“Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada …”
Those are the words that greet Alex Rogan every time he drops a quarter into The Last Starfighter game. For the longest time the game itself was fiction, because no actual arcade machine could reproduce the imagination of the filmmakers. It took another 28 years since the games original appearance in the movie by the same name, but in 2012 a bunch of clever programmers calling themselves Rogue Synapse have made a pixel-perfect very playable recreation of the game from the film.
The Last Starfighter was a groundbreaking movie, proving that completely computer generated imagery had a place in motion picture special effects. The Starfighter and the space battles in which it was engaged were the first time computer animation was presented in a movie with the expectation that people would accept it as real. Though the film wasn’t a commercial success at the time, it did open the floodgates for every computer driven effects movie to follow, and that transformed the entire movie industry.
The setup for this movie involved a coin-op videogame served as a recruitment tool for an interstellar defense force. If you were good enough.
How close s the game they built to the one in the movie? Take a look. (The really good stuff happens around 9:10.)
It’s a little tricky to play, since the original game was supposed to use a double joystick configuration, and this version has to rely on two clusters of keys on your Windows keyboard. However, at this point nearly every Windows machine on the planet has enough power to play it. If you want to try piloting your own Gunstar, you can download the game here.
Good luck, Starfighter.