Space Jockey

Atari 2600

Review by Rob "Dire 51"

US Games


Graphics: 7

Sound: 4

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 6

The tables have turned. Now you're the one piloting the flying saucer, and you're out to destroy as many Earth defenses as possible. Space Jockey is one of the few games to place you in this position (the only other one I can think of that's similar is Activision's Laser Blast).

Only one player can play, as there is no two player mode. You control the Attack Saucer on the far left of the screen. You can move up and down, and in some of the game variations (of which there are 16), you can also move left and right. You start with three Attack Saucers, and earn additional saucers with every 1000 points you gain. Tanks, planes, helicopters and balloons come at you from the right. They all shoot at you (except for the balloons, those are just point fodder), and you simply have to shoot them before they shoot you. You can use the left difficulty switch to adjust the speed of enemy shots, and the right difficulty switch to adjust the frequency of enemy shots. Houses and trees occasionally appear on the ground - shoot those for easy points, but watch out, because a tank might be the next thing to come out.

The enemies never stop coming. You simply have to avoid their shots and blast as many as possible to rack up the highest score. This is video game simplicity at its finest, ladies and gentlemen. The formula's worked in countless other games, some of the more notable ones being Galaxian and Galaga. However, it doesn't work quite as well here, as Space Jockey does get quite repetitive - even more so than Galaxian. The above enemies and obstacles are all you face, and always just three at a time, no more. If you're easily bored, then you won't get much enjoyment out of the game.

At least the graphics are decent. The Attack Saucer is nicely animated, as is the explosion when one is destroyed. You can tell each enemy vehicle from another - the planes look like planes, the balloons look like balloons, and so on. The background, however, is just a plain black sky, with a steadily repeating green ground at the bottom of the screen. There's no variation whatsoever. There's no music at all, either. On the plus side, the Attack Saucer does respond perfectly to your commands.

Overall, Space Jockey is merely average. There are many other side scrolling proto-SHMUPs on the VCS which are more entertaining (such as Laser Gates, for one). Try it out if you like, but don't be surprised if you find yourself moving on to another game before too long.


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Last updated: Saturday, September 25, 2004 09:10 AM