Catalogue of Arcade Emulation Software - the Absolute Reference

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Joust (Solid Red label)

Joust (c) 09/1982 Williams.

The player took the role of a knight with a lance, mounted on a flying ostrich or stork, battling waves of computer-controlled enemy knights. The enemy knights were of three different speed and agility levels and were mounted on giant vultures. The game screen was static; its only features were five platforms hanging in mid-air (some wrapping around the screen), the ground, and a pit of lava below. The game's incredibly simple controls were a factor in its wide appeal. A joystick moved left and right, and a 'Flap' button flapped the mount's wings once. Pressing 'Flap' in rapid succession would cause a gain in altitude until gravity dragged the player downward.


* The upright version of Joust was a dedicated cabinet. It is similar in shape to other Williams games from that era, but it is not identical to them. The cabinet is largely black with no painted art on the front of the machine. But it does have sideart, in this case a four color painted rendering of a knight riding a large bird, while carrying a lance. This design is fairly simple when compared to the sideart on other games, and can be repainted by hand, as long as you are careful. The control panel, monitor bezel, and marquee are all filled with the expected graphics. The marquee especially is a stunning rendition of the Joust logo, and two riders inside the Joust world. Your Joust machine will come with either 2-Way leaf switch joysticks, or 2-Way optical ones. The early cabinets had the optical ones, while the later ones used the leaf stick ones.

* The cocktail version (a cocktail game is a sit down table version), is notable because it was one of the most popular cocktail cabinets for conversion to newer titles. You see most cocktail tables originally held games that had monitors in a vertical orientation, and had a set of player controls on each end of the table. By 1985 no one was really making many vertical games, especially not ones that were one player at a time, and could flip the screen for the second player. But the Joust table was different. It had a horizontal monitor, and the players sat side by side, instead of at opposite ends of the table. This allowed the Joust cocktail cabinet to be used for all sorts of newer games. Electronically the cocktail version of Joust was identical to the upright version. The cocktail cabinet did not feature a lot of art, and was mostly black.

The Joust PCBs are functionally identical to those used in "Defender", "Robotron - 2084", "Bubbles", "Sinistar", and "Stargate", only the ROM chips are different.

Main CPU : M6809 (@ 1 Mhz)

Sound CPU : M6808 (@ 894.75 Khz)

Sound Chips : DAC (@ 894.75 Khz)

Screen orientation : Horizontal

Video resolution : 292 x 240 pixels

Screen refresh : 60.00 Hz

Palette colors : 16

Players : 2

Control : 2-way joystick (LEFT and RIGHT)

Buttons : 1 (FLAP)


The name of this game is a reference for 'Jousting'. Jousting is a competition between two knights on horse-back, wherein each knight tries to knock the other off his mount. Jousting was popular in medieval times.

Joust shares some sounds from "Defender".

James Vollandt holds the official record for this game on 'Marathon' settings with 107,216,700 points.

Don Morlan holds the official record for this game on 'Tournament' settings with 1,002,500 points.

A Joust unit appears in the 1983 movie 'Joysticks'.

A Joust unit appears (multiple times) in a 'Columbo' tv movie episode : (Murder, Smoke and Shadows) directed by James Frawley.

Two Joust machines (including a cocktail) were shown at the 2003 classic arcade games show 'California Extreme' in San Jose, California.


Red version has default high score of 107,212 Pts, Green and Yellow versions are 109,102 Pts. Also, the Green version fixes a well known bug that allowed you to endlessly kill Pterodactyls on certain levels, thus achieving incredible scores.


Knocking an enemy off their buzzard : 500 points

Bounder (Red Enemy) : 500 points

Hunter (Silver/Gray Enemy) : 750 points

Shadow Lord (Blue Enemy) : 1000 points

Getting killed : 50 points

Pterodactyl : 1000 points

Not getting killed during a Survival Wave : 3000 points

(Two player only) Not knocking each other off his mount : 3000 points

Eggs : A progression that goes 250, 500, 750, and 1000 points for the next egg and every egg thereafter. The progression starts again if you get killed or you go to the next wave.


* When you start the game, your man will be at the entry point at the bottom of the playing field. From the other entry points, enemy riders will appear. It will then be up to you to successfully defeat them. Learning to flap your ostrich's wings is the most vital aspect of this game. How fast or slow you flap the wings determines speed and maneuverability. Once you get good, you will be able to glide around and only flap for either altitude or to hit an enemy rider.

* The name of the game is height. Whoever is the higher rider during a joust is the winner. If you and an enemy collide on the same level, the impact will knock you both backwards a little and turn you both around. This can prove to be dangerous if more then one enemy is coming for you since the first one turns you around and the second knocks you off your mount.

* You need to pay particular attention to the screen setup on each wave. Different platforms may collapse forcing you to readjust your strategy accordingly. Using the 20 wave example from Chapter 6.4, I will give you some basic strategies...

a) During the non-pterodactyl waves and platform one is intact, your best bet is to hang out under the right side of platform one. The enemy riders have to drop to get to you. Just a quick press of the flap button should give you altitude over them and the easy kill.

b) If you lose platform one, the next best place is platform five. This forces the enemy riders to rise up to you. If you hover over the left or right edge, you can drop on enemy riders trying to rise up from the areas of platforms two and three. Of course, if any make it to your level, just sit on that entry point. When an enemy rider gets near, rapidly climb and move over toward the enemy to knock them off their mount.

c) When you only have platforms two and three, you will use a modified strategy from the one above. You will hover around the area that platform five was at. This forces the enemy riders to rise up to you, thereby exposing themselves to you dropping down on them.

d) If any of the above have Shadow Lords in them, you will have to be prepared to move around quickly since Shadow Lords are very fast and they tend to bounce off the top of the game screen.

* There are a couple of ways to kill off the pterodactyl during the pterodactyl waves :

1) First of all, you must be facing the pterodactyl in order to kill it.

2) If platform one still exists, then just wait for the pterodactyl and be ready for it to choke itself on your lance. If there are multiple pterodactyls, they usually come from opposite sides so the first one will have you turned around to meet the second one.

3) If platform one is gone, they use platform two to do your prehistoric hunting. If there are multiple pterodactyls, then you will have to move around until the second and subsequent pterodactyls are coming at your rider head on while you sit atop platform two.

4) If you are real good, you can kill the pterodactyls off in the air. You just have to make sure that your lance is evenly aligned with the pterodactyls mouth.

5) Pterodactyls also show up if you take too long on a wave. These can't be killed using the platform method. The only way is either in the air or to lose a man.

6) Some players take out all the enemy riders but one. Then they lead this rider toward the lave so the Lava Troll can grab them. The player then sits and hunts pterodactyls. This is a long process that is definitely loaded with peril.

7) If you get killed before killing the pterodactyl, it is very hard to get in position to kill the pterodactyl since it does involve a sort of rhythm. Also keep in mind that the enemy riders will still be trying to dismount you as you are hunting.

* The Pterodactyl Trick : Classic trick! Doesn't work on upgraded Joust machines, or on "Joust 2". Trick the last jouster on the stage to fly to the lava and get trapped by the lava troll. Then wait in the center of the middle platform. When a pterodactyl comes out, it'll fly right into your lance. The next part takes a fair amount of practice : When the pterodactyl has hit you, your character will be knocked back. Jiggle the joystick so that your mount is back in the middle of the ledge again. Keep doing this. Eventually there'll be a steady stream of pterodactyls and you'll be killing 'em about 2 per second, for 1000 points each. When you make a mistake and get killed, the trapped jouster will escape. On the last board in which this works (47), the jouster will not escape.

* The Lava Troll hazard isn't too major unless you fly too close to the surface of the lava. If you do happen to get grabbed, flap rapidly to escape. It is also easy to hit enemies immobilized by the troll.

* After you hit an enemy rider, they become an egg. After a few seconds, the egg will hatch to the next hardest enemy rider. For example, a Bounder becomes a Hunter; a Hunter becomes a Shadow Lord. After that, it will always be a Shadow Lord. Some players leave one egg and then hover over it. When the enemy buzzard comes to pick up the rider, you knock him off the saddle again and collect the points. Again, the pterodactyl will show up soon to end this fun.

* Make sure you don't knock too many enemy riders off at once or there will be eggs scattered all over the place. This makes it hard to keep the enemy population down to a dull roar.

* Whenever your rider gets killed, he will appear at the entrance point all shimmery. If you let the sequence go, it will take up to five seconds for your rider to appear. During that time, he is immune to all attacks. Your rider will enter at the point there is the least amount of enemies. This is usually the very bottom platform. Keep in mind, the enemies also enter at these points.

* The game does reach a point where there are so many enemy riders running around, they are constantly bumping into one another. This, in effect, creates a wall which is very difficult and hazardous to navigate through. This means you have to split up the enemy

* If you die during a wave, try quickly to get your bearings so that you can get in position to continue depleting the enemy forces.

* The above tips are as valid for the two-player game as they are for the one-player game. In the two-player game, though, you and the other player can cover each other to make it more difficult for the enemy to knock you off your mounts.

* Phantom Energizer : In a two-player game (on a screen just before the middle ledge disappears) clear all opponents except 1. Kill him, leaving the egg in the middle of the bottom platform. Player 1 stands on the bottom energizer while player 2 jumps in the lava. If player 2 appears on the top energizer, then the trick will work. Player 1 then gets the egg. The 'phantom' ledge should remain.


1. Joust (1982)

2. Joust 2 - Survival of the Fittest (1986)


Designed by : John Newcommer (JRN)

Programmed by : Bill Pfutzenreuter (PFZ)

Game art by : Jan Hendricks (JAN)

Others : (KFL), (CWK), Mike Stroll (MRS)


* Consoles :

Atari 2600 (1982)

Colecovision (1983)

Atari 5200 (1983)

Atari XEGS

Atari 7800 (1987)

Nintendo Famicom (1988)

Atari Lynx (1993)

Nintendo Game Boy (1995, "Defender / Joust")

Nintendo Super Famicom (1996, "Williams Arcade's Greatest Hits")

Sega Mega Drive (1996, "Williams Arcade's Greatest Hits")

Sega Saturn (1996, "Williams Arcade's Greatest Hits")

Sony PlayStation (1996, "Williams Arcade's Greatest Hits")

Nintendo Game Boy Color (1998, "Arcade Hits - Defender / Joust")

Nintendo 64 (2000, "Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits Volume I")

Sega Dreamcast (2000, "Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits Vol. 1")

Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2001, "Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits")

Sony PlayStation 2 (2003, "Midway Arcade Treasure")

Nintendo Gamecube (2003, "Midway Arcade Treasure")

Microsoft XBOX (2003, "Midway Arcade Treasure")

Sony PSP (2005, "Midway Arcade Treasures - Extended Play")

Microsoft XBOX 360 (2005, as a downloadable Live Arcade game) : boasts an upgrade in graphics, and a special achievements section, where players are rewarded for different achievements they make in the game, i.e. Wave 5, Wave 10, Flawless, Kill a Pterodactyl... Also has online Versus gameplay and Leaderboards. Contains a setting to turn on or off the AI Pterodactyl bug.

* Computers :

PC [Booter] (1983)

Atari 800 (1983)

Commodore C64 (1984, "Jouste")

Atari ST (1986)

Amstrad CPC (1986)

PC [MS-DOS] (1995, "Williams Arcade Classics")

PC [MS Windows] (1996, "Williams Arcade Classics")

PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (2004, "Midway Arcade Treasure")

* Others :

Palm OS ("Midway Arcade Classic")

Tiger Game.Com ("Arcade Classics")


F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc