I was disappointed with the game. While it seems to have been done well and polished, Minter picked the wrong vision for the game. As a result of that, the game, in my opinion was messed up. It seemed to painfully miss the mark. On this, I speak of the 2000 mode of the cart. The other two are good, but I did pick up a decent copy of Defender on the NES for $2 used. The game will rest on how well the 2000 mode is.
It also seems to have been overly inspired by Tempest 2000. The bonus round in it is borrowed from Tempest 2000. The way your ship is powered up is also like Tempest 2000 (you go thru a sequence of powerups). It also has a "surreal" feel to it that is like that found in Tempest 2000 (the graphics and music), which worked real well there, but don't for Defender. Also, slowdown did show up in the game, which was disappointing.
Aiming was very hard in the game. It is more like collect powerups, keep scrolling in one direction and keep firing and hope you don't kill a human. It gets worse the more humans you pick up because the more shots you send across the screen and the greater chance you have of hitting innocent humans being picked up.In addition, the screen scrolling up and down, in addition to right and left hurts in aiming and knowing what is going on. When I played it, I ended up looking at the radar 90+% of the time.
The difficulty level of the game is also weird. What I mean is that one second it is a cake walk, the next you do badly. Once you get a clue on how to play it, you can breeze through levels. You quickly rack up lives. Then, all of a sudden, I ended up losing 3 or four lives in a row, before I the easyness returned.
All told, I was disappointed by the cart. I returned it the next day and picked up Command and Conquer for the PC instead. Defender 2000 wasn't worth the $60 I paid for it. It does have a real good version of the original Defender in it. If you don't mind paying $60 to have a real good version of Defender, feel free to pick it up. Disappointed is the word for the cart, it could have been something great.
Side note: A really good update of Defender was an arcade game Midway released in the early 1990s called "Strike Force". I wished Minter had seen this title and it had a greater influence on his making of Defender 2000.
-Richard (email: email@example.com)