The Many Faces of . . . Demon Attack
By Alan Hewston

Demon Attack, by Imagic was named 1982 game of the year by Electronic Games Magazine. Similar to Phoenix, this is another "Death from Above" game where winged attackers, “Demons”, swoop down on you. So much like Phoenix, in fact, that Atari sued Imagic . . . but lost. Maybe because you get no shields - like in Phoenix.

Only the bottommost demon, of 3 (rows) of demon attackers can drop demon fire down upon you. After your laser eliminates them, up to 7 more take its place for that wave.

From the 5th  wave on, the demons, when hit, will split into 2. Again, only one (left most. right-most? On Vic 20) demon will drop demon fire. When you shoot one of the smaller demons on the bottom row, the remaining smaller demon will dive down, almost like a kamikaze, but is only able to steer a little bit towards you. This diving demon turns yellow, and lets out quite a chirp "announcing" its dive attack. Once it crashes, or gets destroyed, a new demon, if available, zooms in to join the field. There are only 84 waves programmed (first on the 2600 version), after which all action reportedly ends.

If you complete an entire wave without getting killed, you earn a bonus life, but only up to 6 lives in reserve. Otherwise the next level begins immediately. A very frustrating feature in all versions is that the actions only pauses briefly after your laser canon is destroyed, and your replacement shows up right where the old one left off. Can you say “multiple deaths in a row” sure - no mercy. Kudos to the Imagic programmers who used the fire button reset to automatically startup your next game - even on the O2.

A large variety of game options allow 1 or 2 players, varying starting levels, tracer shots (shots follow your horizontal location as they ascend), and a special two-player co-op (Alternate turns at the cannon, but accumulate points separately). A fairly simple game - left, right, and fire, but each wave requires more skill and/or luck. There are twelve different waves of demons, each more challenging. They get smarter, add tracer bombs, and finally get very small. One good thing is that the speed of the game picks up so you get to shoot back at them quicker.

The Intellivision version deserves significant comment, as this game is really not the same Demon Attack from the 2600. It's like other “Death from Above" genre game, but that is where the comparison ends. Instead of one screen, there are 2 that cycle back and forth. Screen 1, you begin on the Moon Station Tranquility, and can see the Earth on your screen. There are 3 waves of attackers, Winged Warriors, Tentacled Terrorists, and Bound Bombers. None of them split into 2. After you defeat several of each, you blast off the Moon to go on the offensive. The blast off provides a brief intermission, perhaps just enough time to rub your eyes, adjust your seat, or grab a drink.

Screen 2, plays an awful lot like Phoenix, but with no shields. The attackers, Suicide Patrollers, swarm down and out of an opening that scrolls across the mothership, aka the Demon Base, Pandemonium. Shoot the attackers for points (and to stay alive), and shoot through the opening, and into the core to destroy the mothership. Again, you get a quick intermission, before screen 1 repeats. The demons have 3 types of bombs that become more deadly and quicker as the game progresses. The Intellivision has 2 very different artwork variations. The artwork for the label, box and manual are consistent for each variation.

Original (2600) Designer: Rob Fulop.

Other Designers: Gary Kato (INTV), Bruce Pedersen (Vic 20), & Dave Johnson (Atari 8-bit)

Platforms: Atari 2600, Atari 8-bit, Intellivision, TI-99, Odyssey 2, and Vic 20.

Categories: Gameplay, Addictiveness, Graphics, Sound & Controls

The Have Nots: Odyssey 2 (27), TI99 (?) & Intellivision (34)|
The Odyssey 2 version is a great game . . . relative to most on the O2. All the 2600 start options are included, and the Gameplay is good, but slightly varied & lacking. Most noticeable are the 2 rows of Demons, and a single block for demon fire. The Addictiveness score suffers from the other categories, but mostly due to bad sprite overlaps. If you are in the vicinity of the bomb, you die - boo hiss. The Graphics are just plain bad. The Sound is awful, and doesn’t even let you know when you’ve earned an extra life. Finally, the Controls are a tad more responsive (better) than the INTY. The O2 cart is fairly hard to find, which nearly got it disqualified.

The Intellivision Demon Attack could be disqualified since the Gameplay is not Demon Attack. Regardless, a nice score is deserved as all the 2600 start options are included and then there is the addition of a 2nd screen - adding to the story. The Addictiveness score is only fair since this is a rather difficult game to play. The Earth and Moon look nice, but add nothing to the mediocre Demon Graphics. The Sound is creative, and suits the unique Gameplay. The Controls are weak, but better than most INTY games. I highly recommend using a joystick insert.

I do not own the TI version, but received some reader's comments that it is indeed a good game. It is definitely recommended by the TI collectors/players who have it. No drawbacks and is essentially as good as the 2600 version. I have not confirmed if this game is actually Super Demon Attack, see below.

Bronze Medal: Vic 20 (42)
WHAZUP!! The Vic 20 wins another medal. Yep, the Gameplay is nearly all there. Missing only two features, [a two-player co-op game, and varying A & B difficulty switch on 2600]. But, how many people would use these features? With 1 joystick port, you can still play head to head, taking turns. The addition of a pause button really helps out if you have a marathon game, and gives the Addictiveness score top billing. The Graphics are very nice and only a shade better on the Atari systems. They did program the Imagic logo to the top of the screen. The Sound is not lacking in any way, but probably deserves to be 1 or 2 points lower than the Atari systems. The Controls are flawless.

Silver Medal: Atari 2600 (44)
This port has no drawbacks and got the top score in all categories but Sound & Addictiveness. It is really difficult to give this game the nod over the Vic 20, or a back seat to the Atari 8-bit as all three are neck in neck in most categories. The Controls and Gameplay are flawless.

Gold Medal: Atari 8-bit (45)
Demon Attack. It's nearly a dead heat for the Gold medal barely won by the Atari 8-bit version.

Programmed later than the 2600 version, this was a disappointment to me. Not much was added to improve the game, but it is not lacking anything from the original 2600. It earned 1 more point in Sound as each level has distinct sound effects, which is cool. The Controls and Gameplay are flawless.

Sequels:
Super Demon Attack
, was programmed for the TI-99, by Bill Mann.
Demon Attack Plus
O2 by (Unknown)

Come back next time when I plan to review Tapper, which is one of my top 10 most played games, found on C64, 2600, CV and Atari 8-bit.

(Alan Hewston really needs a Y-Cable for use on the Colecovision. Mine doesn't work and it would sure be great to have the 2600 stick working in tandem with the CV controller. Alan can be reached at Hewston95@stratos.net.)

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