Friday, January 13, 2012

Game of the Day - Juno First

If you've read the blog before, you know that the point of the Games of the Day is to introduce fun, great games to those who may not have seen or played them before.  It would be stupid to have the game of the day be Galaga or Pac-Man, because everyone knows them.  So, hopefully there is a little obscurity that shrouds any GOTD, or at least I'm introducing it to a different generation of players who missed it in the arcades.

That's why Juno First (Konami,1983) has not been a GOTD before now.  My impression is that it is widely known, but what games anyone knows can be affected greatly by their age, where they play games, what genres they like, how much they are into MAME, what their friends play, etc.  So, it turns out, Juno First is not as popular or well-known as I thought - and I want to make sure everyone has a chance to check it out.

Juno First is a simple old-school vertical shooter in the vein of Space Invaders and Galaxian.  With one button, you shoot aliens coming at you down the screen, the other button is a warp that allows you to dematerialize and then rematerialize elsewhere to avoid getting hit.  You have a joystick that moves you in all directions to complete the control set.

The special thing about Juno First is the 3D illusion of the grid it projects that you play on.  Your shots don't actually go straight up the screen, they shoot towards the horizon (roughly following the grid lines), culminating at the vanishing point where the aliens first appear.  The grid also moves with you when you move the joystick (fly) around the screen.  Pull left or right and watch the grid flow with you, push forward and you move up the grid (as it slides back), pull back and you back up as the grid flows out in front of you - slowing the approach of aliens and their missiles.  This moving around and quasi-3D grid effect is what makes Juno First very enjoyable to play. And it doesn't give me Ecco-the-Dolphin-Syndrome!

It also a few other tricks up its sleeve (more than most old school shooters)...

1. If you shoot an asteroid that releases a floating dudestronaut, pick him up and the aliens stop shooting for a while.
2.  The aliens get more hostile with time, so make sure you kill them as fast as possible (no one likes a hostile alien)
3.  Speaking of speed, you have 99 seconds to complete each wave and more importantly, you get a bonus based on how fast you complete it.
4.  There's a kind of radar at the top of the screen showing where the enemies are before they hit the grid.  It is helpful, as you get to know where they are starting from so you can suss out your angle when they begin their attack.

If you haven't played Juno First, go check it out, it is easy to fall in love with.


  1. My local arcade when I was a kid had the Gottleib version of this game and I loved it. After you pick up the astronaut, not only do the enemies stop shooting but while they stop and the sound is going and screen is flashing, any enemies you kill are worth big points that increase with each ship you destroy. It's the key to really big points as the point value continues to increase with each wave you play (it may reset back to 1000 when you die I believe).

  2. Another tip for this game is that the flames of your ship's forward or retro rockets can also kill aliens if you get close enough.