The Game: Piloting a lone spaceship zipping over a planet’s surface in a low, fast orbit, your mission is to kick some evasive alien butt. Drawing a bead on the aliens is much harder than it looks, and they arrive in waves of four. Naturally, it seems like it’s much easier for them to target you… (Games By Apollo, 1981)
Memories: Quite an improvement over Richardson, Texas-based Games By Apollo’s first game, the disastrously bad Skeet Shoot, Spacechase isn’t going to blow the doors down in the game originality department, but it wasn’t bad for the VCS at all. The scrolling planetscape beneath the player’s ship may look like an artist’s vague impression of some Arizona landscape, but with games like Defender struggling to get the side-scrolling thing right, it was quite an accomplishment.
Oddly, no matter how far one progresses into a game of Spacechase, there never really seems to be a detectable increase in actual difficulty. When the aliens appear for the umpteenth time and deploy essentially the same tactics with an infintesimal increase in speed, one can almost hear a little voice saying “It’s only a flesh wound!”
Spacechase isn’t an exceptional game, but it’s not a train wreck either. Though Games By Apollo’s initial effort didn’t set the world on fire (probably a program-it-quick-as-you-can-so-we-can-get-it-on-the-market bandwagon product), Spacechase is indicative of the company’s best later output – nifty, work-a-day games that looked kinda neat and provided a little flashpoint of fun, precisely as intended.