Classic Retro Video Game Reviews

Activision's Laser Blast -Atari 2600
Retro Gaming Review

Atari 2600 VCS console Classic Retro Gaming Video Game ReviewActivision's Laser Blast for Atari 2600 Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review
Title: Laser Blast
Manufacturer: Activision
Platform: Atari 2600
Release Date: 1981
Part #: AG-008
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
ESRB Rating: N/A

Rating: Classic Retro Video Game Review Rating
Activision's Laser Blast Screenshot:
Activision's Laser Blast for Atari 2600 screenshot Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review

In the early 80s Space-themed games were hugely popular and most developers felt they needed to have something to compete with Asteroids, Galaxian, Space Invaders, and others that led the way into galactic gaming.

Perhaps in the rush to launch such a game, Activision released Laser Blast. Initially, it seems good, but minutes later you may be looking for a better game to play. It has various difficulty levels, but it's fairly repetitive.

Initially, I enjoyed playing it because it flips the standard ground-based horizontal shooter by placing your ship atop the screen shooting down at the bases below. Too often one defends the planet from the bottom of the screen while enemies descend on you. Being atop the screen with 8-direction movements and 3 selectable angles of firing was fun for a while. The angles of fire become a hindrance, but I suppose that's part of the strategy.

Laser Blast Game Play

With no back story to this game, I'm not sure if I'm invading or defending. Mostly, I'm just killing. You begin this single player game with 3 lives and accumulate more with every 1,000 points scored. You can maneuver all around the screen, firing from any position. Most players want to hover at the top of the screen to try and evade enemy fire. This won't work as there's no indicator of when they will fire on you and the blast is instantaneous with no time to dodge.

Holy shit! Check this out...
Activision's Laser Blast was created by David Crane
who also designed Fishing Derby and Dragster. He would also go on to create Kaboom! and Pitfall! In 1986, Crane left Activision to co-found Absolute Entertainment.

However, you can fly below their radar and go undetected. This prevents them from honing in on you as fast. There's no marked area, but as you experiment, you'll discover where to lurk in order to evade detection. It's always a good idea to keep on the move - a moving target is always harder to hit. You can hover briefly as you choose your directional firing, but jet away once you release the blast.

Activision's Laser Blast for Atari 2600 screenshot Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review

The firing process is a little un-natural to me. Typically when you press the fire-button - it fires, right? In Laser Blast, depressing the red button initiates firing. While the button is depressed your ship hovers while you use the joystick to select the angle of fire. Releasing the button sends the blast and you are free to zoom off in your ship. It takes me a while to become accustomed to a 2-stage firing scenario.

It only takes one enemy blast to kill you and send your ship plummeting to the ground below. One cool trick you have as you plunge to your death is control of your ship. Thus you can guide it into one of the bases below that was shooting at you. If you're going down, you might as well take out the enemy in the process.

The bases you fire on appear in groups of three. As you defeat each set, another batch file in from the right. You are unable to fire until the based are in place. The difficulty switches have no effect - difficulty is controlled through the game selection of which there are 4 variations.

As you progress through the battles, you'll discover an inability to fly close to the ground - where you are below the radar. You'll be forced to fly higher up toward the top of the screen. This means the bases can hone in on your location easier. You must stay on the move and make your firing count quickly before changing location.

Like many Activision games, photographing a high score earned you a patch directly from Activision. Laser Blast offered 2 patches - one was for attaining 100,000 points and the other involved beating the game and getting one million points. When the latter occurred, the score changed to exclamation points!

Atari 2600 VCS console Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review
Final Judgement:

Activision's Laser Blast

becomes repetitive much too soon. It has a few interesting elements, but they are not enough to counter the simple graphics and repetition of enemy bases. Even with the lure of a space battle, you'll be happier saving the planet in another game.

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