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Blue Lightning - The Atari Times

Blue Lightning

Blast enemy fighters in this Lynx showstopper
by Gregory D. George

October 2, 2002
"You weren't selected because you are the best. You were selected because you are expendable!"

So reads the manual for Blue Lightning, one of the Lynx's premiere games. Now, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't exactly feel safe knowing the military was sending up bumbling clowns to attack the enemy. Not to mention the possibility of wasting millions of dollars on aircraft for this incompetent pilot! But, Atari always tried to be different when writing their manuals - I just wish they had thought about this one a bit more. But, it's not the manual that makes this game, it is the gameplay itself.

Blue Lightning is an arcade flying game where you pilot a sophisticated fighter jet on 9 missions to destroy the enemy. If you've ever played Afterburner in the arcade (and I did quite a bit), you already know the basic premise.

I would submit to you that Blue Lightning for the Lynx actually has better graphics than Afterburner in the arcade. Certainly not in resolution, but the scaling on the little Lynx must be seen to be believed! Watching the land zoom towards you, as you rocket downwards isan awesome feeling!

While the scaling effect of the ground is wonderful, some of the other graphics are lacking. Missiles come at you straight on, and the enemy fighters look more like UFOs than jets. But these are minor quibbles.

The animation of your plane (which is an F-18 Hornet in case you've ever wondered) is smooth and realistic. This is one large sprite on your Lynx screen! The missile you fire from your fighter are especially nice as the smoke trails out towards your intended target. The guns are a little lame, but I don't suppose that could have been helped much. Also, the explosion animation is good, but not spectacular. One of the best-animated sequences is that of the crew running out onto the runway to service the fighter. These little guys look like silhouettes and move as smoothly as any person I've ever seen.

Like most Atari games, there is no in-game music in Blue Lightning. And personally, I think too much emphasis has been placed on music. Sure, music can create a mood of suspense or excitement, but so can pure silence. With silence, you never know exactly how to feel until the event happens!

Even though there is no in-game music, there is a great intro and tune complete with flashes of lightning and the jets flying around. Most of the sound effects consist of the targeting computer's beeping informing you of a lock, the roar of your engines, and the explosions of enemy planes and equipment. There is no voice in the game, which actually got annoying in Afterburner, so I don't feel like I'm missing out on something with Blue Lightning.

The missions in Blue Lightning are varied and creative. One of them has you piloting through a narrow canyon in an effort to destroy the radar bases. To fly through the canyon with your afterburners going full-blast will not only risk your life, but will get you a lunatic bonus if you survive! Other missions include bombing runs, stealth attacks, destroying the naval ships, and other general mayhem. It can get repetitious, but I never tire of seeing the beautiful landscapes.

If you own a Lynx and you don't own a copy of Blue Lightning, you should be taken out and whipped. This is absolutely one of the best portable games you will ever play.

Awesome title screen!
The enemy planes are easy to hit.
Missions with water and ships add to the variety.
Ah, the stealth mission! Fly into enemy territory and destroy their equipment!
Blue Lightning
System: Lynx
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Shooter
Graphics Score: 90%
Sound & Music Score: 70%
Gameplay Score: 85%
Control Score: 90%

Final Score: 90%

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