Star Raiders Q&A - First Details

Senior producer Jonathan Moses and Incinerator Studios president Joel Goodman discuss this upcoming remake of the classic Atari 2600 game.

The original Star Raiders first saw the light of day on the original Atari consoles of the late 1970s. The game was revolutionary for its time: a first-person cockpit-view space shooter that let you travel from sector to sector of hyperspace while battling the evil Zylons. More than 30 years later, the publisher now known as Atari is bringing back the classic game to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. We get the details from Atari senior producer Jonathan Moses and developer Incinerator Studios president Joel Goodman.

Star Raiders will be a remake of the classic Atari game from the early 1970s.

GameSpot: Why did you decide to bring Star Raiders back? Why did the time seem right?

Jonathan Moses: Star Raiders was such an amazing game for its time. Epic dogfights in space, a galactic map that gave players an open world to explore--all on the Atari 2600. There have definitely been other games that have built on this formula, but Star Raiders was the first. I'm a huge fan of the genre, and the opportunity to go back to that original with the new elements that Incinerator Studios is bringing to the table--there was no way to pass that up.

You're going to be seeing more of this from Atari in the near future. Along with some exciting new IP that we're working with, we're not ignoring our history. We're bringing back some of the classics in a way that makes them relevant now. We recently released a reimagination of the classic Haunted House and are gearing up to launch Atari's Greatest Hits Volume 1, which features 50 of our gaming classics. It's an exciting time at Atari.

GS: Once the decision was made to bring it back, how did you settle on the approach--that is, a full-on update of the game versus a more retro version?

JM: I think there could be really fun games in both directions--and you're going to see Atari revisiting the classics both ways. However, for Star Raiders we're going with a full update--really taking the core of the original game and reshaping it around a modern approach. There is a story and gameplay that will be familiar to people who play shooters today, and a universe that we can continue to build and explore. At the same time, players who remember the original Star Raiders will feel instantly at home.

GS: How did you settle on a developer?

JM: The core team has a great deal of experience working with vehicle gameplay and have worked with us at previous companies, so hiring them for this project was the best way to make sure the pictures they have on file never get to the authorities. All kidding aside, besides our own comfort level with them as developers, we received several concepts from other teams too. The game that Incinerator proposed was easy for everyone to sign up for. They spun a great story about what the legacy represented, how to build on it, and why they were perfect for the project. They continue to deliver on that initial promise, and I couldn't be happier about how the game is turning out.

GS: What interested you in updating Star Raiders? What do you remember most fondly about the original Atari game?

Joel Goodman: It isn't often that a developer gets to work with a genre-defining intellectual property, and Star Raiders is just that. Great games such as X-Wing and Wing Commander were influenced by this Atari classic. The original game had great tension when you warped into a sector not knowing what you would be facing, and at times you were immediately thrown into combat. Having to manage the flow of the game from the Galactic Map was a very unique and exciting experience.

GS: Have you given any thought to including the original game somewhere as an unlockable bonus?

JG: We are currently looking at quite a few options in order to provide the richest experience for the consumer. Providing the original game is a possibility.

GS: What are the key elements you feel the update must retain from the original game? What's more flexible?

JG: For gameplay, we are building on that great feeling that the original had of dogfighting in space, while adding another dimension through ship transformations, where the combat vehicle changes its flight characteristics on the fly. Other original components that we felt were important are the galactic map and the energy pool. Managing the energy pool was a core part to combat and gives players another layer of strategy.

GS: What's the underlying direction of the update? Are you taking any inspiration from more-modern sources?

JG: Since the original came out, there have been quite a few exceptional flight combat games, as well as remakes of classic sci-fi movies and TV shows, and they have all played into how we are bringing Star Raiders into this generation. We also wanted to give this version a bit more character by building a story arc for the player.

GS: How did you settle on the game's art style?

JG: We wanted to have a style that balanced classic sensibilities with modern expectations, and we believe that we achieved that. You see elements of modern sci-fi realism merged with a strong focus on rich color.

GS: Could you give us some more detail on the game's online modes? Are you planning any DLC?

JG: Players will be able to engage in various online modes, from team deathmatches to last-man-standing battles. They can also duel one-on-one, or play cooperatively against common enemies in a hostile environment. Plans for DLC are being discussed now, as the new Star Raiders universe is extendable in many forms.

GS: Thanks, Jonathan and Joel.

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41 comments
JaretL23
JaretL23

WOW! Looks amazing and for 30$ I am totally sold!

Dominicobaggio
Dominicobaggio

Yeah could do with some strategy space games on ps3. Something like the amazing games where you could buy and sell and shoot stuff etc. I forget the name of them... Shooting pirates etc. Also the star wars games as said earlier. Really loved that space game on pc where you had to collect your spaceship at the start and you worked for the military. Immense! Had realistic space flying not like an aircraft, it had momentum etc... Wish i could remember the names of all these games lol.

supernaught360
supernaught360

@RaikouTGC I remember it well! It was called "TV-PIX", and callers were asked to say "PIX" to make shots fire at the reticule. Just remembering those little kids going "Pix! Pix! Pix! Pix!" is heartwarming... Remember how some used to try and cheat but repeating it really fast, but it never worked because of the delay?

Arcterran
Arcterran

@LancerVI a little Heads up...you can edit your posts (use the dropdown bar on your posts)

RaikouTGC
RaikouTGC

I loved that Game. I remember watching cartoons on WPIX in New York City when they had a segment during the commercials where kids could call into the station and play a round live on TV (they just ordered to shoot) and win prizes if they destroyed all 3 Zylon ships

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

@ supernaught360 Your right it is rather odd Lucas hasn't touched on the rogue squadron idea battlefront2 sort of had it but it could of been better which battlefront 3 looked to be trying shame its gone.... But a new rogue squadren with Coop campaign and online multiplayer with standard modes like deathmatch or capture the flag or assault where you each get a cruiser empire vs rebels first to knock out the enemy cruiser wins that would be sweet Back on topic never played the original but this sounds like my type of game been awhile since there's been something like this on a console

Darthmatt
Darthmatt

This was the first game I ever beat on the atari 800. Wow, I wonder what the remake is going to look like?

wexorian
wexorian

@supernaught360 it was in battle front 1,2 but they are not making 3rd gmae and that sucks

supernaught360
supernaught360

Off topic, does anyone else wonder why the ultimate online multiplayer space battle game, STAR WARS has never been made? I mean seriously, you'd think SOMEone would think X-Wings vs T.I.E. fighters during the original Death Star "battle for the trench" might be a good use of the Star Wars license, not to mention all the other possibilities. Just the thought of chasing human controlled X/Y Wings with a T.I.E. fighter (or vice versa) before they can drop the photon... Or the Battle For Endor space battle... Or snowspeeders vs. Imperial Scout/AT-AT's... Actually, an HD multiplayer update of the Gamecube classic STAR WARS: Rogue Squadron would probably just about do it... No one thinks of these things at Lucas Arts??

selbie
selbie

Wait, GS are saying only X360 and PS3, yet the trailer says PC release.

selbie
selbie

No love for PC? I need another excuse to use my joystick!

Aikman95
Aikman95

Star Raiders was the first game i got for my Atari 800 computer in 1981. It was really a game ahead of its time. It remained at the top of the most popular pc game list for years. I'm thrilled to see its being remade, and hope they do it right.

digitalheadbutt
digitalheadbutt

I miss X-Wing/Tie Fighter and I-War, it's nice ot see someone finally understanding that right now, is an awesome time to bring them back. We finally have the technoogical ability to make it not only beautiful but also to have a great out of the cockpit experience woven into the gameplay as well. What I remember most Star Raiders, besides being completely unable to figure out how to play it, was the cool data pad controller thing that came with it. It controlled, something but I was never able to figure out what. Thay could release an mobile phone App for that now, it would be kind of kool to have an interactive display or essentially mini games you played on your phone that like discovered new locations for you to explore in-game so when you got home you synched up your mobile play to your game and had a bunch of new hyper space locations. Flying patrols with my buddy in the co-op campaing of X-Wing vs.Tie Figher were some of the more tense game experiences I have had and also the most fun. If they could re-introduce that it would be awesome. I don't even care if it's a Stars Wars branded game as long as there are some damned wars in the stars I am good.

Da4biddenOne
Da4biddenOne

Excellent! Im all in besides i miss those star-fighter-shooters.

Timeslice
Timeslice

Well now that's a coincidence. In a fit of nostalgia I beat Star Raiders 2 not two days ago. Hopefully this will fill the void while waiting for Black Prophecy and Jumpgate: Evolution. One can replay Freespace 2 only so many times in a row.

Giorgio879
Giorgio879

I have never heard of the original Star Raider, but I have been waiting for a good space fight game since Rogue Leader, so I am quite interested by this.

Cobra5
Cobra5

Please. Take my money.

ichc1000x
ichc1000x

Magnificent artistic design!!!!! Thumbs up if you agree.

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

This made my day! Thank you Atari! I knew you would not die on us not yet!

coolnerd07
coolnerd07

I still have my dad's copy of Star Raiders and his Atari 800XL.

taxonomic
taxonomic

If my memory serves me right, didn't this come with a comic? I remember playing a game similar to this on my 2600 and it had that overworld map/grid that you used to plot your course.

kyron828
kyron828

I am 41 now and Star Raiders was why I wanted the Atari 5200. I later got the game on the 2600 After my 5200 controllers died. The game was and still is awesome to play. I hope they do the game justice and it doesn't turn out to be another pointless retro remake like Defender or Spy Hunter.

scatterbrain007
scatterbrain007

I've never heard of Star Raiders. My brothers probably didn't have that game when we had an Atari. Either way it doesn't matter, If the space combat is fun count me in!

lokar82
lokar82

The original on the Atari 800 was a classic, don't know why they are saying original on the 2600. Starmaster by Activision was a much better version of Star Raiders on the 2600 than the official 2600 version of Star Raiders was. Hope they can do justice to the name, it's been quite a while since a good spaceship combat game came out.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

I wonder if anyone really even remembers that game or just saying they do just to make themselves look good? Personally and honesty I don't remember this game and I started playing video games around 89-90 so the game was quite old even before I started to play games. But from what the article says about the game makes me look forward too it and I hope it turns out well either way..

scottabc
scottabc

Oh the Nostalgia! Usually I dont fall for it but for Star Raiders I just might...

Riverwolf007
Riverwolf007

star raiders? i'm stunned! here's to the hope that Adventure is not far behind!!!

dadoesch
dadoesch

I loved Star Raiders. Looking forward to seeing what they come up with here.

johndmes
johndmes

Star Raiders was a 2600 original? I remember playing it on the Atari 800 back in the day. long beofre the running joke of the 2600 port came out. There was a clone of it called Star Defender by Activision - I wonder if that is what they're referring to by "2600 classic"...

rafaelburigo
rafaelburigo

Nice, I love hi res remakes. These games marked an era for a reason.

tomertop
tomertop

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

TUNEwon
TUNEwon

Yars' Revenge and Star Raiders were my favorite 2600 games, but really, why say it's a remake? 2600 games were so primitive that nothing will be recognizable. So lets just call it a new space shooter and leave it at that. It's like saying Uncharted is a remake of Pitfall.