Sinistar (1983)

by Christopher
5 minutes read


Sinistar (1983): A Spine-Tingling Space Shooter Classic

Released in 1983, Sinistar is a legendary arcade space shooter game that captivated gamers with its innovative gameplay, haunting visuals, and unforgettable digitized speech. Developed by Williams Electronics, Sinistar became an instant classic and remains a beloved title among retro gaming enthusiasts.

Gameplay: A Race Against Time

In Sinistar, the player takes control of a lone spacecraft tasked with defending the galaxy from the titular Sinistar, a malevolent skull-faced spaceship. The objective of the game is to destroy the Sinistar by constructing and launching Sinibombs, while simultaneously fending off waves of enemy worker and warrior ships.

The game takes place in a series of zones, each with its own unique characteristics. In the Worker Zone, enemy worker ships gather crystals to construct the Sinistar. In the Warrior Zone, enemy warrior ships attack the player’s ship directly. In the Planetoid Zone, the player must carefully shoot at drifting planetoids to release crystals, which are then used to create Sinibombs. In the Void Zone, the player encounters very few planetoids, making it more challenging to gather crystals.

The player’s ship is equipped with a laser cannon and a limited number of Sinibombs. Sinibombs are short-range weapons that automatically target the Sinistar when fired. However, enemy ships, enemy fire, and planetoids can intercept Sinibombs before they reach their target.

The Sinistar: A Formidable Foe

The Sinistar is a formidable opponent, and its presence looms large throughout the game. As the enemy worker ships gather more crystals, the Sinistar’s construction progresses. Once the Sinistar is fully formed, it emerges from its lair with a spine-tingling digitized voice that utters chilling taunts such as “Beware, I live!” and “I am Sinistar!”

The Sinistar has no weapon attacks, but it can destroy the player’s ship on contact. If the player’s ship collides with the Sinistar, it will be “eaten” and destroyed.

Strategy and Skill

To defeat the Sinistar, the player must employ a combination of strategy and skill. Careful timing is crucial, as attempting to mine crystals too quickly will destroy the planetoid without releasing any crystals. The player must also be aware of the enemy ships’ movements and anticipate their attacks.

Once the Sinistar is fully formed, the player must launch Sinibombs at it as quickly as possible. Each Sinibomb damages the Sinistar, and a total of 13 Sinibombs are required to destroy it. However, the Sinistar can be repaired by the enemy worker ships if it is not destroyed quickly enough.

Legacy and Impact

Sinistar was a groundbreaking game that pushed the boundaries of arcade technology. Its use of digitized speech was particularly innovative, and it helped to create a truly immersive and atmospheric gaming experience.

Sinistar has been ported to numerous home platforms over the years, and it remains popular among retro gaming enthusiasts. The game has also been featured in several video game retrospectives and documentaries.


Sinistar is a timeless classic that continues to thrill and entertain gamers today. Its innovative gameplay, haunting visuals, and unforgettable digitized speech make it a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a seasoned retro gaming veteran or a newcomer to the genre, Sinistar is a must-play title that will leave a lasting impression.

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