AGH Atari 2600 Review:
by Thomas Jentzsch /
Hozer Video Games
To Commodore 64 aficionados, the game Thrust will no doubt
evoke some fond memories of what is considered by many as one of the
best variations of the classic Atari arcade game Gravitar.
In fact, its popularity is such that Windows, Linux, SunOS, Solaris and
even OpenBSD ports are out there as freeware. By Commodore 64 standards,
the graphics were quite plain and scrolling was a bit choppy, but the
challenging gameplay kept gamers coming back for more. German Atari
fan Thomas Jentzsch has now taken a crack at introducing Thrust's
goodness to 2600 players, and he does not disappoint.
The storyline goes like this: The resistance is about to launch a
major offensive against the Intergalactic Empire and have captured
several battle grade star ships. However, the resistance lacks the
power source for these huge ships of war: Klystron Pods. You have
been commissioned by the resistance to pilot a small ship and steal
these pods from the Empire's storage planets. Each planet is defended
by a battery of "Limpet" guns, powered by a nuclear power plant. By
firing shots at the power plant, the guns can be temporarily disabled;
the more shots you fire at the nuclear reactor, the longer the guns
will take to recharge. But beware... If you fire too many shots at
the reactor, it will become critical, giving you just ten seconds to
clear the planet before it is destroyed. If you have not already
retrieved the pod stored at that planet, then you will have failed
the mission. If you have retrieved the pod, and you manage to send
the reactor into its critical phase, and leave the planet safely,
you will receive a hefty bonus. Further into the Empire's system,
you will encounter planets with reverse gravity and something even
As in Gravitar, a deft touch is required to properly pilot your ship.
However, since installations are often located inside caves that
reach inside the planetoids, concentration is even more critical in
Thrust. Piloting the ship is similar to Asteroids and Gravitar, in
that players push right and left on the joystick to rotate clockwise
and counterclockwise, respectively, and pushing up thrusts the ship.
Naturally, the fire button fires the ship's bullets. Your craft is
also equipped with a protective force field, which can be used to
double up as a tractor beam to draw fuel from ground-based tanks
and lift Klystron pods from their pedestals.
Making it to the bottom of a cave to pick up the Klystron Pod is a
challenge onto itself, but returning it safely to space is a whole
other ballgame. The Pod is quite heavy, and carrying it around is
quite a challenge. It easily goes spinning off on its own,
rendering both it and your ship completely out of control. This
requires tremendous finesse and will undoubtedly frustrate novice
players. Pros, however, will find the trek through the many caverns
exhilarating and challenging. As you advance, you can even go up
against reverse gravity -- you owe it to yourself to experience the
sensation at least once.
The game is over when you run out of fuel, crash into a cave wall,
or let the enemy's artillery outposts shoot you down.
Thrust's graphics are standard first-generation 2600 fare, but
considering the complicated game logic and AI necessary for proper
gameplay, it's more than adequate. Sounds consist of simple beeps
and blips, but the sounds of the bullets firing are distinct, as is
the thrusting noise of your craft.
Overall, Thomas Jentzsch's inaugural 2600 effort is a home run.
Video vanguards that were challenged by Gravitar will, without a
doubt, have a ball with Thrust. It's definitely not for the casual
player or those with bad tempers. Recommended.
Thomas Jentzsch / Hozer Video Games
Atari 2600 (VCS)