Air Raiders

Atari 2600

Review by Dan Mahlendorf

M Network


Graphics: 7

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 6

1982 and 1983 seemed to be a big year for the first-person flight combat games. For example Activision released Starmaster, Imagic had Star Voyager and Atari came out with Star Raiders with the added control pad. Mattel, who competed with Atari with their Intellivision game system, released a slew of games for the 2600 under the label M-Network. One of which was their own entry into the cockpit-oriented shoot-em' up which was more down to earth, literally: Air Raiders. This game, out of the 17 games that were released by M-Networks was the only one that was NOT based on Intellivision games or characters already in Intellivision games.

The object of the game is to fly your plane and shoot down squadrons of enemy planes all while avoiding flak fired from the ground as you keep an eye on your ammunition and your fuel gauge. You start on a runway and after you hit reset and press the fire button your engine will start, causing the white pylons on either side to move past your cockpit faster and faster. You must then pull back on the joystick to soar into the air when you have gathered enough speed or you will crash to the ground, ending the game. A very nice touch of realism along with running out of runway and crashing if you don't take off. Once you are in the air you are free to maneuver. Left and right on the stick banks your plane in those directions while forward and back makes your plane dive or climb respectively. Fire button, of course, fires your machine guns. As you fly you will see squadrons of three planes appear in your view. You must fly so that your sights are lined up with a plane and then blow it out of the sky. To impede your aerial assault there is a section of the quasi-virtual world where flak is fired at your plane, located by an orange stripe on your control panel. You must try to avoid the enemy fire (represented by an advancing dot that is obscured a bit by the flashing of the screen) or your plane will be knocked down a few feet. When you get low on fuel you must then try and land by going to a zero altitude and waiting for the runway to appear. Then nose it down and you've landed. If you scored 10 over the last time up, you will refuel and your ammunition will be filled up to the amount of planes you have shot down. Continue until you crash or can't take off anymore by not scoring enough points (and not getting any ammo).

It's a pretty fun game considering its limitations. Trying to home in on the planes takes some practice as they tend to change speed and will either dive or climb to try and shake you. The flak also becomes very difficult to avoid as you can't really bank out of the way fast enough and the bullets come flying at you rapidly. It's not uncommon to be nailed several times in a row and crash because you didn't have a chance to pull out. The only downside is that when you do land you only get the number of bullets equal to the number of planes you shot down even if you had bullets remaining. But I guess that's there to ensure the game doesn't get boring as it could be too easy to play without this limit.

Graphically and aurally the game does a good job. By looking at the screen you know that it's an airplane game and the planes do look like planes. One thing that is a bit nit picky is that it seems as though you aren't really flying but more like hovering and rotating as the planes don't get closer or farther away and the ground doesn't move. Oh well. The sounds come across as decent representations of the "proper" effects: the engine has a low rumble, the machines guns have a "chit-chit-chit" sound, etc. The enemy planes, however, don't really "blow up real good": when shot it's just a "poof" of dots with about the same sound.

Overall, Air Raiders is a decent game to pick up and play once in a while. It's easy to pick up and play and has enough difficulty to keep one at it to try and get a better score.


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Last updated: Saturday, September 25, 2004 09:22 AM