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The History of Defender: The Joys of Difficult Games

When Eugene Jarvis was developing the now-classic side-scrolling shoot-'em-up arcade game Defender for top pinball machine manufacturer Williams Electronics, he admits that the company's management was skeptical.

Furthermore, Defender's response at the November 1980 Amusement & Music Operators Association (AMOA) trade show was indifferent at best. "They were afraid of this game," said Jarvis, reminiscing on the game's debut. "I guess it was all the buttons."

Unlike most games of the era, which featured at most a few buttons and a controller, Defender offered five buttons along with a joystick to perform the game's esoteric actions.

Nevertheless, despite its extraordinary difficulty, which was arguably balanced by the depth of the gameplay and strong audio-visuals, Defender became a smash hit for Williams.

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gamasutra.com
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