Star Raiders

created and published by Atari in 1982, running on Atari 5200
type: shooter, flight
genre: Science Fiction
series: Star Raiders
setting: Future
perspective: 1st person push-scroll
player options: single player
languages: eng


CX-5205. Rarity 1 Common. North America NTSC. 1 player. 1 overlay.

A port of the Atari 8-bit version, but with small changes
  • Different death messages
  • The Sector Scanner shows icons resembling ships from the Star Trek, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica universes instead of dots and slashes.
  • Fully analog control.
  • Full control at your fingertips, no need to switch to a separate keyboard or keypad.
  • View changes automatically as needed.

In Star Wars, oops, I mean Star Raiders, you play a Rebel, or rather a Star Raider. You attack Cylons, I mean Zylons, who attack your Federation Starbases, err, Atarian Federation Starbases. The Klingons, uhm, sorry, Zylons attack in lightly armed Large Bird of Prey. Wait, no that's a Zylon Cruiser. It takes a few shots to destroy this one. They also use the lightly armed, smaller and faster TIE fight...Cylon Raid...Zylon Fighter. Any hit will destroy it. The Zylon Basestars are heavily armed and equipped with shields. When you establish orbit at a friendly base, a Starfleet Shuttlecraft, uhm, Atarian Federation Shuttle will dock with supplies and Scotty, or a miracle working repair crew to rebuild your entire Atarian Federation Twin Ion Engine ship in a few seconds.

You will need a fully functioning controller, as all buttons are vital to playing the game.
Keypad controls fore view, aft view, scanner, galaxy map, tracking mode, shields, attack mode, hyperspace engines, manual targeting, and throttle mode.

Fore and aft shows the views in front or behind your ship.

Scan activates your radar/scanner that shows you the whole sector.

Galactic Chart shows a map of the whole galaxy, your current hyperspace destination, locations of enemies and friendlies, and Damage Control status.
The Damage Control display is such:
P)roton Launcher
L)ong Range Scanner
Blue letters are good, yellow represents damage to those systems, and red indicates the system is destroyed. Damage and destruction of systems will effect your ability to operate them properly.
Damage can be repaired by orbiting a friendly Starbases.
Move the cursor on this screen to change you hyperspace destination.

Tracking activates automatic target acquisition. The autopilot will steer the ship to follow computer selected targets so you can concentrate on shooting them. Like the Millennium Falcon.

Shield activates or deactivates your shields. There is no need ever have them off.

Attack activates the crosshairs and the targeting display in the lower right corner of the screen.

Hyperspace warps to the sector that was selected on the Galactic Map. Warp Energy (Fuel) and estimated usage is displayed at the bottom of the screen. You must manually steer the ship during warp. Keep the crosshairs on the waypoint. Because of this, a precise destination and exact calculation of fuel economy are not likely. The warp engines will automatically cut off whether you hit your way point or not (Like Battlestar Galactica). You'll need to return to the Galactic Map if you missed your sector.

Manual targeting mode is for selecting targets yourself instead of relying on the computer.

Speed Mode changes the 1–9 keys into a throttle or toggles the back to their main function.

The bottom display shows additional status indicators.
V)elocity (speed)
E)nergy (Fuel)
C)ombat ("T" & "C" will never bee seen at the same time.)
The ovals show your sector coordinates

Considered very complicated for it's day. But it can be explained simply. Turn on shield, listen to radio, bring up map, hyperwarp to location, destroy all enemies, protect and get repairs at Starbases, then repeat.

Your primary orders are to destroy all Zylons. But the more Starbases around to fuel and repair your ship the easier it will be to accomplish your mission. Starbases will call for help when they are under attack. To establish orbit, keep the base in your crosshairs and approch it slowly. Come to a complete stop at the exact range of 0. An Atarian Federation Shuttle with supplies will dock with you and make your starship good as new. Fill your energy tanks with fuel then off you go to your next duel.

There are three way to end. Run out of fuel and remain forever drifting in space. Get your ship blown-up. Or perpetrate complete genocide on the Zylons. Enemy damage and casualties, and the time taken to accomplish them, determine what rank you will receive in the end. The highest ranks are only avaialbe fo players that beast the higher difficulty levels.

Star Raiders is best enjoyed with a crew of 1-7 additional members. Since vital information is encoded on the screen a Lieutenant Tawny Madison is a very useful to repeat the encoded information in English. This role can be further divided into auditory reports of damage control, tactical information, and all other information. Tactical can keep track of many targets so as to guide the helmsmen on which direction to go next while he's firing his last shot at his current target. Also, tactical can report how much damage an enemy has sustained (which is not reported by the game, this crew member will just have to count the hits and calculate it). A navigator is helpful to keep track of enemy and friendly locations. Knowing which are in closest, in range, positioned most efficiently on the route, and such. Someone with a calculator can estimate fuel usage and work with the navigator. And finally a commander to hear it all and decide the priorities, filter out the essentials, and give the orders. This is all so the helmsmen (the one actually playing) can concentrate solely on piloting and shooting.

Finished PAL prototypes of this game are dated 2/23/83 and 3/8/83. Very unusual since Atari had abandon the idea of a PAL 5200 even before the NTSC version of Star Raiders had been published. Missile Command is the only other 5200 game to have had a PAL prototype.
Star Raiders came with a 38 page manual; the largest of any 5200 game.

Doug Neubauer has provide small sections of the source code to the public.

(Zerothis) - # 2007-08-19 23:19:50

Technical specs

display: raster

Authors / Staff


Joe Copson (programmer)

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Star Raiders in-game screen.
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