Retro Gaming – Defence Force – Oric -1/Atmos

I came across Defence Force at the Eurocon classic gaming event in September where RCM had both a Oric -1 and a Oric Atmos on display. It’s such an addictive game and I haven’t been able to put it down since.  During the course of that weekend, I managed to post a winning score of 305,000 however, since then I’ve managed to rack this up to 650,000…can you beat it?

Sunday morning coffee and practice run at Eurocon.


Released in 1983 by Tansoft, Defence Force is highly regarded as one of the top ten games for the Oric and after you’ve played it for a short time, you’ll get to understand why. Based on the classic Defender format, aliens have decided to invade your planet and first on their agenda is to abduct all of the kind folk that live there. Thankfully, said planet has it’s own ‘Defence Force’ and you, being one of the pilots, has the task of kicking them back to wherever they hail from.


One of the key differences between Defence Force and Defender is that you don’t control your ships laser, they auto fire in long bursts with about a second between each volley. At first, it’s a little of putting but when you get used to it, it’s actually quite a novel approach. On later levels when the number of enemy ships increases dramatically, it’s certainly save you wearing out the fire button!

Things start off slowly, but get very frantic around level 40.

The Defender style ‘smart bomb’ has been replaced by a force shield which lasts for a few seconds to get you out of any tight spots -although in later levels, the amount of time the shield is active is reduced.

There are the many types of aliens, each have their own unique fire & movement characteristics. Some are easily despatched but other require a little bit of thought as well as some nifty flying (or sheer luck) to shoot down.

Graphically, Defence Force is top notch stuff, with a colorful gamemap and extremely smooth animation considering the limited hardware resource of the Oric. Unfortunately sound is awful and with no volume control on the Oric internal speaker, the FX can quickly become very annoying. Thankfully, the programmer has included a silent game mode which can be activated by pressing ‘s’ at the beginning of a game.

It’s been a while since I’ve played a game and become hooked immediately, it’s so playable as you try to best your score over and over again. At Eurocon, I posted the winning score of 305,000 however, back home I’ve  managed to double this to 650,000…can you beat it?

Here’s a few tips that might help you along the way.

a) Don’t travel too fast, you’ll only collide with an aliens/alien bullets.

b) Keep and eye on the map on the top right of the screen. This will give you early warning of incoming ships approaching at speed.

c) Try to take out the winged aliens that swoop down to abduct your people. If the aliens take them all you will be warped to a level that will be swamped with kamikaze aliens that will hone in on your ship. If this happens, activate your shield and ram them all.

Warp level…shield up…quickly!

d) Try to stock pile your shields in the event of the above.

e) I find, taking out the slower moving ships gives you more maneuvering room to take out the faster ships.

f) On later levels, use you map at the top right of the screen to ‘see’ invisible aliens.

g) On levels with Cybotroids, it’s best to activate shields and ram them as they’re very difficult to shoot, especially with a screen full of other aliens/bullets.

h) This is probably just my preference, but the rubber keys on the Oric -1 have less travel therefore seem a little more responsive that the Oric Atmos.

The other day, I found a great Oric emulator for my Nintendo DS. Portable Defence Force, how the hell am I going to get any work done now!

DS_oric – Oric Atom mode.

DS_oric – Oric -1 mode, with Defence Force loaded.


Both Oric -1 & Oric Atom will be available to play at the Retro Computer Museums gaming event at the end of Oct where I’m attempting to beat my high score.