I highly doubt that Gravitar appears in many people's top 10 lists, myself included. My only memories of playing the game as a kid were of walking away being confused and frustrated.
So, why do I even have this game in my collection? Well, to be completely honest, I initially wasn't interested in the game at all, only its monitor. Gravitar was one of the few Atari games that used a color vector monitor. As the days go by, these monitors are becoming harder to find and it is even more difficult to find one in working condition. Therefore, when I saw a decent price on a working Gravitar, I snagged it assuming I could use the monitor as a backup for my Star Wars or Tempest.
However, once I picked up the game and started playing it, my negative memories started to fade and I really started to appreciate its unique game play and unabashed difficulty. The only way I can attempt to describe it is a cross between Lunar Lander and Asteroids, possibly with a little Scramble mixed in.
In Lunar Lander, you attempt to land your craft on different locations of the moon while battling physics and a limited amount of fuel. Gravitar takes the concept to the extreme as you attempt to pilot your craft around the various surfaces of different planets to retrieve fuel cells using a tractor beam (including surfaces that require you to navigate your ship upside down).
If dealing with physics and limited fuel wasn't enough, you have to simultaneously battle enemies that are constantly bombarding you with shots. Some of the enemies are flying, which is similar to Asteroids. However, many of the enemies are fixed bunkers in the planets that must be taken out, similar to Scramble. The game progresses through different solar systems in which you must rid the planets of enemies by shooting them. There is also a planet with a "reactor" in it (the red planet). If you go to this planet and destroy it, you are fast-forwarded to the next solar system.
Unlike the majority of games in my collection which I have played to death, Gravitar is a game that continues to provide new experiences and challenges for me. It is going to be a while before I can complete all of the solar systems, and just getting a handle on the physics model is extremely difficult. To me, it is almost like playing and exploring a brand new color vector game, which is very exciting.
The game came in working condition. However, I may perform the following repairs some day:
- Install a "deluxe" cap kit from Bob Roberts (WG 6100)
- Upgrade the monitor low voltage section with a LV2000