Blue Max (video game)

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For other uses, see Blue Max (disambiguation).
Blue Max
The C64 version (running under VICE). Player is about to take off.
Developer(s) Synapse Software
Publisher(s) Synapse Software
U.S. Gold
Designer(s) Bob Polin
Platform(s) Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum
Release date(s) 1983
Genre(s) action
Mode(s) Single player

Blue Max is a video game developed and published by Synapse Software, originally released for the Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit computers in 1983. In 1984 it was ported to the ZX Spectrum by U.S. Gold.

The player controls a Sopwith Camel biplane during World War I, attempting to shoot down enemy planes and bomb targets on the diagonally scrolling terrain. The game is named after the medal Pour le Mérite, informally known as Blue Max. Its theme song is "Rule, Britannia!".

In 1984, Synapse released a sequel called Blue Max 2001 with a futuristic sci-fi setting, but otherwise similar in style to the original game.


Blue Max[edit]

Softline praised Blue Max‍ '​s graphics, describing the game as "River Raid for real and Zaxxon with meat on it ... if Zaxxon deserved to be a hit, this deserves to be a monster".[1] In 1984 the magazine's readers named the game the second most-popular Atari program of 1983, after Archon.[2] Compute! wrote "along comes a game that may make standard two-dimensional eye/hand games obsolete ... Blue Max may well be the best action game there is". It stated that the game improved on Zaxxon, noting the functional instrument panel and need to land, refuel, and take off. The magazine concluded, "Blue Max is head and shoulders above other shooting games".[3]

Ahoy! approved of the game's sound and 3-D graphics but criticized the unrealistic plane shadow. While the reviewer stated "Occasionally I found myself wishing for more action. No, not more action—bigger action", he concluded "Bob Polin has done an exceptional job; this is one game that is really addictive".[4] Compute!'s Gazette stated that "Blue Max has far more depth than Zaxxon. It is one of those few good games that have successfully combined strategy with arcade play".[5] The Addison-Wesley Book of Atari Software 1984 gave the game an overall A rating, calling it "very enjoyable" with "a realistic sensation of flying", and concluded that it "has great depth of play to hold interest for a long time".[6]

In 1996, Computer Gaming World ranked the C64 version of this "fun shooter" as the 142nd best game of all time.[7]

Blue Max 2001[edit]

In contrast to the positive reception given to the original, reviews of Blue Max 2001 on both Atari and C64 were far more mixed.

Ahoy! called the C64 release an "exciting sequel" which "extends and refines the elements which made the original game popular, while it introduces enough new challenges to generate fresh excitement",[8] while Antic commented the Atari version had "fairly good graphics with some interesting touches" and despite problems with documentation it was "well worth the effort" in persevering.[9]

However, Zzap!64 called the C64 version "one of the most disappointing sequels of all time", criticizing the "very poor" graphics (including the "jelly mould" ship and "wonky" perspective) and sound, as well as the difficulty in control caused by use of the joystick diagonals and left-to-right scrolling.[10]

Page 6 magazine's Atari review also considered it a "disappointment" compared to its predecessor, noting that the ship resembled a Polo mint and was "a nightmare to fly, far less operate the bombs and lasers, with any degree of accuracy."[11]


  1. ^ Christie, Andrew (Nov–Dec 1983). "Synapse Takes Off". Softline. p. 21. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Best and the Rest". St.Game. Mar–Apr 1984. p. 49. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Gutman, Dan (January 1984). "Blue Max For Atari And Commodore 64". Compute! (review). p. 148. Retrieved 30 October 2013. 
  4. ^ Herring, Richard (April 1984). "Blue Max". Ahoy!. pp. 58–59. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Brannon, Charles (June 1984). "Horizons 64". Compute!'s Gazette. p. 92. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  6. ^ Stanton, Jeffrey; Wells, Robert P. Ph.D.; Rochowansky, Sandra; Mellid, Michael Ph.D., ed. (1984). The Addison-Wesley Book of Atari Software. Addison-Wesley. p. 93. ISBN 0-201-16454-X. 
  7. ^ CGW 148: 150 Best Games of All Time
  8. ^ Katz, Arnie (June 1985). "Blue Max 2001". Ahoy!. pp. 63, 66. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Scott Lewis (March 1986). "Product Reviews - Blue Max 2001". Antic. Retrieved 2015-01-18. 
  10. ^ Julian Rignall (August 1985). "The Better Letter from America (Section: "Blue Max 2001")". Zzap!64 (Newsfield Publications) (4). Retrieved 2015-01-18. The followup to Blue Max must be one of the most disappointing sequels of all time [..] This time, though, you have a flying saucer (that resembles a jelly mould) under your control [..] the [landscape] now scrolls from the left making it quite difficult to play. [..] Control is very fiddly indeed [..] joystick diagonals play an important part in the control, and this always makes precision extremely difficult. The graphics are very poor [..] with the perspective all wonky. The sound is bad too.. 
  11. ^ Jim Short (May 1987). "Shoot 'Em Ups (review)". Page 6 Atari User's Magazine (27). Page 6 Publishing. Perhaps too much was expected of [Blue Max]'s successor? Anyway, it turned out a disappointment. [..] piloting an octagonal polo-mint [..] against the evil Furxx empire. [..] Control of the polo-mint is via the diagonals, making it a nightmare to fly, far less operate the bombs and lasers, with any degree of accuracy. If you fancy shooting down a few enemy spacecraft, forget it." 

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