The Tail of Beta Lyrae

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The Tail of Beta Lyrae
Developer(s)Philip Price
Designer(s)Philip Price
Composer(s)Gary Gilbertson
Platform(s)Atari 8-bit
Genre(s)Scrolling shooter

The Tail of Beta Lyrae is a horizontally scrolling shooter for the Atari 8-bit family published in 1983 by Datamost. It was designed and implemented by Philip Price with music by Gary Gilbertson. Price and Gilbertson later collaborated on the Alternate Reality games.[1]


The Tail of Beta Lyrae puts you in the role of "a Wing Commander assigned to the Beta Quadrant." Alien forces have occupied the mining colonies in the asteroid fields of the Beta Lyrae binary star system, and it's up to you to pilot your fighter through the fields, destroying the alien invaders and their installations.

Philip Price states that the "tail" in the game's name "came from a play on telling a tale and the setting of a binary star system which only had fragments of rock orbiting it because of the tidal forces brought on by the two suns; these fragments are the tail of the system's creation." [1]


Though not strictly a clone, The Tail of Beta Lyrae closely parallels the concept and feel of 1981's popular Scramble arcade game and its successors. As the landscape scrolls past, the player uses a joystick to move the ship around the screen, avoiding attacks from laser and missile emplacements and destroying buildings, power generators, vessels and alien miners. The landscape and configuration of objects is generated pseudo-randomly (within both design and game-play difficulty constraints), adding a degree of unpredictability to the game. Objects within the levels may change after the user has owned the game for a certain amount of time in order to add excitement and variability.


  1. ^ a b Hague, James (1997). "Halcyon Days: Interviews with Classic Computer and Video Game Programmers".