Cover art of the game in all regions
The game contains 3 modes of gameplay (Defender Classic, Defender Plus, and Defender 2000), as well 2 hidden mini-games: Flossie's Revenge & Plasma Pong.
Defender Classic is, aside from a few small imperfections, a clone of the original arcade game. The player flies a spaceship across a horizontally scrolling landscape, protecting humanoids on a planet from alien abduction. Defender Plus is mostly identical to Defender Classic, but adds new enemies to fight and more powerful weapons to destroy them. Defender 2000 adds more enemies, 100 levels of play, power-up icons, bonus stages, more ways to counterattack the aliens, and allows advanced players to skip the early stages and start on higher levels.
During development of the game, Minter said he felt the game would most likely be for the Atari Jaguar CD, and that he intended to use the extra space of the CD-ROM format for a documentary section which would include, among other things, an interview with Eugene Jarvis, the creator of the original Defender. However, these plans were cancelled and the game was released for the stock Jaguar instead.
Defender 2000 received mostly mediocre reviews. Air Hendrix of GamePro remarked that while Defender 2000 updated the arcade original's graphics to the modern generation of consoles, the graphics were below average for that generation, and the gameplay was not similarly updated. He also criticized the "slippery steering" and outdated sound effects, and concluded, "Defender still supplies Jag owners with adequate shooting. But that reflects more on the quality of the Jag's game library than on this game." Next Generation contended that the original Defender was only significant because of its remarkable originality, and that the gameplay had not aged well. They commented that, "When isolated from its heritage, Defender 2000 is a fun, good-looking, side-scrolling shooter charged with a pulsing soundtrack. But that description could tag any number of recent shooters." They scored it three out of five stars.
Despite their bleak review of the game, GamePro later awarded it Best Jaguar Game of 1995.
- George, Gregory D. (July 1, 1996). "Defender 2000". The Atari Times. Archived from the original on 18 September 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
- "Jaguar Plugs into the CD Revolution". Next Generation. Imagine Media (6): 18–19. June 1995.
- "Defender 2000". Next Generation. Imagine Media (12): 111. December 1995.
- "ProReview: Defender 2000". GamePro. IDG (91): 85. April 1996.
- "Retrofit". Next Generation. Imagine Media (17): 92. May 1996.
- "Editor's Choice Awards 1995". GamePro. No. 89. IDG. February 1996. p. 26.