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Alien Thing

Thomas Keynote

Aftermath of World of Atari



Gravitar Review

Site Review

LaST Word

Gravitar for the 2600

Review by Scott Tirrell

Someone us out to take over the universe again. This time it is Gravitar, and he is using gravity weapons to take out galaxies. His pattern has been consistent. Gravitar takes over solar systems, sets up powerful reactors that create killer suns, destroying all life on surrounding planets, and then fortifying the planets with bunkers programmed to shoot down invaders.

It is your job to take back 12 solar systems that are under Gravitar's command. There are two ways to do this. Either you can destroy all of Gravitar's bunker on every planet in a solar system or destroy the reactor. Each solar system has three or four planets, a reactor and a killer sun. If this sounds like a large game, it definitely is. I must admit that I was impressed that they could pack so much onto an Atari 2600 game. A friend of mine expressed surprised that they had translated this coin-op to the venerable 2600.

Luckily, with a game this size, there are a range of difficulty settings. At the easiest you begin with 100 ships! while at the most challenging, you must defeat Gravitar with only six ships. Ships are not your only concern; however, it is also important to keep an eye on your fuel. When you use your thrusters, your fuel supply will begin to decline. Fortunately, you can replenish your supply by capturing up fuel using your tractor beam.


The graphics in Gravitar are well done. They are not very colorful but they accomplish what is needed to represent the situation and there is absolutely no flicker. To be honest, there really isn't much in the way of graphics. The landscapes are simply blocky hills and walls. The ship is very similar to the one in Asteroids with bullets firing out of the pointy front and thrusters coming out the back. Bunkers simply look like little blobs. The only thing distinctive about them is the fact that they constantly fire deadly shots about the screen. You'll probably catch on quickly! Enemy spaceships also float around the screen towards you. It seems as though the designers went after a very functional graphical display and it has its advantages with no flicker and being able to quickly survey the playfield. Nothing is hard to make out. Some color would have been a nice addition.


The sounds from Gravitar sound as if they have been lifted from Asteroids. The shots, explosions, all sound the same. There is no music that I could distinguish and the sounds are limited to thrust, explosions and firing. Just like Asteroids. They are barely functional, really. There are many 2600 games out there with better sounds.


The gameplay is quite similar to Lunar Lander or other "thrust" games. There is a very similar game on the STe that I cannot remember the name of right now. Its name started with a G and it had great graphics and stereo sound. Anyone?

The important thing is that Gravitar is a thrusting game where the player must control the ship by pointing it in a certain direction and firing the ship's thrusters. There are no brakes; the play must turn around and fir the thrusters to slow down. While controlling the ship, worrying about not only inertia but also Gravitar's gravity, a player must dodge bullets, maneuver around a complex landscape, and destroy the enemy. It is very tough. It is a game that will test the patience of many gamers. Personally, I found it very frustrating and gave up on the game fairly quickly, even in the easiest setting with gravity turned off. Players who invest time in this game will probably become proficient at controlling the ship but I never attained any competence at controlling the ship in Gravitar.

The vastness of this game, the changing of the landscapes, and the strategy involved will make this a game with a long life. Gamers shouldn't be able to clear this game quickly unless they are much more skilled than I am. It is a game that I can see many people enjoying while I couldn't get into it.

Finally, I am not sure why people would not go straight to destroying the reactor in each solar system. While it is tough to do, it seems no harder than clearing three or four planets full of protected bunkers.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 2
Gameplay: 6
Overall: 5

Feel free to write a counter review or write to us about your experiences with this game. We always want more letters!