Atari 2600 – Polaris


*Insert lyrics of Yellow Submarine for comedic reasons here*

Short-lived developer Tigervision is at it again with another port of a Taito arcade classic.
This little shooter flew under many radars, so it’s no wonder that Polaris is quite rare and expensive today?
Worth the 150 bucks tho?
Let’s find out!

You are the commander of the nuclear submarine ‘Polaris’ and your goal is to defend your country from enemy attacks.
You start out in relatively shallow water.
Because you are control a submarine you can only shoot up which takes some time to get used to. Especially since there are other submarines around.
It’s best to always kill them first to get some more space.
Other enemies are planes that drop bombs and jets that drop torpedos which will chase you.
They’re all pretty fast so you have to time your shots.
After every wave follows a special stage called “the tunnel”.
Here, your submarine goes deep underwater and the game turns into a top-down shooter.
You have to maneuver through a rocky maze while avoiding or shooting mines.
After that, you’re back in the ocean with more and faster enemies.

Polaris does not shine through its graphics.
The environments are very blocky and lack color (there are plants underwater guys). Same goes for the enemies and the planes that look like weird ufos.
The special stage has the same flaws but since you are in deep waters, the black rocks and dark blue water make sense and it’s overall very claustrophobic.
I like it.
There’s not much going on in the sound department either. You get a sonar sound which is essentially a high-pitched *beep* every two seconds.
Yeah, it’s annoying.

Gameplay is fine tho.
I like the two alternating stages and how they tell you on which stage you’re on right now.
Adds a sense of progression which is always welcomed.
It’s just really, really hard.
Although you get like ten lives, you will probably bite the bullet after three or four stages.
The problem aren’t the enemies but the tiny space the game gives you for moving around.
While the arcade version feels like a real ocean, the Atari version is more like a pond.
I can’t even count how often I’ve crashed into other submarines or walls. There’s always a perfect spot tho so I can’t call it unfair.
You can probably figure it out if you really like the game.
I do… so I better get back to training.
Play it!




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