Missile Command 3D - The Atari Times
Let it reign down...
by Bruce ClarkeMay 24, 2001
A couple of days ago I received a used copy of Missile Command 3D. After the usual power-up scenes of the red Jaguar logo and rotating cube, you see a 3D logo of the words "MISSILE COMMAND 3D" rotating in space.
MC3D is really three games in one cart. One is a reasonably close replica of the original arcade version: an enemy has launched nuclear missiles at your cities on the bottom of the screen. As the missile contrails streak down the screen, you move a pointer to aim interceptor missiles at the incoming enemy weapons. Each of the three fire buttons launches a missile from one of the three ABM missile launchers at the bottom of the screen. The graphics are fairly close to the original arcade. In the arcade a trackball was used to move the targeting pointer: on most home versions of Missile Command the input must be done with a joystick, leading to awkward aiming of your interceptors. The Jaguar version seems to be a bit better than most for input, but is still a bit awkward.
There is an updated version called "Missile Command 3D." It's the original version with updated 3D polygon graphics. You have several cities and three missile launchers at the bottom of the view.
Arrowhead-shaped enemy missiles arc down from the top of the playfield towards your cities. The general feel is similar to the original version but with fancier 3D graphics. I find '3D' has one extremely annoying problem: the entire playfield is about twice as high and twice as wide as your actual 'view' window, so you must depend on using the 'Defender-esque' radar screen to watch for missiles outside your point of view. I'd much rather that the playfield was your entire view - even if some graphic detail had to be left out.
I'd have been disappointed with this cart if it weren't for the third 'version' - Virtual Missile Command. You have to protect an underwater city that is surrounded by three laser-gun cannons. Missiles or bombs drop down from the water surface above. Instead of firing interceptor missiles, you shoot 'instant' laser beams directly from your point-of-view outwards to the dropping bombs. The point-of-view seems to cover a larger playfield, so there isn't the same desperate hunting-around to see the enemy missiles.
WOW! This game is incredible. I found the 3D polygon graphics of Virtual Missile Command to be perhaps the best I've seen on the Jaguar. There are lots of detailed polygons - both shaded and textured. The frame rate is decent, even when lots of bombs and explosions are filling the screen. I'm extremely impressed with the graphics of Virtual - it compares very well with PSX or N64 games. If you ever see someone bashing the Jaguar for poor graphics, Virtual would be a good game to show them. I find the 'boss' shoot-outs at the end of each wave particularly impressive.
The control input is actually not bad: this kind of a targeting game is really meant for a trackball and not a D-pad, but the Jaguar controller still seems to work okay.
The music and sound effects are good, but not outstanding. They don't really seem to stand out or add much to the game.
I don't have anything negative to say about the Virtual MC game. At first I thought it was a little too difficult, but once I got the feel of this game I found that it was just the right difficulty to be
hard but not too frustrating.
I'm impressed with Missile Command 3D; it has both good shoot-em-up gameplay and shows off the Jaguar's graphics abilities.
I wish the Jaguar had more games like this one! I think it's got some truly outstanding 3D graphics! Playing the underwater level and the sky levels made my jaw drop when I originally bought it. If only the Virtual mode didn't lock up!