Star Castle Arcade - Atari 2600



Box Upgrade:  No        Yes (Add $15.00)      

Star Castle is a 1980 vector arcade game by Cinematronics. The game involves obliterating a series of defenses orbiting a stationary turret in the center of the screen. Chris Walton and Thomas Jentzsch have created a fantastic port of Star Castle for the Atari 2600, one of two versions of Star Castle developed in parallel.

The object of Star Castle is to destroy an enemy cannon which sits in the center of three concentric, rotating energy shield rings while avoiding or destroying 'mines' – enemies that spawn from the core, pass through the energy rings, and then home in on the player's ship. They can stick back to the shield if the player maneuvers in such a way that a ring is between the ship and the mines. The player-controlled spaceship can rotate, thrust forward, and fire small projectiles. The cannon's shields are composed of twelve sections each, and each section takes two hits to destroy. Once a section is breached, rings beneath it are exposed to fire.

Star Castle Arcade

Great care was taken to make this version as close to the original arcade game as possible in terms of feel and gameplay, within the constraints of the Atari 2600. No additional hardware was used to push the Atari 2600 beyond what would normally be possible. It was originally believed that Star Castle for the 2600 was not feasible, and now two different versions have been produced!


Star Castle Arcade features two different game options, resulting in four game variations. One option selects between normal and higher difficulty, and the second option determines whether your ship bounces off the rings or is destroyed when coming into contact with them. A separate high score table is maintained for each of the four variations, and these scores are stored directly on the cartridge without need for additional hardware.

Star Castle Arcade Manual

This release of Star Castle Arcade includes the game cartridge, beautifully illustrated 16-page manual, 10" x 14" poster featuring the Star Castle Arcade artwork, and a papercraft Star Castle arcade cabinet! The manual is simply stunning, and even dedicates five pages to the history of the original arcade game and development of several versions of Star Castle for the 2600 (several demos were created in additional to two complete versions of Star Castle for the 2600!).

Star Castle Arcade Papercraft Cabinet

Included with Star Castle Arcade is a papercraft cabinet of the Star Castle arcade cabinet you can build yourself! The cabinet is printed on three pieces of thick paper, and includes an instruction sheet to guide you through building the cabinet. Here's a photo of an assembled cabinet:

Star Castle Arcade Papercraft Model

Star Castle Arcade Poster

We love Jordi Cabo's artwork so much for Star Castle Arcade, that we had 10" x 14" posters printed up for the game, and you'll receive one with your purchase of the game:

Star Castle Arcade Poster

Additional Information

Star Castle Arcade includes the game cartridge, sixteen-page, full-color manual, 10" x 14" Star Castle Arcade poster, and a papercraft Star Castle arcade cabinet model you can build yourself. Star Castle Arcade supports NTSC and PAL60 television modes, selectable with the SELECT switch on the game console, and this setting is retained in the cartridge.

Star Castle Arcade remembers your color settings (NTSC, PAL, and Black & White) and also stores high scores for each of the four game settings. No additional hardware required!

Get a Star Castle Arcade Box!

Star Castle Arcade BoxStar Castle Arcade BoxIf you'd like a boxed copy of Star Castle Arcade, please select "Box Upgrade: Yes" at the top of the page before adding Star Castle Arcade to your cart. Our boxes are professionally printed and include a box insert to hold your Star Castle Arcade cartridge in place. We want you to play our games, so we have not sealed or shrinkwrapped the boxes in any way, allowing you easy access to the game cartridge and manual.

These boxes are the same size as boxes Atari produced for their games "back in the day". They look great sitting on a shelf with your other boxed homebrew games, or alongside games from the classic Atari library. We only have a limited number of boxes for each game, and there is no guarantee they will become available again once our supplies are exhausted. Click on the images to the right to see larger photos of the box.

Number of Players 1
Controller Joystick Controller
Cartridge Size 32K
Programming Chris Walton and Thomas Jentzsch
Cart Label and Manual Jordi Cabo
Game Artwork and Arcade Model Nathan Strum

Robert Smith on 01/18/2020 01:24pm
It's amazing what can be done today with 2600 games today. This is a great port of a game I loved to play. Game play uses The same navigation mechanics as Asteroids or Space War, so I was able to pick it up pretty quickly.
The ship accelerates faster than either of those games, so I had to get used to that. The game also has the same level of difficulty as the arcade version. Be prepared to die a lot. Another great addition to my 2600 collection.
Dion Olsthoorn on 11/02/2018 12:00pm
First of all: the sound and graphics in this game are amazing! Also the artwork is top-notch. I like how the high-score list is stored inside the cartridge itself, so no need for a SaveKey or AtariVox.

Still I rate this game with 3 stars, because for me the controls were really hard to master. After playing for 15 minutes, I still did not managed to destroy a single Star Castle, which is kind of frustrating.

After I while I got the hang of it, but by then I already discovered a spot on the screen (somewhere in the left-upper area) where the Star Caste's cannon is unable to hit you. It feels like a glitch in the game to me, but maybe it's supposed to be this way. Not sure.

So I ended up flying to that same position each time, only pivoting around to shoot missiles and destroying Star Castles that couldn't hit me.

All in all, I'm happy to own the game, but I don't think I'm going to play it as much as I expected.
TAV on 01/08/2018 01:16pm
Loved this game in the arcades, could not wait to see and play it on the 2600, it did not disappoint! Great job!
Dick Richards on 01/20/2017 11:25pm
Star Castle will change the way you think about Life.
David Maddox on 01/01/2017 03:40pm
You wouldn't believe that an Atari 2600 conversion of a classic arcade game could beat out the Colecovision (Star Fortress) and Atari 800 (Star Island) versions. No exaggeration. This game is INCREDIBLE. It keeps track of your high scores even after the power is turned off. Control is spot-on. Graphics and sound are great; it even has a catchy tune on the title sxreen. You'll want a Suncom Tac-2 or Epyx 500XJ for this mission.
David White on 11/12/2016 06:48pm
WOW!! I played this game as a kid and this game is just as fun and challenging as the arcade game. The graphics are top notch. Wonderful job, thanks!!!
Paul Mcormack on 09/23/2016 02:20am
Wow, totally met my expectations! I can tell you that I played a lot of Star Castle in the arcades, and this version really captures what makes Star Castle great! Im talking about that hectic feeling when you have made holes in the shields, and the enemy ship is launching fuzz bombs at you like a maniac! I was pleasantly surprised to find nice details not found in the arcade such as the Star Castle appearing in new colors after the last one was destroyed! Also, the GAME SAVES HIGH SCORES! Thats huge! It rells you how many star castles you have destroyed, and there is a title screen with music! Nice rapid fire is very responsive, and the ship controls just the way it should,:Asteroids and Thrust Platinum Style! Not to mention the awesome label on the gamre, manual, and mini arcade cabinet fold out. At first i knew i was pleased, but i knew this was special whern i started smiling and laughing by myself even when getting destroyed! In other words, its fun!!!! This is about my tenth homebrew, and i think for overall fun, its possibly my favorite, if not easily in my top 3! Must buy!
Paul Verrall on 06/19/2016 06:50am
Star Castle Arcade is a game that will test your reflexes, there's no doubt about that. It seems a pretty straightforward affair, at the center of the screen lays your target, the cannon, which you must destroy. Unfortunately, it is surrounded by three circular shields that rotate around the cannon, so you must shoot away the segments that make up these shields. Easy enough. The hard part is leaving some segments so that the shield doesn't regenerate, and yet shoot enough away so you can get a decent shot at the cannon. What makes it really tough is that although creating a gap will allow you to shoot through to the cannon, it allows the cannon to shoot back. Oh, and lets not forget the small mines that fly from the shield and home in on your position. All this means one thing: you must keep moving, especially at later levels when the pace quickens somewhat. Boy, it gets really pacey.

This version is absolutely brilliant and has had me going back to it again and again. It allows the same strategies that work in the arcades to work here, it's as close to the arcade version as you could ever wish for on the 2600 and sits proudly alongside my copies of Space Rocks, Juno First and Thrust as one of my favourite space shooters on the console.

Tony Morse on 06/13/2016 03:29pm
For whatever reason, Star Castle is one of those arcade games that I completely missed out on in my youth. I don't believe I've ever even seen an original Star Castle cabinet, and I had certainly never played it before the 2600 port became available. As a result, I'm not able to compare this game to its arcade version. However, I can tell you this is a challenging, deceptively complex single-screen shooter.

On its face, Star Castle seems very straightforward. You control a ship that flies around a floating fortress, surrounded by rotating barriers. Your goal is simple - land a well placed cannon blast into the Star Castle itself, bypassing all the barriers.

It becomes immediately apparent that there's far more involved than that, though. The castle has its own defenses, and will fire homing missiles that can track your movements and hunt you down. Fortunately, a well-placed shot will destroy them, but they make tiny targets that are difficult to hit while on the move.

Meanwhile, should you completely destroy any one of the rings surrounding the castle completely, it will regenerate, rendering moot your hard work in wearing it down in the first place.

And if you do manage to penetrate the innermost barrier, the castle will shoot enormous, hyper-fast blasts of energy directly at your ship.

All of this means this is not a game in which you can sit still and shoot. You must learn to master the flight controls, which allow you to thrust to gain acceleration, then rotate the ship to fire in a different direction while momentum carries you on. This is easier said than done, and the rapid deceleration of the ship means you have a limited opportunity to make strafing runs at the castle. Additionally, when accelerating, the ship looks very symmetrical and it can be difficult to tell which direction the ship is facing at speed.

Your reward, should you destroy the Star Castle and survive, is a new castle and an extra ship.

Even on the easiest level, I found it very difficult to master the controls and be able to consistently maneuver the ship the way I wanted to. As a result, I found the game very frustrating at first. But like many great games, rather than give up, I was compelled to keep trying, and destroying my first castle was extremely satisfying.

Star Castle ultimate requires a high degree of skill and patience to learn to play well, but it is in this challenge that the game succeeds. If you're looking for a mindless shoot-'em-up, this is not your game.
Marco Miccoli on 01/01/2016 08:56am
STAR CASTLE for Atari 2600
Un gioco perfetto per questa console, utilizzando ogni piccola possibilità per aumentarne il valore.
Con il tasto TV TYPE si ottiene la PAUSA, memorizzazione automatica dei punteggi con personalizzazione, possibilità di scegliere il tipo di formato NTSC o PAL.
Dimenticando che il gioco è adrenalinico!
Steven Ramirez on 11/22/2015 09:02pm
This is a CIB masterpiece, beginning with the box itself. The box artwork and that of the manual are some of the best I’ve seen for any game, original or homebrew. The manual includes the introduction, gameplay, controls and scoring options. In addition, it devotes several pages to the development of this game as well as, some background on the history of the original, arcade game by Cinematronics.

When you pull the cart of the box, you’ll be treated to a beautiful glossy label that speaks of all of the quality that has gone into this complete gem. You also receive a paper craft cabinet (made from three thick pieces of paper) and a 10”x14” poster. This is CIB madness, in a good way!

Once you power up the cart, you’re treated to a really cool splash screen, reminiscent of the original arcade cabinet marquee. The overall gameplay is top notch. The in game sounds are great. All of the arcade game elements have been captured and faithfully rendered, from the look of the Star Castle itself to the colors of the three concentric energy shield rings. You won’t believe you’re playing this game on your 2600.

Lastly, the level of difficulty takes me back to the days of my youth when I played this game in the arcades.

I know some people don’t opt to purchase CIB games, but trust me; you won’t want to let this one get away. I have no doubt that this package would have sold in high numbers back in the day.

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