Chris Hanks


Sinistar is a vertically-oriented video arcade game released by Williams Electronics, Inc. in 1983. Sinistar's fun and ultra-intense gameplay has made it a cult favorite among classic video game players and collectors. In 1996, Sinistar and several other Williams games were introduced to a whole new generation, when "Williams Arcade Classics" was released for the Sony Playstation and IBM PC.


Sinistar was released in an upright wood cabinet, as well as an awesome sit-in cockpit cabinet. The cockpit cabinet uses two separate sound boards to achieve true stereo sound. The Sinistar instruction manual mentions a "mini"-upright cabinet, but is not mentioned in the sales flyer, nor has one been reported on RGVAC ( A cocktail version is also claimed to exist, but this has not been confirmed.


The object of the game is to "mine" and capture SINISITE crystals to create SINIBOMBS. These bombs are then used to destroy the SINISTAR after it has been assembled piece-by-piece by the WORKER ships.

The player uses a small small scanner at the top of the screen to navigate through deep space. The player attempts to mine sinisite crystals by shooting at small planetoids. Once gathered, the crystals become sinibombs which are the only weapon capable of defeating the Sinistar. Only 20 sinibombs may be collected at one time, however they may be stocked for use in the next level if they are not all used to defeat the Sinistar. At the higher levels the gameplay becomes frenetic because it is nearly impossible to mine enough crystals before the new Sinistar is created.

While mining crystals, the space ship encounters Worker ships from the planet Sporg. These red ships cannot destroy the player's spaceship, however they will steal sinisite crystals, which are then used to create the ominous SINISTAR. The spaceship must also contend with WARRIOR ships. These aggressive Workers have laser weapons which can destroy the spaceship.

The player advances to the next zone by destroying the Sinistar. The four zones are WORKER, WARRIOR, PLANETOID and VOID. After the fourth zone, the player returns to the Worker zone and gameplay becomes even more difficult.

SINISTAR speaks! One of the unique features of the game is the voice of the SINISTAR. Sinistar use a digitized voice to create some of the intense mood of the game. The Sinistar says several phrases; including "BEWARE, I LIVE!" as he comes to life. During the chase, he taunts the player with more phrases such as; "RUN, RUN, RUN!", "BEWARE COWARD!" "RUN COWARD" "I AM SINISTAR", and "I HUNGER". When the Sinistar is hit by a Sinibomb, he loses one of his pieces and lets loose with a blood curdling "RAAAAAAAAARGH!".


Planetoids     -     5 points
Worker - 150 points
Crystals - 200 points
Warrior - 500 points
Sinistar - 15000 points (variable?)


Sinistar uses a unique 49-way optical-sensing joystick. It senses 6 separate speeds in 8 directions (plus the center-off position). This unique control gives the player the ability to change directions and speed quickly and accurately.

Other Resources

Noah Falstein was the Sinistar project leader at Williams. There is informative write-up on the development of the game on E-Glide's SINISTAR web page:

There is also another web page dedicated to Sinistar maintained by Denis Hruza at:

Also check out Sean Riddle's Williams Arcade Game page. It contains a lot of technical information on Williams games, including instructions on how to create your own multi-game cabinet.


Although it was never officially released to retail outlets, there is a Sinistar prototype cartridge for the Atari 2600 home video game system.

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