|This article may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards. (September 2013)|
Picture label cover art
|Designer(s)||Howard Scott Warshaw|
|Release date(s)||May 1982|
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.
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.
To destroy the Qotile or the Swirl, the player has to either touch the Qotile or eat a piece of the shield to activate the Zorlon Cannon, aim the cannon by lining up with the Qotile or Swirl, then fire the cannon and fly out of the way of the cannon's shot.
Shooting a block of the Qotile's shield - 69 points
Eating a block of the Qotile's shield - 169 points
Shooting the Qotile with the Zorlon Cannon - 1000 points
Shooting the Swirl with the Zorlon Cannon before it launches - 2000 points
Shooting the Swirl in mid-air with the Zorlon Cannon - 6000 points and an extra life (maximum of 9 lives stored)
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.
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.
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.
As the Atari version was developed, change after change was introduced until the final product had very little resemblance to the original.
A common belief is the Yar race and their planet Razak were named after Ray Kassar, CEO of Atari at the time. However, Warshaw wanted to call the game Yars' Revenge and so lied to one marketing employee that the game was named after the CEO. He then swore that employee to secrecy, assuming "This guy is going to run back and tell everyone." The name was not changed. 
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. 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.
A reimagining (titled Yar's Revenge, rather than Yars' Revenge) was released as a downloadable title on April 12, 2011 on Xbox Live Arcade and on April 28, 2011 for Microsoft Windows. [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.
Another remake, a prequel to the original, Yars' Revenge: First War was released as a part of the Atari GO initiative on April 8, 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.
|This section requires expansion. (September 2014)|
Bill Kunkel and Arnie Katz of Electronic Games in 1983 called Yars' Revenge a "video sleeping pill". In 2003 The Video Game Critic was more positive, giving the game an A+: "Named after Atari CEO Ray Kassar and programmed by the man who brought you E.T., Yars' Revenge is a real gem. [...] Yars' Revenge provides a level of strategy and challenge you don't see in many Atari 2600 games."
IGN were unimpressed by the PC version of the reimagining, Yar's Revenge. It was considered to have little connection to the original game and to be too short even when the low price was taken into consideration. The Xbox 360 version was more positively reviewed by Popmatters who considered it visually appealing and good value.
- Bogost, Montfort 2009, p. 89.
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- Atari Flashback 2 Instruction Manual, page 10
- Official Version of "Yars' Revenge" at Atari Arcade
- AtariAge entry for Yars' Revenge
- Yars' Revenge at MobyGames
- Yars' Revenge at TheAlmightyGuru
- Yars' Revenge original TV commercial
- Yars' Revenge: The First War Facebook App