The Game: You’re a lone space pilot in very unfriendly territory, trying to stop a seemingly endless attacking fleet of aliens from kidnapping and “mutating” hapless innocents on the ground into new berzerker opponents. (Atari, 1981)
Memories: Though a bit more faithful to its source material than, say, the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man, this first home edition of Defender suffered from many of the same problems, namely an intensely annoying “flickering” effect that affected virtually everything on the screen, from the scrolling “mountains” to the player’s own ship to the enemy fighters.
This is rather sad when this edition of Defender got so much right. Even the arcade game’s large number of buttons was overcome with some mild awkwardness (instead of a smart bomb button, you’d have to duck down behind the buildings at the bottom of the screen to nuke everything within sight).
Curiously, Atari 2600 Defender did land a singular honor years later: when the U.S. Postal Service released a series of commemorative stamps at the end of the 20th century, each one depicting some achievement that American ingenuity had brought to the world in that time, the original artwork for home video games was to have depicted 2600 Pac-Man – until someone pointed out that this was merely an American port of a Japanese-originated game. Defender had much more all-American roots, but the arcade game’s graphics would’ve been hard to depict at postage-stamp size, so the 2600 version was shown instead. Thus, 2600 Defender is the first video game to be depicted on a U.S. postage stamp.