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Gravitar - The Atari Times


Thats not a woodpecker, it looks like an enormous... Johnson!
by Brendan Onfrichuk

January 19, 2007
I didn't have the luxury of playing Gravitar when it first came out but I did first get it a couple of years ago. This is a highly original game on Atari's part and has become something of a classic 2600 title, even if the arcade original did not become "extremely" popular. This game came out in 1983 right before the crash so we're lucky it got out before that happened. Everybody kept telling me that Gravitar is an awesome game and I just had to see what all the fuss was about.


The evil Gravitar is trying to destroy the universe with the ultimate weapon of gravity. His forces are on all fronts and it wont be long before his fleet is in our galaxy. You pilot a small inappropriately shaped ship through space destroying Gravitar's forces in each galaxy.

The game starts at a map of the current galaxy that you can fly around. For every galaxy you can choose to destroy the gravity reactor or destroy all of the sentry guns on each planet. To destroy the reactor you have to pilot your way through a small tunnel, fire at the core once and then pilot your way out. This becomes increasingly difficult in the higher levels. Instead you will have to fly to each planet and destroy the sentry guns. You will have to fly around obstacles, laser blasts and the occasional UFO to get to the sentry guns. When sentry guns shoot they fire in a predetermined pattern making it easy to find a path through them but piloting is made difficult because of the "distorted" gravity causing you to slowly drift in any direction at any time. This will motivate you to be constantly moving and make it more difficult to aim at the small sentry guns.

There may also be fuel left behind on surfaces so you will need to get as close to it as possible and use your tractor beam to pick it up. If you do not replenish your fuel supply then you will loose your life when your fuel is used up. After you are done on a planet you can exit by flying straight up and return to the galaxy map. The game is very simple and addictive but the piloting takes some getting used to.


The graphics are down right simplistic in this game. The planets on the map look ok and the UFOs certainly look good but your ship could use a few more pixels. The planet surfaces could have also used some work because they are very blocky and the sentry guns are just squares. But there are no flashing sprites like in other 2600 games and overall the graphics are similar to the arcade version.


There is no music in the game but I wouldn't expect there to be seeing as how very few 2600 titles actually do have music. The sound effects are a little to simple though because there are only a few such as shooting, thrusting and explosions. None of these are bad though and the lack of sound doesn't ruin the game.


Not unlike Asteroids, you pilot your ship by turning with left and right and thrust forward by holding up. You pick up speed a little to quickly though and you crash many times because of holding up for to long. Holding down activates the tractor beam and is easy to use but you need to be really close to fuel to actually pick it up and you may crash just from trying to refuel. Pressing the button fires but aiming is difficult because you turn fast and you can't sit still because of the gravitational pull. Atari could have worked longer on the controls but with a little practice none of these become to big of a problem.


Gravitar isn't as good as everybody says it is but it does have very memorable classic gameplay and is a very worthy addition to any collection. It is also a very easy to get title so it won't be much trouble finding a copy.

Typical 2600 title screen.
Space... The final... something- or- other.
You can skip the rest of the level if you can destroy the core.
Or go out and blast each individual rock.
System: 2600
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Shooter
Graphics Score: 75%
Sound & Music Score: 70%
Gameplay Score: 80%
Control Score: 70%

Final Score: 75%

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