When it comes to super-powered Atari 2600 games, few games spring faster to mind than this. One of the only truly great original games for the system (I.e. River Raid 1/2)). Okay. Original is stretching things a bit. The game was originally going to be a port of an arcade game called “Star Castle.” But certain improvements were made to the original that it became its own title. The game’s title was named after Executive Ray Kassar. (Yar backwards!)
Like many Atari games, It features a fantastic cover on the box, relying on the “show don’t tell” method as, unlike today, the covers looked far cooler than the actual game.
Although the box states “super flies fight for their lives,” it also came with a miniature comic book made by DC Comics. I am proud to still have an original copy! The comic is available to read at AtariAge.com. (Other games that incuded a comic were Berzerk and Defender).
But all you really need to know is that you are a super-fly, a very angry super-fly, on a mission of revenge. You put up with the Quotile’s crap for too long and enough is enough.
For those who never played the game, here’s a run-down.
Gameplay: You can fly and shoot in eight different directions, which was cool enough in it’s own right for an Atari game. Your goal is to shoot (or even chew for more points) a path through the fortified wall that protects the Quotile. The Quotile consists of a large cannon housed on the far right of the screen that floats up and down. During this time a heat seeking pellet floats at you at all times during the stage unless you remain in the neutral zone, which makes you invincible as long as you remain therein. But you can’t shoot, so you have to leave eventually.
Once you break a path through the wall, you can bring up your own cannon on the far left of the screen to launch at the enemy. (This is done in a variety of ways. See below)
Once a path is breached through the wall, you have to time it just right so it will hit the enemy. You need to shoot early so the enemy floats into the shot. It’s not easy to do, but adds a layer of strategy.
Wait, there’s more. During the course of each stage, the enemy cannon will change to red indicating that it will change into a swirl, a flying blade, that rushes straight at you. You cannot shoot it with regular bullets, and cannot eat it. You will bite off more than you can chew if you do. The neutral zone will not protect you either. To dodge it, it helps to go off the screen either up or down and reappear on the opposite side.
But you can use your own cannon to bring it down. Once a path is breached, you can time the cannon so that it hits the enemy as he floats into it. And of course you get more points if you destroy it as a swirl rather than hitting it in its regular cannon state. You also get a free life that way.
You can ready your cannon either by chewing the wall rather than shooting it, or by touching the left wall after you chewed enough pieces, depending on what settings you have the Atari set at. This takes a certain amount of timing and dodging that brings a sophisticated feel to an Atari game.
But once the Quotile is destroyed, another level starts, after a neat pause screen displaying your remaining lives and score. But look, the wall is different. It is now a rotating 3D tunnel that not only is a cool effect, but it makes it tougher to create a tunnel to the cannon.
The game increases in difficulty as the fortified wall not only has two differing walls, but they change in three different colors, blue, white, than pink. Certain stages will take away your neautral zone shield, making you dodge the pellet at all times.
In some stages, the swirl’s attack pattern changes. Rather than launching straight at you, it senses where you dodged it, then comes at you a second time!
There is suprisingly a lot to this game. Even the sequel for Game Boy didn’t topple the original’s perfection.
The first switch on the Atari changes the game’s modes. In some settings, you simply eat five bricks from the wall to make your cannon appear. In others, you not only have to eat the pellets but also touch the left wall to activate it.
The right switch changes the speed of the swirl, which greatly changes the feel and timing of the game.
While it’s not as “all out” as Space Invaders with its hundred plus settings, this game adds unique changes to the format in the eight different modes available, including “Ultimate Yars,” a children’s mode, and two-player versions.
It also features a neat Easter Egg, just like Adventure did not too long before it. During the cinema where the Quotile explodes, fly onto the barely noticable black line just right and the screen will go black showing the name of the programmer. Careful though, as this ends the game…
It’s one of my favorite early-era titles. My all time faves include Stargate (Defender II), Pengo, Pac-Man Jr. and Moon Patrol with its three-layer parallax scrolling.