While it’s easy to look down on the crude graphics and game play of the Atari Video Computer System (later redubbed the Atari 2600), it was pretty cool by late 1970s-early 80s standards.
One nice touch was the use of art on the game cartridge boxes along with a “backstory” in the instruction manuals.
Defender was created at a time when some of the basic video game genres were still being defined. While it was not the first game that could be categorized as a side-scrolling shooter, it was the first that extended beyond a single static screen. Defender was unique for its time in that the screen would continuously scroll in whichever direction you travelled. However, if you went in one direction long enough you eventually came back to where you started.
While the Atari 2600 version can’t match the graphics of the arcade, it does a reasonable job within the limitations of the platform and plays very well. These days its easy enough to find Defender on one of numerous compilations in arcade form but the Atari 2600 version is worth a try too. These classics for the Atari 2600 are worth it for the Box/Manual/Label art alone but you’ll have to spend a few extra bucks to get a complete copy to really enjoy it. Defender is one of the more common Atari 2600 games so it’s a piece of cake to find if you don’t already have three.
Images above are all related to the Atari 2600 version of the game.