Missile Command is another classic game from the early days of computer games. Here is a demonstration of the original arcade game from 1980:

The goal of the game is protect six cities from attack by enemies missiles, shooting them down before they reached their targets.

The game is played by moving a crosshair across the sky and pressing one of three buttons to launch a counter-missile from the appropriate battery. Counter-missiles explode upon reaching the crosshair, leaving a fireball that persists for several seconds and destroys any enemy missiles that enter it. There are three batteries, each with ten missiles; a missile battery becomes useless when all its missiles are fired, or if the battery is destroyed by enemy fire. The missiles of the central battery fly to their targets at much greater speed; only these missiles can effectively kill a smart bomb at a distance.

The game is staged as a series of levels of increasing difficulty; each level contains a set number of incoming enemy weapons. The weapons attack the six cities, as well as the missile batteries; being struck by an enemy weapon results in destruction of the city or missile battery. Enemy weapons are only able to destroy three cities during one level. A level ends when all enemy weaponry is destroyed or reaches its target. A player who runs out of missiles no longer has control over the remainder of the level. At the conclusion of a level, the player receives bonus points for any remaining cities (50 points times scoring level, 1 to 6) or unused missiles (5 points times scoring level, 1 to 6). Between levels missile batteries are rebuilt and replenished; destroyed cities are rebuilt only at set point levels (usually every 10,000 or 12,000 points).

The game inevitably ends when all six cities are destroyed, unless the player manages to score enough points to earn a bonus city before the end of the level. Like most early arcade games, there is no way to “win” the game; the game just keeps going with ever-faster and more prolific incoming missiles. The game, then, is just a contest in seeing how long the player can survive.

Can you build a simplified Scratch version of this game?

Part 1: Make a basic, simple version of the game

here are instructions for a simple version of the game to get you started. (Note: these instructions are written for Scratch 2 so the blocks look a little different, but you have all the same blocks available in Scratch 3)

After you complete everything in the instructions you will have a basic simplified version of Missile Command. A lot more can be done to make it into a better game including:

  1. The game is the same, all the way through. Make it more interesting by adding in a scoring system for each rock destroyed. A simple variable can do this. As the player’s score increases, the rocks could get faster and more accurate.
  2. The original game was a little different to the one we’ve created. Instead of being able to see the missile sprite – hide it and use the pen tool to draw it’s trail.
  3. Add in an additional bases for the player to defend. These could be ‘cities’ as in the original game. The original game has 6 cities.
  4. Add in an occasional flying saucer that can drop bombs on the player’s bases.
  5. Allow the player to fire up to three missiles simultaneously. The missiles could be launched from 3 different missile batteries as in the original game.
  6. Make the game have multiple levels of increasing difficulty. Limit the number of missiles available in each round. In the original game each of the three missile batteries has ten missiles. A missile battery becomes useless when all its missiles are fired, or if the battery is destroyed by enemy fire.


Part 2: Turn the basic version into a fun multi-level game

You can try to make a clone/similar version of the original arcade game or use your own ideas to make your own really cool version of Missile Command.

Features to add to your Missile Command Game

Here are some things to add:

  1. Scoring – an essential element of pretty much any Arcade game
  2. Lives – the original game has 6 cities that you defend. When a city gets hit it is destroyed. When all cities are destroyed, game is over.
  3. Levels – make it a little more difficult in each level.
  4. Bonus target – original game has an alien that crosses the screen at random intervals (from level 2 onwards). You get bonus score for hitting the alien.
  5. Ammunition – original game has 3 missile silos, each with 10 missiles, so you have up to 30 shots per level. Your missiles get replenished every level.
  6. Missile traces – you can use the pen tool to draw the missile traces. Note: You cannot erase part of what is drawn by the pen tool or just what one sprite draws, the only way is to erase everything drawn by the pen. So the trick is to redraw all the active traces after you erase all.
  7. Splitting missile – the original game some of the missiles coming at the cities you are defending split into multiple missiles.
  8. Sound effects

Share your project

When you’ve completed your Missile Command game, show it to one of the mentors. Share it in Scratch and have another member of the group play your game and you play their version. Notice the major differences between your version and their version and share feedback with each other on your different versions of Missile Command.