The game was supplied on a flippy disk. One side had the Atari version, the other side had the Commodore 64 version. The Atari version required computers with the GTIA chip installed in order to display properly.
Koronis Rift was one of two games in Lucasfilm Games' second wave (December 1985). The other was The Eidolon. Both took advantage of the fractal technology developed for Rescue on Fractalus!, further enhancing it. In Koronis Rift, the Atari 800's additional colors (over those of the Commodore 64) allowed the programmers to gradually fade in the background rather than suddenly popping it in as in Rescue.
The player controls a surface rover vehicle to enter several "rifts" on an alien planet which are effectively fractal mazes. A lost civilisation has left strange machinery, so-called "hulks", within these rifts which are guarded by armed flying saucers of different design and color. Depending on their respective color, shields and gunshots of both the rover and the saucers are of varying effectiveness against each other; part of the game is figuring out which shield and weapon modules work best where.
By means of a drone robot, the rover can retrieve modules with various functions (which are not immediately obvious) from nearby hulks. The modules can then be installed in the rover, analyzed aboard the player's space ship, or sold; the rover can carry up to six different modules at a time which can be activated and de-activated as the player sees fit. A large variety of modules is available: Different weapon and shield modules with varying power levels and color codes, modules that increase the rover's power output, a mapper (activating an extra screen on the rover), and even one module that turns the retrieval probe into a bomb, destroying any hulks the probe is sent to investigate instead of retrieving modules.
Conversely, different types of hulks exist including one that simply "swallows" the probe without yielding a module, requiring the player to purchase a new probe (and possibly sell useful modules to raise the required funds).
The goal of the game is to find and destroy the saucer control base hulk. To this end, the player must explore the rifts, find hulks, retrieve and analyze modules and understand the color-coding of weapons and shields to overcome the increasingly aggressive and dangerous saucers. The game can be solved in several ways; the quickest is to acquire the bomb module and send the probe into the saucer base with the bomb module activated.
Computer Gaming World stated that "if KR is a game, it is also a puzzle ... arcade skill alone isn't enough". The reviewer did not enjoy the game because it was so difficult that he spent too much time save scumming, but praised the graphics and sound.
Originally developed for the Atari 8-bit computers and the Commodore 64, Koronis Rift was ported to several other platforms of the home computer era, including Amstrad CPC, Apple II, MSX, TRS-80 CoCo and ZX Spectrum.
- Williams, Gregg (March 1986). "Atari Playfield". Computer Gaming World. p. 30.