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This article is about the 1982 arcade game. For the article on the medieval spectacle with knights mounted on horses, see Jousting.

Joust is a classic arcade game by Williams that was produced in 1982.


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.


Each wave began with enemy knights appearing on the screen at one of four "spawn points." To destroy an enemy knight, the player had to collide with the knight while his lance was vertically higher than the enemy knight's lance. After destroying an enemy knight, a giant egg would appear and fall, bouncing on the ground. The player had to go touch (and thus destroy) the egg, gaining additional points; if this act took too long, the egg would hatch and another, more powerful enemy knight would appear and continue the fight against the player.

A wave was cleared when the player would destroy all enemy knights and eggs. If too much time elapsed on a particular wave before this occurred, the dreaded "Unbeatable? Pterodactyl" would appear from one side of the screen and fly around until it collided with the player, destroying him; until the player finished the wave; or until the player destroyed the pterodactyl by hitting it directly in the mouth with his lance, a difficult task.

Two players could play Joust, and each player would get points for destroying the enemy knights, and also for destroying his human opponent. Cooperative play was possible by agreement between the players, but they would still kill each other if they were to collide.

A lava troll inhabited the lava pit at the bottom of the screen; if any player or enemy knight flew too close to the lava, the troll's hand would emerge and tug the mount downward toward the lava. Players could get out of the troll's grip by hammering on the "Flap" button.


Early ROM revisions of the game included an exploit by which a skilled player could accumulate an infinite number of points on certain waves, with low risk. The player would attempt to maneuver one of the enemy knights too close to the lava, such that the lava troll would grip it—not low enough to the lava so the troll would succeed in pulling it in, and not high enough so the enemy knight could escape the troll's grip. By doing so, the knight could never attack the player and distract him from performing the exploit, and the wave would also never end. Then the player would stand in the platform in the center of the screen. The pterodactyl would appear from one side below the player and charge right at him; if the player simply stood in the middle of the platform, facing the pterodactyl, the player's lance would strike the pterodactyl in the mouth, killing it. A new pterodactyl would immediately appear from the other side of the screen, and could be killed in the same manner. This could be repeated indefinitely.


Game balance was superb and Joust is still fondly remembered by classic gamers everywhere. It has been ported to many game consoles. The game is available on many of today's console and computer platforms, and also on some web sites, by means of emulators.

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