I Had That! #9: Battlestar Galactica Space Alert


Before Battlestar Galactica was a gritty, super-serious 9/11 analogy that you had to either love or not get, it was a jaunty network TV show intended to capitalize on the popularity of Star Wars, and it didn’t do a bad job of it. In fact, th show made its debut in 1978, the same year as the Star Wars Holiday Special, so one could argue that Galactica even had a bit of an advantage.

This was also the dawn of handheld electronic games. While “pong” devices and the Atari 2600 were popular, hand-held devices powered by 9-volt batteries were also everywhere. Mattel had the lock on this sort of thing, and Mattel Football was the king of this court. But the one for me was the Battlestar Galactica Space Alert!

It was rebranded from a Missile Attack game because apparently the “save New York City from destruction by enemy missiles” theme was felt to be something of a bummer. Now you were simply saving the remnants of a human civilization from outright destruction by an alien intelligence, and that was better. It was simple stuff: the Cylons would come down from above and you’d fire steerable torpedoes from the bottom. The “graphics” were little LED pips and it, like its brethren, made loud, awful noises you couldn’t turn off.

I had to have this thing, and I remember making my parents chase all around town looking for it. I was kind of a pain in the ass.

As you can imagine, this had limited play life. If we kids we smart we would have swapped these games around, getting fresh ones when we got tired of what we had. However, I do remember the discovery that the Cylons attacked in a definite pattern, and my resolve to get a perfect score. (You got a maximum of 6 points for killing a Cylon as soon as it appeared, and there were 20 attacking in total.) I remember literally closing myself up in a closet to concentrate on this task so as not to be distracted nor annoy the rest of my household with the shrill bleeping from the game. I don’t believe I ever succeeded and I imagine I quit when it got too hard.

When did I get it? Sources claim the game came out in 1978, same year as the show, which seems early to me. It was still hard to fin when I got it, so that probably would have been ’78 as well.

Do I still have it? No. It probably went the way that most of these games went, destroyed by a corroded battery after being neglected for a while.

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