Spacewar! - Games Inspired By Spacewar!

Games Inspired By Spacewar!

Over the years, many computer games have been inspired by Spacewar!; some are known by the same name. Some are straightforward clones, but most have introduced additional variations to the game play, such as:

  • various rates of acceleration
  • various levels of gravity (even negative)
  • missiles affected by gravity
  • fuel (energy) regeneration over time
  • shields

Arcade versions of Spacewar! were released as the Galaxy Game (1971), Computer Space by Nutting Associates (1971), and Space Wars by Cinematronics (1977), the last being the most commercially successful.

The first networked version of this genre was Orbitwar (1974) by Silas Warner on the PLATO network. It included all the features of the original Spacewar! with the addition of a Big Board where PLATO users would await challenges from each other to play.

Home versions have appeared for most computer and console systems, with some becoming quite elaborate, such as the Star Control series, introducing a wide variety of gameplay frameworks around the basic one-on-one combat system at its core. Senko no Ronde can be described as a modern interpretation of Spacewar!, with a design heavily inspired by versus fighters such as Street Fighter II. The Escape Velocity series also owes its 2D inertial combat and navigation to Spacewar!.

Non-space themed variants with similar play (i.e. two players control a vehicle using similar controls – i.e. rotate left / rotate right / move forward / fire – and try to score by hitting their opponent with a missile) include Tank by Kee Games and Combat by Atari.

Although some accounts mistakenly identify Spacewar! as a motivation for the development of Unix, the game involved in that case was Space Travel.

Atari, Inc. made Space War, an Atari 2600 port of the original with additional options. Atari Corporation had an Atari Jaguar game called Spacewar 2000 in development as a 3D update to the original, but was cancelled when Atari abandoned Jaguar support.

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