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In Joust, players take control of a knight with a lance who rides their flying ostrich (or stork, for Player 2) to do battle against computer-controlled evil knights who ride atop vultures.

Players must flap their steed's wings to hit the enemy from a higher jousting point to destroy the vulture and its rider. Once the enemy has been hit, an egg falls to one of the platforms below. The heroic knights must destroy the eggs before they hatch and release new and increasingly more difficult knights. The three strengths of enemy knights are Bounder (red knight), Hunter (white knight), and Shadow Lord (blue knight). These enemy knights are not the only challenge to be found in the game. Players must also contend with crumbling platforms, lava trolls who attempt to pull knights into the fire, and the dreaded "unbeatable"(?) pterodactyl.

The game was novel for its time for being one of the few two-player simultaneous games in the arcade.


Joust NES Watch out for the difficult to kill pterodactyl
Joust Atari 2600 Platforms change from level to level
Joust NES Unclaimed eggs will hatch to reveal a new knight.
Joust Atari 5200 The Lava Troll is seeking an ostrich or a vulture and tries to bring them down to the lava

Promo Images

Joust Other
Joust Screenshot
Joust Screenshot
Joust Screenshot


Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

A classic. PC Booter Tomer Gabel (4643)
Thou shalt kill those buzzards NES Katakis | カタキス (41927)
Another bullseye for the Lynx porting legacy. Lynx Trixter (9110)

Critic Reviews

Le Geek Atari 7800 Mar, 2009 5 out of 5 100
Atari Gamer - XL-XE Game Review Edition Atari 8-bit Dec, 2013 9 out of 10 90
The Atari Times Atari 2600 Dec 06, 2005 80 out of 100 80
8-bit Central Retro Gaming Atari 5200 2011 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
The Games Machine (UK) Atari ST Sep, 1988 71 out of 100 71
Oldies Rising Atari 2600 Dec 16, 2014 14 out of 20 70
Tilt Atari 2600 Jan, 1984 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 67
TeleMatch Atari 2600 Nov, 1983 3 out of 6 60 Atari ST Jul 01, 2011 12 out of 20 60
The Good Old Days (Staff Reviews only) Atari 2600 May 04, 2013 1 out of 6 17


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1001 Video Games

The Arcade version of Joust appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


One "bug" in the program's design became a strategic advantage to players in the know, later touted by producers as a "hidden feature". On the right side of the screen there are two platforms situated so that one is above and slightly overhangs another. If a player moves across the lower of the two platforms, the player will hit the upper one and be halted. However, if a player flies their bird so that its belly skims the lower platform low enough that its legs do not extend, the bird will "belly flop" across the width of the platform, and, illogically, "squeeze" through the meeting point of the two platforms, shooting out below the upper platform.

Skilled players took advantage of this flaw as a gaming strategy: a player could suddenly pop out below the platform and land on an enemy knight below (or a competing player), catching him by surprise. Game creator John Newcomer stated in interviews that this flaw in the game's design was so popular, they decided to intentionally leave it in and it became a permanent part of the game.

There was originally a second bug which allowed the pterodactyl to be easily defeated by perching on a particular ledge and turning to face the adversary as they entered the screen. When this bug was discovered Williams released a new ROM for the arcade cabinets to rectify it.

Launch game

Joust was one of the "Fabulous Eleven" launch games for the Atari 7800.

Information also contributed by Nélio

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Contributed to by PCGamer77 (3233), saxabar (15), jeff leyda (1800), Kabushi (256018), ZZip (829), Pseudo_Intellectual (63270), Servo (57366) and Игги Друге (46331)