Yars' Revenge

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Yars' Revenge
Artwork of a orange, vertical rectangular box. The top half reads "Atari Video Computer System" and below "Yars' Revenge". The bottom half displays a drawn image of a silver robotic fly in battle. On the bottom-right corner there is a tricolor ribbon that says, "New inside. Yars' Revenge from Atari action-packed comic book".
Picture label cover art
Developer(s) Atari, Inc
Publisher(s) Atari, Inc.
Designer(s) Howard Scott Warshaw
Platform(s) Atari 2600
Release date(s) May 1982
Genre(s) Fixed shooter
Mode(s) Single player

Yars' Revenge is a video game released for the Atari 2600 in 1982. It was created by Howard Scott Warshaw. Yars' Revenge is Atari's best-selling original title for the 2600, although it was outsold by the licensed game Pac-Man.

Gameplay[edit]

The player controls an insect-like creature called a Yar who must nibble or shoot through a barrier in order to fire his Zorlon Cannon into the breach. The objective is to destroy the evil Qotile, which exists on the other side of the barrier. The Qotile can shoot at the Yar, even if the barrier is undamaged, by turning into the Swirl. The player is warned before the shot is fired, and he can retreat to a safe distance to dodge the enemy's energy blast. The Yar can hide from a pursuing destroyer missile within a "neutral zone" in the middle of the screen, but the Yar cannot shoot while in the zone. The Swirl can kill the Yar anywhere, even inside the Neutral Zone.[1]

Gameplay screenshot

Each level ends with the destruction of the Qotile or Swirl. Odd-numbered levels have a stationary shield protecting the Qotile; even-numbered levels have a rotating shield protecting the Qotile. The destroyer missile follows the player faster as levels progress.

At 70,000 points, the Qotile's shield turns blue and the swirl's firing frequency triples, sometimes firing instantly.

At 150,000 points, the Qotile's shield turns gray and the swirl returns to normal firing frequency, but it will begin acting as a guided missile.

At 230,000 points, the Qotile's shield turns pink and the swirl's firing frequency triples again, sometimes firing instantly and still acting as a guided missile.

Easter egg[edit]

A screenshot of the Easter Egg

The game has an Easter egg. After killing the Swirl in mid-air, a black vertical line will appear on the screen across the spot where the Swirl was shot (the line is referred to in the manual as the "Ghost of Yars" and warns the player to stay off its "mean streak"). If the player moves vertically along that line and is slightly below the middle of the screen when the explosion closes, the game will end and go into the Game Select screen with programmer's initials, HSW, shown both forwards and backwards in place of the word Select. In game 6 or 7, JOV appears when this trick is performed, under the creator's initials.

Development[edit]

The game began as a licensed port of the Cinematronics arcade game Star Castle. Warshaw's original design was nearly identical to Star Castle: a powerful cannon is protected by three layers of counter-rotating shields. The player must shoot holes in these shields in order to destroy the cannon inside. But once these holes are made, the cannon can also shoot out at the player. If the outermost layer is completely destroyed, new layers of shields are grown. Harassing the player are three free-roaming mines that hunt the player's ship.[2]

As the Atari version was developed, change after change was introduced until the final product had very little resemblance to the original.

The Yar race and their planet Razak were named after Ray Kassar, CEO of Atari at the time.

Package[edit]

As with several other video games for the 2600 system, a miniature comic book was included in the game package of Yars' Revenge to illustrate the story behind the game.[3] The comic book explains the "revenge" of the game's title in terms of the Yars avenging the destruction of one of their worlds, Razak IV.

Atari also released an album, under the Kid Stuff Records label, which contains a theme song and a radio drama-style reading of an expansion of the story in the comic book. A different 7" recording explained the tragedy that revealed that a Yar could use himself to target the Zorlon Cannon rather than eating from the barrier. Both recordings were produced by John Braden.

Remakes[edit]

In 1999, a Game Boy Color version was developed by Vatical Entertainment and released by Telegames.

A version was created in 2004 for the Atari Flashback system.[4]

A 3-in-1 cartridge was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2005, published by DSI Games. This title also features Pong and Asteroids.[5]

The game was made available through Xbox's Game Room in 2010.[6]

A reimagining (titled Yar's Revenge, rather than Yars' Revenge) was released as a downloadable title on April 12th, 2011 on Xbox Live Arcade and on April 28, 2011 for Microsoft Windows. It is still pending release for the PlayStation 3.[dated info] It was developed by Killspace Entertainment and published by Atari. In this version, the eponymous Yar has been reimagined as a humanoid female in mechanized power armor.[7]

Another remake, a prequel to the original, Yars' Revenge: First War was released as a part of the Atari GO initiative on April 8th, 2011 on Facebook. It was developed by Baboom Games and published by Atari. This version is an arcade social game reminiscent of the original Atari 2600 game. This version has been acclaimed by remaining faithful to the original and still offering new innovative content.[citation needed][8][9][10]

Another reimagining, playable for free on web browsers supporting HTML5, has been released on Atari.com along with a number of other classic Atari games.[11]

Reception[edit]

Sequel[edit]

In 2005, a sequel to the original Yars' Revenge, titled Yars' Return, was released on the Atari Flashback 2.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bogost, Montfort 2009, p. 89.
  2. ^ Bogost, Montfort 2009, p. 88.
  3. ^ "Atari Comic Books - The Qotile Ultimatum! (Page 1)". AtariAge. Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  4. ^ "Atari Brings Back Bygone Era". Daily Times. September 26, 2005. Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Pong / Asteroids / Yars' Revenge for Game Boy Advance - GameSpot". GameSpot. September 23, 2005. Retrieved October 15, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Microsoft Game Room (360) Review". 411mania.com. April 9, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  7. ^ "The New Yars' Revenge Looks More Like Zone of the Enders - Kotaku". Kotaku. November 17, 2010. Retrieved November 17, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Yars' Revenge: The First War Facebook App". Facebook. April 8, 2011. Retrieved April 8, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Atari's Yar's Revenge Gets A Reboot And Facebook Debut". 8-bitcentral. May 20, 2011. Retrieved May 20, 2011. 
  10. ^ "A Look at the Atari Facebook Retro-remakes". 8bitrocket. May 16, 2011. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Yars' Revenge". atari.com. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  12. ^ Atari Flashback 2 Instruction Manual, page 10

External links[edit]