Joust, an action game developed by Williams Electronics, was first released in arcades in 1982 and later published by Atari under the Atarisoft label for Atari 2600 in 1983. Joust popularized the concept of two-player cooperative video games due to its success and polished implementation.
In Joust, the player controls a yellow knight riding a flying ostrich, navigating the game world consisting of rock platforms floating above a flat island surrounded by lava. The player uses a two-way joystick to control the knight’s horizontal movement and a button to flap the ostrich’s wings, which allows the ostrich to fly upward, hover, or slowly descend. The screen wraps around, meaning moving off the left or right edges brings the character to the other side.
The objective is to defeat groups of enemy knights riding buzzards in each wave. As waves are completed, more challenging ones begin. Players collide with enemies to defeat them, with the higher jousting lance determining the winner. A defeated enemy turns into a falling egg, which can be collected for points. If not collected, the egg hatches into a knight that gains a new mount and must be defeated again, unless the egg falls into the lava and is destroyed.
There are three types of enemy knights—Bounder, Hunter, and Shadow Lord—each with different colors and point values. A pterodactyl appears after a predetermined time frame to hunt the hero, and an indestructible Lava Troll’s hand grabs any character flying too low, pulling them into the lava.
In a two-player game, the second player controls a blue knight on a stork. The two players cooperatively complete the waves, with the option to attack each other.