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Space Invaders - Atari - Atari 5200     HTML Manual   



  • To insert your 5200 game cartridge, hold the cartridge so that the name of the label faces you and reads right-side-up. Then carefully insert the cartridge into the slot in the center of the console unit. Be sure the cartridge is firmly seated, but do not force it in. The POWER ON/OFF switch is located on the bottom right side of the ATARI 5200. Press this switch to turn the power on AFTER inserting your game cartridge. See your Owner's Manual for further information.


    1. Earth Defense Corps
    2. Game Play
    3. Using the 5200 Controllers
    4. Trak-Ball
    5. Scoring
    6. Game Variations
    7. Strategy
    8. Game Select Matrix
    9. Your Best Game Scores



  • You are a recent enlistee in the Earth Defense Corps. For the past six weeks you've undergone grueling and intensive training. Now you stand at attention, nervously anticipating the most critical section of your training: Attack/Counterattack! In preparation for this task you've read, reread and memorized the SPACE INVADERS manual.

    "Okay, kid, you're on!" barks your commanding officer.

  • Quickly you climb into a laser tank. A second enlistee follows you. You each settle into deep, leather seats. With a soft whirring sound, the automatic hatch cover closes overhead.

  • As your eyes adjust to the dim light of the laser capsule, you begin to make out the controls. Mentally, you check off each knob, dial, button, and display. For the next several hours you and the other enlistee with operate these controls to defend your planet in an attack simulation.

  • The screen in front of you lights up. A column of bomb-dropping aliens advances toward you. What next? For a second your mind goes blank. Have you learned your lessons well? No time to refer to the manual now. Your commanding officers are watching and it's your show.

    2. GAME PLAY

  • This is your mission manual. Commit it to memory. Your tasks are to stop the invaders from landing on your territory; avoid enemy bombs; and score as many points as possible. In one-player games, the game ends when you lose all your lives or when any invader lands on your planet. In two-player games, play ends for each player after three or five enemy hits, or when the invaders touch down.

  • SPACE INVADERS offers 12 game variations (See section 6 -- GAME VARIATIONS for a detailed description of each game). Each game may be played by one or two players, and you can start with three or five lives, depending on the variation you select.

  • If you destroy all 48 space invaders before they touch your planet, a new set of invaders will appear on the screen. Each new set of invaders starts from a position closer to your territory.


  • There are four waves in a game. Each wave begins with invaders moving slowly toward you and dropping bombs. As you progress from one wave to another, the invaders move faster, fire more accurately, and are worth more points.

  • After you have eliminated half of the aliens on the screen (24 invaders), the attack speed of the remaining invaders doubles and the point value for these fast invaders also doubles. (For more about SCORING, see Section 4).

  • You must clear the screen of invaders twice to move from Wave 1 to Wave 2, from Wave 2 to Wave 3, and from Wave 3 to Wave 4. Wave 4 continues to reset until all lives are lost or the invaders touch down.

  • Periodically, an enemy command saucer will fly across the top of the screen. The saucer always cycles once from the left and twice from the right. If you hit this saucer, you score a variable number of points, depending upon how many shots you have taken during that wave. (See the COMMAND SAUCER SCORING TABLE in Section 4, for a breakdown of saucer point values.)


  • You begin each game with three shields. Initially, you are safe behind the shields. But as you and the enemy hit the shields with lasers and bombs, they become damaged, allowing laser beams from your cannon and bombs from the enemy to pass through them. As the space invaders approach the shields in their descent toward you, the shields disappear altogether. Figure 1 shows a typical SPACE INVADERS playfield, with attacking aliens, the command saucer, your laser cannon, and shields.


  • Each time you are hit by an invader's bomb, the game pauses temporarily, and the number of turns (lives) you have left is reduced. Remaining lives are displayed at the bottom right side of the screen, as shown in Figure 2.


  • Use one or two 5200 controllers with this ATARI game cartridge. For one-player games, plug the controller into controller jack 1 on your console. For a two-player game, plug the second controller into the number 2 jack. In two-player games, the player using the number 1 jack controls game selection and starts the game (See Figure 3.)


  • For your convenience, two keypad overlays are included with this game. Slip the tabs into the slots above an below the keypad on your controller (See Figure 4).


  • Press the right # key (or, on your overlay, the square marked 1-2 PLAYERS) to choose a one or two-player game. The message PLAYER 1 appears on the lower left side of the screen below that player's score, and the message PLAYER 2 appears on the right side of the screen below his score. You can always tell whose turn it is because that player's display will flash on the screen. (See Figure 2).


  • Press the left * key (on your overlay, the square marked GAME SELECT) to cycle through Games 1 through 12. The game number appears to the right of the PLAYER 1 display, as shown in Figure 2.


  • Press START to begin the invasion. The START key is deactivated while a game is in progress and reactivated after all lives are lost.


  • Press the RESET key at any time to return to pregame-play mode.


  • To suspend a turn in progress, press the PAUSE key. The action immediately freezes in its present position on the screen. To continue play, press PAUSE again.


  • Move your joystick right or left to maneuver your laser cannon right or left across the bottom of the screen. Do this to avoid direct hits by enemy bombs (which the invaders will continually drop from the sky), and to aim your laser beams.

  • To fire your lasers, press either or both of the bottom red buttons on the front right and left sides of the 5200 controller (See Figure 3.) You can fire lasers as long as you depress the fire button. Your supply of laser beams is unlimited.

    4. TRAK-BALL (Future Accessory)

  • This SPACE INVADERS cartridge offers a TRAK-BALL option. A TRAK-BALL may be purchased seperately. To play any of the game variations with a TRAK-BALL, plug the TRAK-BALL into the number 1 jack on the front of your 5200 console. Follow the instructions in Section 3, USING THE 5200 CONTROLLERS, for player and game selection. You do not need a seperate TRAK-BALL for each player. Simply pass the TRAK-BALL back and forth as each turn comes up. The computer switches between players and keeps each score automatically.

  • NOTE: You cannot switch from a TRAK-BALL to a joystick (5200 controller) or mix the two types of controllers midgame; choose one or the other. If you decide to switch from TRAK-BALL to 5200 controller, or vice versa, unplug existing controller(s), plug in the new, and press START. The same game variation you previously played will come on the screen.


  • Move your TRAK-BALL right or left to maneuver your laser cannon in the same direction across the bottom of the screen. To fire lasers, press the fire button on the TRAK-BALL. See your Owner's Manual for further details.

    5. SCORING

  • You can score an infinite number of points in this game. However, since each score display has space for five digits only, a score will be reset to zero after it passes 99999 points. There are four waves of invaders. Initially, the space invaders attack from the top of the screen and slowly advance down the screen toward your terrain. After you have eliminated one-half of the invaders, the remaining 24 speed up and the point value for them doubles. In each of the first three waves you must clear two full screen of invaders to move to the next wave.

  • Each time the invaders are reset on the screen they will start from a position closer to your laser cannon. This makes it increasingly difficult for you to keep the aliens from landing on your territory. The point value for hitting an invader doubles with each progressive wave, as shown in Figure 5.

    WAVE 4

  • When you get to wave 4, the invaders mutate before your eyes! As the invader changes from one form to another, it goes through a crystalline stage (see Figure 6). If hit during this crystalline stage, the invader is not worth any points.

  • The scoring system for fourth wave invaders is based upon shape and color. As you can see in Figure 5, blue invaders are worth 10 points, green invaders are worth 15, and red invaders are worth 20 points.

  • On a black and white television, the invaders' shapes indicate their point value. Figure 7 gives a breakdown of point values for fourth wave invaders.

  • Wave 4 continues to reset until all your lives are lost or an invader lands on your planet.

    (Figure 5 below - Invader Point Values)
    Wave Number           1   2   3   4
    Normal Attack Speed   2   4   8
    Double Attack Speed   2   4   8
    Blue Invader                     10
    Green Invader                    15
    Red Invader                      20

  • Throughout the game, enemy command saucers fly overhead on reconnaissance missions. The saucers always cycle once from the left and twice from the right. You can score extra points by shooting the enemy saucers. When you hit one, the point value for that saucer lights up on the screen, as shown in Figure 8.

  • The scoring system for hitting a saucer is based upon how many shots you have taken in the game. For example, if you zap a saucer on the first shot you get 20 points; but if you hit it in the fifteenth shot, you earn 60 points. Every time you take 15 shots, no matter what you shoot at, the saucer score cycle starts over. Also, when you move into a new wave or lose a turn, the saucer scoring cycle resets to start over at 1. For a breakdown of the command saucer scoring system, see TABLE 1.

    (Table 1 below - Commander Saucer Scoring)
    Shot Taken       1   2   3   4   5
    Point Value     20  20  20  10  30
    Shot Taken       6   7   8   9  10
    Point Value     20  20  10  10  20
    Shot Taken      11  12  13  14  15
    Point Value     30  20  20  10  60

  • Every time you clear seven screen of invaders, the saucer hovers over, picks up your laser cannon and flies off with it. The screen then resets so that the invaders advance from the top again. After this "Close Encounter", the shields reset and start over again.


  • Below is a description of each of the 12 games contained in this cartridge. For a quick reference guide, use the GAME SELECT MATRIX in Section 8.

    GAME 1: A good choice for beginners, this easiest SPACE INVADERS game offers slow enemy bombs and five lives for you.

    GAME 2: In this version the enemy bombs alternate between slow and fast, and you have five lives (turns).

    GAME 3: You have five lives and all the enemy bombs are fast.

    GAME 4: With slow enemy bombs, this version is identical to Game 1, except that you have three lives instead of five.

    GAME 5: The alien bombs alternate between slow and fast and you have three lives.

    GAME 6: All the enemy bombs are fast and you have three lives.

    GAME 7: The enemy bombs are slow but, in this game, the invaders use sophisticated radar to hom-in on you. You'll find it's a real challenge to avoid such smart bombs. You have five lives.

    GAME 8: This version of SPACE INVADERS is like Game 2. The enemy bombs alternate between slow and fast and you have five lives. As in Game 7, the bombs will home-in on you.

    GAME 9: Try to dodge fast invader bombs that home-in on you. You have five lives.

    GAME 10: The enemy bombs are slow but smart -- they home-in on you. You have three lives.

    GAME 11: Home-in bombs alternate between fast and slow. You have three lives.

    GAME 12: The invaders' bombs are fast, they home-in, and you have three lives.


    1. Try to hit invaders at the edges of the rows. This will slow them in their march toward you.

    2. Use the shields to your advantage. Hide behind them to avoid enemy bombs, then rush out to blast the invaders.

    3. Take advantage of the 60-point saucer by counting your shots. One way to make the most of this is to shoot 14 invaders, then wait for the saucer (behind a shield, if possible) and use your fifteenth shot to hit the saucer, thereby gaining 60 points.


    Game Number   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12
    Five Lives    X  X  X           X  X  X
    Three Lives            X  X  X           X  X  X
    Slow Enemy    X        X        X        X
    Fast Enemy          X        X        X        X
    Slow & Fast      X        X        X        X
    "Home-In"                       X  X  X  X  X  X
    Name:             Date:    Score:
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    Typed by Keita Iida

    Used with permission from Atari Gaming Headquarters