Phaser Patrol is the first numbered release by Starpath Corporation for the Atari 2600. This game simulates a space flight in which you must pilot your ship to destroy the Dracon invaders. It makes use of many of the Atari 2600's console controls to simulate various aspects of piloting your ship.
Programmed by Dennis Caswell, Phaser Patrol can be compared to other 2600 space flight games such as Atari's own Star Raiders and Star Ship, Imagic's Star Voyager, and Activision's Starmaster. Phaser Patrol was originally sold along with the Starpath Supercharger for a price of $44.95.
The game must first be loaded into the Supercharger by a typical cassette recorder. When the intro screen appears, the user is allowed to set the game's difficulty via the console's right difficulty switch. Position A on the 2600 sets the game to high difficulty for experienced players. As with other Starpath games, setting a higher difficulty will award extra bonus points if the player can successfully complete the game's objectives.
The player has two screens available. The Sector Map shows locations of all the sectors. It shows the contents of some sectors as well. Friendly starbases are shown automatically at the game's start. Other sector contents are revealed as the player explores. Unexplored sectors are usually scanned when a player warp-hops into an adjacent sector.
The second screen is the Combat Action Screen. This screen features a large window through which the player views the action. In the middle of the window is the Lock On Sight and the Rangefinder, which aid the player in making successful torpedo shots.
At the bottom of the Combat Action Screen is the Instrument Panel. Two large squares on either end of the Instrument Panel show a color that corresponds to the sector's contents. Next to the squares are four stripes which indicate the status of four of your ship's systems. From top to bottom, they indicate status of the ship's shields, computer, long range scanners, and torpedoes. In the middle of the Instrument Panel is the computer display. It shows a map of the sector with locations of Dracon starfighters. The display also shows how much energy is remaining, how much energy a warp-hop would consume, and how much time has elapsed in the current game.
During the course of gameplay, it is possible for the player's ship to be damaged by enemy fire. Such damage will cause the player to lose energy units and could cause damage to the ship's systems. Damaged systems do not function properly and must be repaired to restore normal operation. Damage to the ship also increases the likelihood of the ship being totally destroyed. When the ship is damaged or low on energy, a visit to one of your starbases will repair all damage and restore all energy. If the ship is destroyed, the game ends.
Source: Wikipedia, "Phaser Patrol", available under the CC-BY-SA License.
Your mission: Fly your interstellar interceptor like you never flew before... because only you stand between the Dracon armada and their cruel objective.
The situation: Serious trouble. The Human Federation has been caught napping. While pretending to sign a peace treaty, the devious Dracons have launched a surprise attack. And they've virtually captured the Federation's farm galaxy.
Victory seems so close the Dracons can practically smell it with their hideous nostrils. One lone defender stands between them and control of the human food supply. You.
About your enemy: You wouldn't want to have lunch with a Dracon. They're not nice to look at, and they're very hostile. They live by raiding peaceful planets, stealing everything they can, and taking no prisoners. To make matters worse, they are absolutely fearless.
The Dracon armada: They're tough. Each Dracon fighter is armed with lethal photon torpedoes. You've got shields, but a direct hit can disable them. And a series of direct hits could reduce you to space dust.