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Cult Video Game Essentials: Star Raiders

It was deemed the first violent video game! Released in 1979 it remains in the mind of cult gamers everywhere. It was called Star Raiders!

The game was a space combat simulator video game for the Atari 8-bit family of computers. It was written by Doug Neubauer, an Atari employee, and released in cartridge form by Atari in 1979. It was later ported to other Atari computer and game platforms.

The game simulates combat in 3D between the player’s powerful ship and an invading fleet of alien “Zylon” vessels. Star Raiders was distinctive for its graphics, which represented an out-the-cockpit, first-person view from a fictional combat spaceship traveling through a streaming 3D starfield in pursuit of enemy spacecraft. The game’s attract mode, a simple streaming star field, was a common sight in computer stores of the early-1980’s to show off the Atari computers’ graphics capabilities. The game is commonly referred to as the platform’s killer app.

Star Raiders had considerably higher quality graphics and more complex game play than any game before it. As a result, it inspired both imitators throughout the 1980’s and later-generation space combat simulation games. Notably, it is one of the games that inspired the seminal title Elite, and thus the Wing Commander and X-Wing series. It is also one in a series of first person space shooters (including 1977’s Starhawk and 1979’s Star Fire) that appeared in the late-1970s and were arguably predecessors of the later seen first-person shooter genre.

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