Yars' Revenge

Reviewed by Martin Henely, Posted on 2007-07-03


Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: 1981 Also On: None

When people think about the Atari 2600, there are a few games that come to mind. Games such as Space Invaders and Pole Position are known for their high quality and addictive level of fun. Games such as Pac-man and E.T. are known for their squelched potential. Yars' Revenge is one of these known games, in the first category, and for good reason. It is a very deep and entertaining game, one of the more complex ones of its era on the Atari 2600, and yet accessible for most players provided they read the manual to know how to play it.

The concept of Yars' Revenge is a bit complex. You control a small ship called a Yar. The Yar is attempting to destroy another small object called a Qotile. Unfortunately, two things stand in the way of the Yar destroying this Qotile. First, the Qotile is surrounded by an energy shield which the Yar must destroy by pelting it with missiles. This is simple enough to do though. Once you've cut through the shield to give the Yar a clear shot at the Qotile, you must run over the Qotile with your Yar to call the Zorlon Cannon to actually destroy it. Once you call the Zorlon Cannon, you use the button to fire it, and it will fire at whatever horizontal level the Yar is at, meaning you have to move out of the way or it will destroy you instead.

Meanwhile, while you're trying to destroy the Qotile, the Qotile is trying to destroy you. It has two ways of doing so. First of all, it will send destroyer missiles after you. You can prevent these from hurting you by placing yourself in the flashing neutral zone in the middle of the screen, but you can't fire when you're there either. Also, occasionally, the Qotile will turn into a swirl and come after you. You can't prevent this from killing you by being in the neutral zone.

What we are left with then is a game that, for its time, is quite complex, which is a good thing, a step away from the simplicity of most Atari 2600 games. Add to this the fact that the game can be played two player and that there are multiple different gameplay modes and you're left with a game that will last for a while also. It is no wonder that this game is a classic.

Aesthetically, the game is not quite as spectacular. The graphics are simple for the most part, although the pixels for the lines in the neutral zone and the making up of the objects in the game are reasonably small. The sound effects likewise are pretty good and accomplish what they set out to, but they're nothing to get too excited about. Still, the aesthetics are good enough that they don't detract from the game at all, and, with a game like this, that's the important thing.

What then is the conclusion? If you are a fan of the Atari 2600 and you don't have this game, shame on you. Find it. It is common enough that it won't cost you much, and it will thus probably be worth whatever you end up paying for it. Yars' Revenge is to be highly recommended for any and all true fans of the Atari 2600.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.5
Written by Martin Review Guide

Reviewed by Martin Henely