Spacewar is a shareware Spacewar! clone. Two spaceships, controlled either by human or by robot, battle it out in a fight to the death.
The spaceships' weapons of attack are phasers for short range and photon torpedos for long range, both of which use up the energy bar; if this bar is drained, you can't attack. As defense there is the impulse engine to move, as well as a cloak and hyperspace to jump to a random location, all of which use energy also.
To alter gameplay, when switching on gravity the ships gravitate towards the centre of the screen. Photon torpedos are affected by gravity in the same way as the ships. Also, you can add a planet in the centre of the screen, which your ship can crash through, draining your shield energy bar.
When a ship's shield energy is all gone, one shot or planet collision will cause the ship to explode, making the surviving ship the winner of the game.
SpaceWar is the first PC port of the first computer game ever made - what more needs to be said? The game was first released for DEC's PDP-1 computer at MIT in 1960. The Spacewar page at Wheels.org has some nice descriptions and anecdotes:
"The first CRT display was a converted oscilloscope used to play SpaceWar. The first trackball (and thus, the first mouse) was a SpaceWar control at MIT. It is said that Ken Thompson salvaged a PDP-1 and created a new operating system, now called UNIX, so that he could play SpaceWar.
The gameplay was inspired by E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman novels. Two players go head-to-head, each controlling a ship in interstellar combat, trying to blow the bejeezus out of each other. There is a sun in the center of the playing field that exerts an inverse-r-squared force on all objects on the screen. A talented player can aim torpedos such that their trajectory is deflected by the sun's gravitational force until it intersects with the other player's ship."
This PC version by B. Seiler is very faithful to the original, down to the black-and-white vector graphics. You can toggle gravity pull of planet on or off, and play against another human player or a computer player. All this on 9KB no less. Whether or not you are interested in the history of computer games, SpaceWar is one classic that you wouldn't want to miss.
Note: As a bonus, you can download the 1998 Windows remake of the game below. Created as a remake of the 1979 Cinematronics version, only two player mode is supported.
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