Learn about Joust!

Another popular classic game during the Golden Age of Arcade Games was called “Joust”. Williams Electronics, the same company that brought you Defender, created Joust as a way to combat the ‘space’ theme that many games were using at the time. Have you ever played the game? If so, check out the history behind the game.


For those of you who were not fortunate enough to experience Joust, the game was played as such. Gamers used buttons and a joystick to control their knight, who was riding a flying ostrich. Yes, an ostrich. The goal of the game was to defeat the enemy knights who were riding buzzards.

By using the available platforms, gamers would collide their knight with the enemies, thus replicating the jousting action. If you were higher than the enemy, you would defeat them! In turn, they would transform into eggs that would fall to the ground for you to collect. Different types of enemy knights are worth different amounts of points.

In addition, if desired, a second player could join the game! The second player controlled the blue knight who rode a stork. Simultaneously, the two players could work together to defeat the many enemy knights.

How was Joust created?

Following the rapid and widespread success of Defender, Williams Electronics brought in new staff to create the next big game for the company. John Newcomer left his job as a toymaker to join Williams Electronics. Upon employment, he was tasked with coming up with video game concepts – which is when Joust was born. Newcomer’s idea for Joust was feasible with the current hardware and technology options during the 1980s.

The concept to use a flying bird inspired much of the controls and game operation. Although the first option was to use an eagle that would run, Newcomer thought that a flying ostrich would be more believable to the gamer. In addition, a bird was more majestic and relevant with the current pop culture trends of science fiction.

The Bugs

Joust was known for two gameplay bugs. The first bug was known as the “belly flop”, which allowed gamers to force their bird (ostrich or stork) through two very close platforms and therefore sneak up on their opponent. This bug was caught while in development, but Williams Electronics elected to keep it.

The second bug was not detected until Joust was already on the market. This particular bug allowed the pterodactyl to be defeated alarmingly easily. Because the game was already on the market, Williams shipped new ROMs for the arcade cabinets to arcade owners that complained of the defect.

Want to find and play Joust to relive those old memories? Come to one of our upcoming arcade game auctions. You never know what games you’ll find!