Missile Command 3D, Atari Jaguar

Missile Command 3D is an Atari Jaguar exclusive remake of Atari‘s classic 1980 arcade game, Missile Command, and it was developed by Virtuality Entertainment and first published by Atari Corporation in 1995.

The game comes with three different play modes: Original, 3D, and Virtual. Original is a more or less straight port of the arcade game and plays pretty much the same (that is: excellently). The only real downside is that this port of the original game is presented inside a window in the middle of the screen and should really have been made to fit the entire screen.

The “3D” game mode you would’ve thought would be far superior to the original, but in my opinion it fails on pretty much every level. The first and most obvious issue is that the missiles you fire to intercept those raining down on your cities move way too slowly, which means that you end up getting your timings wrong and missing most of them, so you end up pressing all three launch buttons in desperation (which seems to activate “Turbo Missiles”, according to an on-screen message, but even they don’t seem to be that effective). Why the developers didn’t try to at least match the movement speed of interceptor missiles from the original Missile Command I don’t know, but it effectively ruins this part of the game. The lens flare from the sun in the sky is distracting too, and the scanner at the bottom of the screen (that’s supposed to show you where the screen is in relation to the entire level) doesn’t really help either. I did not enjoy playing the 3D remake of this game at all.

What I did quite like, though, was the “Virtual” remake of the game, which is played from a first-person viewpoint, and where you have to shoot incoming missiles with lasers, rather than fire your own interceptor missiles at them. This part of the game seems to be set underwater, with domed cities on the sea floor that you have to protect from missiles, alien ships, and also large sea creatures. The developer of Missile Command 3D, Virtuality Entertainment, was well-known for manufacturing first-generation “Virtual Reality” machines for arcades in the early to mid 1990s, and this “Virtual” port of the game I believe was meant to support play with a VR headset, but this – unsurprisingly – was never released for the Jaguar.

While the “3D” version of Missile Command is garbage, the other two game modes are playable and fun. At least for a short while. Missile Command 3D is a game with limited longevity, and should really have been better. It’s another half-baked Jaguar game that fails to impress, and demonstrates why the console failed so quickly and so completely.

More: Missile Command 3D on Wikipedia

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