The Game: What a refreshing change of pace. This time, you control a wave of spaceships attacking from the sky, and the computer is stuck on the ground firing at you. It’s payback time! Destroy the ground defense positions and guide your flying saucers into attack position. But apparently the three-lives rule doesn’t apply to the computer: you can never completely get rid of the ground defenses…you only encounter more agile ones. So, being the unfair world that it is, the game continues until you run out of ships. (Activision, 1981)
Memories: This craftily subversive title from Activision turns a lot of scroll-and-shoot conventions on their ear, but at its heart, it’s a little bit of Defender and a little bit of Sky Diver and a whole lot of madness. To fire, you have to hit the button twice – once to deploy your ship’s weapon (which also leaves it a sitting duck for a moment) and the second to fire. Learning the rapid-fire rhythm essential to staying alive in Laser Blast is a survival skill that develops rapidly. And if you do take a hit, your saucer begins crashing, but it does so slowly, gracefully – and still under your control. You’ve got enough time to say “If I’m going out, I’m taking you bastards with me!” and guide your ship right into one of the cannons, and if you’re on your last ship and that suicide run puts your score over a multiple of 1,000, you can literally come back from the dead with an extra ship. It’s a neat trick, and not one I recommend actually consciously trying to pull off! That said, the game’s learning curve is fairly tame, depending on which setting you choose.
Maybe it’s more genius than madness after all. Highly recommended, highly simple, and highly addictive.