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Review: Yars' Revenge (2600)

Posted by Rob Maerz on February 1, 2014 at 12:30 AM

A programmer at Atari was asked to develop a port of Star Castle for the Atari 2600. He said it couldn’t be done “but, here’s Yars’ Revenge.”


You are Yar (Ray spelled backwards – as in Ray Kassar), a fly that must destroy the Qotile (the equivalent of the cannon in Star Castle) that lies behind an energy shield on the right side of the screen. You must chip away at the cells in the energy shield by shooting them or nibbling away at them. All the while you are being chased by the guided destroyer missile (equivalent to the sparks in Star Castle) in your attempt to tunnel a path through the shield. Once you have a path through the energy shield, you can then launch your Zorlon cannon from the left side of the screen to destroy the Qotile on the right.


In the middle of the playfield is the neutral zone where you are invincible to the destroyer missile but not to the swirls blasted off by the Qotile. Additionally, you cannot fire from within the neutral zone.


As you kill off more Qotiles, the destroyer missile increases its pace and Qotile’s swirls are launched more frequently. As you advance further in the game, there will be a couple of boards sans neutral zone.


None of this stuff makes sense but that’s the imagination that makes games from the classic era great! This is definitive Atari 2600 of the early 80s.


Graphically, Yar looks pretty good as a cosmic fly and the Qotile looks like some kind of demonic cannon that constantly changes hues. Machine code was used as graphic representation of the neutral zone and the destruction of the Qotile. All this action is set to the sounds of the Qotile swirls, Zorlon cannons and an insect drone as the backdrop.


From a game play standpoint, thisis one of the finest titles in the 2600 library. It’s one of the few moments in Atari’s history where they made the right decision in that they released a title that was influenced by an arcade port instead of releasing a blocky flickerfest masked inside seductive box art and calling it Star Castle.


Grade: A+



Categories: Reviews

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