Eugene Jarvis’s Defender stands today as one of the most influential and popular games that was released in the golden age of video games. The title selling over 55,000 units and becoming one of the highest grossing games in history.
The game received praise for the audio-visuals within the game yet also because of the difficult nature. Defender inspired many games, creating the genre of horizontal scrolling shooters, even though it wasn’t the first. Jarvis claims that the game was inspired from earlier classics such as Space Invaders (1978) and Asteroids (1979).
The gameplay consisted of the player controlling a space ship whilst navigating an unnamed planet. The player was given the ability to manoeuvre both left and right through button controls. Further buttons controlled weapons and a joystick could have been used to control the level of elevation of the ship.
The aim of Defender was to protect astronauts on the ground below from potential abduction. The player could have achieved this through destroying the invading aliens. If the player was unable to safeguard an astronaut, they were returned to the planet whereby they would transform into mutants that begin to attack the ship.
Furthermore, if the player failed to protect the astronauts, the planet exploded. It was possible to reverse this process through destroying the oncoming waves of mutants. Within Defender, the player was allocated three ships (lives). As well as a further opportunity to earn more; this could be gained by reaching certain scoring benchmarks. Finally, the game will end after expending all the player’s ships.