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Promotional flyer
Composer(s)Nobuyuki Ohnagi (Arcade)
Yuzo Koshiro (X68000)
Platform(s)Arcade, MSX, X68000, Sharp X1
  • Arcade
    • JP: July 14, 1984
    Sharp X1
    Sharp X68000
    • JP: December 1988
Genre(s)Multi-directional shooter
Mode(s)1-2 players alternating
CabinetUpright, cabaret, cocktail
Arcade systemNamco Galaga
CPU3 × Z80 @ 3.072 MHz
SoundNamco WSG @ 3.072 MHz
Namco 54XX @ 1.536 MHz
DisplayHorizontal orientation, Raster, 288 x 224 resolution

Bosconian[a] is a multi-directional scrolling shooter arcade game which was developed and released by Namco in Japan in 1981. In North America, it was manufactured and distributed by Midway Games. Bosconian was ported to the Sharp X68000, Sharp X1, and MSX computers.

Bosconian allows the player's ship to freely roam across open space which scrolls in all directions. The game also has a radar, which tracks the position of the player's ship, enemy formation attacks, and space stations.


Arcade screenshot

The objective of Bosconian is to score as many points as possible by destroying enemy missiles and bases. The player controls a small fighter ship that can move in eight directions, and can fire both forward and backward. Each round consists of a number of green enemy bases that must all be destroyed to advance to the next round (a semi-transparent automap helps identify their location). Each station consists of six cannons arranged in a hexagon, surrounding a central core. The player must either destroy all six cannons (200 points each) or shoot the core to destroy a station (1,500 points), and in later rounds the core is capable of defending itself (opening and closing while launching missiles).

Additionally, the player must avoid or destroy stationary asteroids (10 points), mines (20 points), and a variety of enemy missiles and ships which attempt to collide with his or her ship. Enemy bases will also occasionally launch a squadron of ships in formation attacks — destroying the leader causes all remaining enemies to disperse, but destroying all enemies in a formation scores extra bonus points. A spy ship (worth a random bonus value) will also appear occasionally, which must be destroyed or the round will go to "condition red" regardless of how long the player has taken.

Throughout the game, a digitized voice alerts the player to various events:

  • "Blast off!" (start of a round)
  • "Alarm! Alarm!" (enemies approaching/Condition yellow)
  • "Battle stations!" (formation attack)
  • "Spy ship sighted!" (Spy ship advancing)
  • "Condition red!" (enemy attacks become more aggressive; occurs when the player takes too long to clear a round, or misses the spy ship)

Bosconian does not have a definite ending, and will continue until the player has lost all of his or her lives. Similar to Galaga, Bosconian rolls over from Round 255 to Round 0, causing the game to behave abnormally during this round. If the player can successfully complete Round 0, the game continues to Round 1, as though the player had started over.


Bosconian won the 1982 Arcade Award for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Coin-Op Game in January 1983, beating both Atari's Gravitar and Sega's Zaxxon.[2]


Bosconian later appeared in several Namco Museum compilations for PlayStation and other consoles. The game has also been released in Jakks Pacific's TV game controllers, and was released as part of the Pac-Man's Arcade Party arcade machine in 2010. In late 2019 Soiree Games released Shibui Coliseum[3], a retro-futuristic shoot 'em up for Windows, which they describe as heavily influenced by Bosconian.

A home computer sequel, Bosconian '87, was released in 1987 for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum. A spiritual successor, Blast Off, was released in 1989 in Japan only; it runs on Namco System 1 hardware and bears more resemblance to Namco's own Dragon Spirit than Bosconian. A second sequel, Final Blaster, was released in 1990 for the PC-Engine in Japan only, and featured gameplay similar to Blast Off.

Bosconian was one of the first games with a continuation screen, edged out by Fantasy released one month earlier in 1981. This feature could be disabled entirely for arcade owners who did not want it, by changing a DIP switch setting.



  1. ^ Japanese: ボスコニアン Hepburn: Bosukonian


  1. ^ "Retro Diary: 08 November – 05 December". Retro Gamer. No. 122. Imagine Publishing. 13 December 2013. p. 11.
  2. ^ "Electronic Games Magazine". Internet Archive. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  3. ^ "Shibui Coliseum". Official Soiree Games Site.
  4. ^ "Azarian". Atari Mania.

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