Top Gun (1986 video game)

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Top Gun
Top Gun computer game cover.jpg
Developer(s)Ocean Software
Publisher(s)Ocean Software
Thunder Mountain (U.S.)
SeriesTop Gun
Platform(s)Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum
Genre(s)Combat flight simulation
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Top Gun is a 1986 combat flight simulation game based on the film of the same name. It was developed and published by British company Ocean Software, and was released for several computer platforms. In the United Kingdom, it was released for Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum in December 1986.[1][2][3] The following year, it was released for Atari ST.[4] In the United States, it was published by Thunder Mountain.[5] In 1989, it was published by The Hit Squad as a budget re-release for ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64.[6][7]


Top Gun is a combat flight simulation game. The game is viewed with two vertical split screens, one for the player's fighter plane and one for an enemy plane. Both screens are viewed from within the cockpit. On each level, the player faces off against three enemy planes, one at a time. The player advances to the next level after defeating the three planes. The player can use a machine gun and missiles against enemies, who become more difficult to defeat as the game progresses. The machine gun is prone to overheating if used continually, and missiles must be locked on to a target for three seconds before they can be launched. Enemy planes also have missiles, and a single missile is fatal to both the player and the enemy plane. The player can drop a flare to distract an incoming enemy missile. An instrument panel gives the player information such as altitude, speed, and machine gun temperature.[6][8][9][10][11]

Top Gun includes a two-player mode in which both players receive three planes. Both players start with a plane each and use it in combat against the other player. If a plane is destroyed, the player uses another one. A player loses the game if all three planes are destroyed by the other player.[6][8][9][10][11]


Top Gun was a commercial hit, with sales above 500,000 units by 1989. At the time, Joyce Worley of Video Games & Computer Entertainment noted that the game was "still racking up the numbers".[17]

Reviewers for Crash were surprised by how good the game was, and they offered particular praise for the two-player mode.[6] Paul Boughton of Computer and Video Games described the game as "a pretty neat combination of flight simulation mixed with sky high duelling. With the Top Gun name it's a winner."[18] Mike Roberts of Computer Gamer stated that Top Gun and Ace were the best flight games he had ever played up to that point.[10] John Cook of Popular Computing Weekly concluded that the game was not a bad effort, and recommended it for people wanting a "minimalist" two-player air combat game.[9] Benn Dunnington of .info called the game a "simple but amusing shoot 'em up."[5] John Gilbert of Sinclair User stated that the game lacked depth and concluded, "It's difficult to classify Top Gun. It doesn't make it as a jet simulation. On the other hand it's not an arcade game either – there's not enough action. In fact it's pretty dull all round."[8]

Gilbert criticized the graphics, describing them as "almost non-existent." He wrote, "Combat conveniently takes place at night, giving Ocean an excuse for black background on both cockpit views".[8] Phil South of Your Sinclair praised the graphics and called the game "lots of fun."[13] Roberts, reviewing the CPC version, stated that the graphics "are fairly crude but completely in keeping with the style of the game." Roberts stated that his only criticism of the game was that it "could be a little more realistic in controlling the plane," writing, "I found it very difficult to fly inverted loops, and the self centering of the joystick was a bit of a bind."[10] Cook, also reviewing the CPC version, stated that the keyboard controls in the two-player mode "were badly laid out but it still produced fair enough entertainment."[9] Boughton considered the gameplay enjoyable and the controls simple to use, stating that there "are no huge manuals to digest, hundreds of controls to master or hundreds of failed attempts to take off."[18]

Roberts stated that the instrument panel may "sound a bit cluttered, but it is very easy to read." He also stated that the vertical split screen "works extremely well."[10] Tony Hetherington of ZX Computing also found the instrument panel easy to read, and stated that the split screen displays "worked exceptionally well and made the game a lot easier than the normal horizontal display".[11]

Nick Roberts reviewed the ZX Spectrum re-release for Crash. He described the monochrome graphics as "boring white on black" and described the sound as "just a blip when you fire at another plane." Roberts stated that the game was better with two players, and concluded, "Top Gun is definitely not for fans of the film, only flight simulator fanatics may find some fun roaming around an empty sky."[12] Zzap!64, reviewing the Commodore 64 re-release, called the gameplay simple and stated that the graphics "lack the necessary smoothness to compensate," concluding, "At a budget price it's fun for a while, but lastability is low."[7]


  1. ^ "New Releases". Popular Computing Weekly. United Kingdom. 18 December 1986. pp. 90, 93.
  2. ^ "Front Lines". Your Sinclair. No. 12. United Kingdom. December 1986. p. 4. New from Ocean – the Spectrum version of Top Gun.
  3. ^ "Ocean versucht sich ein weiteres Mal an der "Versoftung" eines Filmes (nach Highlander)". Aktueller Software Markt (in German). Germany. February 1987. p. 52.
  4. ^ "Games Update". Atari ST User. United Kingdom. April 1987. p. 6.
  5. ^ a b c Dunnington, Benn (November 1987). "Top Gun". .info. United States. pp. 4, 20–21.
  6. ^ a b c d e Stone, Ben; Mike, Dunn; Sumner, Paul (February 1987). "Top Gun". Crash. United Kingdom. pp. 14, 20–21.
  7. ^ a b c "Top Gun". Zzap!64. United Kingdom. December 1989. p. 35.
  8. ^ a b c d e Gilbert, John (February 1987). "Top Gun". Sinclair User. United Kingdom. pp. 4, 25.
  9. ^ a b c d e Cook, John (18 December 1986). "Going Top Gun from the film". Popular Computing Weekly. United Kingdom. p. 26.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, Mike (February 1987). "Top Gun". Computer Gamer. United Kingdom. p. 15.
  11. ^ a b c Hetherington, Tony (April 1987). "Top Gun". ZX Computing. United Kingdom. p. 53.
  12. ^ a b Roberts, Nick (November 1989). "Budget". Crash. United Kingdom. p. 48.
  13. ^ a b South, Phil (March 1987). "Top Gun". Your Sinclair. United Kingdom. pp. 21, 70.
  14. ^ Andersson, Kalle (June 1987). "Top Gun". Datormagazin. Sweden. p. 9.
  15. ^ Lavoisard, Stephane (March 1988). "Top Gun". Génération 4 (in French). France. pp. 3, 55.
  16. ^ "Top Gun". Happy Computer (in German). Germany. March 1987. p. 84.
  17. ^ Worley, Joyce (December 1989). "Mega Hits: The Best of the Best". Video Games & Computer Entertainment: 130–132, 137, 138.
  18. ^ a b Boughton, Paul (February 1987). "Top Gun". Computer and Video Games. United Kingdom. pp. 14, 18–19.

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