A World of Games: Missile Command (Sega)

Missile Command is one of the most iconic, classic video games out there. Along with other stalwart titles like Space Invaders, Pong, and Pac-Man among many others are in the pantheon of arcade games, contributing to the rise and foundation of video games as a hobby. With that in mind, it’s not too difficult to find an arcade cabinet of Missile Command. However, this particular cabinet is truly unique.

The story goes (if I’m understanding correctly), Sega licensed the Missile Command game from Atari in the late 70s/early 80s for distribution in Japan. However, the company Taito also licensed the game for distribution in Japan, leading to multiple Japanese developed cabinets circulating around arcades. The lesser seen one being the Sega produced cabinet.

If you haven’t played Missile Command you really should: it represents a type of game we don’t see too much of nowadays. Incoming missiles are targeting cities, and you have to intercept said missiles by timing your own missile from the ground up. It’s kind of an action game, kind of a puzzle game, as you’ll need to use the trackball to aim, time your shots to properly blow up to destroy the enemy missiles, and do it all fast enough before you lose your cities. It’s simple and fun, which is very telling of the arcade games of the era.

The unique features of this Sega produced cabinet over the typical North American Atari produced cabinet are numerous. First, the cabinet art and marquee are dramatically different. The North American cabinet is honestly a bit difficult to read, while the Japanese cabinet has gigantic font showcasing what the game is. Also, the placement of the buttons to fire your missiles are slightly different, bending in the opposite direction. Overlays and artwork are different as well as the track ball used. If I didn’t know there were other Missile Command cabinets out there, I could easily confuse this with the original cabinet.

Regardless of the version you play (and to be honest, unless you’re in a Japanese retro arcade, you’re not seeing this version), Missile Command is a solid game. There’s a reason it’s regarded as one of the best of the golden age of gaming.

Played at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfiled, IL 2019

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Original blue and red Nintendo Switch controllers
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