I’ve always loved “gravity games.” The various Lunar Lander incarnations are great fun to me. Asteroids, more an “inertia game” than a “gravity game” in truth, has a similar feel and is similarly fun. As such, a certain screenshot in the Commodore 64 issue of Retro Gamer magazine (#30) caught my eye the other day. It depicts what looked like a gravity game, and some digging on the net showed me that’s indeed what it was – a game known as Thrust. It was ported to various systems of the period (even the Vectrex!). I grabbed the C64 version and have been having a blast with it through VICE on my Win 98SE P3 setup for emulation.
As it turns out, Thrust (see screenshots here) is a game that was originally written for the BBC Micro / Acorn Electron and released in 1986 by Firebird. It’s based on Gravitar from Atari, a not-especially-popular arcade game (a gravity game!) released in 1982. Thrust, a much better game, basically goes like this: In a setting similar to, but more complex than, a Lunar Lander scenario, you must capture a pod with a tractor beam (which acts, physically, like a stiff rod when activated) and pull it into space. There is a dramatic feel of gravity and inertia as regards both your craft and the attached pod, making for a rather “realistic” feeling game. The difficulty is in navigating narrow, subterranian caverns with this pod attached to your craft by what feels like a metal rod. Great fun.
Thrust. If you missed this one like I did, it’s not too late to feel the goodness!
UPDATE [5.16.2007]: If you like what you see, have a look at this list of “Cave-flyers and Thrust clones.”
UPDATE [9.3.2007]: Ok, I’ve got to say that the aforementioned Vectrex version of this game has got to be the best version out there. It’s just gaming heaven. I’m loving it. So – go get yourself a Vectrex and take hold of the Thrust cartridge. Some of the best gaming I’ve experienced. Worth the purchase of a Vectrex just for this title. My $.02.
UPDATE [12.11.2008]: ng:moco has just released Dropzone for the iPhone. Dropzone is a Thrust remake with a bit of Geometry Wars thrown in. See our review over at Touch Arcade. It is a superb game.