This review originally appeared within iLounge’s iOS Gems series within the compilation article, iPhone Gems: Good Games with Familiar Names. Additional details may be found in the original article.
Released in the 1980s amidst Cold War tensions over nuclear missile strikes, Atari’s classic arcade game Missile Command later proved popular on home computers and game consoles, as well. Yet for whatever reason, there haven’t been anywhere near as many Missile Command clones over the years as there have been Breakout clones; the iPhone OS’s Alien Invasion is a semi-noteworthy, but also only indirect exception. Atari’s iPhone version of Missile Command ($5) thus arrives without much competition, and though there are ways that it could have been even better, we really liked this title for what it is.
Missile Command places cities on the bottom of the screen and atmosphere-reentering missiles at the top, providing you with a limited amount of ammunition to shoot the missiles down before they destroy your cities. Unlike the original arcade game, which gave you a trackball to position a cursor that guided land-based explosives to make the missiles explode in air, you just touch the screen here to launch ammo at a given position. If the resulting explosion comes close enough to the missile to blow it up, great. Lose all of your cities and the game ends. It’s Cold War fear, neatly wrapped up in an action-intense game.
As with Super Breakout, Atari has gone beyond just offering a simple rendition of the classic arcade game, though that’s included as well as a “Classic” mode. The so-called Ultra mode doesn’t have any of the 3-D effects of the Atari Jaguar version released years ago, but it does include very good music, nice 2-D missile launching special effects and backgrounds, plus different types of targets to shoot down. Green missiles fall slowly, red missiles need to be hit perfectly, and alien spaceships of varying sizes appear as both targets and low-flying missile launchers.
Is the game worth $5? By contrast with some of the deep, impressive titles we’ve seen for both the Click Wheel iPod and iPhone OS, and even with the long-since-forgotten Jaguar title, probably not. But it’s fun, intense on the higher levels, and certainly well-programmed for a 2-D touchscreen shooter on this platform. If it goes on sale, consider it worthy of a purchase; we’d love to see a 3-D version for the iPhone. iLounge Rating: B+.
Company and Price
Company: Atari Interactive
Title: Missile Command
Compatible: iPhones, iPod touches