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Feature: The History Of Defender

Continuing their classic game series, Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton analyze seminal arcade game Defender and its descendants, discovering why arcade
Continuing their classic game series, Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton analyze seminal arcade game Defender and its descendants, discovering why arcade operators "were afraid of" Eugene Jarvis' game. This latest in a series of Gamasutra-exclusive bonus material was originally to be included in Loguidice and Barton's new book Vintage Games, the introduction explains the genesis of the title: "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. It quickly established both the company and Jarvis as players in the rapidly expanding arcade game industry." The full Gamasutra feature on the subject is available now, including lots more specifics on sequels and spiritual successors to the tricky Defender, a notably influential title. (Games previously covered in this 'bonus material' series include Elite, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Pinball Construction Set, Pong, Rogue and Spacewar!.)

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