Atari's 1982 Gravitar

For more Gravitar info visit Dan Coogan's Gravitar Site. Hints, playing tips, interviews & more!

Now, this is a real player's game... Sort of the mutant offspring of Venture, Asteroids and some Lunar Lander thrown in, you get to visit every planet on several solar systems, looking to destroy enemy strongholds, steal some fuel, and show off your navigation skills. Different gravities, maze-like landscapes, and attacking saucers really put your dexterity and patience to their limits.

If leaving the world of simple, joystick controlled spaceships behind and having to adapt for gravity, inertia, 360º rotation and unforgiving navigation appeals to you, this is a great game to try. Lots of room for different strategies, you can opt for blowing up a reactor on a single planet to blow up the entire system. Offing the last stronghold on a planet while gliding by between their shots, sucking up some fuel from a dump near and then managing to reverse direction just in time to avoid crashing on a wall and escaping the planet's gravity (whew), can be quite a rush...

Missing Ingredient
...but, unless you've mastered Defender, Stargate, Zaxxon, Sinistar, Space Duel and Circus Atari, you'll spend more time crashing than anything else. Your ship has quite a lot of inertia, and as anyone who has played Asteroids knows, the rotate left/right/thrust navigation method is fine for flying free around, but precise maneuvering between mazes is another thing. Fighting gravity's pull would be enough without having to worry about fuel, and some strongholds' positions in the planets demand a kamikaze approach. A real devotion, lots of patience and practice are a requisite for aspiring a real enjoyment of the game. A less demanding control system would have helped greatly this game. (Oddly enough, I first met and started to play this game when I got the home version... for the Atari VCS2600[!]. A really faithful port, it was a really fun game, and I recall having no problem controlling the ship with just the standard joystick. Later, I discovered the coin-op, and now the MAME one, and so far I've yet to feel the same degree of control, even with user-selected keys...)

Thanks to Jeffrey Carl at ServInt for providing the space for CinemArcade


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