Nowadays, you can throw a rock without hitting a videogame based on the latest Hollywood Blockbuster. And, usually, those said titles just plain suck. But, how does a move whose plot centers around a videogame, not acually get a Videogame made of it? Who let that one slip through the cracks? Read On to Find out!
"Greetings Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada."
If you recognise those words, then you remember watching The Last Starfighter as a kid, and dreaming that could have been you! The ultimate gamer's dream! To be called upon to save the world, or galaxy, with your awesome video game playing powers. (That or the other dream involving princess peach, the DOA girls, Samus, and whipped cream. That could be the ultimate video gamer's dream, also. Maybe a close tie.)
At the very least, the beginning of the movie focuses around a badass looking Arcade game simply called, "Starfighter." It looked liked a far better version of the old ray-traced Star Wars game. With filled and shaded polygons, creating an awesome looking 3D space shooter. Not only that, but the game also had an awesome Sick and Yoke combo, that looked like something outta of a fighter jet. So, if you couldn't have lived Alex's role, at least you could run to the arcade and play the game, right?
Because they never made it!
So, in this F'd up world in which we live, they don't make a videogame based off a movie that centers around a videogame. But they make crappy videogames based off every other movie that isn't about a videogame. (Make your own logic conclusion about this one.)
But, at least, they make a off-broadway musical of it!
I am not kidding, see here: http://www.stormtheatre.com/reviews.html#star
So, why didn't we get a Last Starfighter Video Game? A few of them were in the works, but unfortunately timing played a big part in their pre-mature demise. The movie was released in 1984, and the games were in development around the same time. One year after the "Great Video Game Crash." The rights to making the games fell into the hands of the once almighty Atari. Atari had been working on the games before the movie was even released, and the arcade game was promised in the end credits of the film. But, unfortunately, no one knows for sure, why it never appeared.
The actual arcade game was about 75 percent completed when the project was cancelled due to numerous reasons. The closest anyone outside of Atari or the licensing company ever saw of the prototype is what you see on the arcade game screens in the film, which were based on the initial designs of the coin-op game. There was one set of wire-wrapped prototype boards and those may have been reused in the creation of other games. The prototype software for the game may still exist in the archives at Atari, but getting access to it, and in turn using it, would be nearly impossible.
Some Screens Of The Arcade Game:
Here's some footage of the prototype in acton:
Also, a version of The Last Starfighter game was created for the Atari 5200, however. Though it too, was never released. They eventually took the game and repackaged it had Star Raiders 2, by removing the movie references and changing a few names and sprites in the game. The ROM image for the game has recently become available and it can be played using a 5200 emulator.
(Here a link to see a side-by-side comparison of The Last Starfighter and Star Raiders 2: http://www.atarihq.com/atcomp/lastsr2.html
But, fear not! Not all is lost! An independant software company know as Rouge Synapse have made their own version of The Last Starfighter arcade game and have released it for free!
Almost 25 years after the movie. But, at least it's not too late. So, what are you waiting for Starfighter? Get to it! The Star League needs you!
And, may the luck of the Seven Pillars of Bulu be with you at all times!
FUN FACT: The CGI used in the movie was created on a Cray X-MP Supercomputer, The X-MP was sold with one, two, or four processors and from two to sixteen megawords (16–128 MB) of word-addressable RAM main memory (while initial memory capacity was limited to 16 megawords with a 24-bit address register, the later extended memory architecture XMP/EA raised addressable memory to a theoretical 2 gigawords, in practice the largest memory produced was 64 megawords. The XMP/EA had an 8.5 nanosecond clock), delivering a theoretical peak speed of 942 megaflops. In 1984, a X-MP/48 was about US$15 million plus the cost of disks. In comparison to modern CPU speeds, the X-MP had less than half of the raw power of a Xbox.* (The original, not the 360 even!)
*There is still speculation over which system is bigger and heavier, though.