Major Havoc (or The Adventures of Major Havoc) is an upright cabinet vector-based arcade game made by Atari in 1983. Developed by Owen Rubin with some levels designed and tuned by Mark Cerny, who joined the development team approximately a year into the game’s development.
The game was initially released as a dedicated cabinet in 1983 and then one year later as a conversion kit for older vector arcade games like Tempest.
Dedicated versions of the game used a roller control for left-right movement, while conversion kits used their native controller hardware, such as the Tempest rotary spinner knob.
The game also featured a “warp system” that allowed the player to skip levels and gain bonus points. The warps were activated by a Breakout clone at the bottom-right of the screen, where there would be two- or three-digit numbers. The player would have to move the joystick until the number matched the number required to warp. For example, the red warp required the number 23, so the player would move the joystick to the right or left until the first digit matched 2, then the player would click the fire button, the Breakout ball would start moving, so the player would have to play the breakout while moving the joystick to the 3 at the same time. When the player finally entered the warp code, the player would be transported to a higher level.
Extra lives were earned not only by achieving a certain number of points, but also by completing the Breakout mini-game.
According to the story provided by the game’s original cabinet, long ago the evil Vaxxian Empire overran the galaxy. Most of humanity was enslaved and abducted to the Vaxxian homeworld. A few humans, who were scientists, managed to escape. At the current moment (according to the timeline of the game), the Empire has since collapsed. However, numerous Vaxxian space stations, all blindly controlled and defended by robots, still remain in the galaxy, mindlessly pursuing their original orders.
The small band of scientists who initially escaped managed to clone the great human hero Major Havoc, in order to fly his Catastrofighter through a wormhole in space, so that he may lead a clone army against the dreaded Vaxxian robots, and to liberate the remnants of humanity by destroying the enemy reactors. The player controls Major Havoc, the leader of this very band of clones.