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Defender Defender - Japanese Logo - Katakana / Kanji

Defender - Cabinet - Video Game Marquee


Defend the human population from swarms of attacking aliens. Extremely popular even though it was deemed a flop at a 1981 Chicago arcade machine trade show because of its difficulty. The attract mode for the game was programmed in just five hours.

Defender was produced by Williams Electronics, Inc. (1967-1985) in 1981.

Williams Electronics, Inc. (1967-1985) released 215 machines in our database under this trade name, starting in 1959. Williams Electronics, Inc. (1967-1985) was based in United States.

Other machines made by Williams Electronics, Inc. (1967-1985) during the time period Defender was produced include: Blackout, Beatles, The - Custom, Firepower, Black Knight, Algar, Barracora, Pharaoh, Cyclone (1981), Jungle Lord, and Furie


Name Defender
Developer Williams Electronics, Inc. (1967-1985) (United States)
Year 1981
Type Videogame
KLOV/MOG # 7547
Class Wide Release
Genre Shooter
  • Orientation: Horizontal
Conversion Class Williams
Game Specific Defender Pinout
# Simultaneous Players 1
# Maximum Players 2
Game Play Alternating
Control Panel Layout Single Player
  • Joystick: 2-way (up, down)
  • Buttons: 5 - Fire-Thrust-Reverse-Hyperspace-Smart Bomb
Sound Amplified Mono (one channel)
Cabinet Styles
  • Cocktail
  • Upright/Standard
Control Panel Defender Control Panel Image
PCB Defender PCB Image

Game Introduction

Your mission, as captain of the Defender, is to protect the humanoids stranded on the planet from their alien abductors. The scanner will help you determine a strategy to shoot down the alien ships before they reach the humanoids. If you destroy the aliens after they have captured their prey, you must return the humanoids to the safety of the planet or they will fall to their death. If an alien carries its victim out of your range, the humanoid will mutate, join the alien force, and take to assault with deadly vengeance!

The challenge becomes ever more intense as the action progresses. Fighter ships Bombers and mines will test your skills. A direct hit will destroy the mother ship Pods but smash it into a swarming mass of mini-ships Swarmers which then must be wiped out! If you do not act quickly, the cosmic Baiter will attack! Use your two escape options only if all else fails! Your "Smart Bomb" power is limited and "Hyperspace" puts you into an unknown space warp. But beware! If all the humanoids are abducted, the entire planet will explode in a blinding flash!

Game Play


  1. Avoid using hyperspace unless you are about to die. Fighting off attacks, regardless of the number of enemies will make you a better Defender player.
  2. Baiters can usually be overcome by hitting the reverse button twice quickly. They will fly past you and be in range for your fire power. Do NOT try to outrun them as Baiters are faster than your ship.
  3. Swarmers are easy to defeat. You can hit reverse as soon as they fly past you and fly behind them. They cannot shoot backwards so you can blast away at will.
  4. At higher levels you will need to play God and even sacrifice some humanoids by killing them yourself to preserve the rest of the planet's population. The planet is too large for you protect and you are sparing the humanoids from a fate worst than death mutation. Do not worry, these humanoids reproduce quickly and overpopulation has always been a constant problem. The planet will be fully populated at the start of every fifth attack wave configurable.

Defender KLOV/IAM 5 Point User Score: 4.10 (33 votes)

Fun Factor: 4.06

Overall Like 4.25
Fun (Social) 3.33
Fun (Solo) 4.25
Collector Desire 4.27

Technical Rating: 4.15

Gameplay 4.03
Graphics 4.00
Originality 4.58
Sound/Music 3.94

Personal Impressions and Technical Impressions each account for half of the total score. Within the Personal Impressions category, Like carries a little more weight than the other factors.

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More pictures


This game shared the title of Highest Grossing Video Game of All Time along with PacMan. To date it has earned more than one billion dollars.

According to Midway, the geneology of the games is as follows: Defender, Stargate, Robotron: 2084, Blaster.

This game was included in the Williams Arcades Greatest Hits game for PCs and the PlayStation game console. The release also included Stargate as Defender II, Bubbles, Joust, Sinistar and Robotron: 2084.

Cabinet Information

The machine shown at the bottom of the page with the silver coin door is the classic cabinet that the majority of US players have seen, although a later version had a black coin door. The machine at the top with the blue door, however, is believed to be a reproduction of an early production model that contains side art very much inspired by the film Star Wars. Perhaps Williams changed the production side art designs upon advice from legal counsel. This original prototype machine is pictured on early Williams Defender flyers. Oddly enough, a number of these machines have been seen in various countries throughout Europe.


This is one of many games that has been bootlegged or copied. Some of these versions have added improvements to the game but others are direct copies. Examples of these games are Mayday, Defence Command, Defense Command and Mirage.

Defender was licensed to Taito for Japanese manufacture and distribution.

VAPS Arcade/Coin-Op Defender Census

There are 14,769 members of the Video Arcade Preservation Society / Vintage Arcade Preservation Society, 9,481 whom participate in our arcade census project of games owned, wanted, or for sale. Census data currently includes 164,607 machines (6,903 unique titles).

Very Common - There are 866 known instances of this machine owned by Defender collectors who are active members. Of these, 798 of them are original dedicated machines. 12 of them are conversions in which game circuit boards (and possibly cabinet graphics) have been placed in (and on) another game cabinet. 53 of them are only circuit boards which a collector could put into a generic case if desired.

For Sale - There are 32 active VAPS members with a Defender machines for sale. There are 3 active VAPS members with a Defender circuit boards for sale.

Wanted - Very Popular - There are 39 active VAPS members currently looking for Defender. There is one active VAPS member looking for a Defender circuit board set.

This game ranks a 95 on a scale out of 100 (100 = most often seen, 1=least common) in popularity based on census ownership records.

This game ranks a 55 on a scale out of 100 (100 = most often seen, 1=least common) in popularity based on census want list records.

Rarity and Popularity independently are not necessarily indications of value. [More Information]



All the game settings are configured in software on the screen. This is the Williams way of doing things. In Defender, they used the rudimentary system used on their pinball machines no notations except in the manual. After Defender made it, they started clearly labeling the onscreen adjustment menus. The boardsets use a 6809 processor for game play and a 6800 for sound on a separate board.


  1. Defender
  2. Stargate
  3. Strike Force


Foto-Finder® (Books)

  1. The Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games Kurtz (ISBN 0764319256) Page: 96; Color photo Price guide: No
  2. Arcade Fever Sellers (ISBN 0762409371) Page: 50; Color photo
  3. Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games Kurtz (ISBN 0764319256) Page: 96; Color photo

Additional References (logged in members often see more)

  1. 3D Model (External): Prototype
  2. 3D Model (External): Upright

See the game at:

This game is available at the following public arcades, bars or museums:

Name Location State Country Details Check-ins
Level One Bar + Arcade 130 Hutchinson Ave, Columbus Ohio United States 0
The Very Best Arcade (The Very Best Weiner Shop) 252 E High St, Pottstown Pennsylvania United States Arcade (Classic Videogame)
Status: Verified

Children: Allowed
Focus: Classic Games
Food: Yes
Alcohol: No
Payment Method: Coins
Upstate Pinball & Arcade Museum 109A West Trade St, Simpsonville South Carolina United States Arcade (Classic Videogame)
Children: Allowed
Focus: Classic Games
Food: No
Alcohol: No
Payment Method: Admission Charge

eBay Listings

Click to search eBay for Defender Videogame machines and related items.

Click to search eBay for Williams Electronics, Inc. (1967-1985) for machines and parts.

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Joust / Defender Control Panel

Auction ends in: 4 weeks, 1 day


Working Williams Defender Game 3 Piece Pcb Boardset

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Williams Defender Full PCB Set With Some Of The Wiring Harness

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DEFENDER 1982 Series Slurpee Game Video/Arcade Cup 7 Eleven

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Defender Arcade Marquee/Sign (26" x 8")

Auction ends in: 1 week, 4 days


Auction Results

Logged in members can see all related auctions.

Auctions Recap

Year Count Median $ Average $
2015 3 517.50 555.83
2016 4 402.50 503.13
2017 2 441.75 441.75
2018 8 590.00 700.63
All Years 17 590.00 598.15


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