Cosmic Ark

Atari 2600

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 7

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

So, you've managed to conquer Atlantis in the memorable 2600 classic, well, "Atlantis." What's next? How does space sound? Switching between two game screens for variety, "Cosmic Ark" has some great moments, but some slightly unfair gameplay knocks it down a notch.

Not that I've ever been stuck in an asteroid field, but I'm sure if I was, the asteroids wouldn't be friendly enough to only approach me from four directions. Nevertheless, that's how it works here, but it actually can become pretty tense at times. Shooting down an asteroid from inside the mothership only requires a quick flick of the joystick in the appropriate direction and it's quite easy to enter into a zone in this mode. You almost wish you could stay here for a while just to see how long you can make it.

The second screen involves a smaller spacecraft floating just above the surface and taking various life forms into the mothership. There is some nice variety here from humans to a nice stock of animals. You'll also see the creatures slowly get sucked up by the tractor beam, a nice touch. But the questions still remain: What are they doing with all of these things and where do they put them?

The asteroid field is a fair challenge. The hunks of space rock slow down for a split-second before they make contact giving the player just enough time to counter-attack. The abduction scene is rather mundane until the protective lasers come into play a few levels in, and that's when things go wrong. Lasers, raising and lowering themselves on the side of the screen, occasionally spit out some sort of death ray that will split the smaller ship into pieces. There is almost no way to know when the beam will fire and when it does, you couldn't possibly dodge it. The idea is there, it just isn't executed properly.

Though it isn't animated, the main Ark/mothership is huge, especially during the rock fight. It doesn't really have any animation, but the sight is quite imposing. Everything is downsized for phase 2, but things remain solid here as well. As mentioned above, watching the poor saps get sucked up is a great touch. Sound effects are sparse and no music is present, a disappointment since a nice theme could easily be written to go along with the imposing site of the main ship.

As simple as the initial screen is, it's easily the better of the two. You can easily establish a rhythm and the reaction time required to make it out alive is insane. If the lasers were just a little more manageable in "suck people up" mode, this one would be a blast all the way around. Still, this is a worthy follow-up that just misses the mark established by the original.


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Last updated: Saturday, September 25, 2004 09:00 AM