The Game: Various worlds lie near a powerful gravitational vortex. From the moment you leave your launch pad, you’re in trouble – the vortex will draw you in if you don’t act quickly and fire your thrusters to take you to one of the planets. On each planet, you arrive in a deadly free-fall, requiring you to point your ship upward and fire retro-thrust, all the while turning to blast cannons which are attempting to shoot you down. Your fuel supply is also dwindling all this time, requiring you to find enemy fuel depots and siphon energy away from them. If you succeed in destroying all enemy installations on one world, there are several other planets waiting – with the deadly gravity vortex in the middle the whole time. (Atari, 1983)
Memories: Damn, but this is a tough game! Tough but fun. It’s pretty embarrassing to get oneself iced on what basically amounts to the menu screen. Sheesh. Not that I’m saying that’s happened to me lately, of course.
Gravitar is the culmination of the games-with-real-physics trend which began with titles like Asteroids and Lunar Lander, and Gravitar‘s physics are unforgiving. If you can’t juggle combat, fuel replenishment and keeping yourself airborne at the same time, this game is not for you. Not that I’m saying that I can’t, mind you.
There was actually a home version of Gravitar for the Atari VCS, part of the last wave of games that Atari turned out for its original console in the not-quite-salad-days of the video game industry. And Gravitar lives on today thanks to Atari’s various anthologies and collections of their classic games.