Phoenix: Classic Arcade Game Video, History & Game Play Overview


Phoenix was one of the more popular outer space, shoot ‘em up themed video games to emerge in its time. There are several elements that make this game unique, including the fact that it was the first space themed classic arcade game to include end level bosses. First released to the arcade in 1980, Phoenix was created by Amstar Electronics and distributed by Centuri.

Two classic arrangements consisting of Beethoven’s ‘Fur Elise’ and ‘Romance de Amor,’ make up the soundtrack to Phoenix. Multiple clones and unauthorized versions of Phoenix were released in the early 1980s. A sequel to Phoenix, named Pleiads was released a year after the original.

The most recent port was released in 2006, on the Sony PSP. Earlier ports include the ZX Spectrum and the Atari 2600. Phoenix comes in one and two player modes.


Game Play Overview

Like most of the other space themed arcade games of its time, Phoenix features a small ship which is controlled by the player. However, this game does not give players many opportunities to upgrade or equip their ships with special weapons. Instead, these upgrades are given automatically at the start of certain boards. Achieving a high score and staying alive are the main objectives of Phoenix.

There are five waves or levels in Phoenix. During each round, enemies will attack individually and in groups. Points are awarded depending on the difficulty of each kill. For example, shooting an enemy down while it is still far away from you will result in fewer points earned. If that same enemy was shot while very close to your ship, you would earn significantly more points.

Birds yield anywhere between 50 and 100 points. Shooting an alien ship will give you between 20 and 80 points. Eggs are more highly valued, ranging from 100 to 800 points. Bosses have the highest point value, giving players 1,000 to 9,000 points for each kill.

Certain enemies can only be eliminated if hit in a specific spot. Other enemies, such as the bosses, have to be attacked in a precise manner in order to prevent the battle from being drawn out. Birds can only be killed if you shoot them in the stomach, and the hull of the mothership has to be destroyed before it is rendered vulnerable. Killing all other enemies present while battling a boss will cause them to fully regenerate.

Special Features

You will be given the rapid fire ability at the very beginning of round two. This is the only time in Phoenix that you will have any type of special ability.


Player Ship – The player ship is small, red and will always be seen at the bottom of the screen. If an enemy rams you, or you are hit by gunfire, you will lose a turn.

Bosses – Bosses only appear once every few levels, but they are very difficult to destroy. You will have to shoot the bosses many, many times in order to take them out.

Enemies – In Phoenix, enemies tend to appear in groups and travel in tightly packed formations. Take them out one at a time until the level is cleared.

How to Play Phoenix

Only the left and right directional arrows will be used in Phoenix. Firing one shot at a time, your goal will be to annihilate all enemies that appear on the screen. In most cases, they will stay toward the top of the screen, with one or more enemies coming down to attack at a time. However, this changes as you get further in the game.

Stage 1
Phoenix starts with a group of enemies converged at the top of the screen. Soon after, your foes will start their attack, alternating between sending down bombs and coming after you. Use the directional keys to move out of their path and shoot the enemies that appear closest to you.

Note that these attacks will appear to be sporadic at first. Once there are fewer enemies present, their moves will become more much calculated. Clear out all alien enemies to go to stage 2.

Stage 2
This level will also feature alien fighter ships. Round two is very similar to round one, only it will be slightly more difficult to complete. Random attacks will soon be replaced by organized and deliberate moves, so stay alert. Again, kill all of the alien fighter ships to proceed.

Stage 3
On stage three, you will see your enemies taking a different approach. Instead of arriving in a tight formation, they will move back and forth across the screen. You will now need to adjust to their new flight patterns. It may be easier for you to avoid their bombs, but head-on attacks will be harder to dodge. Destroy every foe and move on to stage four.

Stage 4
You will almost certainly be attacked by two or more enemies at a time on stage four, at all times. Birds and alien fighters will fly back and forth, in an attempt to confuse you. Time your shots so that you are able to increase accuracy. Clear the board and proceed to stage five.

Stage 5
Round five features the mothership, which is the featured boss in Phoenix. In addition to battling a huge mothership, you will also need to take care of a few secondary enemies. Don’t focus too much on the birds or the alien fighters, but stay aware of their position.

The mothership is housing and protecting what is known as the queen alien. Without the motherships barrier, she is completely vulnerable. For this reason, it is imperative that you shoot the underside of the ship as quickly as possible. The sooner that you are able to defeat the queen alien, the faster this boss will be eliminated.

Beyond Stage 5
After completing the first five boards, the game will continue, starting with level one. The boards will be more difficult, but the patterns and enemies will be the same.

Hints and Tips
- Always go after the enemies that are closest to you first. Not only are they easier to shoot, they also yield the highest point values.

- Shoot multiple enemies, when possible. Although there is no real multiplier bonus, you will get more points for shooting your foes in succession.


We hope you enjoyed the video and the information shared on this classic arcade game.

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