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For the online version of Space Paranoids, go to: Space Paranoids Online.

Space Paranoids poster.

Space Paranoids was an 1981 arcade game created by ENCOM software engineer Kevin Flynn. It was one of the very first arcade games to feature 3D graphics and soon became one of the most successful video games ever conceived.


In 1981, Kevin Flynn, one of ENCOM's brightest young software engineers, set up his own private memory file at his computer terminal. He began to write a program for a video game called "Space Paranoids" and other video games such as Matrix Blaster, Vice Squad, and Light Cycles. However, Flynn's overtime work and bragging drew the unwanted attention of another software engineer: Ed Dillinger. One day, Flynn went to his terminal to read up his file for Space Paranoids, but the file had gone missing. Three months later, Ed Dillinger presented ENCOM with five video games that he claimed to have invented: Space Paranoids, Light Cycles, Vice Squad, Astro-Gunner, Matrix Blaster. After Flynn tried to convince the Board Of Directors that Dillinger stole his work, they fired Flynn and promoted Dillinger to Executive Vice President, and later Senior Executive.

In 1982, Flynn enlisted the help of Alan Bradley and Lora Baines to break into ENCOM in search of proof of Dillinger's crimes. He successfully breached the Digitization Lab and began his search, only to be detected by the Master Control Program and transported to ENCOM's Grid. There, he helped Tron escape from the MCP and assisted his fight against its forces. Ultimately, Flynn jumped inside the MCP to help Tron insert his Identity Disc. While inside, Flynn found the missing Space Paranoids file deep within the MCP's memory.


In the arcade version of the game, the controls are a trackball (for aiming) and a joystick for movement. There are also ammunition recharge stations. The object of the game is to go through the levels and to achieve as many points as possible by destroying Recognizers. The total number of points a person can achieve is 999,000 pts, a record currently held by the gamer, FLN.

How To Play Space Paranoids[]

  • Use joystick to move.
  • Use joystick trigger to fire.
  • Use trackball to aim.
  • (PC only) use spacebar to center.
  • Eliminate all recognizers. (3 shots to destroy.)
  • Eliminate all tanks. (2 shots to destroy.)
  • Eliminate all turrets. (1 shot to destroy.)
  • Do not get caught directly below the recognizers. They will stop you where you are, and prevent you from moving.
  • Stand on yellow charging stations to load ammo. Each station yields 5 shots per minute.
  • Use tank icon to help with orientation.


  • A real-life version of the Space Paranoids arcade game was playable at the Flynn's Arcade 2009 reopening in San Diego, CA.
  • The game was playable online as a part of the Flynn Lives ARG.
  • Two arcade cabinets are playable at the Flynn's Arcade at Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim, CA during elecTRONica.

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