Yars Revenge

Yars-Revenge-Atari-2600
Backstory on Yar’s:
It’s a simple game, really. A Yar is this giant, flying insect. Its enemy is the Qotile, who hangs out on the right side of the screen. It’s protected by a shield, which can be shot or eaten by the Yar. Once there’s a “hole” in the shield, you can use the Zorlon Cannon, which appears on the left side of the screen, to kill it. There’s also a small, slow-moving missile that can kill you. It follows you relentlessly, like the Terminator. There’s a “neutral zone” in the middle of the screen, which will save you from the missile, but not the Qotile’s main weapon..the deadly “swirl”. The swirl is like a can of Raid. Kills Bugs Dead. At certain intervals, the Qotile will turn different colors and periodically shoot out toward the Yar. A really cool feature (and one you will NEED to use) is that Yar can fly through the top of the screen and “pop” out of the bottom, or vice-versa. The missile or swirl cannot do this.

OBJECTIVE: To reach 1,000,000 points, turning the score back to zero, and getting the revenge for the Yars.

I fire it up, and it still has that cool background music. Sounds a bit like an old refrigerator droning on and on before it dies.
Yar moves around very quick and smoothly, controls are nice.
You get more points for eating the shield than shooting, so I’m going to get in close as much as possible.

BLEEPBLOOP!
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED 40 G- COOL HAND
(Eat 50 pieces of shield)

After there’s a hole in the shield, you have a couple of options: You can continue eating the shield for more points, or get right to the BIG points. It’s 1000 to shoot the Qotile while he’s sitting there; 2000 to wait until he turns into the swirl; or 6000 points to shoot him while he’s shooting toward you. The risk/reward of shooting him in mid-air is the way I like to go for a big reason: This is the only way to get a “free man”. You will max out with 9 lives, but you’ll need them.
Yars-Revenge-Atari-2600

I’m out of practice a bit, but I opt to eat a little shield, head back towards the left side of the screen, then wait for the swirl to turn red. After the color change, he’ll “swirl” in place for a second or two (2000 points), then attack. I have to time the Zorlon Cannon just right, then move out of the way so I’m not hit by it (Yes, you can kill yourself with your weapon)….AARRRGGHH!!!!! Got me! I am a little out of practice.

BLEEPBLOOP!
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED 30 G- MAN IN BLACK
(Go Down in a Burning Ring of Fire)

After I get the hang of it, and the timing down, I hit my first flying swirl for 6000 points!

BLEEPBLOOP!
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED 50 G- JUST LIKE SHOOTING WOMP RATS
(Get your first moving kill)

There’s a lot of repeating until you reach 70,000 points. This is when the shield will turn from orange to blue. Now, the swirl will come at you 3 times more frequently. The missile will continually get faster and more relentless throughout the game, so now you have to use some skill.
I get on a roll and start knocking them out.

BLEEPBLOOP!
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED 50 G- KESSEL RUNNER
(Destroy 2 swirls in less than 12 seconds)

This continues until I reach 150,000 points. The shield turns gray. The good part about this milestone is the swirl will go back to shooting at you at its normal frequency. The bad news…it now acts as a guiding missile, taking a 90 degree turn toward you.
The strategy here takes quite a bit of skill and hand/eye coordination. I mentioned before about using the top-to-bottom “gateway”. You’ll have to now or you’ll never survive. The idea is to be at the top when swirl shoots, then go through to the bottom. When the swirl turns straight down towards you, fire your cannon to time a direct hit. Don’t forget to move right quickly to avoid the 3-way collision. After I get the pattern down, it becomes fairly easy.
Yars-Revenge-Atari-2600

BLEEPBLOOP!
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED 100 G- MAVERICK, YOU HAVE THE NEED FOR SPEED
(Reach the quickest level of gameplay)

At the 230,000 point mark, the guiding swirl remains, but the frequency is back up the 3 times normal. It’ll stay that way for the duration of the game.
It feels like I’m going to break my joystick, but I zig and zag this way for a while.
I lose a life on occasion, but after about an hour or so of game time, I finally turn it over.

BLEEPBLOOP!
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED 200-G YOU ARE THE LAST STARFIGHTER
(Singlehandedly wipeout the entire Qotile fleet)

Nice to see I’ve still got it.

I grade on a 0-2 scale in 5 categories, with a max score of 10.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvjajVf3BEc[/youtube]

GRAPHICS/VISUALS:2
Pretty fantastic, with bright colors and a cool-looking, flying Yar. The explosion after a Qotile hit is a full-screen death-rainbow.

AUDIO/MUSIC:2
Background sounds are ominous. Unique sounds for Yar eating, swirl shooting, and explosions.

CONTROLS:2
Yar moves fluidly and easily with just a simple joystick. 1-button to fire.

FUN FACTOR:2
Off the charts for me personally. Insect vs. alien combat for universe supremacy.

REPLAY VALUE:2
I could pop this game in for a while every day. Even after you’re good enough to turn over the score, the fun factor makes this one of the best 2600 games ever produced.

Ted Brockwood: Kalypso Media USA

Kalypso logo
Kalypso logo

Name: Ted Brockwood

Company: Kalypso Media USA

Profession: Head of PR (North America)

Favorite Classic Game: Yar’s Revenge – Atari 2600

Quote: Yar’s Revenge was fun because it had a very simple gameplay mechanic, and basically one enemy, but it just kept getting relentlessly harder the more you played, until it was so fast, it was almost impossible to play. That, and I had one of the highest scores in the U.S. for a short time according to the official Atari 2600 magazine.


Bio/Current Event: At Kalypso USA, we’ve published popular titles like Tropico 3 (a great remake of the classic Tropico games), and have just released Patrician IV and Disciples III, both sequels to some very popular classic titles.

What impact did gaming have on your career path?

Career Path Drive
Career Path Drive

Often something during the growing up stage is what leads people to what they will do later in life. It can be an experience where you saved someone’s life and go down the path of helping others or that you were exposed to a situation that led to a field you want to work in. Although many of us will change our minds on what we what to become many times before we reach working age there are some jobs where the people doing them can easily trace it back to a time when they were young.

For me personally I always loved video games from my Atari 2600 to my first computer, the Texas Instruments TI-99. Even before that I loved to take apart electronics just to see the parts inside. I also loved to make up and tell stories so playing a video game took on another dynamic because I would visualize storylines even for games that had them like Yars Revenge.

When I moved to Miami in 97’ the first thing I wanted to do was get back into computers and meet like-minded people and that led to my time at Alienware where my love for gaming flourished. It was then that I took my love of storytelling and turned it into a writing career.

If I was not exposed to computers and video games at such a young age I am sure I would not have developed a love for them in a way that would lead me to work in the computer and gaming field. In addition, my mother always supported my love for gaming even when dragging her all across Chicago looking for a Nintendo.

For this week’s insider discussion we asked our panel what impact did gaming have on their career path.

Jason Shankel from Stupid Fun Club wrote:

I first got the idea to go into game development in Middle School after seeing _WarGames_ and _Tron_.  I remember being especially impressed with _WarGames_.  I wanted to create my own Joshua.  Later on in high school, I read _Goedel, Escher, Bach_.  I became fascinated with machine thought, particularly how it differs from human thought.

As a game developer, I’ve always been more oriented toward using games to help people understand how computer systems work, what their capabilities and limitations are.  Games make machines more relatable, infuse them with some personality and engage human emotions.

If I had to break it down to one moment, though, it’s the first time I saw the end of _WarGames_, when David asks if there’s anything that can be done to make the machine learn faster and Professor Falken says “yes, number of players: zero.”

Of course, since then, I’ve always hoped to have a somewhat larger market than that 🙂

Corey Dangel from Detonator Games wrote:

When I was in college words like “desktop publishing” and “WYSIWYG” were new and exotic sounding. The notion of pursuing a career as a game artist, at that time, was inconceivable. So upon graduating from college I hit the pavement with the dream of being a graphic designer. I experimented briefly as a post production artist for video but ultimately started my own tiny graphic design studio to create album covers for Seattle area musicians. It was the late 80s/early 90s and the music scene was really taking off. Turns out getting the work wasn’t nearly as difficult as getting PAID for the work…

After scrapping for a few years I got an opportunity (thanks to a good friend) to contract at Microsoft. I was employed to create the “coffee table books of the future”…remember multi-media? My friend and I worked our butts off in the multimedia group and were eventually offered full-time positions. MSFT didn’t make games at the time but they had publishing agreements for Flight Sim and a Golf game. I soon discovered that the business unit in charge of these publishing contracts was preparing to grow so I made it my mission to get them to hire me.

You see, I had been a gamer since the first day I played Parcheesi with my grandmother and a fanatical gamer since first playing Dungeons & Dragons in 1980. Thanks to D&D I discovered that making games is as much fun for me as playing them (possibly more fun). I’d never considered that I could do anything but create games as a hobby…which I had for years. I’d written programs on the TRS-80 coco, the Atari 800XL, and made my own games (creating story, game design, and art) both digitally and traditionally.

Once presented with the possibility of working on games for a living I pursued the dream I didn’t know was possible like a ravenous cheetah chasing a meat wagon. And somehow I caught it!

Fifteen years later I’m still amazed that I get to do what I do for a living.

Juan Gril from JoJu Games wrote:

In my case, a few hours with a friend’s Atari 2600 made me realize that I wanted to make games for the rest of my life.

Aaron Hunter from Playtechtonics Inc wrote:

Gaming was everything in my career path. I started developing as a child, also playing them at the same time. Richard Garriott was already a millionaire from PC games by the time I started high school. Making games appealed to my self-motivational tendencies and preference to learn at my own pace.

So what about you, has gaming steered you toward your career or do you feel it will?

Atari Box Art

New series, The Obsolete Gamer can be many things, you could have been a Commodore 64 player or a classic console gamer and of course the DOS gamer. There are many different types of gamers and we all went through different experiences growing up in the gaming revolution. This new series will cover many of them from the mainstream to the obscure.

Today gamers have a wealth of information, at a click of a mouse they can learn almost everything about a game before they buy it and can even rent it to make sure they really want to own it.

Let’s turn back the clock to the Atari 2600 days where you had little information on what was coming out. I am sure there were some publications out there, but for many of us we just went into the store looked at the box and made our decision right there.

The Atari 2600 did have commercials and some did show game footage, but many were simply “By it because” commercials like the one below.

Yes, you buy it because your kid wants it and to be honest I did not know one child who didn’t like their Atari 2600, but let’s move on to the box art.

Art is truly the correct term to use because that’s what they were art, not screenshots. I do not think this was done to mislead the customer, but let’s be honest the artwork and the game almost never matched up. True we should not expect to have seen a game that looked exactly like the box, but let’s face it we were children.

Here’s is the box from the game YARS’ Revenge:

ATARI Yars' Revenge box
ATARI Yars' Revenge box

Pretty sweet, the cool looking alien thing, the simple space background and awesome explosions. Now let’s look at the commercial.

Wow, that’s almost subliminal. You have the family playing, the weird out of place music, a splash of gameplay and the Atari logo saying “Have you played Atari today” what else do you need. This commercial would have sold me as a kid and most likely when I got to the store and saw the box art I would have really been excited.

As kids we did not have such a high expectation of graphics, as long as it was fun we loved it so in the end the box art versus in-game graphics did not matter. Still, there was a higher leap of faith when buying games which had a pretty high price tag even in the 80’s.

Looking back I really liked the work and design they put into the box art which is one reason Atari 2600 boxes are worth a lot in good condition today. Sure, as gamers we did not get too much from the box, but for the most part the game we ended up with became a classic. The same can’t be said for many of the NES titles.

So, gamers from the past, what was some of your favorite Atari 2600 box art and how did it influence your purchase?