The Last Starfighter

1984 Atari

Platform: Arcade

As part of the launch and release of The Games That Weren’t book, we are gradually adding assets and content that didn’t make it to print as bonus content to share with you. Check out our growing Bonus Content page for more materials added over time.

Whilst covering Captain Seahawk, developer Mike Albaugh kindly shared a joke asset that was to be included in the cancelled Last Starfighter arcade that he was a part of, and which is one my favourite films of all time.

I’ll hand it over to Mike explain more and share yet another great recollection from his Atari days:

“The “boss level” was meant to be the Kodan Armada. It so happens that one of my co-workers had a stuffed Armadillo in his cube. I borrowed it so that animator Bart could draw up what you see in that image.

The idea was that I would manually “digitise” the drawing so that it could be snuck into the objects compiled into the game. I believe Jack (the MathBox programmer, my connection to the project was MathBox designer) was in on it. The target was Jim (Morris), the game designer/programmer, but I had underestimated the amount of work the digitisation entailed, so the game had been cancelled before we got far.

Yet, one of my fondest memories of working at Atari was walking down the hallway with the stuffed armadillo under my arm and nodding to some Warner “suits” as if this was a perfectly normal thing to be doing.”

Some early prototypes of the arcade development can be found online that were recovered in recent years. Here is a very short video of it in action (sadly missing a lot of the panel assets):

More details about the abandoned arcade can also be found here:

Developer Jim Morris also got in touch via the comments, and shared a video of the arcade running – which looks absolutely amazing! Here it is:

Sadly, apart from the early build in MAME, there isn’t a fully playable version of the game available at this stage. Hopefully in the future this will change.



7 Responses to The Last Starfighter

    • Thanks LiqMatrix! I had completely forgot about the remake, which is very impressive! An actual arcade was made with it as well from what I recall?

    • Ah yes, Dave Sherman has been chatting to me a few times about Air Race, and also a game called Ice World? Though I don’t think the latter got to a development stage, only concept from how Dave was describing it.

  1. I am the “Jim” that Mike mentioned above, and I was totally unaware of this until just now. It would have been hilarious!

    • Thanks for commenting Jim, and no problem at all! I’ve update the page with your full name and also a link to your video of the game running. It looks amazing, and I really wish the game had been released – as I loved the film as a kid and dreamed of playing the arcade game from the film.

  2. “Home versions of the game for the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200[19] consoles and Atari 8-bit home computers were also developed, but never commercially released under the Last Starfighter name. The home computer version was eventually renamed and released (with some minor changes) as Star Raiders II.[20] A prototype exists for the Atari 2600 Last Starfighter game, which was in actuality a game already in development by Atari under the name Universe. This game was eventually released as Solaris.[21]”

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