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I was just reading the Aeon Genesis Translations message board, when someone posted about this...

Missile Commander is a game written in Flash to be playable in all Flash enabled browsers. It is an update of the classic arcade game Missile Command. It was written by Chris Cornell.

Although "updates" and "reimaginings" of old classic games are usually pretty bad, this has to be one of the good ones. This is for the simple reason that it not only recreates a very accurate rendition of Missile Command, but it manages to have some ambition, not to mention the balls to tweak the winning formula. The game has 15 levels, and each one adds a new element until you are left with incredibly frantic gameplay that would tax even an arcade MC master.

On the off chance you are not familiar with Missile Command, you can read its node. Alternatively, a brief run outline of the game is as follows:

  • You have bases to the value of 3. They fire missiles.
  • You have missiles to the value of about 6 or 7 per base. They can be fired.This involves them travelling to a point and exploding.
  • You have cities to the value of 6. They just sit there.
  • You have a crosshair to the value of singuler. It moves.
  • You have a trackball and buttons to the value 3. They can be manipulated by your hands to move the crosshair and fire missiles from your bases.
  • You are faced with incoming enemy missiles to the value of a hell of a lot.
  • You are given the task of defending your cities and bases to the value of until the time in each level runs out.
  • You shoot missiles with the trackball and buttons so that they blow up and take out enemy missiles.
  • Hopefully this will lead to people not suffering a horrible hot radioactive death.
  • At the risk of ending this wonderful passage of quality well thought out writing with a cliche, rinse and repeat.

So, the general idea is to use your missiles to take out their missiles. However, I think it's safe to say that the concept has change more than a little in Missile Commander...

For starters, all your bases now have infinite ammunition. To make up for this, then now have a large reload time, which prevents people just spamming the sky with missiles. And there are no cities just standing there as cannon fodder, instead you just have up to four house / missile base combinations. Makes everything much simpler. Also, because it's a Flash program running in a browser, the player uses a mouse instead of a proper chunky trackball. Of course, you might be cool enough to have a big trackball hooked up to your PC... in which case, well done, you get a cookie.

Also, while the original arcade game used three different buttons to launch missiles from 3 different bases, this version uses the mouse to launch a missile, and the A, S, D and F keys to switch between the bases. Yes, you can get up to four per level - and trust me, you'll need them.

So I guess that covers the main changes between arcade and reimagining. For the first level, that is...

Essentially, each level after the first adds a new element to the fray. The first level has only one base and really slow enemy missiles. Complete that, and you're onto the next level, featuring four bases and slightly faster enemy shots. The next level sees those enemy missiles which split into four to rain terror on your house/base combos. But after that... it just gets wierd.

When you have played 14 of the 15 levels, you will have been given control of massive radar dish death rays, weapon factories which supply a devastating salvo, giant magnets which can push missiles off course, huge Tesla coil generators, and massive nuke bunkers which have a huge radius for the explosion. You'll have fought missiles, faster missiles, splitting missiles, UFOs, shielded UFOs, cloaked UFOs... the list goes on. And that's not even mentioning the final boss...

This is clearly not just your average spend a day learning Flash and bang together some random crappy web game job. A lot of thought has gone into this game, and it really does shine. The graphics are very nice, the gameplay is polished to perfection, and it's really good clean fun. I personally don't have memories of playing the original in arcades during my youth, but I've played it in MAME, and this version stands up pretty well. Apparently it landed the guy who programmed it into a programming job, so that alone tells you how good it is.

But don't take my word for it, try it yourself. Make sure you have Flash and head over to www.flammie.net/flash/ for a link to play the game and the author's notes on it, including some screenshots and sample code. I can highly recommend it as a way of whiling away your time - and best of all, a level select feature is included so you can skip through the levels to get to the good bit.


Sources:

www.flammie.net/flash/
Aeon Genesis Translations message board where I heard about the game: http://agtp.romhack.net

Thanks to keops and Pseudo_Intellectual for corrections.

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