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Intellivision cover art
Developer(s) Activision
Publisher(s) Activision
Designer(s) David Rolfe
Platform(s) Intellivision, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, MSX, ZX Spectrum
Release date(s) Intellivision Atari 2600 Atari 5200
Genre(s) Scrolling shooter
Mode(s) Single player
Distribution Cartridge, Cassette

Beamrider is a scrolling shooter designed for the Intellivision by Activision programmer David Rolfe. The game was then ported to the Atari 2600 (with a slightly reduced feature set), Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum as well as the MSX platform.


Beamrider takes place above Earth's atmosphere, where a large alien shield called the Restrictor Shield surrounds the Earth. The player's objective is to clear the Shield's 99 sectors of alien craft while piloting the Beamrider ship. The Beamrider is equipped with a short-range laser lariat and a limited supply of torpedos. The player is given three at the start of each sector.

To clear a sector, fifteen enemy ships must be destroyed. A "Sentinel ship" will then appear, which can be destroyed using a torpedo (if any remain) for bonus points. Some enemy ships can only be destroyed with torpedoes, and some must simply be dodged. Occasionally during a sector, "Yellow Rejuvenators" (extra lives) appear. They can be picked up for an extra ship, but if they are shot they will transform into ship-damaging debris.

Beamrider is considered by some[who?] as the closest you'll ever get to having Tempest on the 2600, thanks to the similar gameplay and appearance.

Activision offered special Beamrider patches to players who could get to Sector 14 with 40,000 points and sent in a screenshot of their accomplishment.


Beamrider was made available on Microsoft's Game Room service for its Xbox 360 console and for Windows-based PCs in August 2010.

Artificial intelligence research[edit]

In December 2013, DeepMind, a Google company, published a study that claimed its artificial intelligence software equaled human performance playing Beamrider. [1]


The Deseret News in 1984 gave the ColecoVision version of Beamrider three stars, describing it as "basically a slide-and-shoot space game".[2]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Holyoak, Craig (1984-05-30). "Here are ColecoVision's jewels". Deseret News. pp. 4 WV. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 

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