Five Triumphant Moments In Space Shuttle Gaming

Five Triumphant Moments In Space Shuttle Gaming

Now that the final mission of NASA’s space shuttle program is underway, we thought we’d take a look at some of the games influenced by the primitive spacecraft over the years.

Since the early test flights leading up to the maiden voyage of the space shuttle Columbia on April 12, 1981, game creators have been enamoured with NASA’s orbital spacecraft. The shuttle represented a future where all of mankind worked together to reach the stars. It represented cutting-edge technology. It was a link between reality and science fiction.

And hell, it was pretty cool too, and game developers embrace cool things. Flip through the gallery to see how they paid to the space shuttle, and feel free to share your favourite shuttle-themed gaming moments in the comments!

Space Shuttle: A Journey Into Space

Publisher: Activision
Platform: Atari 2600
Release Date: 1982

Back before Activision was an evil empire, the focus was purely on squeezing every ouch of power out of whatever gaming system they happened to be developing for at the time. Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space may look primitive by today’s standards, but back then it was one of the most advanced games you could pick up for Atari’s wood-panelled game console pioneer.

Space Shuttle Pinball
Manufacturer: WMS Industries
Release Date: 1984

In an age where video games had nearly completely eclipsed pinball tables in arcades, along came this sexy machine to turn everything around. Fitted with a tiny replica of one of NASA’s craft, the Space Shuttle pinball table was as entertaining as it was eye-catching.

Please excuse the irony of showing off the Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection video game version of the table that saved pinball from video games, albeit briefly.

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Rare
Platform: Gameboy
Release Date: 1989

Russian computer engineer Alexey Pajitnov’s block-dropping classic was the killer app for Nintendo’s Game Boy, with parents and children alike flocking to see how high a score they could rack up. The higher the score, the better the end game celebration. Players that ended the game with over 200,000 points were treated to a party so big only the space shuttle itself could contain it.

Blast Corps
Publisher: Rare
Platform: Nintendo 64
Release Date: February 1997

Blast Corps was a quirky game in which the player must use various demolition vehicles destroy everything in the path of various doomsday devices, lest they themselves destroy everything in their path. Later in the game the missions take a shuttle themed turn, as the player is tasked with clearing a landing strip for a damaged shuttle coming in for an emergency landing.

It seems someone at Rare was infatuated with the shuttle back in 1997, as evidenced by our fifth and final entry…

Goldeneye 007

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Rare
Platform: Nintendo 64
Release Date: August 1997

Tucked away in the secret unlockable Aztec Complex level of the hit James Bond-inspired shooter Goldeneye 007, a space shuttle stolen by the Drax Corporation from the Bond film Moonraker lies hidden beneath an ancient Aztec temple, a plot that would make absolutely no sense if James Bond were not involved. I’m guessing Rare just had some shuttle art leftover from Blast Corps and decided to go to town.

Pay no attention to the man talking over the video. It was the best resolution version I could find without replaying the entire game myself.


    • Because The Dig isn’t very good. Puzzles are obtuse and it isn’t nearly as good as other games in the genre, such as Sam n Max, Monkey Island, Full Throttle, Day of The Tentacle etc.

      • Still had some gems, like the iPad like device Robert Patrick used being examined:
        “It’s the T-1000 model.”

  • When I saw the name of the article I knew no list would be complete without Activision’s Space Shuttle, and you didn’t disappoint. I spent many an hour on the 2600 playing that… well, I say “playing”. Did I know what I was doing? No. Did I care? Nope. I’d just rendevous with the sattelite and land again. If there was a goal beyond that I didn’t know it. Ah, good times.

    • I thought the exact same thing bro. I remember spending hours playing this game in 87. Up till then I could only watch my brother. He was much better at it. Great game.

  • Damn the Atari 2600 Space Shuttle game was hard. Aligning those axis and keeping trajectory on line was the stuff of nightmares to a 10 year old.

  • I remember playing a game called Project: Space Station on the C64:

    Man, my bro and I were super addicted to it. It was the very first micro management game that I remember. You had to do research to make enough funds to launch and add more modules to the space station.

    I think there was also a Space Shuttle Simulator or some such (don’t remember if it was PC/Amiga/C64 sorry) ? I learnt a lot about the shuttle from that, like you had to have an engineering degree to the the mission commander, and it had an accurate representation of the shuttle cockpit with all the right nobs and dials and the instruction manual took you thru every step of the launch. I think it also came with video footage of actual past launches that you could watch. I guess it was more edutainment than a game.

  • And what about Shuttle: the Space Flight Simulator? It was released in 1992 and was a massively over-engineered, hyper-realistic simulator (I got it in a three-pack compilation with the original Dune and Lure of the Temptress). The ‘game’ was impossible (at least for a twelve-year-old). You had to flick every dial and button in the correct sequence to get your shuttle to launch, and if you didn’t use the time skip functions it could take literally hours to launch the thing, assuming you did it all right.

  • Space Shuttle Mission 2007 wants a word. That’s the most accurate and complete shuttle experience available on any platform right now

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