Yar’s Revenge Quick Review

Yar’s Revenge Quick Review 150 150 GAMESFWD

The best selling game for the Atari 2600 sees you piloting a bug-like vessel in attempt to break through a shield and destroy an enemy called the Qotile. Yar’s Revenge is a truly unique single-screen shooter that utilizes several gameplay mechanics.

You can destroy the shield of the Qotile by shooting it, or by having the Yar eat it for extra points. Eating the shield will activate the powerful Zorlon Cannon needed to destroy the Qotile. You can also activate the Zorlon Cannon by running over the Qotile itself, though you must be careful not to touch it while it is spinning.

The Qotile will launch itself across the screen intermittently. If you can destroy it while it is flying, you will receive a hefty score bonus. Players can fly vertically through the screen to perform evasive manoeuvres. The Yar can fly and shoot in eight directions and can stop and start instantly, making for precise control.

While battling the Qotile, you will be relentlessly pursued by a Destroyer Missile that will get faster as you advance. The missle can be taken out with a blast from the Zorlon Cannon. There is also a large neutral zone in which the Yar is impervious to the Destroyer Missile, however the Yar cannot fire in this zone and is still vulnerable to the spinning Qotile.

The graphics are rudimentary, but appear crisp on modern displays and the game utilizes a large colour pallete. There are distinct sound effects to signify weapons fire and a spinning or flying Qotile in addition to the constant hum of the neutral zone.

Yar’s Revenge is a classic game that must be played to be truly appreciated. Its main downfall is that there are only two enemy shield patterns to destroy at the default difficulty.


+ Addictive, Balanced Shooting Experience
+ Unique Mechanics
+ Fun Risk versus Reward Gameplay
+ Good Graphics and Sound


– Limited Enemy Shield Patterns

Tempest Quick Review

Tempest Quick Review 150 150 GAMESFWD

This wildly popular tunnel shooter is just not the same without a rotary paddle controller. Tempest also suffers from graphics that can be hard to see, though it can still provide a visceral thrill and classic arcade experience like no other.

You pilot a claw-shaped craft that rides around the edges of 16 different stages and fires at five types of enemies that make their way from the centre of the screen. You are armed with a rapid-fire laser and a screen clearing Superzapper that can be used once per level. Using the Superzapper a second time in a level will destroy a random enemy.

If you make it through all 16 levels, the game will swap colour palettes and begin again, albeit with more difficult enemies that appear in greater numbers.

Though it remains technically functional in its transition to Xbox LIVE Game Room, Tempest was meant for the speed and precision of a rotary paddle controller.

There are techniques that are quite simply impossible using a control stick or d-pad and players that were good at this game in the 1980’s will find it extremely difficult to perform at a high level because your ship does not move fast enough. There is no option to use the triggers of the Xbox 360 controller for left/right movement.

Difficulty is also falsely increased by vector graphics that can be tough to see. Darker coloured enemies don’t stand out against the black background and the lines are extra thin because of the game’s vertical orientation, which appears rather small on a widescreen display.

Tempest does provide fast-paced action and features a cool aesthetic that clearly influenced Geometry Wars and great sound that helps suck you in to the game.


+ Fast-Paced Action
+ Cool Neon Aesthetic and Great Sound


– Missing Speed and Accuracy of Rotary Paddle Controller
– Vector Graphics are Hard to See
– No Option to Use Triggers for Control

Finalizer: Super Transformation Quick Review

Finalizer: Super Transformation Quick Review 150 150 GAMESFWD

For the time it was originally released in arcades, Finalizer: Super Transformation is an advanced vertical-scrolling shoot ’em up that features a wide variety of enemy types and a fun power-up system. It is a good game that fans of the genre should appreciate, though technical limitations of the original hardware keep it from being truly great.

Players begin Finalizer: Super Transformation as a jet, but as the title suggests you can transform into a robot by collecting power-up items. Once in robot form, you are given a shield that can withstand several hits and can collect even more powerful weapons.

As you fly over a realistic world map, you will be confronted by several enemy types, each with their own flight and attack patterns. Every so often, you will encounter a boss ship that spews a large number of projectiles similar to modern “bullet hell” games.

The main drawback that I found is that even after 20-30 minutes of play in a session, I’ve only encountered one boss type and it takes a long time for the difficulty to ramp up. Compared to more modern games, Finalizer: Super Transformation is tame, though it avoids being cheap or frustrating like many 1980’s contemporaries and the game rewards both skill and a sound strategy.

As more enemies appear on-screen, the graphics will flicker and the game will slow down noticeably. Another complaint related to limitations of the original hardware is that enemy ships can be obscured because of a limited and bland colour palette. The sound effects in this game are not particularly good and the music is jarring when appears, seemingly at random.

Despite its technical shortcomings, fans of the shoot-em-up genre should consider giving a spot in their Game Room to Finalizer: Super Transformation.


+ Good Variety of Enemy types
+ Fun Robot Power-Up System including a Shield
+ Responsive Controls
+ Fun but Limited Boss Encounters


– Colour Palette can Obscure Enemies and Obstacles
– Weak Sound Effects and Music
– Flickering and Slowdown Later in Game
– No Auto-Fire, Button-Mashing Required

Gravitar Quick Review

Gravitar Quick Review 150 150 GAMESFWD

Gravitar can still be a fun and rewarding game, however it can be difficult to see the vector graphics and the controls suffer in the transition to the Xbox 360 controller. This title tasks you with ridding planets of enemy bunkers and picking up fuel reserves while compensating for extreme gravity effects using pitch and thrust control.

There are three solar systems in Gravitar, each containing a death star, an alien planet and four regular planets. While in solar system view, your ship will gravitate towards the death star and can be destroyed by enemy fire. Once you enter planetary view, you will be pulled towards the ground and have to contend with fire from both ships and bunkers. As you approach the ground the game view will zoom in, which was quite an advanced feature in 1982.

Unfortunately, in 2010, even when the game is zoomed in it can be quite difficult to see anything on an HD display. The vector graphics representing your ship and your enemies are drawn with thin lines and darker blue and red tones don’t provide enough contrast against the stark black backgrounds. Enemy fire is particularly hard to make out.

The controls inGravitar are tough to master. Pitch, originally assigned to two digital buttons, is mapped to your control stick or d-pad and it never quite feels responsive enough. Thrust, weapons fire and the tractor beam used to collect fuel are all assigned to separate buttons. Getting a grip on Gravitar can be very rewarding, though in my case putting in the time to do so was hampered by eye strain.

The gameplay is timeless as evidenced by the recent success of Gravity Crash and PixelJunk Shooter, two titles that borrow heavily from the ideas presented in Gravitar.


+ Rewarding to Master
+ Timeless Gameplay


– Graphics are Small and Hard to See
– No Sound to Speak Of
– Brutally Difficult and Unforgiving
– Some Slowdown when Destroying Enemies