Heard of Space Invaders? Well, Communist Mutants from Space is better!
Launched in 1982 on the Atari 2600, the fixed shooter game was developed by Starpath (formerly called Arcadia). It was founded in 1981 by Alan Bayley, Robert Brown, and Craig Nelson. The game was the brainwork of games programmer Stephen H. Landrum.
There are plenty of aliens and communists in this one, so if that’s your type of thing then you’re in luck here today with this retro review.
Face the Onslaught of Depravity in Communist Mutants from Space
Right, as you can see there you have the “fixed” shooter action of Space Invaders. Although Communist Mutants from Space is mostly similar to a 1979 game called Galaxian by Namco. Mostly.
The title is tongue in cheek, as opposed to some commie bashing nationalist pursuing a personal vendetta.
Think of other games like Attack of the Mutant Camels (1983) on the Commodore 64, and it’s glorious sequel Revenge of the Mutant Camels (1984), and you’re very much in spoof territory here.
There’s a plot going on here, too. Aliens from the communist planet Rooskee invade DEMOCRATIC planets in their waves. Their goal? To turn righteous capitalist citizens into Communist Mutants. Bastards!
The alien armies are under the control of the Mother Creature, an alien being who has lost its mind after consuming too much irradiated vodka.
Yes, that’s the plot. We didn’t make it up.
What it looks like in game form… well, you’ve seen it above! Here’s a bit more of the thing in action, comrade.
Yeah, so pretty much the same as the first clip we added. Just this one has the intro screen (yellow and COMMUNIST RED!!) bearing the legend:
Nice! Gameplay wise, you start off with three cannons. The goal? To blow up the communist mutant alien invaders.
The main goal, of course, is to wipe out the Mother Creature.
Mutants hatch from eggs at the top of the screen and then descend down in waves upon you. If a communist hits you, one of the cannons goes. Lose all three? Game over, man. Game over!
Starpath threw in some helpful features. Players could toggle a shield option, if they wanted it. All to make the game slightly easier.
There’s also a “time warp” (no, not that goddamn song) to slow enemies down an iota.
Ultimately, it’s a Space Invaders type of game with the type of title that’ll appeal to a certain type of person. Well, okay, two types of people:
- People who hate communists and went to vent their frustrations on a ridiculous video game.
- People aware the game is ridiculous and are after a bit of escapist fun.
Communist Mutants from Space is now one of those retro Atari 2600 games kind of lost to time. Although that eye-catching title can still capture the attention of democratic socialist bastards such as ourselves.
Oh Yeah! Don’t Forget About the Starpath Supercharger Cassette Accessory
An aside here to round off the feature! Starpath also launched a famous accessory for the Atari 2600. It was called the Starpath Supercharger cassette accessory!
As you can see, it was advertised on telly in the US back in 1982.
The add on improved the Atari’s memory, graphics, and sound capabilities. It was basically a long cartridge with a handle and audio cassette cable. That added 6KB of extra data to the Atari 2600’s outstanding 128 bytes of RAM.
That meant developers could make new types of game for the home console, with bigger games and better graphics.
Bearing in mind Atari was the Nintendo/Sony/Sega/Microsoft of its day, although the company bombarded the industry with so many titles it contributed to the video game market crash of 1983. Primarily as so many of the games were low-quality.
How bad was the gaming industry’s recession? In 1983 home video game console revenue hit $3.2 billion. That fell to $100 million by 1985. Almost a 97% drop in revenue.
Thankfully, the Nintendo Entertainment System stepped in from 1985 to resurrect the burgeoning industry.
But Atari really put video games on the map. That shouldn’t be forgotten by anyone! And the Starpath Supercharger, although primitive now, was an incredible piece of kit 40 years ago. Games critics described the step up in graphical quality as “something else”.
The device even had a socket for an earphone jack, like a standard cassette player.
Communist Mutants from Space was one of the initial releases on the device. Other titles included Suicide Mission, Killer Satellites, Rabbit Transits, and Frogger.
The device launched at $70 (£63) in January 1983, but was later slashed to $45 (£38). Possibly due to the video game market crash.
Or, more likely, $75 was a bit of a massive asking price back then. Despite its cutting-edge qualities and opportunity to gun down commie bastards with wild abandon.
Had it, and many more of the Starpath games. It was a great game. Many (but not all) of their games were based off of other games, but they always threw in a creative twist and some of them just seemed to play better (well at least for a 10ish year old me at the time- I think it was 10ish). I believe the reason for the name was the spoof factor- it was very much like the Troma films (Nuke ‘Em High, Toxic Waste Avenger, Surf Nazis Must Die!, etc.), though if memory serves me a bit before the Troma films.
Starpath’s true innovative, not like anything else game, was Escape from the Mindmaster- I still think about that game fondly to this day. It was a 3d adventure before the days of Doom, etc., and was considered to be a pioneering innovation.
Thanks for sharing this one with folks on the net!
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Yeah, it’s a bit like the Attack of the Mutant Camel series and whatnot. B Movie type names jammed over primitive early video gaming – makes for a fun combo!
I’m going to pick up a C64 Mini soon I think to catch up with some of the weirdness.
I’d not heard of Escape from the Mindmaster, though, thanks for the recommendation! I’ll have a look at that. I did do a tribute to early FPS recently with Maze War and Wayout… totally managed to miss that one, though! Oops.
Welcome! I spent many hours (unsuccessfully) trying to beat it. Escape really utilized the cassette format as you had to load up the different levels (I’m thinking in sets of 2)… I made it to the last level a few times but could never find the end (I’ll spare the reason why). For as obscure as Starpath games were I’ve seen Escape from the Mindmaster in various top 100 video games lists in the past… purely for it being way ahead of its time in some ways.
As far as other games from Starpath goes, I also highly recommend Killer Satellites- it was a Defender clone with awesome cool box art.
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One of the things about these old games is they were often gloriously vague and intensely difficult. So I don’t blame you for not finishing it! Probably wasn’t until the early 1990s that I actually finished a video game.
I’ll also be digging around into Starpath’s catalogue, cheers! Seems like there are retro gems there. Got to do some new retrospectives!