Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Game of the week: Yars' Revenge for Atari 2600

Atari 2600 - Video Game ConsoleOne of the greatest home video games is still loads of fun to play today especially on the original Atari 2600 system.

1981. Reagan hadn't been president long. Blondie was on the radio. Alien insects were using giant laser cannons to attack enemy bases.

Wait! What?

Yes, alien insects were using giant laser cannons to attack their enemy's bases. At least that was what was happening in thousands upon thousands of homes throughout the U.S., if not the world.

How could this be?

Yars' Revenge for Atari 2600The game was Yars' Revenge, and you could only play it on the Atari 2600, the hottest home video game system in the world at the time.

The object of Yars' Revenge was to fly your little alien insect, the Yar, around the television screen to shoot at or eat a shield around the enemy Qotile base. Once you had a hole in that shield your Yar had to line up the Zorlon Cannon on the left side of the screen with the enemy Qotile base on the right side of the screen. Then you fire! If you missed, nothing much happened and you had to try again. But if you hit, BLAMO! There was a big explosion on the screen.

Then you moved on to the next level and had to repeat it all over again.

Sounds boring by today's gaming standards.

It wasn't. It was a blast.

Longtime Atarigame collectors and home video game enthusiasts have often considered Yars' Revenge as one of the best games ever created for the Atari 2600 system.
Who made the game for Atari? A programmer by the name of Howard Scott Warshaw. Howard's initials are immortalized as an easter egg within the Yars' Revenge game, but unfortunately once you see that easter egg your game is over and you can't continue playing. Originally the game was meant to be a home version of the Star Castle arcade game, and you can see basic similarities between the two games, but there's not enough of a similarity for Yars' Revenge to have truly been a Star Castle remake. Which is probably why Atari gave the game a different name.

Again, by today's standards the graphics for this Atari game weren't great, but actually they were pretty good graphics for home systems at the time. The colors were solid, too, and the sound was excellent.

Another cool thing about Yars' Revenge was that when you purchased it new, it came with a comic book telling the story of the Yars and their reason for seeking revenge against the evil Qotile. The reason? The Qotile had destroyed one of the Yars' planets.

There was even a Yars' Revenge album with music and a story, but it's quite rare and sought by collectors of video game rarities.

Atari Flashback 2 Plug and PlaySurprisingly enough, as popular as this game was, there was never a sequel to it. In 1999, a version of the original game was made for the Game Boy Color, and then Yars' Revenge was released again in 2005 on the Atari Flashback 2 home system. So even if you don't have an old Atari 2600, you can still find ways to play this classic game!

Related links

20 Classic Atari 2600 Games

10 Classic Games for Intellivision

10 Awesome Arcade Games of Yesteryear

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