Atari 2600 – Space Cavern

20997-space-cavern-atari-2600-front-cover

Damn Space Dragons!


So the head of Apollo thought that Imagic’s Demon Attack was really rad and told his programmers:
“I want something exactly like this! NOW!
And so they did…


The story behind this simple game is as great as the box art:

You are in command of a Mark XIV intergalactic star-
cruiser in an uncharted quadrant of outer space. You land
on a mysterious planet riddled with a suterranean maze
of tunnels and caverns inhabited by savage Electrosauri
whose horns generate electro-molecular charges capable
of disintegrating you and your crew. Your photon ray
pistol is activated by the joystick and the fire button. The
iridescent eyes of the electrosauri light the cavern walls
with eerie flashes as they stalk you, their horns crackling
and sizzling. If even one blast of electro-molecular energy
strikes you, your skeleton will glow inside your body as the
bio-molecular compounds of your body disintegrate.
WARNING: Beware the savage attack of the shaggy marsupods.

I really love when they come up with stuff like that.


The gameplay is your classic shooter charade.
You can run around the bottom of the screen and you have to fight two or four aliens at once.
Simply pressing the fire-button will shoot upwards, pressing up will shoot left and pressing down will shoot right.
Sophisticated controls for the genre but they work just fine and are essential for killing the different enemies.
There are no stages.
It’s a hunt for the highest score.
Die four times and the game is over.


Taking inspiration from Imagic seemed like a good idea.
Space Cavern is easily Apollo’s best-looking game.
The enemy design is colorful and really weird and their movement is erratic or even spastic.
I dig it.
Your area of movement is lit by the eyes of the aliens. That’s what the manual says.
Looks more like a force field to me since enemies can’t enter it but anyhow, it looks good. Although it can be hard to see projectiles through it.
The pillars on each side also changes colors frequently.
To put it short: there’s a lot going on.
The sound effects remind me of a glitchy computer. It’s fitting or at least not annoying.

I would fault the game for being too easy but there are 24 gameplay variations and some deliver a real tough challenge.
Go with #7 if you dare.

So there you have it.
Apollo’s rip-off is good enough to stand on its own. Arguably their best game and good shooter overall.
Play it!

7/10

fghrth

 

 

 

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