Programmed by Doug Anderson and published by A&F Software in 1983, Cylon Attack is an early cockpit-based space shooter for the BBC Micro that still plays quite well today.
You have limited shields and fuel and can only fire your front-mounted lasers for a certain amount of time before you must let them cool down and re-charge again. If your fuel or shields run out it’s game over, but you can dock with your mothership to refuel. Your shields, though, are only replenished in-between completing waves.
Although there’s no real feeling of forward movement (due to the starfield not moving in the Z axis) the pleasing inertia of the controls and the precise nature of the shooting does give the game a timeless edge. It’s also pretty challenging as the aliens you’re fighting against shoot missiles towards you, which you have to constantly dodge. Simply making sure they’re not on-screen when they’re close to you is enough to dodge them, but you do have to react quickly when you see them coming.
As the waves increase the number and type of alien enemies changes. From the second wave onwards there are alien attack ships that fire multiple missiles at you, and dodging them becomes more difficult (but not impossible).
Although Cylon Attack is not particularly original (it was obviously influenced by Doug Neubauer‘s 1979 classic, Star Raiders), it is still playable, challenging and fun, and has stood the test of time quite well. The graphics are simple (if a little flickery); the sound effects are good (there’s no music); and the gameplay holds up well by today’s standards, which is not bad for a forty year-old game.