Atari 2600 – Reactor


Remember when artists used Microsoft Word instead of Photoshop?

This futuristic arcade game was developed by D. Gottlieb & Co., who are know for their great pinball machines and the cult-classic Q*bert, and published by Parker Brothers who created board games like Monopoly and Cluedo.
They’ve also published Frogger, one of my favorites.
Now that sounds like a match made in heaven and the resulting product surely is an absolute masterpiece…right?
Well, not so fast.

There is some kind of story here.
You’re a pilot and your mission is to stop an atomic reactor from melting.
Who would anyone send a spaceship into an reactor?
Because video games!
You stop the meltdown by pushing(!) Neutrons, Positrons and all kinds of other *trons into the “Death Walls”.
The name derives from their ability to kill anything that touches them, including you.

You also have to destroy some rods to stop the reactor from overheating.
Or just kill anything and advance to the next stage like I did.
I have no time for such stupid gameplay mechanics (I do, actually).
You can deploy a finite amount of decoys to confuse enemies. Place them near a “Death Wall” and watch ’em burn.
The game gets harder with every stage.
Enemies who can multiply and a larger reactor sure are a real pain.
There’s no end here, so just go for the high score.

Reactor sure isn’t a pretty game.
Your spaceship is a dot, your enemies are dots and the reactor is a hexagon.
You might like it if you’re into geometry but the lack of colors will surely turn you away.
The sound effects aren’t annoying tho and there’s a catchy jingle at the start of the game.
I also like the setting and that you need to push enemies into walls to destroy them.

Sadly, using the same tactic work almost every time.
Deploy a decoy near a wall, wait for enemies to die and try to stay near the middle.
If you need a challenge you should choose a harder gameplay variation like one with invisible walls or a magnetic reactor core.
It’s still essentially the same and gets boring rather quickly. It’s too uneventful for its setting.
Of course, they forgot to add a co-op or versus mode. That would’ve been awesome
Try it!





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