Gottlieb's 1983 Mad Planets
Remember the movie Dark Star?

Well, that's okay. Nobody else does either.

But Mad Planets has a similar plot anyway - you fly around space, destroying unstable planets.

Planets begin to form in the center of the screen. One shot will take them out while they're small. But when they reach full size, they spawn moons, which begin to attack by hurling themselves at your ship. Once you destroy all of a planet's moons, the planet itself will attack you, and you have to be quick to destroy it. The longer you delay, the madder it gets, and the faster it attacks.

Using a trigger joystick to move, and a spinner to rotate, Mad Planets offers lightning-fast controls, which are essential in this game. The pace becomes unrelenting, especially when multiple planets and their moons are all attacking at once. Clearing out an entire wave of planets before they can reach full size will net you a nice bonus, and more points can be gained by shooting comets, and rescuing astronauts that drift by.

Missing Ingredient
Mad Space Stations. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with Mad Planets from a gameplay standpoint, changing the planets and moons into space stations and satellites might have held more appeal. After all, planets generally aren't considered very menacing.

I only recall seeing Mad Planets once in the arcades (and I frequented quite a few of them), so I suspect the game wasn't widely distributed. Mad Planets is one of a handful of Gottlieb classics, but with the exception of Q*Bert, few of them ever really hit the mainstream. With great sound and graphics, unique gameplay, and furious action, there's no reason this one couldn't have succeeded, had it just found its audience.

Thanks to Jeffrey Carl at ServInt for providing the space for CinemArcade


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