Demon Attack

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous films featured flocks of birds suddenly attacking humans.

The same theme runs through the Imagic video game, Demon Attack. Only this time, it’s you who’s being attacked by wave after wave of mad, killer outer space birds!

Demon Attack is an impressive game, delivering arcade-quality audio/visual effects in a tough-to-master shoot-‘em-up contest. Why is it so tough? Because these are not your usual space invaders traveling monotonously downscreen. No, these birds wiggle back and forth, swoop down at you, and are generally unpredictable.

What’s more, instead of dropping the usual bird stuff on your head, they come at you with no less than lethal Laser beams!

Of course, you don’t just sit there and take it. You’re armed with a Laser Cannon of your own with an unlimited supply of ammunition. Eliminate one wave of space fowl, and another, deadlier flock of birds swoops in to take its place.

Demon Attack is simply one of the best game cartridges of its type available today.

Those birds are real killers! Hitchcock would’ve been proud to make a movie about them.

lmagic, Inc.
for Atari VCS
1 or 2 players
Rating: PG
Graphics: 8
Game Play: 9
Longevity: 8


To destroy as many Demon Birds for points as possible without getting destroyed yourself.


Demon Attack is played using the Atari joystick controller. The joystick action is surprisingly quick and responsive. Pushing the joystick to the right will move your Laser Cannon to the right. Likewise, pushing the joystick to the left will move your Laser Cannon in that direction. Pushing the action button fires your Lasers at the attacking aliens.


Laser Cannon: This is your weapon in the fight against the Demon Birds! As mentioned earlier, you can move only horizontally, not vertically. You can only fire one blast at the aliens at a time. You cannot ref ire your Cannon until your Laser blast either hits a Bird or travels off of the screen. Otherwise, you can fire as often as you like, because you have an unlimited Laser supply.

Keep your Laser Cannon in the center of the screen as much as possible during each attack. Demons will try to track you down and trap you in a corner if you’re not careful. Also, you should pass under and fire at an alien in the same direction it is moving. This way, you will not be moving into its line of fire, you will be moving away from it.

You begin each Demon Attack game with a total of four Laser Cannon lives. You lose a life when you are either hit by a Demon’s Lasers, or when a Demon dives and crashes into you. Each attack wave you survive completely unscathed (where you do not lose a life) earns you an additional Laser Cannon life. You may have a maximum of only six Laser Cannons in reserve at any time.

Demons: These are the birds that are after your hide. They’ll stop at nothing to destroy you. Eliminate one, and another Bird will swoop in to take its place. Knock off an entire wave, and another, more deadly flock of aliens descend.

Figure 1
Wave 1: Not much going on here — you can easily clear the skies of Demon Birds.

In each wave, there are three rows of Demon Birds: bottom, middle, and top. Through the first four waves, there will be only one Bird in each row. In every wave, only the Bird (or Birds in later waves) in the bottom row can fire at you. Blow up a Demon, and it is automatically replaced by another.

In early waves, the Demon Birds are larger and move slower than in later waves. Also, their Lasers are slowly falling bullets. In later waves the Birds fire quick, wide killer beams. They may also split into two small, fast-moving birds who will break from formation and dive at you. Other Demons will dive at you from the onset of the wave.

Demons in waves one and two are worth ten points each when destroyed. Point values increase with alternating odd-numbered waves. The maximum number of points you may receive per Demon Bird killed, in Waves 11 and beyond, are: 35 points per Demon; 70 points per split Demon; and 140 points per Diving Demon.


Demon Attack features ten game variations for one and two players. Game selections determine the difficulty of the game (Basic or Advanced) and whether or not your Laser Cannon is equipped with Tracer Shots.

Figure 2
Wave 3: The Demons’ fire in a straight line — you cannot pass through it.

We like Advanced Demon Attack games, without Tracer Shots. As will be discussed later, we feel Tracer Shots are a gimmick that can cause you more harm than good unless you’re extra-careful.

Two-player games can either be played competitively against each other or as special “co-op” games. In these co-op games, you and your opponent operate the same Laser Cannon, but control of this cannon alternates from player-to-player every four seconds. Separate scores are totaled; if you are hit, your opponent scores 500 bonus points. This is a wild and wooly contest. Co-op games allow both players to get involved in the action at the same time, which few of these games do.

Difficulty switches determine the Demons’ aggressiveness. The “B” setting will give you a basic Demon attack; the “A” setting will make them more aggressive. Beginning players will, of course, want to choose the easier of the two. If, however, you’re more experienced, go for the “A” setting and be prepared for anything!


First we’ll discuss some basic, overall Demon Attack strategies. Then we’ll take a specific look at each of the first 12 attack waves.

Figure 3
Pass under the Demons in the opposite direction from which they are moving. This way, you will not run into their fire; you’ll run away from it.

Keep your Laser Cannon in the center of the screen as much as possible during each attack. Demons will try to track you down and trap you in a corner if you’re not careful. Also, you should pass under and fire at an alien in the same direction it is moving. This way, you will not be moving into its line of fire, you will be moving away from it.

Because only the lowest Demon in an attack wave can fire at you — and is thus harder to destroy — you should go for as many Birds in the upper two levels as you can. Be sure to stay away from the bottom Demon’s Lasers. This way, you might only have to confront the bottom Demon once or twice per wave.

Also, when two or three Demons are lined up on top of one another, keep the action button depressed. As soon as the first Bird is destroyed, a second shot will fire, and so forth. With practice, you can use this strategy to knock off an entire wave of Demon Birds without moving.

In certain Demon Attack game variations, your Laser Cannon is equipped with special Tracer Shots. You can guide these missiles anywhere on the screen after you fire at the aliens. This is accomplished by maneuvering the blasts with your joystick (you’ll also be moving your cannon at the same time). This, however, can be a dangerous option to use. While it theoretically makes tracking the Demon Birds easier, you’ll often find yourself so busy guiding your missiles across the screen that you’ll walk right into a Demon’s Lasers. Thus, we recommend this feature only for advanced players. Even then, it should not be put in use for every shot.

Figure 4
Wave 5: Hit one Demon, and it splits into two, smaller Birds.

Waves 1-4: The difference in the first four attack waves is twofold: increasing speed and more deadly Laser fire. For example, in the first wave, illustrated in Figure 1, the Demons’ Laser fire is just a single bullet. However, in the second wave, it’s two bullets; by the third wave the Lasers fire in a straight line that’s impossible to pass through (see Figure 2).

Remember to duck back and forth quickly under the bottom-row Demons to avoid their fire, as illustrated in Figure 3.

When you destroy a Demon Bird in Waves 1 through 4, you should attempt to anticipate where its replacement will show up. Position your Cannon beneath that spot, and fire. If you’ve anticipated correctly, you will blast a Bird, sometimes before the target has appeared (you’ll nail it in mid-entry). Since this doesn’t waste any time or energy, it is worth the percentage of lucky shots that will kill a Demon as it appears on the screen. These are the only waves that are slow enough to allow you this maneuver, however.

There are a total of seven Demons in each of the first four waves.


“I try to blow the Demons away as fast as possible.

“Fire at the lowest split Demons first, then you’ll be able to concentrate on the Birds in the upper levels when they swoop down at you.

“Keep on firing. Don’t hesitate and you’ll clear the screen.”

Todd Rodgers, age 18
Bridgeview, Illinois

Waves 5-10: Beginning with the fifth attack wave, things really begin to heat up. First off, the Demons are much more aggressive from here on. Secondly, when they’re hit, they don’t disappear, they split into two smaller birds (see Figure 4). Each wave from here on will consist of 24 different targets.

When a Demon Bird in the bottom row is split, one of them will continue to fire at you. However, this fire is less troublesome than that of an unsplit Demon. Once you split a Bird, concentrate your fire on the one Demon that does not shoot at you. Whenever you hit a smaller Demon, its mate will dive and head for the bottom of the screen. Hitting the “safer” of the two will get rid of the more deadly one in this manner. You can easily dodge a diving Demon.

However, beware — the bottom pair of split Demons will keep crossing their paths. It may be difficult to tell which is the deadly one and which one is harmless until you’re fired upon. By then, it may be too late.

Through Wave 9, the Demons’ Lasers increase in size. Eventually, they become as wide as the Demon itself and as quick as a shotgun blast. You must avoid these Lasers at all cost!

With Wave 10, however, these super-Lasers begin to drift along toward your Laser Cannon, rather than falling off the screen. Don’t take your eyes off of them for a second. Dodge them as long as you can and quickly fire when you get a brief chance.

Waves 11 and Beyond: Okay, have you got all that? Good, because Wave 11 is probably going to do you in! From now on, the initial unsplit Demons are initially smaller than the resulting split Birds. They also fire straight lines of Lasers at an almost unavoidable speed. You’re on your own from here on. No pattern will be able to help you now. The Demon Birds’ projectiles will be firing at such sheer velocity that all you can do is dodge, fire, and hope for the best.

Too bad there’s no pause button to take a break before tackling Wave 12.

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