Sky Raider

Arcade Video Game published 41 years ago by Atari, Inc.

Sky Raider screenshot

Emulated in MAME !
Information for the following ROM(s): skyraid


Sky Raider © 1978 Atari.

Sky Raider is a two-dimensional, vertical scrolling game. You get to be the pilot of a bomber whose task is to destroy as many targets as possible in the allotted period of time. Fortunately for the player, it is a target-rich environment and the best part is that there are no defenses to fly through. That means you get to bomb targets at will without fear of any enemy fire. Who could ask for a simpler type of game.
Goodies for Sky Raider
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Game ID : 009709

Main CPU : MOS Technology M6502 (@ 1.008 Mhz)

Screen orientation : Horizontal
Video resolution : 512 x 240 pixels
Screen refresh : 60.00 Hz
Palette colors : 20

Players : 1
Control : stick
Buttons : 7


Released in March 1978.

1978 was a big year in video games. It was the year that Midway managed to secure a license from Taito and get "Space Invaders" brought to the United States. It was already causing a major commotion in Japan and the same happened in the United States. This, unfortunately, meant many other videogames suffered because Space Invaders was literally sucking up everyone's quarters. Atari, though, was starting to become a powerhouse in the video game world. The release of the Atari 2600 home console opened the doors to many possibilities. Atari even translated some of the 2600 games into arcade games. In later years, Atari would take the most successful arcade games and convert them to 2600 games. Atari had also been known for being on the cutting edge where technology was concerned. Sky Raider was no exception. It was the first vertically scrolling game to come out. In addition to a vertically scrolling terrain, the player could also control the 'speed' of their bomber in relation to the landscape.

From the designer : In '78 it seemed Atari was flying high on many successes and Lyle had this idea for a very unusual method of display. Since at the time we could make just about anything and they'd sell at least 100's of them, I believe the company thought we could experiment with some things. I must admit, even though the game itself ended up being rather trivial, the process of developing this unique hardware was very interesting to me.

Lyle, Steve Bristow and I got a patent issued to us for this game display (patent #4,169,272 issued 9/25/79).

It was _very_ difficult for an artist to design and sketch a playfield for this game. Lyle, being an excellent artist in his own right, did most, if not all, of that himself and even he had a terrible time with it. I remember these huge sheets of vellum graph paper with each row filled by pencils of varying shades of grey. The hardware allowed for 16 3 bit pixels per horizontal line but each pixel could be from 1 to 32 horizontal clocks wide. He managed to make a 2048 line playfield into a scroll map so line 2047 meshed perfectly with line 0 resulting in a seamless scroll. Then we (well, ok, it was I) had to transcribe those 2048 lines of streaks of grey, manually counting all the horizontal clocks, off the vellum and get them put into a 2Kx8 PROM. Yikes. It should be readily apparent why we only used this display on one game.

An interesting piece of trivia about Sky Raider is that the monitor is modified to intentionally screw up the linearity. The effect ends up showing objects in the background as looking more compressed and slightly slower moving.

A Sky Raider unit appears in the ZZ Top music video 'Legs'.


Enemy point values are :
Tower : 350 points.
Bridge : 450 points.
City : 450 points.
Oil Refinery : 450 points.
Enemy Plane : 800 points.

Scores for extended play depend on allotted length of time set up for the game. Game lengths can be set at 60, 80, 100, or 120 seconds. Obviously, the higher the game length, the higher your score needs to be to win an extended play. Extended play is half the length of the normal game length the machine is set up to be. So the extended plays will be 30, 40, 50, or 60 seconds.

Scores needed for extended play (according to the length of the game) are :
60 seconds : 22,000 points.
80 seconds : 29,000 points.
100 seconds : 36,000 points.
120 seconds : 43,000 points.


You start the game at the bottom of the screen. Your main mission is to accumulate as many points in the time allotted. This means you will have to plan ahead and keep a mental note of where your targets are at all times.

* Obviously, the name of the game is getting points. This means you will have to be pretty darn precise in your ability to bomb. That means you will have to learn how to speed up and slow down with precision.

* Once you release your bombs on a target, don't dawdle over that target. You should be setting yourself up to take out the next target. This may mean some radical maneuvering and speed control to get to it.

* Keep in mind that you will not be attacked by any enemy units. This means you can put your full concentration into making sure your bombs hit their targets.

* Speaking of targets, if you are forced to decide between two targets, use this priority system to determine which ones to hit :
1) Go after the target that gives you the greatest point value. If they are of equal value, take your pick.
2) Go after a target that is clustered around other targets. That way, you get more 'bang for your buck'.

* Hit targets that make it easier to get to another target without wasting any time.

* You can only have one bomb on the screen at a time. Since you can fire bombs relatively fast, this shouldn't create too much of a problem.

* Always watch the top of the screen for the next target or targets to appear. Targets appear at random so you will need to be prepared as to where said targets will be. In addition to ground targets, the enemy plane could also appear although it comes out less frequently.

* Your ultimate goal, as far as targets are concerned, is to be sure to get the enemy plane every time since it is worth the most points.

* No free men are awarded or needed since nothing shoots back at your bomber.
This game is strictly time based.


Concept/Idea by : Lyle Rains
Designed and programmed by : Dave Shepperd
Design and programming assistant : Rich Patak

Game's ROM.
Machine's picture.
F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler AKA War Doc