Missile Defense 3-D



A Rocket to Nowhere 3-D




GENRE: Light Gun

RELEASE DATE: 08/1987 – (US), 10/87 – (EU)


When a game requires more than one extra peripheral to work properly, I question whether it should have been made at all. To wit, Missile Defense 3D requires the Light Phaser and 3D Glasses to work properly. Both peripherals today cost about 70-100 dollars – all for a game that can be beaten within ten minutes or so. Of course, if you already have both peripherals or if you were planning on using them for other games, you should give Missile Defense 3D a shot. I’ve been told the game is a technological marvel of the late 80s. If I was transported back to 1987 with this game and all its requirements met, I suspect I would believe it, but I doubt any amount of ooh-ing and aah-ing would convince me that it needed to exist.



Cats and dogs living in sin! Missiles coming out of subwoofers! World War III!


The goal is simple. Missiles launch. They zoom towards you in three electric dimensions. You shoot them with the Light Phaser. That’s it. Once all the missiles have been launched, a screen appears showing you how many missiles you hit and how many you missed. You’re then given two more chances to take them all out. Obviously, the sooner you can destroy them all, the better. If you get to your final chance (you’ll know if the screen displays a city), and the missile explodes, the game is over. If a missile hits you a certain number of times, the game is over.



Where have all the flowers gone?*


There’s a strange, vague story in Missile Defense 3D about protecting cities. Two impossibly large cities are at war with each other, the East and the West. You are the Peacekeeper charged with protecting the cities from themselves. When the West City launches a couple dozen missiles at the East City, you have to destroy them all before they reach the city. But even if you protect the East from the missiles, they of course feel threatened by the West’s offensive and fire back. You then scurry over to the East and try and take down all of the West’s missiles. This story exists to convince you that the game has more depth than it actually does. You have to protect the East and West a total of six times before the game is beaten. Six! Any other Peacekeeper would have given up by then. If the East and the West can’t sort themselves out, let them destroy each other.



Not the satellite! How will people watch the ‘Homeward Bound’ marathon on HBO Family?*


And here’s another thought: how about making North/South levels to cut down on the repetition? Or move over to a different planet and protect them from being destroyed by some alien force? By the third time of shooting down missiles on the same two screens, I didn’t care any more. A little variety in the environments would have gone a long way in making the game more memorable.



Watch out, Space! It’s a missile!*


As with Zaxxon 3D, my 3D glasses stuttered while playing the game. Single missiles often looked like doubles, and it was hard to tell where the missiles were actually placed on the screen. I still don’t know whether it’s the fault of the glasses (they are used) or if my flat-screen CRT TV is too “new” for the 3D glasses to work properly. Thankfully, the Light Phaser did a bang up job taking down the missiles, even though I couldn’t always tell where the missiles were on-screen. Despite my limitations, I got to the fourth round of missile mediations before a lone missile slammed into the West City, ending my reign as Peacekeeper.



Not even Al Gore’s precious ice caps will be spared the missile’s wrath.


It’s not Missile Defense 3D‘s fault that my gaming rig can’t replicate the game to its fullest. Even if it could, though… even if the missiles were able to fly directly at me in stunningly clear three-dimensions, would the game be anything more than a novelty? In 1987, when the idea of full-length games made strictly for consoles was new, two levels repeated ad nauseam was still less a game than a tease. And for all of Sega’s admirable qualities, they have been guilty of skimping on content in order to showcase their admittedly considerable technological prowess. Missile Defense 3D is an amazing intro to a fuller, richer game, but the game in question is nowhere to be found.




*all images from GameFAQs

Posts created 353

10 thoughts on “Missile Defense 3-D

  1. “When a game requires more than one extra peripheral to work properly, I question whether it should have been made at all.”

    I’d up the count to three, based on your issues with getting the glasses to work.

  2. “If the East and the West can’t sort themselves out, let them destroy each other.”

    – No offence mate but I am glad you weren’t a politician in the days of the Cold War 😀

  3. Ok here’s my take. This was my favorite 3D game. I really liked this game. Remember we are talking 8-bit light gun games now. Can you name an 8-bit light gun game that was more complicated. (Gangster town comes to mind) 4 totally different screens was actually really impressive for a 1987 light gun game. Most stuff was like Duck Hunt. Boring single screen affairs. This actually had progressing levels and the missile patterns were all different how you shot at them on each of the four screens. I remember that tension if you let missiles get through to the city and you see the city and are shooting the missiles as they are literally seconds from nuclear armeggedon. The 3 D really added to the game for me. I remember the arctic screens the missiles seemed to be floating above the cold barren landscape. Like death passing in the night. And the final screen as the missiles came in in the foreground and moved away from you towards the city in the back, the 3D effect really added to atmosphere. Ya I really loved this game. And this is the only 3D lightgun game I’ve ever played to my memory. Anyway I know Duck Hunt has some charm with the dog or what not, but I hope you didn’t rate that game higher, as this games is worlds better if you ask me, although a little dark in tone for a kids game.

    1. My favorite light gun game – for ingenuity’s sake, if nothing else – was Gumshoe for NES. Some people hate, loathe, despise that game for how difficult it is, but I think it makes clever use of the gun. Few light gun games of the 80s were as interesting.

      What Missile Defense 3D has going for it is the 3D. Get rid of the 3D and it’d be like any other cheesy 80s light gun game. The 3D alone isn’t enough to bolster its score. Also, I didn’t grow up with it, which I’m sure influences a number of my scores (though I do try to keep in mind the era in which a game was released).

      Duck Hunt got a higher grade than this… but still not a great grade. What Duck Hunt has over Missile Defense is personality. The bulging duck eyeballs and the dog kick it up a notch, but it’s still an early light gun game with very little replay value.

      I’m glad you dig the game, Sean. Different strokes, etc.

      1. It’s not my favorite light gun game. I think as a package it worked for me. It is my favorite 3D game. I don’t think most of the 3D games were very good. Well I’ve only played a limited amount of Maze Hunter. Maybe your review of that will change my mind. I guess because for me this was a 3D game that actually was pretty playable. Unlike most of the other ones. I can’t imagine what you are going to say about Space Harrier 3D. It’s bad.

  4. Pingback: Maze Hunter 3-D -

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