Originally Published: 25 April 2011
Thirty years ago, in simpler times, Yars’ Revenge was the best selling original game on the Atari 2600. As one of the first arcade-shooters it took the gaming world and shook it until all the change fell out of its pocket. Now, in 2011, it’s back on Xbox Live.
Yars Revenge is one of those classsic tales – Yar meets evil insect overlord, evil insect overlord brainwashes Yar, Yar commits many atrocities under the command of evil insect overlord, Yar suffers accident which sees Yar shake off the brainwashing, Yar seeks revenge. It’s a classic tale. Thirty years classic. Is it worth the reboot?
The game is an on-rails shooter. You’re guided through the level and merely have to move your character, and your aiming reticule, around the screen dodging bullets and shooting enemies. You have various weapons on offer – a laser, a rail gun type affair and rockets – all triggered by different shoulder/triggers. Move you character with the left stick, move your reticule with the right stick.
I found it all a bit complicated, to be honest. It doesn’t sound like it should be – and it shouldn’t – and I think that’s what lead to a lot of frustration as I played the game. I kept losing track of my character, or my reticule. I’d end up with Yar firmly embedded in the top right hand corner of the screen and my reticule somewhere round the diagonally opposite corner. It frustrated me no end.
As did the weapons – your main weapon will be the laser, it’s on the right trigger so it comes naturally. It’s the one you’ll use the most. You can’t really get away with it for very long though, as you’ll come across enemies that can only effectively been killed with the other weapons on offer. While you can dodge and weave your way through the levels, avoiding the enemy attacks while you tickle them with your laser you won’t get much of a score as nothing seems to die very easily.
Graphically the backdrops you fly through are attractive, but the enemies are a bit “when you’ve seen one balloon, you’ve seen them all” and, sometimes, they’re hard to pick out against the background – especially when you have enemy projectiles whizzing at you from all directions. That’s part of the reason why you’ll lose track of where your character is – sometimes there’s too much going on.
There’s an old saying – “revenge is a dish best served cold.” Atari have come along and added …”and reheated thirty years in the future” to the end of that. It’s not a bad game, and with a lot of persistance you could grow to like it, but whether you’ll stick it out is another matter.