The Game: Players slide into the cockpit of Defender once again, defending the power generators on the surface of a human space colony from intruding aliens. As usual, the Defender is a versatile, fast-moving attack ship, but the aliens have an advantage in sheer numbers. Vaporizer bombs can clear the screen of attackers, but they’re in short supply. Eliminating all invaders clears the level and starts anew; running out of Defender craft means the aliens win. (Ensign Software, 1989)
Memories: Among the most obscure offshoots of the Defender family tree spawned by the 1980 coin-op, Revenge Of Defender is a dressed-up PC remake of the classic game, trading the complicated control scheme and uncluttered graphics of the original for a easier player controls and background graphics that actually get in the way of the game.
It may not be much of a purist view, but anything that can simplify the controls of arcade Defender is a good thing, and Revenge Of Defender gets it back to basics nicely. An interesting new twist in the game is the ship’s shielding. Measured via an on-screen “energy meter,” the shields allow the player’s ship to ram enemies, at the cost of weakening those shields. Power-ups can replenish the ship’s shields, but the shield meter also doubles as a life bar – if anything hits an unshielded ship, the game is over. Literally barreling through the enemy fleet is not a viable strategy, but rather a last-ditch sign of desperation.
In the era before attempts to replicate original arcade sound and graphics came into vogue – a trend that culminated in the late ’90s development of emulation – Revenge Of Defender was the state of arcade revivals in the late ’80s. The basic shape of the game is preserved, but everything else is eligible for rethinking and revision.