Were You An Activision Gamer? Part IV

Cavalcade Arcade

Here it is, the final part of this look back at the Activision Master Gamer program from the early 80s. Did you miss the other parts of this article? Here they are: Part I, Part II, Part III.

Here is the final group of badges that I’m going to cover.

Medal of MeritCross of ExcellenceStar of HonorRobot Tank box
Activision Robot Tank Master Badges – With a totally badass name and very cool box art, Robot Tank is Activision’s version of Atari’s classic tank game Battlezone.  The Master Badges were awarded based on “enemy kills”.  The Medal of Merit on the left was given for 48 kills.  The Cross of Excellence was given for 60 kills.  The Star of Honor on the right was given for 72 kills.

Activision Decathlon Badges Decathlon box
Activision Decathlon Badges -Activision’s Decathlon had the trademark fast paced Activision gameplay and cool game mechanics that were later used in games like Track & Field.  For instance, you moved the joystick from right to left as fast as you can to run and used the red button to jump or throw.  You competed in 10 events including the 100 meter dash, hurdles, long jump and shot put.  If you scored 8,600 points you earned the bronze patch on the left.  If you scored 9,000 points you earned the silver patch and if you scored over 10,000 points you earned the gold badge on the right.

Chopper Commandos badge Chopper Command box
Activision Chopper Commandos Master Badge – Chopper Command was another favorite of mine. It played very similar to Atari’s port of Defender. Except instead of space and aliens, you flew a helicopter and defended trucks and soldiers from enemy planes and bombers. Despite its similarity to Defender, it was much, much harder. If you could score over 10,000 points you would be inducted into the Chopper Commandos.  And believe me, that is not an easy task.

River Raiders badge River Raid box
Activision River Raiders Master Badge –  River Raid was a classic game for the Atari.  I. LOVED. THIS. GAME.  You flew your F-14 fighter over the ominously named River of No Return and blew up enemy planes and tankers.  You have to watch out for your fuel levels as well as the sides of the river because they can both cause you to crash.  If you could score 15,000 or more points you could join the River Raiders.  Like Pitfall!, River Raid received an overlooked sequel called, not surprisingly, River Raid II.  However, there was no Master Badge offered for the sequel.

Supreme Star Master badge Starmaster box
Activision Order of the Supreme Star Master Badge – For the game Starmaster.  Very similar to Atari’s Star Raiders, even including a star map of the galaxy you are protecting.  You would fly around in a starship and protect the galaxy from invaders.  Several parts of your ship could take on damage and be destroyed so you would periodically have to dock with a starbase for repairs.  Unlike Star Raiders which required an extra keypad to turn on the star map, Starmaster used the color/black and white toggle switch on the 2600 console to turn on and off the star map.  If you could score 3,800 points, you received the Order of the Supreme Starmaster badge seen above.  The chevrons below the badge (Leader, Wing Commander, Starmaster) were commendations awarded to people who scored 5,700 (Leader), 7,000 (Wing Commander) and 9,000 (Starmaster) points.

Space Shuttle pilot badgeSpace Shuttle Commander badge Space Shuttle box
Activision Space Shuttle Master Badges – This game was a pretty big deal for the Atari 2600. It was a fairly sophisticated shuttle simulator that utilized special plastic overlays on the console itself so you could use every single button and switch available to you. Gameplay involved successfully launching the shuttle, obtaining orbit, then docking with a satellite several times before returning to Earth. A gamer who successfully docks with a satellite four times and returns with at least 4,500 units of fuel would earn the Shuttle Pilot Badge seen on the left. If a gamer could achieve six satellite dockings and return with at least 7,500 units of fuel, they would qualify for the Shuttle Commander Badge with wings.

5 Responses to “Were You An Activision Gamer? Part IV”

  1. I think this was slightly before my time but it sounds neat.

  2. I loved River Raid as well, it was my favorite game for years as a kid. I even obtained the badge for River Raid, but mine looked different from the one pictured above. Great series on the Activision games though, brought back memories of playing those games with my friends back in the early 80s.

  3. I got the Chopper Command badge after getting the max score, which I think was 999,999. I can’t remember how long it took, pretty much an entire Saturday, then afterward my hands ballooned up and I couldn’t move my thumbs without being in agony for several days. I didn’t even know about the badges at the time. I just sent a Polaroid of the screen to Activision because nobody in my house was very impressed by it.

    If I had known that 10,000 points was all I needed I don’t think I would have had the will to go on

  4. My friends and I still make fun of “Decathalon”! 😉

  5. I am a full Starmaster with original photo of the tv screen. If anyone wants to sell the main and/or Starmaster stripe badges, I am looking to buy 😉

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