Atari's 1983 Major Havoc
One of the last of the great Atari vector games to be released, Major Havoc showcased three main gameplay elements presented within a classic science fiction storyline. After viewing your mission info screen (that features a hidden Breakout game) you blast off through a worm hole and fight the enemy guards that are protecting their space station. This mission is presented in a 3D perspective similar to Tac-Scan. Once the guards are destroyed you have to land your ship on the shrinking landing pad as in Lunar Lander. Finally once you've landed you have to explore the labyrinth of hallways inside the space station and destroy the reactor. This is the main and most challenging level of Major Havoc. A limited air supply, electrified barriers, roving robot guards, and an artificial gravity that forces you to precisely time your jumps adds to the challenge. Thankfully all of this varied gameplay can be controlled by a simple left/right roller control and two action buttons. This intuitive control scheme helps tie all the gameplay elements into a consistent presentation that flows nicely from screen to screen.
Missing Ingredient
"Missing" is not a word that I would use to describe the content in Major Havoc. The phrase "everything and the kitchen sink" is more appropriate here. To the casual gamer, all of the ingredients that make up Major Havoc may be intimidating at first glance. Some graphical extras, while enhancing the gameplay and adding to the depth of the game, may add to the visual clutter and intimidation factor. On the main reactor level for example, your screen features the scrolling space station maze, multiple obstacles and an upper information area containing score, remaining lives, an oxygen counter, reactor status and a radar image of the entire station. Perhaps at some point during the production of the prototype this "clutter" may have become apparent as there were originally plans to include a Star Castle sequence in the game as well.

While all of this content may have appeared too complex for the casual arcade gamer, it's actually a bonus for the MAME user. Knowing you won't need to invest a hefty supply of quarters before you are comfortable with the rules and objectives of the game, the extra depth and detail only serve to enhance what is already a fun game.

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


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