Yars Revenge Atari
Yars Revenge was a fun game back in the 1980s, and if you were playing it back then, you still might play it again today. To be honest, it hasn't aged very well, and seeing as it's a great Atari 2600 title, it's a stark contrast to games that came out in the last year, let alone the last 30 years. Atari announced it was bringing the franchise back. After somehow seeing it butchered on one of the handhelds a few years back in a simple port, I was pessimistic about this title. The result is a mixed bag, but for me it's a satisfying if not sometimes frustrating bag.
What they've done to the game is take it from a horizontal shoot-and-run title to an on-rails shooter like Panzer Dragoon. Yars Revenge takes the simple gameplay of the Dragoon games and adds several different buttons to use to fire your primary and special weapons, and the two mushroom sticks operate the movement of the player as well as your aim. The stick layout sometimes led me to get confused which way I was going, and the number of different buttons for firing weapons got a bit confusing and convoluted. But I did get used to it, and it's definitely the main drawback of the title. If you demo it and can't control it or figure it out, you might want to skip this one.
The gameplay is pretty close to the Dragoon source, and the game plays smooth, aside from a hiccup or two and the long load times. Make that the really long load times. Your Yar Soldier is designed and animated well, with wings (four of them) moving in pairs according to the direction of flight. Your character is a female, like it was in the original, but gamers seem to be a bit confused at this one, as she is referred to as a "he" in many instances. She talks in gibberish static, similar to the Gar Yarbler, her teacher, so of course we get text to read to see what's going on. What Gar tells you is that the enemy of the Yar, the Qotile, must be defeated to free the Yar and bring peace to the universe. The "universe" is a big fucking infinite thing, how can peace be achieved across the whole universe for the Nth time in the Nth videogame?
You The weapons are the standard fair for games these days: homing missiles, laser, turdo-type lasers, dual lasers, all of which are upgradeable as you play, as are your shields. Your shield is your life, and depleting your shields leads to game over, sometimes when you're not expecting it. I've died several times where I didn't know what was going on or how it happened. You can recharge your shields with the "base" power-up, which encircles you in the colored bar barrier from the original Yar on the 2600, and- like that title- you cannot fire when you are enclosed in it. But, your shields will charge. It's a fair trade-off, you can't shoot your enemies, but they can't shoot you either, and your shields get repaired. I can dig it!
There were two parts of the game that dragged for me. First is the Boss Battles. They're big, they fire alot, and they're tedious, and if you don't have enough special weapons, they take what seems like an infinite time to defeat. If you have the special weapons, they still take a long time to defeat. The second part that drags are the Shooting Gallery segments, where the screen stops or scrolls very slowly, and you are firing at enemies that line up in the background just to get shot. Oh sure, some of them fire at you, but they are relatively easy to get through, but they take a while to defeat. One good thing about the galleries, you can move your reticule over an enemy and open fire while moving around the screen to avoid bullets and oncoming enemies. The reticule will remain locked on the enemy, more by accident than by design, but it's a cool accident, and it really helps out.
As a downloadable title running you $10, this one is pretty good if you like nostalgia, and if you can get the controls down, you're all set. The graphics are lower-end eye candy, yet still candy. I could see this title being a sleeper hit, that is as long as it doesn't turn into a cure for insomnia for some gamers.
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