The Dreadnaught Factor
The Game: Piloting a series of solo space fighters, you’re humanity’s last hope against a fleet of gigantic, triangular wedge-shaped battle cruisers bearing down on Earth. Launching from a staging area equipped with a hyperspace gate to fling your fighters into the void at top speed, you must strafe these cruisers in your fighter, bombing and blasting their gun emplacements, engines, and an assortment of weak spots on their ship. The enemy cruisers also have defensive fighters that they’ll launch to keep you from getting the job done, and of course the cruisers themselves are bristling with enormous laser cannons. Hitting all of the guns, engines and other “soft targets” on a cruiser will destroy it, giving you a momentary reprieve until the next cruiser arrives. If you run out of ships or fail to stop the enemy, they’ll wipe out your planet – game over, indeed. (Activision, 1982)
Memories: Further proof that long before Lucasfilm ever entered the video gaming arena, George Lucas was having a massive ripple effect on the medium: the dreadnaughts in Dreadnaught Factor are – and let’s not kid ourselves here – clearly Star Destroyers. They’re shaped and laid out like them, right down to the control tower. If you ever wanted to see what would’ve happened if Han really had taken the Millennium Falcon into a head-to-head battle with a Star Destroyer, or if that poor sap in the A-Wing hadn’t been out of control, this is your game.
One thing that Dreadnaught Factor doesn’t suffer from is the slowness of some Intellivision titles; though I prefer to take things slow and hit as many targets in a single strafing run as I can, you can, in theory, zip right over the whole dreadnaught (and, in all likelihood, probably just hit one target on that pass). Each pass you require also brings the enemy that much closer to their target, so it’s best to make every attack as productive (destructive?) as possible.
A fun little game that makes the best use of Intellivision’s strengths, and even makes good use of the controller. Activision later revamped this game for other platforms, but in this gamer’s eyes, this version is definitive.