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|Rating:||4.5 out of 5|
Homebrew games seem to have a special feel to them. I've always thought that the extra effort that goes into a title born of passion for a particular genre or console really shows when playing such a game. Thrust is regarded as one of the best homebrew games for the Atari 2600. Loosely based on Gravitar, Thrust offeres amazing control, great game play and insane difficulty.
The cover above is actually from Thrust+ (i believe) released in 2002 with support for a wide variety of controllers. The difficulty of Thrust doesn't impede on the fun of the game. It's control is so good, it's difficulty is an attribute as one masters the best way to handle situations as gravity pulls you downward.
The Intergalactic Empire has captured several battle-grade starships in reparation for an attack by the resistance. Their weakness is an inability to power these starships, called Klystron Pods. As a member of the resistance, your job is to steal the Klystron Pods from the Empire's storage planets. The planets are heavily armed and well defended by Limpet guns. These guns can be taken out by firing on their reactors. This will temporarily disable the guns, but too many shots will cause a critical state in the reactor - blowing up the planet.
If the planet explodes before you retrieve the pod it will be destroyed in the explosion rendering your mission a failure. If you already have the pod and can escape prior to the reactor reaches a critical phase, you are generously rewarded with bonus points.
This single player game affords a lot of controller options and delivers a great challenge. Depending on the difficulty you choose, you begin with 3, 4 or 5 lives. Mastering the controls is vital and once you get a feel for controlling your ship, you may encounter reverse-gravity and have to relearn the process. I found controlling the ship was a hybrid between Asteroids and Gravitar. The planets force you to enter cavernous areas where avoiding obstacles takes skill and concentration. Gravity constantly pulls you down, so you must counteract that while maintaining your course and goals and while the enemy shoots at you.
You use a tractor beam to acquire fuel and to remove Klystron Pods from the surface. It takes skill to find and lift the Pods, but getting them away from the planet takes a whole new skill set. The Pod dangles and effects the way your ship maneuvers. You can easily become an uncontrollable spinning mess. As you see how the Pod's attachment effects your ship, you can almost feel it's weight pulling against your ship's thrusters.
The game ends when fuel runs out or you run out of ships. Additional lives come every 10,000 points. After all missions of difficulty level Rookie (12 missions) or Normal (24 missions) are completed, the difficulty increases to the next level.
Some may find Thrust's graphics on the blocky side, but it's certainly no worse than any of the first-gen titles for the Atari 2600. More importantly,gamers should find the game play far superior to most 2600 games. The logic involved and skill needed make this a really great game.
There are 5 levels of difficulty, but the difficulty is altered by the game number you select. Among the options are number o f lives, fuel, ship rotation, atmospheric density and incoming gun fire. The Right Difficulty Switch only toggles between NTSC and PAL.
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