Saturday, March 19, 2022


Developer:Rorke Weigandt
Time:30 minutes

Here's something unusual, an action game from one of the guys who would program Time Zone, AKA the biggest and most expensive text adventure ever released. Those, alas, are his only two credits. Both in the same year, so something tells me burnout was a part of it. According to Mobygames, three, but the Atari 2600 version of this game is in a different entry. There's apparently something missing from that. I shall be playing the Atari 8-bit version. The plot, such as it is, is that the player is infiltrating an alien base, destroying their power plant, and then everything repeats.

I'm the thing in the upper left
At least that's how its described. How it plays out in the Atari Computer version is that you can select one of two games. The first is a sort of reverse Missile Command, destroying a shield, weapons and then flying into a base. Its actually kind of fun. There's some laser beam cannons, homing attacks, and the exact sort of missiles they use in Missile Command. There's two problems, the first is that pressing keys on the numpad pauses the game, and I'm using the numpad instead of a joystick; Secondly, each game just loops.

Its the sort of thing that would have been amazing in the arcades, but here controls kind of badly. You don't really move well, or fast. After about the fourth loop, I found it too difficult to continue at about this point. Too many enemy attacks for me to dodge with what I have. There wasn't really anything more that could be done with the concept. By the second loop the shield was rotating, and since the game doesn't add any enemies, the only way more is for more attacks to be thrown at the player.

An enemy could be in any of the areas I don't have a visible range for

Game two is basically your standard single stick shooter at this point. You get one shot on-screen at a time. What's interesting is that enemies are invisible if you don't have a direct line of sight. They only move, however, if they've spotted you, so long as you avoid that you can avoid looking at them, you can safely bypass them. Enemy shots can be shot and can also hit and kill their allies. Navigate through the maze to find the core, shoot that, and everything starts over again. The layout doesn't change so you can go straight there pretty quickly.
The core, pre-destruction
Its fun for what it is, but I saw everything both games had to offer quickly. Even for the era this game feels lacking. I think the flaw, oddly enough, is that there's an end objective rather than a true endless loop. The accomplishment feels hollow. The games don't even loop into each other, just the same one endlessly. Neither of the two games are really best at what they could do, either. I would feel like I didn't get much value for money if I bought this at period prices.

Generic laser. 1/10

A set of generic enemies. 1/10


A couple of clever chances in the first game, generic maze in the second. 2/10

Player Agency:
It works well, but not particularly well. 4/10



Simple B&W, no complaints or compliments. 2/10


Generic blips and bloops. 1/10

That's 11. About average for 1982 at this point. Its main claim to fame is the visibility thing in game 2. Its so widespread these days I forgot that it was actually an accomplishment once upon a time. I don't think its the first game to do such a thing though.

I don't know why I'm still worried about 1982. I might have found more games for the year, but I'm cutting quite a few. So far its really hitting the Tandy CoCo and Apple II games.

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