as the fact that the game freezes every time an explosion happens, so it can fully focus on drawing to the screen. It's an annoying break in the flow of events. Try moving your aim while something explodes, and you'll make the computer freak out once you've filled the keyboard buffer, leading to further freezes and annoyances. Finally, the trails of destroyed enemy missiles are not always erased precisely, cluttering up the playing field and making it more difficult to distinguish those missiles that are still a threat. Luckily, there are only twelve missiles per round.

The Bottom Line

The novelty of having the arcade game on your PC wears off quickly, once you realize how poorly it adapts to keyboard control and animations written in BASIC. There are just too many technical issues with this clone to make it worth playing. It's quite fitting that the game often crashes with a division-by-zero error when trying to calculate your score.