Joust is an arcade game developed by Williams Electronics in 1982. It popularized the concept of two-player cooperative gameplay by being more successful at it than its predecessors. The player uses a button and joystick to control a knight riding a flying ostrich. The objective is to progress through levels by defeating waves of enemy knights riding buzzards.
Joust is a platforming game where the player controls a yellow knight riding a flying ostrich from a third-person perspective. The player navigates the protagonist around the game world, which consists of rock platforms floating above a flat island surrounded by lava, via two-way joystick and a button. Home console versions, however, use game controllers with directional pads and analog sticks. The joystick controls the horizontal direction that the knight travels, while pressing the button makes the ostrich flap its wings. The rate at which the player repeatedly presses the button causes the ostrich to fly upward, hover, or slowly descend. When traveling off the screen to either side, the player will continue its path reappearing from the opposite side.
The objective is to defeat groups of enemy knights riding buzzards that populate each level, referred to as a “wave”. Upon completing a wave, a subsequent, more challenging one will begin. Players pilot the knight to collide with enemies. The higher of two jousting lances is the winner, whereas a collision of equal height repels the characters apart. A defeated enemy will turn into an egg that falls toward the bottom of the screen, which a player can collect for points. If the player does not collect the egg, it will hatch into a new knight that gains a new mount and must be defeated again. The game features three type of enemy knights—Bounder, Hunter, and Shadow Lord—that are separate colors and are worth different amounts of points. A pterodactyl will appear after a predetermined time frame to hunt the hero. The disembodied hand of an indestructible Lava Troll will grab any character flying too low over the lava and pull them into the lava. A second player can join the game, controlling a blue knight on a stork. The two players cooperatively complete the waves, optionally attacking each other.