Deluxe Invaders and K-razy Shootout
Blast From the Past
Your story may well be the same. Space Invaders, the first "cult" arcade game, hooked you--you, who vehemently swore your quarters would never be in short supply. It was the drum beat that did it: the quickening pulse that glazed over your eyes and tightened every muscle in your arms as you furiously raced to kill the last row of flapping insects.
Those were the days. I remember when Invaders first became available on cassette for the Atari computer. Finally, something had arrived to knock Star Raiders off the tube for a while. Invaders was well-animated, colorful, addicting, hilarious. But it was disappointing in its distance from the coin-op arcade game. Gone were the barriers that afforded temporary shelter from the falling "worm rays"; missing was the pace and feel of the game that was its inspiration.
Well it's been a while in coming--quite a while, actually-but the real thing is finally here. The nostalgia warms my heart. Deluxe Invaders faithfully captures the look, spirit, and play of arcade Space Invaders. And it doesn't stop there.
Deluxe Invaders retains the color, sound, and polish of the earlier Atari computer game, while remaining true to many of the features of the deluxe arcade game version. The barriers are back, as are the spinning "worm rays." Back also is the hypertensive pacing, and if you were into the game "back when," this game will go "click" when you start with it. Set aside some time.
There are nine levels of difficulty, including some where an insect results merely in its splitting into two baby insects. Other levels include mother ships that deposit new aliens on the board in play. Even the alien shapes are truer to the original game, as is the difficulty.
The difficulty levels are not too well documented, and only experimentation will flesh them out completely. The program does allow for a two player game, along the same lines as the coin-op.
"What," you say? "Another Invaders game?" You're tired of Invaders games? I said the same thing when I first saw this package. I was wrong.
Roklan has some exciting plans for the Atari computer, including Gorf and Wizard of Wor. They are also planning a track-ball peripheral. If these products are up to the standard of Deluxe Invaders, we're in for a real treat.
It's sometimes fun to trace the lineage of a game like K-razy Shootout. First there was Star Wars, with its stirring laser battles in the corridors of the Death Star. Audiences bobbed, weaved, and ducked in their seats as Luke, Han, and the Princess blasted their way through countless evil storm troopers.
Next there was the coin-op game Berzerk, pitting the arcader against evil 'droids closing in for the kill. The exciting "laser shoot'em-up" mood was evoked pretty accurately, constituting the appeal of the game. What's more, the game spoke, goading you, mocking you, teasing more quarters out of you.
Among a bevy of "laser motif" games for many systems, K-razy Shootout brings nearly all the excitement of the arcade game to the Atari computer. The only element that's missing is the speech. This is not to say that the Atari couldn't do it; it's simply not implemented here.
K-razy Shootout also bears the distinction of being the first ROM cartridge-based game from a third-party source. This necessarily adds to the cost of the package; but if you saw, enjoyed, and fondly recall the film Star Wars, you won't want to do without this program for long.
Your character runs through maze-like chambers, as 'droids close in from all directions. Using the joystick, you aim your laser, drawing a bead on them before they do the same to you. If you manage to clear a sector, you advance to the next. The action becomes increasingly furious, and you soon find yourself shooting from the hip, moving from sheer instinct, and totally addicted.
Scoring is dependent on several factors, including time, ammunition used, and 'droids' manner of demise: through hostile fire, collision, or shooting each other. In addition, you collect an extra player for every 10,000 points.
The only way you'll see sector four or beyond is through strategy. You'll discover that it's possible to get 'droids to collide or shoot each other--finding good cover is also imperative. Don't collide with a wall, though. That's as fatal as being hit by enemy fire.
The graphics, sound, and smooth animation in K-razy Shootout far outweigh its few negative points. The ranking system is screwy: you can progress from "Goon Class 1" to a higher score, which then is ranked back at "Goon Class 4."
This frustrated our playtesters. The game can be paused, but only by pressing Control-1, as if you were in Atari Basic. A much more friendly option is using the space bar to pause, a function now standard on many games.
Still, K-razy Shootout is lots of fun, and has a great deal of staying power. If only it could talk.
John Anderson is an associate editor for Creative Computing magazine.