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A promotional flyer for Bosconian.
Developer(s) Namco
Composer(s) Nobuyuki Ohnagi (Arcade ver.)
Yuzo Koshiro (X68000 ver.)
Platform(s) Arcade (original)
Commodore 64, MSX, X68000
Genre(s) Multi-directional shooter
Mode(s) 1-2 players alternating
Cabinet Upright, cabaret, and cocktail
Arcade system Namco Galaga
CPU 3x ZiLOG Z80 @ 3.072 MHz
Sound 1x Namco WSG @ 3.072 MHz, 1x Namco 54XX @ 1.536 MHz, Discrete
Display Horizontal orientation, Raster, 288 x 224 resolution

Bosconian (ボスコニアン, Bosukonian) 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 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, the formation attacks, and the space stations.

It uses Namco Galaga hardware, but with a video system like that used in Rally-X.[citation needed]

A sequel game, 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 related title, Final Blaster, was released in 1990 for the PC-Engine in Japan only, and featured gameplay very akin to Blast Off.


The object 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 or shoot the core to destroy a station, 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, mines, 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)
  • "Alert! Alert!" (enemies approaching)
  • "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 started a new game.


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 popular Zaxxon.[1]


A screenshot of the arcade version.

Bosconian was ported to the Sharp X68000, and MSX, and later appeared in several of Namco's 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. A home computer port, Bosconian '87, was released in 1987 for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum. An spiritual successor called Blast Off was released in 1989 (only in Japan), a vertical scrolling shooter which had more in common gameplay-wise with Namco's own Dragon Spirit than with Bosconian. This was especially noticeable in the third area of each world, when the player's ship would increase in size.

The free-roaming shooter that scrolls in all directions concept would later be used in other games, including Konami's Time Pilot and Williams Electronics' Sinistar (both 1982).

Bosconian was the first game to feature a continuation screen and timer after the end of a game, giving a player who had just lost his or her last life a certain number of seconds to insert more coins and press START in order to continue the game from the start of the same round.[citation needed] This feature could be disabled entirely for arcade owners who did not want it, by changing a DIP switch setting. However, there is some debate over whether Bosconian or Tempest should be credited as the first arcade game to introduce the concept of continuing: Tempest is the older of the two games, but it did not feature a continuation screen and timer. Instead, it gave the player a choice of starting from any odd-numbered level at the beginning of the game, up to the highest odd-numbered level that had currently been unlocked on the machine.

"Bosconian", along with other classic Namco games and vehicles/ideas from Ace Combat (e.g., "Arkbird") are used as sponsor stickers on race cars in the Ridge Racer Playstation games.



  1. ^ "Electronic Games Magazine". Internet Archive. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 

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