The Last Starfighter Movie
and Video Game FAQ V2.1

© 1996-99 Russel J. Krook III

The Last Starfighter
© 1984, Lorimar/Universal

Find the most recent updates to this page/FAQ.

The Last Starfighter: The Movie



        He's got one extraordinary chance at the dream of 
	a lifetime. 
        Alex Rogan is a small-town teenager with big-time 
	dreams.  He's just like everyone else, except Alex 
	has a very special talent...
        Tonight, a mysterious stranger will call on Alex.  
	He comes from a galaxy that's under attack by an 
	alien force.  And Alex's unique ability is their 
	last hope.

        [Transcribed from the cover of the novelization, 
	written by Alan Dean Foster]

            Can a teenager from a trailer park in the 
	sticks find happiness as an intergalactic warrior?  
	That's the premise of THE LAST STARFIGHTER, a magical 
	adventure starring Robert Preston, Dan O'Herlihy, and 
	two of today's most exciting young stars, Lance Guest
        and Catherine Mary Stewart.  
	    It's the story of an alien scalawag (Robert Preston) 
	who recruits a whiz kid at the video game, Starfighter, 
	to fight outer space wars to save the universe.  
            Besides appealing characters and an intriguing plot, 
        THE LAST STARFIGHTER features production design by Ron 
	plus computer generated special effects that go far 
	beyond anything ever seen on film. 

        [Transcribed from the back of the video box.]


   1.20) Lance Guest's filmography (unabridged)

                 PROGRAM           DATE           CHARACTER
           Hart to Hart Returns  (1993) (TV)      .... Peter McDowell 
           ``Favorite Son'' (1988) (mini) TV Series .... Ross 
           Wizard of Loneliness, The (1988)       .... John T. 
           Jaws: The Revenge    (1987)            .... Michael
           Confessions of a Married Man (1984) (TV)
           Just the Way You Are (1984)            .... Jack
           Last Starfighter, The (1984)           .... Alex Rogan 
           Roommate, The        (1984) (TV)       .... Orson Ziegler 
           I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982)       .... Gordon 
           Halloween II         (1981)            .... Jimmy 
           ``Knots Landing''      (1979) TV Series  .... Steve Brewer (1990-) 
           ``Lou Grant''          (1977) TV Series  .... Lance (1981-82) 

   1.21) Dan O'Herlihy's filmography (abridged)

                 PROGRAM          DATE            CHARACTER
	     Web TV Comercial [Magnavox] (1996)   .... N/A
             Love, Cheat & Steal (1993) (TV)      .... Hamilton Fisk 
             ``Twin Peaks''       (1990) TV Series.... Andrew Packard 
             Robocop 2          (1990)            .... Old Man 
             Robocop (1987) (as Daniel O'Herlihy) .... The Old Man (Head OCP) 
             Last Starfighter, The (1984)         .... Grig 
             ``Whiz Kids'' (1983) TV Series       .... Carson Marsh (1984) 
             Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1983) .... Conal Cochran
             MacArthur (1977)        .... President Franklin D. Roosevelt 
             100 Rifles (1969)                    .... Grimes 
             Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1952) .... Robinson Crusoe 
             Kidnapped (1948)
             Macbeth (1948)                       .... Macduff 

   1.22) Catherine Mary Stewart's filmography (abridged)

                 PROGRAM    DATE                  CHARACTER
            Number One Fan (1995)                 .... Holly Newman
            Out of Annie's Past (1995) (TV)       .... Annie
            Samurai Cowboy (1993) (TV)
            Sea Wolf, The (1993) (TV)             .... Flaxen Brewster
            ``Hearts Are Wild'' (1992)TV Series   .... Kyle Hubbard
            Cafe Romeo (1992)                     .... Lis 
            Weekend at Bernie's (1989)            .... Gwen Saunders
            World Gone Wild (1988)                .... Angie
            Cherry 2000 (1987)
            Nightflyers (1987)                    .... Miranda 
            Annihilator (1986) (TV)               .... Angela Taylor
            ``Hollywood Wives'' (1985) (mini) TV Series .... Angel Hudson 
            Mischief (1985)                       .... Bunny 
            Last Starfighter, The (1984)          .... Maggie Gordon 
            Night of the Comet (1984)             .... Regina 
            Nighthawks (1981)                     .... Sales Girl 
            ``Days of Our Lives'' (1965) TV Series  .... Kayla Brady 

   1.23) Robert Preston's filmography (abridged)

                 PROGRAM    DATE                  CHARACTER
            Outrage! (1986) (TV)                  .... Dennis Riordan 
            Finnegan Begin Again (1985) (TV)      .... Mike Finnegan 
            Last Starfighter, The (1984)          .... Centauri
            September Gun (1983) (TV)
            Rehearsal for Murder (1982) (TV)
            Victor/Victoria (1982)                .... Toddy 
            S.O.B. (1981)                         .... Dr. Irving Finegarten
            Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, The (1980) (TV) .... Mr. Stranger 
            ``The Chisholms'' (1979) (mini)TV Series .... Hadley Chisholm 
            Semi-Tough (1978)                     .... Big Ed Bookman 
            My Father's House (1975) (TV)
            Mame (1974)                           .... Beauregard 
            Island of Love (1963)            
	    How the West Was Won (1962)           .... Roger Morgan 
            Music Man, The (1962)                 .... Harold Hill 

   1.24) (Director) Nick Castle's filmography (unabridged)

         Director filmography
            Mr. Wrong (1996)
            Major Payne (1994)
            Dennis the Menace (1993)
            Tap (1989)
            Boy Who Could Fly, The (1986)
            Last Starfighter, The (1984)
            Tag: The Assassination Game (1982)

         Writer filmography

            Hook (1991) (story) 
            Tap (1989)
            Boy Who Could Fly, The (1986)
            Tag: The Assassination Game (1982)
            Escape from New York (1981)
            Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979)

   1.25) (Writer) Jonathan R. Betuel's filmography (unabridged)

         Writer filmography

            Theodore Rex (1995) ... aka T. Rex (1995)
            My Science Project (1985)
            Last Starfighter, The (1984)

         Director filmography

            Theodore Rex (1995) ... aka T. Rex (1995)
            My Science Project (1985)


        A: [From the Film] ``Greetings, Starfighter!  
	You have been recruited by the Star League to 
	defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan 


     A: No. Alex's Gunstar was a prototype. It had... 
        ``...greater range, more power and a slight weapons 
	modification... and of course she has deflector 
	plating so she can withstand several direct hits."  
	And... "...Deathblossom, a weapon of last resort!''


     A: Sadly, yes.  Robert Preston passed away in 1987.


     A: The video is currently available from MCA/Universal 
	Home Video, for the retail price of $16.99
        The English Language Laserdisk version is also 
	available, but only in the pan-and-scan version. 

UPDATE: 1/21/97

     A2: There is a Japanese import laserdisk of The 
	Last Starfighter that is in widescreen/Letterbox 
	format.  It is still in English, and subtitled in 
	Japanese across the bottom of the black Letterboxing.  
	Sadly, I do not know where you can find the film.  
	I would suggest a company that does a lot of import
	video and laserdisks such as Japanese Anime.


  • A: The EARchives have disappeared and I have not located another site.

  • 1.8 The Last Starfighter TRIVIA!!!

         -- You may have recognized the actor who plays the part 
    	of the "Hitchhiker," Marc Alaimo. He's a recurring actor in the
    	Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine,  and he's 
    	frequently seen as the Cardassian Gul Dukat on ST: DS9.
         -- And yes, the Wil Wheaton listed as "Louis' Friend" in the 
    	credits is also a ST: Next Generation alumni,  Wesley Crusher.
    	I wonder if he didn't have a bigger part, but possibly his 
    	scenes ended up on the cutting room floor, since his total
    	screen time is less than 60 seconds in the finished film.
    	(I know, I've timed it. :} )
         -- [Computer Trivia will end up here when I get around to doing it.]



    	 A:      Yes and No. In the spring of 1995 I called Atari
            Games on an unrelated matter (trying to find an old        
    	instruction manual for an arcade game) and asked the same
                     The representative I talked to said that the game
            was created, and test marketed in a limited fashion, but 
    	never went into mass production, largely because of the
            glut in movie related games at the time, and the fact
            that Atari had lost a great deal of money paying licensing 
    	fees for their previous movie related games (Star Wars, 
    	TESB, Indiana Jones/Temple of Doom...).
                 Around this time, Atari was also losing millions
            because of "The Crash" of the home gaming market, 
    	so that may have been an additional nail in Starfighter's 

  • Well, Very short and to the point. I wish he'd answered some of my other questions, but beggars can't be choosers.

  • Update!

    The Mystery Solved!

    	I recently was able to contact Lyle Rains 
    (formerly of Atari Games, now with Leisure Video 
    Research) and Mike Albaugh (currently of Atari Games :}).
    	They have graciously (and for me, sadly) solved 
    the mystery of The Last Starfighter arcade game.
    From: Mike Albaugh 
    Subject: Re: Last Starfighter
    Date: Fri, 21 Feb 1997 16:57:23 -0800 (PST)	
    Our ``Postmaster'' sent this out:
    >I received this mail sent to "postmaster" (as I am he).  
    >Anyone care to answer?
    >    At the end of the film, in the credits of course, it says that 
    >    the arcade games were supplied by Atari.  I, and a great many 
    >    of the people I know, have never seen the real, "Last Starfighter"
    >    arcade game.
    	To the best of my knowledge, _nobody_ ouside Atari or the
    consultant (Ted Michon, of General Magic) who designed the video
    hardware, or the film company, ever saw the Last Starfighter game.
    It not only was never produced, it did not make it to field-test.
    >    If possible, I'd like any information you could provide about the game.
    >    I have "spoken" via e-mail with Nolan Bushnell and his answers were quite
    >    brief, and only confirmed what we already knew, that the game never made
    >    it into mass production.
    >    1) Was The Last Starfighter an X-Y vector game, or a 
    >       raster game?
    	Raster, I believe Medium Res (512x384), but it might have
    	been standard-res. Color.
    >    2) How many units were actually produced? 5, 10, 1000?
    	One prototype set of electronics. No actual cabinet. The
    electronics consisted of a set of wire-wrap boards. The video was
    designed by Ted Michon. The "Math box" was designed by me 
    and programmed by Jack Ritter.
    >    3) What kind of controls did it use? A flight yoke similar to the
    >       Star Wars XY game?  Joysticks?
    	Flight-yoke, originally designed for the military version of
    BattleZone, later used on Star Wars.
    >    4) What was the basic gameplay like?  Was it a scrolling shooter, 
    >       like Raiden, Sky Shark or 1942?  Or was it a simulator style 
    >	like the XY Star Wars?
    	More like the Star-Wars game, although it didn't have the
    performance it needed be be so involving, and the needed enhancments
    would have driven its already too-high cost _way_ too high. If the
    movie had been a real block-buster, it _might_ have been worth making
    a few for promotional purposes, but...

    From: Mike Albaugh 
    Subject: Re: Last Starfighter
    To: WAYLAND@VAX1.BEMIDJI.MSUS.EDU (Wayland DeGreene)
    Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 08:29:36 -0800 (PST)
    	First a correction. I wrote Ted Michon, of General Magic.
    That was a brain-slip. It should have been of Technical Magic.
    > Do you know if the original source code still exists
    > for the game?  Given the recent explosion of ``non-professional'' 
    > arcade game emulators out there now, and with modern computer 
    > hardware as advanced as it is, it might be fun to see an 
    > emulation of The Last Starfighter.
    	I doubt it would be of interest, _if_ you could read it. Game
    code from that time is archived on nine-track (6250 or 1600 BPI) 
    Magnetic tape in VMS BACKUP format. 
    	_If_ we could find the specific tape, and _if_we could 
    scounge up a nine-track drive to hook to one of our current 
    machines and _if_ we could also scrounge software to read 
    the archive, then what you would get is 68000 and TMS32010 
    assembly code for a _very_twisty (and ill-documented, even at the 
    time) hardware. 
    	_If_ you persevered anyway, you would eventually 
    have a very preliminary game that played much like Star Wars, 
    but on a raster screen with ships that looked something like those 
    in the movie. Oh yeah, it would be slow and a little flakey. 
    	What killed the project was the realization that it 
    would take more time and money to get a playable game than we 
    really had.
    	About the only really interesting bit for _me_ would be 
    to find the original 3D data describing the objects in the game.
    	Again, I have my doubts, but maybe one of the guys who 
    was more involved with the game has photos. If I had the kind of 
    time and money it would take to actually reproduce the hardware 
    and software to take screen-shots today, I'd spent it on a nice 
    house, and my _current_house cost about $500K :-)

    Date: Sat, 22 Feb 1997 15:21:14 -0800
    From: Lyle Rains 
    Subject: Last Starfighter
      	A few months into the project, several troubling things 
    happened.  First,the guys who did the hardware had a falling out 
    with each other, and the design engineer left the subcontractor's 
    company.  So the ability to correct the remaining design problems 
    and put the electronics into production was severely hampered.  
    	Next, old Atari Inc. was coming apart.  This was the time 
    of the huge losses incurred by Atari in the consumer and computer 
    businesses, which ended with Warner Communications selling almost 
    everything but the Coin-op Division to Jack Tramiel.  
    	The Last Starfighter movie had already been released, and 
    was far from the huge commercial success aniticipated.  Also, the 
    arcade games business was poor, with a huge amount of used equipment 
    on the market, and little sales of new equipment.  
    	Finally, the Coin-op division was also on the auction block, 
    and Warner Communications agreed to eat certain costs in order to 
    make the division more attractive.  One such cost was the $1 million 
    guarantee in Last Start Fighter royalties which old Atari Inc. had 
    	It was decided that since the hardware was a problem, and 
    would result in avery expensive product in a poor arcade market, and 
    since the movie had not been a huge hit, that the risks in continuing 
    the project (and possibly incurring the million-buck guarantee) were 
    	Consequently, with little fanfare,and in an environment of fear 
    and loathing following several rounds of layoffs, the project was 
    killed.  We may have designed a game cabinet for the movie (I don't 
    recall), but there was never an actual Last Starfighter game 
    completed beyond early prototypes.  
    	After 21 years at Atari, I left 2 years ago.  There are probably 
    only a couple of people left at Atari who would remember anything 
    about this game.  And they probably don't know as much of the story 
    as I do.  Almost none of the people who worked on the Last 
    Starfighter are still at the company.	
    Lyle Rains

    Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 09:20:11 -0800
    To: Wayland DeGreene 
    From: Lyle Rains 
    Subject: RE: Last Starfighter
    >Thank you for replying to my questions about the
    >game, The Last Starfighter.  It's nice to finally
    >have some first hand recollections about the game,
    >which has long been a source of speculation
    >among my fellow arcade game collectors.
    >Now all I have to do is find a Prototype boardset 
    >and I can die a happy man. :}
    	I happened to re-read the reply I sent you, and 
    I noticed that somehow, in the editing, I had deleted the 
    first few paragraphs of the message!  Don't ask how, 'cuz 
    I have no idea!!
    	Anyway, besides a brief introduction, I had meant 
    to include a description of the game.  It was going to be a 
    flat-shaded polygonal game, sort of like I, Robot (a few years 
    later).  The game was going to start with shooting target 
    bouys and proceed to taking on the whole enemy armada single-handed 
    (just like the movie).  
    	There was a button to push that would put you in
    the berserker mode (star-blossom, or whatever it was called),
    again, just as in the movie.  I think we were even going to try
    to implement the enemy mother ship, which was cutting a hole in
    the frontier shield, but I don't think we ever got beyond a design
    for it.  The controls were going to be the same as Star Wars.
    	I also explained that the hardware was designed by an outside
    company, while the programming was being done at Atari.  I don't
    believe any surviving prototype boards exist (but ya never know).         
    	Lyle Rains 

    [I'm STILL interested in buying one of the test/prototype arcade games. Or if you don't want to sell, I'd be Very interested in photos/video of the game. E-mail Me if you want to sell one of these units. Need not be in working condition!]

    2.1) Q: WAS THERE AN ATARI 2600 T.L.S. GAME?

         A:      There was at least was one in development, but the final
            version of the gamecart never made it into mass production,
            again due in part to the ``Crash'' of the home videogame market.
                 A version was also created for the Atari 5200 game system,
            and the Atari 800 computer system.  The prototypes of the game
            contain a Last Starfighter intro, and graphics similar to the
            ships from the movie. Gameplay involved fighting your way through
            wave after wave of enemy ships, and then a final confrontation
            with the with the command ship, which would then pound you into
            infinity. :}
                 The prototype Last Starfighter game was suddenly renamed
            and released as ``Star Raiders II'' in both cartridge and floppy
            disk format for the 5200 console and Atari 800 computer systems.
    	The game has slightly changed graphics and an increased difficulty.
    	The TLS intro was also removed and replaced with an Atari corporate
    	Here's the Atari 2600 listing of the game.
    Name                     Atari     Rar Gr  Pl  Model No.
    The Last Starfighter               NR  ?   ?   CX26134      
    Rar= rarity (Not Released), Gr=Graphics Pl=Playability


    	A: Apparently there do exist commercial copies of The Last Starfighter 
    	   which were released for the old Atari 800 computers. I've 
    	   had many people e-mail me saying that they have a copy they 
    	   could send me if I wanted it. Actually, I'd be more interested 
    	   in a copy of the ARCADE roms if anyone has them. :}


         A:      Yes it has.
    	     There was supposedly a version released for the 8 bit Nintendo
            NES system. It's reported to be a scrolling shooter, in the same 
    	style as Sky Shark, 1941, Raiden and others. That's the only 
    	other version said to exist. 


         A.1:    The NES version of TLS is a _Terrible_ game. It's a side 
    	scrolling shooter like the games mentioned above. The intro 
    	says ``The Last Starfighter'' in a font like that used in the 
    	film. It also contains an abridged version of the soundtrack 
    	score. The high scores contain some _really_ bad mispellings 
    	of the names (Xur is Zur, etc.) And that's about it. 
    	Not worth buying, _or_ renting, unless you're a true die-hard
            TLS fan. And maybe not even then... 


         A.2: Chuck Cochems [] claims...
            "It's just a renamed "Uridium".  
    	I've played Uridium on the c64, and that "the 
    	last starfighter" game I saw for it [The NES Version]
            looked VERY familiar...
            So, to sum up, the game is not a true Last Starfighter game 
    	at all.
               It is simply a conversion of a c64 game called Uridium.
        [I have no way of confirming these claims, So I'll just assume he's
         Correct about the game.  Either way, it's still a lousy game.]
  • Addendum: 4/12/1997
    Robin Harbron says...
    >   Hey, I like your FAQ an awful lot, it was brought up in
    > RGVC [], so I followed through.  
    >   I'm a classic video game
    > collector, a fan of TLS, but #1 a commodore 64 fan :)
    >   I've never seen the NES TLS game, but I've played the
    > c64 game called Uridium.  Nearly every c64 user over the
    > years has played this game, and it is pretty much
    > universally accepted as a massive classic.  It was
    > written by a fellow named Andrew Braybrook, who is highly
    > esteemed by many :)
    >   Anyway, my point is, if TLS for NES is truly a conversion
    > of Uridium, it must be a very bad one, as Uridium is truly
    > brilliant.  Or alternatively, perhaps Chuck didn't mean it
    > was a conversion, but merely a similar game, one of the 
    > same "genre".
    >   Sorry if this isn't much use to you, I guess I just didn't
    > like how it is sort of implied that Uridium stinks, when
    > in fact just TLS on NES stinks. :)
    [OK, What I said was... 
    	``I have no way of confirming these claims, 
    	So I'll just assume he's correct about the game.  
    	Either way, it's still a lousy game.''
    What I meant to say was...
    	``I have no way of confirming these claims,
    	So I'll just assume he's correct about the game.
    	As far as I'm concened it was the wrong game to put
    	the Last Starfighter name on.  The ships look _NOTHING_
    	like those in the film, not even remotely close.  Putting 
    	"The Last Starfighter" name on a Donkey Kong cart would
    	have done the same job.  Taken by itself as a side 
    	scrolling shooter, The 8 bit NES LSF is a decent game.
    	But as a representation of The LSF film, it doesn't
    	even come close to the mark.]

    Update: 8/10/96

         A.3:      Well, there was another version. Sort of.  
    	FASA, (famous for the Battletech/Mechwarrior games) 
    	produced a Last Starfighter Board game, where you
            pilot your Gunstar through tunnels looking for things 
    	to shoot at.        
    	This game has been out of print since about 1985-86.
  • If anyone has a copy they want to sell, in decent shape, E-mail me!
            Last Starfighter: Tunnel Chase Game
            Publisher : FASA
            In print? : No
            # players : 2-6
            Plays best with: see comments
            Ease of learn? : 5-10min
            Avg. play time : 31-60min
            Immed. replay : 3+/session
            Longterm replay: Average
            Format : Board
            Genre : SciFi
            Feel : Serious
            Description : The two player game portrays the battle in
             	the asteroid in the movie _The Last Starfighter_. 
    		(More than two players just gives different starting 
    	        The players have to attempt to outflank the other 
    		player(s) through the tight quarters of an asteroid 
    		full of tunnels while avoiding damage by being shot 
    		and/or hitting walls.
    	        Last one alive wins. The 'asteroid' is assembled from a
    	        central hexagon (which is symetrical) and six surrounding
    	        hexagons, so there are 720 possible asteroids'.
            Comments : RE: Plays best with: That depends on what type of game
    	        you want. 2 players gives a nice game of trying to outflank 
    		the other player and get several good shots. With more 
    		players, it devolves into a chaotic ruckus where you can't 
    		afford to just pursue one other player.