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Phoenix Review

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Developer: Amstar Publisher: Centuri
Release Date: 1980 Available On: Atari 2600

With the success of Space Invaders for the Atari 2600, a lot of effort was made to create other games within that concept that were as addictive as that one. Games such as Galaxian, for example, took the concept started by Space Invaders in different directions. In 1980, however, Centuri came out with Phoenix, yet another Space Invaders clone. Does it come anywhere close to matching the quality of Space Invaders? Read on to find out.

The concept of Phoenix is not overly complex. You control a ship on the bottom of the screen that can move left and right and fire straight up. This particular ship, however, has one other ability available to it, the ability to raise a shield around itself, although it is unable to move while in that state and the shield only lasts a brief period of time. Using these abilities you have to take out Phoenixes which have gone on a rampage because they are under the control of an alien spaceship.

The game is played in five stages that loop and get more difficult as you beat them over and over. The first two stages contain small Phoenixes that can be taken out by shooting them once. The third and fourth stages contain larger Phoenixes that can only be killed by blasting them in the middle, although you can temporarily shoot their wings off if you hit them. Obviously, these Phoenixes will be shooting back at you, and they seem to be able to fire a lot more than you are, which does not seem fair, but does make the game more challenging.

Should you get through these stages, you confront the spaceship itself, with the objective being to blast the alien at the top. One hit will do him in, but you have to blast your way through all of the shielding surrounding him before you can fire at him directly. He also boasts a lot of firepower so getting good shots at him can prove difficult, especially since he is so low on the screen that you will have little time to react when he fires at you. Still, he is beatable. This, I think, may be one of the first occurrences in a game of this type of a boss battle.

So far as the graphics are concerned, the Phoenixes, particularly the large ones, look convincingly like birds. Your ship does look like a small warship. The alien spaceship also looks quite good. Overall, there is nothing about the graphics which can legitimately be complained about. The sound effects are not anything to get excited about, but they get the job done. Overall, then, the aesthetics in this game are pretty good, although there are games that are better than this one in that regard.

The one main blow against this game is a lack of game modes. There’s only one game mode. The game select switch and the difficulty switches do not do anything of any significant consequence to the game, although one of them alters which sound effects are present in the game. Still, the one game mode that is present is engaging enough to make this game interesting and give it the potential to last a little while. If you can find this game fairly cheap, you should give it a try.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7.5
Final: 7.5
Written by Martin Write a User Review