It Came From Outer Space! – Cosmic Ark, Demon Attack, Gravitar, Laser Blast, Star Ship, Star Voyager

Atari developers and programmers clearly loved space based shooters! I suppose it was a sign of the times with Star Wars and Star Trek being such huge movie franchises in the late 70’s and early 80’s, so it was inevitable that there would be space based games in the arcades and home game consoles around that time as well.  Developing something fresh and unique would prove to be the most difficult part of this process and even if you were going to trot out an old formula for a new game, it better look and play great in order to set itself apart from the rest of the pack. The rest of the games in my collection (that I haven’t already discussed) that I consider space related are as follows:

  • Cosmic Ark – Imagic’s version of the Noah’s Ark bible story….in space! You play as an altruistic space crew on a mission to save 2 of every creature located on the various planets located in a dying solar system. You also happen to be conducting this rescue mission during a seriously intense  meteor shower. Oh by the way, the planets have defense systems that will blast your rescue pods to smithereens while you attempt to beam up the “beasties”. Thanks a lot, assholes. B
  • Demon Attack – Another Imagic offering in the vein of Galaxian, Galaga, Phoenix, et.al. Demon Attack doesn’t offer anything really new and its been done better elsewhere but that doesn’t mean it’s a trash game. Just not a super memorable one. Still fun though! B
  • Gravitar – Tough as nails space romp where you perpetually fight gravity with your spaceship while blasting aliens. On one screen you fight the gravitational pull of the sun that will obliterate you and on the sub screens of each planet in the solar system, you fight the planets gravitational pull while attempting to shoot the enemies and free the planets from Alien oppression, or something like that. There’s also a circular cave, called a reactor, that if you can navigate the narrow passages all the while fighting the gravitational pull of the ground, you’ll be able to destroy all the aliens on all the planets at once! Good luck with that. Gravitar is far too difficult to be any fun (for me) and while this game gets high marks for innovation and it is generally considered a good game by most, I don’t find much enjoyment in it’s insane difficulty. C
  • Laser Blast – This fits into the category of space shooter by narrow definitions only but it’s Activision so what the hell. You’re a space ship shooting lasers down at laser bases on the planet surface, 3 at a time. You must move around and dodge their blasts upwards at you, eliminating them in order to move onto the next wave. Monotonous and pretty darn easy once you figure out a pattern, Laser Blast isn’t one of Activision’s best outings. C-
  • Star Ship – One of the first Atari console games, this is a dull first person shooter in the same vein as Star Wars Arcade but way, way, way worse. The graphics are horribly dull and so is the gameplay. In the 3 variations you can shoot enemies, dodge meteors or something, and perform lunar landings all in a fixed amount of time. A game so boring, Atari eventually stopped making it. F
  • Star Voyager – Imagic at it again, Star Voyager is basically a remake of Star Raiders with slightly better graphics and simpler game play. It contains a relatively straightforward plot, shoot the enemies in front of you with your ship using the radar screen and sights, move onto the next wave. A solid outing and I have no complaints about this game other than the fact that I don’t love first person perspective shooters. B-

Currently in my collection:

Cosmic Ark – game, manual

Demon Attack – game, manual

Gravitar – game, manual, box

Laser Blast – game, manual

Star Ship – game, manual

Star Voyager – game, manual

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