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This page is about arcade games.
Phoenix was fairly unique when it was released in the arcades in 1980 (which was developed by Amstar Electronics and published through Centuri) due to having five distinct stages, continuing music pieces playing during the beginning stage (which in-game music still wasn’t very common at the time), and an early video game boss during the final stage.
Gameplay involved players shooting at a variety of birds of different sizes and attack patterns. Players also had a shield to protect their spaceship with temporarily, although it would be several seconds before the shield could be used again.
The first stage of the game involved shooting several small Phoenix birds that quickly zig-zagged towards the player’s spaceship while dropping bombs. The birds could also "walk" from side to side and fly back up to their formation at a diagonal. The second stage had the same birds, although they were in a different formation and the player was allowed two shots onscreen at a time, rather than one shot at a time with all other stages of the game.
The third and fourth stages began with eight eggs floating about, which then turned into larger birds (blue Phoenixes the first time around, then pink Phoenixes on the next stage). The birds had to be hit right in the middle in order to be destroyed; hitting them anywhere else would cause a wing to be shot off, but it could grow back within a few seconds.
The final stage included a large spacefortress with a moving belt that had to be shot through in order to try to destroy the space creature that resided inside. The fortress slowly moved down towards the bottom of the screen and many Phoenixes from the first two stages also appeared during this wave. If the player was able to kill the creature then the game would cycle back to the first stage.
Getting rammed by any phoenix or being hit by their shots would cause the player to lose a spaceship and the game would end when there were no more spaceships in reserve.
A secret bonus occurs during the first stage, which the player must shoot three Phoenixes flying away at a diagonal within only two seconds, which nets a 200,000 point bonus.
- The musical pieces during the first stage include "Spanish Romance" (by an unknown composer) and "Für Elise" by Beethoven.
- There was a force field bug where the player’s spaceship could be destroyed, yet the sound effect of the force field being activated could still be heard. This was fixed for the Atari 2600 version.
- Pirated versions of the game included Batman Part 2 (with no company name to be found during the game’s attract mode), Falcon and Vautour, the latter two seeming to be the same as the original version. Condor by Siddam, however, added a fuel level at the top of the screen, which diminished during a stage, but it would also recharge after a couple of stages were completed. The space creature was also not worth as much as on the original. Griffon by Videotron also has the same fuel level, plus the creature can be worth zero points (which can actually occasionally happen with Phoenix, although it is not noted on the scoring table, unlike with this version). Several pirated games were released, also titled Phoenix (with seemingly no changes), which were produced by IRECSA G.G.I Corporation and T. P. N. Corporation.
- Phoenix was followed by the less successful sequel of Pleiades, also having several different stages. Waves of big birds returned where their wings could be shot off, although there were many differences, such as the final wave consisting of players having to pilot their ship down a runway, plus the force field was replaced with a warp function that would transport their ship to another part of the screen, among other changes.
- The game was ported to the Atari 2600, the original Ultracade unit (which emulated dozens of arcade games), and on the Space Invaders (Plug and play) unit by Radica!.
Arcade Museum page