Pixelcade on Tuesday, 25 January 2011. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: After a brief hiatus, the RGotW community feature returns. I'm too young to have played this game -- or to have even seen it at an arcade -- but it seems that Sinistar lives up to its name. I believe it is also historically significant, as an influence on many later space shooters, so take note if you're into video-game history. -mossy_11


RUN RUN RUN! Greetings classic gamers! It's time for yet another instalment of Pixelcade's "games you may have not heard about" segment. This time, we are going to take a look at Sinistar by Williams.

Let me get the technical details out of the way first. Year: 1982; cabinet type: Space Shooter Vertical Cabinet or Environmental; players: 2, but only one at a time; input: two buttons, one joystick; MONO Sound (yes kids, I said MONO -- as in one channel of audio). So with those technical details gone done lets see what's going on here.

1982: I was crying my eyes out as that little lovable alien E.T. couldn't get a calling card to phone home. Ozzy found love and married his manager Sharon. And I was busy playing my Colecovision and still picking my nose. On trips to the local arcade one could hear dozens of games in attract mode, begging you to approach and put in that lovely silver quarter.

 All around blips, bleeps, and midi tunes blared. Every now and again you'd hear it: loud and intimidating, "I HUNGER COWARD!" or "I LIVE!" coming from a cabinet shaped like a mini cockpit with guns. It was somewhere between a starship and a Mad Max truck in design.



 With an attract like that I was always drawn to it. More so because I loved immersive cabinets. The concept of the game was simple, yet it was probably the second hardest game I've played -- next to Donkey Kong. You were a small ship that had to move through zones to gather crystals. In the process, you would fight off little enemy ships.

Did I mention the mini ships and everything else in the game moves faster than you? So not only do you have this impossible task of getting crystals out of rocks, but you have to avoid swarms of attack drones and the massive Sinistar -- should it come alive before you have the chance to destroy it with your crystals and move on. To make it one step harder those drones… yeah, they like to steal your crystals and give the power to Sinistar -- giving him life. 

 How in the world can you win? From this gamer, you can't. But it's one hell of a ride. You are given a mini HUD on the top of the screen giving you locations to everything that is going on.   All the while Sinistar taunts you with many horrifying sounds that make the speakers crackle.


As a small kid, it was very hard for me to keep up with this game. By the time I was 7, the game could still be found in some random arcades. Even then it gave me hell. I would still pump in quarter after quarter attempting to blow Sinistar into atoms. I've only done it a few times. Even with my own MAME cabinet I can do it 3 times -- no more.


Other sounds from the game.

Looking for a hard top-down space shooter that taunts you? Want a game that is programmed for you to lose? Well kiddies, here you go: I give you Sinistar.

How many times can you kill Sinistar? What's your high score? Share it with us all! Until next time folks, keep playing the strange and unusual -- you may be surprised.

If you are interested in writing or contributing to a future Retro Game of the Week, please see here, or declare you interest on the forums. If you would like to suggest a game for discussion, please post to this forum thread. You can see all previously published entries, and any confirmed as upcoming, by looking at this thread.

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