Missile Command: Recharged (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 28.05.2020 2

Review for Missile Command: Recharged on Nintendo Switch

There were simpler days when the very concept of a game could be summed up in its title: Soccer, Tennis, Combat - what else needed to be known? Missile Command is one such title. Introduced in the arcades in 1980, and quickly ported to the Atari 2600 and 8-bit computers of the day the year after, it put the player in command of missile launch pads. Said missiles must be fired at other incoming missiles raining from the sky, looking to nuke cities on the ground, as well as said launch pads. It comes as no surprise that this was released by an American company, in an era fuelled with the fear of global nuclear warfare against rival nation Russia, as in the famous 1983 movie WarGames. In fact the visual representation of missile trajectories on a screen in that film bore an uncanny resemblance to the gameplay of Missile Command. This game turns 40 years old in 2020, which makes it one of the oldest surviving video game franchises, and one that has received updates and ports to other digital distribution services over the years... as well as many unlicensed clones. To see it revived again now, or rather 'Recharged,' is certainly no coincidence then. So how does it fare today?

In the original, things were pretty straightforward: using a track ball, or joystick on console and computer ports of the time, the player moves a cursor on the screen to target spots in mid-air, at which to fire a counter-missile. The latter explodes exactly where aimed upon reaching its destination, which itself can take some time. It's up to the player then to take in account the trajectory of missiles coming down, and their speed to fire their own, so that the blast radius of their own will wipe out the enemy's before they can reach their target on ground. The fireball resulting from the explosion of counter-missiles also persists on screen for a brief moment.

Basic gameplay then requires aiming, and timing. All of this survives in this recharged edition. Absent in most ports of the day, but present here, are also smart bombs which try to evade the player's fire as well as satellites and bomber planes which drop bombs of their own. In the arcade version, the player had three fire buttons, one for each of their missile battery, so it was also required to think of which battery is best used to take down a particular target, as those may come down quickly and counter-missiles do take some time to reach their designated target.

Screenshot for Missile Command: Recharged on Nintendo Switch

In console and computer ports of the day this was removed entirely due to controllers typically only having one fire button. This recharged version also does away with that, but with a catch. Batteries now take some time to reload, which means that firing must be thought out to some extent, so as to not let any missiles through. Originally the game was also structured in levels, each of increasing difficulty and some bonus points rewarded at the end of each round for each surviving city. Missile Command: Recharged goes for an endless approach in that regard, and the game keeps going as long as there's at least one city left.

What is totally new here, however, is the inclusion of special bonuses that, like missiles, have to be destroyed in order to be collected. Those may either speed up the player's counter-missiles so that they may reach their destination faster, increase dramatically their blast radius, clean the whole screen of all incoming fire, equip cities with shields, and so on. Then, finally, a level-up system is in place, which lets players upgrade four different aspects of their gameplay, such as speeding the regenerating speed of destroyed batteries, speed up missiles permanently, speed up reload time, or increase the blast radius of counter-missiles, also permanently.

Screenshot for Missile Command: Recharged on Nintendo Switch

This encourages players to come back and play more, as this will help play sessions last longer, and therefore give a better chance at ranking high on the included online leaderboard. There are two ways to control the game on Switch. The first, as taunted by the game upon start-up, is to use the left joystick to move the crosshair around the screen and aim with the A button. This is pretty straightforward, and reminiscent of the Atari 2600 controls, albeit here with analogue precision.

This, however, proves to be a bit too slow to be practical, as the time it takes to move the crosshair around the screen between each shots leaves the cities and batteries completely open. There's a much better option, though, which is to use the touch screen in handheld mode. There, simply touching a spot on the screen will aim and shoot at the same time. It's easy to understand how this gives a huge advantage, to the point that people who play in docked mode stand no chance on the leaderboard against those that play off the TV. This here is really the biggest downfall of the game, as while it will work as a TV experience, it will not be at its best there.

Screenshot for Missile Command: Recharged on Nintendo Switch

The inclusion of touch screen controls is not surprising, however, given that this just released on iOS and Android as well. The Switch is a portable device that is just as capable of running the otherwise simplistic but eye-catching neon visuals that echo the vector graphics of the original in their style. As such, the same comfort of play is expected and found in handheld mode, but given the high score-chasing nature of the game, as well as its difficulty, this puts docked players at an unfair disadvantage.

It would have been nice to include separate leaderboards for players who use the joystick controls and those who play using the touch screen. At the end of the day, this is best played in handheld mode then, but the downfall of this is that this is available free of charge on iOS and Android, albeit with in-app ads. On those platforms, paying the same price as on the Switch eShop removes said ads, and £3, given how otherwise addictive it can be, this is not wholly unjustified. So, whether it be on Switch or other mobile devices, this gets a safe recommendation.

Screenshot for Missile Command: Recharged on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Missile Command: Recharged on the Switch eShop, is a cheap release that doesn't do much… but does everything right. It's about just as straightforward as the 1980 coin-op, and it can be had for a little stack of quarters. It is therefore hard to complain at the simplicity, as what is available plays well, at least in handheld mode, and the experience does prove surprisingly addictive. Well, no, it's not so surprising, really - it already was addictive 40 years ago, even on Atari 2600, so it would be hard for it to not be so on the Switch. It may be simple and repetitive, but this is one which, installed on the system, can make a short bus ride or car trip much less dull.

Review copy provided by Atari.





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Ha, nice job on the top score

Our member of the week

Dragon0085 said:
Ha, nice job on the top score

Game had just come out after all Smilie. Probably won't stay that way for very long.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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