Retro Coin Op Synopsis
“Beware! I live!”
One of the fastest-paced, most challenging games of the arcade’s golden years, Sinistar also featured one of the era’s most memorable villains. The evil Sinistar itself was a gigantic, detailed metal face with flashing red eyes, silver fangs and an absolutely bone-chilling voice, enough to send most gamers home quaking in their tennis shoes.
You piloted a tiny ship, set in the middle of a field of planetoids. Your task was to mine Sinisite Crystals by blasting the rocky planetoids, shaking the glowing crystals free. Somehow, the crystals were forged into potent Sinibombs, one bomb at a time. It wasn’t an easy process, especially since little enemy ships were constantly swarming around you, trying to catch the crystals themselves. Warrior ships also buzzed about, firing off blasts from their top-mounted cannons.
Meanwhile, Worker ships were busy building the massive Sinistar, piece by piece. The unfinished beast was no threat, but once an evil “Beware! I live!” sounded on the speakers, it was time to put those Sinibombs to use. When the Sinistar came in range, your ship had to unleash a flurry of bombs, ducking away before the Sinistar sucked you into its black hole of a mouth. Once one Sinistar was destroyed, another would rise to take its place on a new level.
It may not sound too terribly difficult in theory, but practice was an entirely different matter. Sinistar’s cruelest trick was in making your ship the slowest one on the screen. Even lowly Worker ships had more zip in their engines, and the Sinistar could seemingly appear out of nowhere (unless you had time to pay attention to the scanner at the top of the screen). Your only hope was to outmaneuver your foes with the game’s special 49-way joystick, playing a deadly game of fire and retreat.
Sinistar’s difficult gameplay made it a hard sell in 1982, but that very same factor has made it a cult favorite among expert game players and collectors. Adding to the game’s legendary status, the rare cockpit cabinets actually featured stereo sound, an arcade first. All the better to hear that galactic terror-monger crying out:
“Run, coward! Run! Run! Run!”