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Defender - Atari - Atari 5200     HTML Manual   



  • To insert your ATARI 5200 game cartridge, hold the cartridge so the name on the label faces you and reads right-side-up. Then carefully insert the cartridge into the slot in the center of the console. Be sure the cartridge is firmly seated, but do not force it in. The POWER ON/OFF switch is located on the lower right side of the ATARI 5200. Press this switch to turn the power on AFTER inserting your game cartridge. See your Owner's Manual for further details.


    1. Commanding Orders
    2. Game Play
    3. Using the 5200 Controllers
    4. TRAK-BALL Option
    5. Game Variations
    6. Scoring
    7. Strategy and Tips
    8. Your Best Game Scores




  • Aliens from a distant solar system are swarming over the planet Humanis. They're kidnapping Humanoids and mutating them into a permanent part of the alien force. Their mission is to transform all of the Humanoids before destroying the entire planet.

  • First, they infest the planet with Landers which close in on the cities, abducting the Humanoids. Then the attack intensifies. Baiters, Swarmers, and Bombers terrorize the skys [sic]. And then, when you least expect it, a deadly Pod collides with your Spaceship, and blasts you to pieces.


  • As Captain of the Spaceship Defender, your mission is to destroy the alien force and save the Humanoids. Your speed and skill have earned you this heroic mission. When Humanoids are abducted, you'll have to destroy the Lander and catch the falling Humanoid before safely returning him to the city below.


  • The Spaceship Defender has full-range scanning equipment which enables you to employ seek-and-destroy tactics. Defender discharges fatal missile fire at the push of a button. You also have two escape options for a last resort course of action: hyperspace and smart bombs. Hyperspace temporarily sends you into a time warp, possibly only to reappear in a more dangerous situation. Smart bombs can destroy all aliens in sight with a touch of a button.

  • Report immediately for this dangerous mission!

    2. GAME PLAY

  • As Captain of the Spaceship Defender, your mission is to destroy the aliens before all of the Humanoids are transformed to Mutants. You score points for each alien you destroy and for each Humanoid you save. Try not to shoot your Humanoids; they are worth bonus points at the end of each alien attack wave. (See Section 6, SCORING.) In one-player games, your object is to top your highest score. In two-player games, the player with the highest score wins the game. A game ends when all Defender Spaceships are destroyed.

  • Each game begins with three Defender lives and three smart bombs. When Defender collides with an alien or is hit by an alien mine, it explodes with a "blast." If it's the last life, the game is over. If any lives remain, another Defender ship appears on the scene. The number of lives remaining and smart bombs remaining is displayed at the upper portion of the television screen. (See Figure 1 for lives remaining and smart bombs remaining.)

    [Screenshot with the "Lives Remaining" and "Smart Bombs Remaining" indicators labeled.]
    Figure 1

  • The aliens attack in waves; each wave becomes increasingly more difficult. When Defender destroys all the aliens in the first wave, another wave of aliens moves in. The longer that Defender survives, the harder the alien attacks become. Each time a wave is completed, the number of the completed wave and the amount of bonus points earned flashes in the center of the screen as shown in Figure 2.

    [Screenshot of the end of a wave with the "ATTACK WAVE 1 COMPLETED" message and the tally of surviving Humanoids.]
    Figure 2

  • The alien force is made up of six different types of ships: Landers, Bombers, Swarmers, Baiters, Mutants, and Pods. Landers are the first to appear. They search the cities for Humanoids to kidnap and mutate. Bombers lay mines to trap you. You cannot shoot mines, so it's best to avoid them. Swarmers are housed in Pods. Several Swarmers are released each time a Pod is destroyed. They track you very closely, so kill them the instant they appear. Baiters usually appear near the end of a wave. They're large, they shoot fast, and they move faster than Defender. A Mutant is a transformed Humanoid. Mutants are very dangerous; use all your energy to kill them. If the Landers kidnap all the Humanoids and carry them to the top of the screen to transform them into Mutants, the entire planet explodes. The most deadly alien of all is the mother ship, also known as a Pod. When a Pod is destroyed, it releases 5 to 7 deadly Swarmers. (See SCORING to learn what each alien looks like.)

    [Unnumbered figure showing and naming the alien types.]


  • Defender fires missiles to blast the alien ships. But, when things look real bad, Defender can employ one of two last resort weapons. First, you have three smart bombs which blow up every alien in sight. With every 10,000 points you score, you earn another smart bomb and another Defender life. Use smart bombs sparingly and strategically. It's a good idea to keep one smart bomb in reserve in case you get stuck and need a little help to earn another Defender life.

  • When you use a smart bomb, you earn points for every alien it destroys on the screen. Another weapon that can be used as a last resort is hyperspace, which enables Defender to disappear, warp through time and space, and reappear somewhere on the screen. You have no control over where you'll reappear. Hyperspace can be tricky and dangerous. Sometimes invisible space matter can blow up your spaceship during the time warp. Try to use hyperspace only when you have no other alternative. (See Section 3, USING THE 5200 CONTROLLERS for using smart bombs and hyperspace.)


  • Your scanner is located at the top center of the screen. It works like a radar screen to reflect alien attacks in your viewing screen and at long range distances. The scanner provides the following important information:

    * How many aliens are approaching, what kind of aliens they are, and what their positions are.

    * Where the Humanoids are being abducted by Landers.

    * How many Humanoids remain and where they are.

  • Each blip on the scanner represents an object in the game. Your playing area is bracketed by short lines in the center of the scanner. The blips are colored to help you distinguish between different alien ships. Get into the habit of monitoring the scanner to help destroy aliens and defend Humanoids. (See Figure 3 for a diagram of the scanner.)

    [Close-up view of the scanner and a screenshot of a game in progress. The relationships between each item on the playing field and the scanner are shown with arrows drawn between each.]
    Figure 3


  • Here's where the heroics come in. Your mission is to destroy aliens while protecting Humanoids. At the end of a wave, you score 100 bonus points for every Humnaoid [sic] survivor, multiplied by the number of the wave just completed (up to a maximum of 500 bonus points).

  • All the Humanoids are stranded helplessly within the cities at the bottom of the screen as shown in Figure 4. You are their only hope for survival. Use the scanner to patrol their positions. When a Humanoid is being abducted by a Lander, you'll hear his cry for help. Go to his rescue immediately. The scanner is the fastest way to spot his position. Look for the Humanoid being lifted from the city as shown in Figure 4.

    [Screenshot of a game in progress with the following items labeled: scores (players 1 and 2), Humanoid (on the ground), Captured Humanoid (being abducted by a Lander).]
    Figure 4

    There are two techniques for rescuing a Humanoid:

    * Destroy the Lander and let the Humanoid fall back to the city.

    * Destroy the Lander, catch the Humanoid, and carry him back to the city.

  • Letting the Humanoid fall to the city is only effective if the Humanoid is close enough to land safely. Experiment to find out what a safe distance is. If the Humanoid falls safely to the city, you score 250 points plus 150 points for destroying the Lander. If he crash lands, you only score the 150 points for destroying the Lander.

  • Catching a Humanoid in midair is more difficult and is worth more points. To catch a Humanoid, shoot the Lander and maneuver Defender to touch the Humanoid, then bring him back to the city. If you succeed, you earn 1000 points plus 150 points for destroying the Lander. If you catch the Humanoid but don't return him safely, you earn 500 points plus the 150 points for destroying the Lander. Note: You may carry any number of Humanoids at a time. If you are carrying Humanoids at the end of a wave, they count as survivors and the program automatically returns them to the city.


  • If Defender does not succeed in protecting a Humanoid, a Lander abducts him and carries him up into space and transforms him into a Mutant. Mutants then return to attack the planet. When all of the Humanoids become Mutants, the cities blow up and disappear. You continue playing to score points. If you survive past the next four waves without the cities below, all Humanoids are reincarnated, and the cities below are rebuilt.


    [Photo of a 5200 controller. You know what it looks like.]
    Figure 5

  • Use one 5200 controller with this ATARI game cartridge. Be sure to plug the controller cable firmly into jack 1 at the front of the 5200 console. For two-player games, simply pass the controller between turns.


  • For your convenience, two keypad overlays are included with this game. Slip the tabs into the slots above and below the keypad on your controller. (See Figure 6 for keypad overlay.)
                     ONE PLAYER
            EASY       NORMAL       HARD
          --------    --------    --------
         |        |  |        |  |        |
         |        |  |        |  |        |
          --------    --------    --------
                     TWO PLAYER
            EASY       NORMAL       HARD
          --------    --------    --------
         |        |  |        |  |        |
         |        |  |        |  |        |
          --------    --------    --------
          --------    --------    --------
         |        |  |        |  |        |
         |        |  |        |  |        |
          --------    --------    --------
          --------    --------    --------
         |        |  |        |  |        |
         |        |  |        |  |        |
          --------    --------    --------
              Figure 6

  • The first screen to appear in the ATARI DEFENDER game is a menu. It allows you to choose either a one-player game or a two-player game. It also gives you three difficulty levels to choose from. If you want to see how the ATARI DEFENDER game is played, select a demonstration game which is automatically played by the program. (See Figure 7 for the game menu.)

  • Press the appropriate button for the game variation you want to play.

    [Screenshot of the game menu screen.]
    Figure 7

    Press START to begin a game.

    Press PAUSE at any time to freeze the action. Press PAUSE again to resume game play. During game play, press PAUSE before pressing START or RESET to start the game over.

    Press PAUSE and then RESET to reset the game.


    Use the joystick to thrust the Spaceship Defender up, down, right, and left through space. Also use the joystick to catch falling Humanoids.

    Press the lower red controller button to fire missiles at aliens.

    Press the top red button to detonate a smart bomb.

    Press any keypad button to enter hyperspace.

    4. TRAK-BALL OPTION (Future Accessory)

  • This DEFENDER cartridge offers a TRAK-BALL option. An ATARI TRAK-BALL may be purchased separately, and will be available in mid-1983. To play DEFENDER with a TRAK-BALL, plug the TRAK-BALL into jack 1 at the front of the 5200 console. To select a game variation and to use the keypad, follow the instructions in Section 3, USING THE 5200 CONTROLLERS.


  • There are seven game variations in ATARI DEFENDER. Use the menu to select the variation you wish to play (see Figure 7). Press the correct number, and the game variation is displayed under the name DEFENDER at the top of the screen. Regardless of the difficulty you start with, you will automatically progress to more difficult attack waves.

  • You also have the option of watching a demonstration game (selection 7 on the menu). The demonstration game is a good learning tool for first time DEFENDER players.

    6. SCORING

  • Scores appear at the top of the screen. Player 1, or a single player's score, is on the top left; the score for player 2 is on the right. Lives remaining and smart bombs remaining are displayed next to these scores. (See Figure 4 for scores.)

  • At the end of each wave, you score 100 bonus points for each surviving Humanoid, multiplied by the number of the wave, up to a maximum of 500 bonus points.

    [The points values table below has pictures of each type of alien or rescue mission.]

    POINT VALUES: Aliens Destroyed

    POINTS VALUES: Humanoid Rescue Mission
    Points Plus 150 For Lander
    Humanoid falls but lives.....................250
    Caught but not brought back to the city......500
    Caught and brought back to the city.........1000

    You earn an additional DEFENDER life and smart bomb every 10,000 points.


    1. One of the most important strategies to remember is to keep moving and firing at the same time. Your continuous fire will build a "wall of fire" to protect your spaceship.

    2. Fly low. Most good DEFENDER players seldom fly more than two inches above the cities. This helps in protecting the Humanoids.

    3. Destroy the Landers, but don't shoot your Humanoids.

    4. Listen to the game sounds. When you hear a Humanoid's cry for help, immediately go to the rescue.

    5. Learn to use the scanner. Try playing DEFENDER using only the scanner. When you learn to rely on it, it will help you improve your score.

    6. Reversing direction suddenly is good strategy. It confuses and stops aliens. By the time the alien recovers, you can reverse directions again, and blast the alien.


    Name             Date      Score
    ______________   _______   ________
    ______________   _______   ________
    ______________   _______   ________
    ______________   _______   ________

    Typed by Jay Tilton

    for Atari Gaming Headquarters

    Used with permission from Atari Gaming Headquarters