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"What's the bluntest point made by this game? That you can't win. No matter how many stages you survive, or how much time you spend playing, you can't beat Missile Command. Nuclear war has no winners. Your job is futile, but you do it anyway because you can buy people a few more minutes of hope."
Missile Command (1980) was the most violent video game ever released, at least until DEFCON came along. Missile Command portrayed a stark view of nuclear war at the height of Cold War paranoia. The player was given command of three anti-ballistic missile bases, with which six otherwise defenseless cities had to be defended against wave after wave of ICBMs, nuclear bombers, and orbital battle stations. The game featured simple yet realistic animations of mushroom clouds wiping out entire cities whenever the player failed to intercept an incoming warhead, and a nightmarish explosion effect when the player (inevitably) finally lost the game.
GCC created an enhancement kit called Super Missile Attack for Missile Command machines. Atari was not amused and sued GCC. They settled on GCC producing three games for Atari (Food Fight, Quantum, and a never-finished game).
Just a year later (1982), a sequel for two players competing to destroy each other was prototyped and tested, but ultimately never released. It has recently resurfaced and will shown to the public in 2012, the first time in 30 years.
Missile Command has examples of:
- Atari 2600
- Atomic Hate
- Cold War: Who knew an arcade game could have a political message?
- Cosmetic Award: If you make the high score screen, you'll bypass the usual Game Over screen. However, this was only in the arcade version.
- Destructible Projectiles: Captain Obvious, duh. Justified.
- Earthshattering Kaboom
- The Eighties: Because let's be honest, a game that focuses on preventing Nuclear Armageddon would never have been as popular if it had been released in the post-Cold War period.
- Endless Game: Because in a war fought with nuclear missiles, nobody really wins.
- It's a Wonderful Failure: THE END
- Game Over
- Macross Missile Massacre: Taken to its Logical Extreme, especially considering the times.
- Missiles Fall, Everyone Dies
- Palette Swap: To shake things up every few levels.
- Protection Mission
- Recursive Ammo: MIRV missiles
- Urban Legend of Zelda: Rumors in arcades in the early 80s convinced several teens that NORAD kept track of high scorers, just in case.
- What Could Have Been: The cities in Missile Command were originally based on California cities and the idea of reloading the missile bases by train was considered. An additional set of levels involving firing back at the never-seen enemy was also dropped.
- unless you make the high score list.