Day 1066: Space Command

Posted: 2013/10/11 in Indie Games

One of my absolute favourite games growing up was “Atlantis” by Imagic. This was an early “third-party” game, meaning a game that was not published by the manufacturer of the consoles. In the days of the earliest consoles, the industry was very different. Consoles were sold for a profit; the Intellivision’s launch price of $299.99 USD in 1979 works out to nearly $1000 today, for example. Console manufacturers (who in those days were Atari, Mattel, and Coleco, predominantly) didn’t want anyone else releasing games for their systems, and attempted various technical and legal means to stop them (Mattel actually released a whole new version of the console, the Intellivision II, to stop Coleco’s third-party games from working!). This was such a big deal, that game creators were almost never listed in the credits of a game, for fear that other companies would hire them away! Mattel referred to the Intellivision game creators as the “Blue Sky Rangers” to further their anonymity. No detail was overlooked, with no name plates on parking spaces or desks, and the building they worked in having no official markings on it.

Imagic waded into this world of secrecy and managed to release games for all the popular systems at the time, struggling against technical limitations (such as a total lack of documentation available from the console manufacturer) and legal challenges. Ironically, Mattel and some of the other console manufacturers released games for other systems, all the while trying to stop others from doing it to them.

Imagic had some of the most memorable games of the period and, for me, “Atlantis chief among them. Here is the Atari 2600 version (the first version released) for the uninitiated (and for the initiated who want to relive it):

You may also be familiar with a game called “Space Invaders” a game so popular in Japan that it caused a coin shortage in the specific denomination the arcade cabinet used:

Though “Space Invaders” was ported to more systems and is better remembered, Atlantis was the better game, IMO.

That finally brings us to “Space Command” (this is probably the longest I’ve gone in a review before actually mentioning the name of the day’s game). It’s a hybrid of Atlantis and Space Invaders. And there’s not a lot more than to say about it. Space Invaders works surprisingly well with Atlantis’ control mechanics (who some might find harkens back a little to “Missile Command” as well, but your ability to fire with impunity reminds me more of Atlantic than M.C.), and is a more enjoyable experience for it. Well worth $1, at least for people who find this nostalgia-ridden like me.

Here’s what the developer (Jason Keiderling) has to say about the game:

“Experience a classic 80’s game that never existed, but should have! Space Command explores what would happen if the enemy type from one classic game genre attacked the heroes from another genre.”

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