Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Top 30 Vertical Shooters for the Atari 2600: #29 Spacechase


That's right, Spacechase, all one word.  Is it a typo?  Who can say.  Is it a great game?  No.  Spacechase feels like a demo game that was created to show off someone's really neat scrolling planet playfield.  And honestly that is one really cool looking scrolling planet playfield.  It's what goes on against that playfield that is not so cool.
Thank you  Used without permission (I'm the worst kind of pirate)

Spacechase is one of the most basic and fundamental vertical shooters there could ever possibly be.  You control a space ship, you move horizontally (and limited vertically) and shoot vertically at enemy space ships.  That's the game.  The enemy space ships fire back, you have to dodge.  The only thing that might be of any interest is that the difficult increases when you reach 10K and then 40K points.  The enemy ships get smaller, move faster, and shoot faster.  When I say the difficulty increases, I mean this in the most academic possible way.  Does the game get tougher?   Yes.  Is it enough to make it worth trying to stay awake through the first 10K points to get there?  Only slightly.  Of course, you can also start at the higher levels by selecting a different game variation, but if you do that, there is no where to go and the game just becomes an endurance test or a cure for insomnia.

I almost get the feeling that this game would be perfect for the modern gamer who is a graphics-whore.  Spacechase is all flash and very little substance.  The aforementioned scrolling planet looks really cool and is probably the only thing that might cause you to lose a ship as you get distracted watching the landscape roll by.  There are also game variations that change the color palette so that you can play a "night" battle.  We'll not argue the astrophysics that make this pretty much impossible and irrelevant from an atmospheric vantage point.  Let's just say the planet is rotating pretty quickly and leave it at that.

If you want to show off some of the graphic capabilities of the Atari 2600, Spacechase can do that.  If you want to sit down a play a great vertical shooter, I've got 28 better games on this list for you to choose from.  Now, I will admit, I will play Spacechase occasionally as a guilty pleasure because it is a pure and simply shooter and I do like to watch that scrolling planet.  But I'm not going to spend an entire Saturday with it.  My tolerance for bad video games is high, but not that high... 

My best Spacechase score: 16375 (game called due to boredom, not lack of skill)

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