|Publishers||Classic Game Creations|
Packrat Video Games, LLC
|Mode||Single player only|
Gravitar was not a big hit when it debuted in the arcade in the early 1980s, as it was definitely not for people who couldn't handle thrusting around very well while performing various other duties around a very tight-knit atmosphere, like with Asteroids.
Conditions were much more closed off with Gravitar though, unlike with the free range of Asteroids, since the player had to fly around caverns and various landscapes in a series of planets to destroy bunkers, beam up fuel cells, and contend with gravity as well. One critic dubbed it as to being "the worst game ever made" due to its difficulty level.
So, one might question the business tactic of a video game company that would take the inspiration of Gravitar, yet arguably make it even tougher by having the player deal with flying off planets with a pod attached, causing their ship to, at times, swing like a pendulum if they weren't careful. However, somehow Thrust actually worked, as the game was ported around to many platforms (with the Vectrex version following years later).
The Intergalactic Empire has a diabolical plan, as they have captured many battle-grade starships to launch an offensive against their resistors. The one thing they need in order to launch their plan are Klystron Pods so their starships can be powered.
It is the player's mission to infiltrate the Intergalactic Empire's planets and steal their pods to prevent their plans from taking effect.
The player must penetrate planets to make it to the pod bases. They then must engage their tractor beam to attach the pods to their ship, then navigate off the planet with the pod still attached to complete their mission.
The player has to contend with many factors during their mission; one of which is the consumption of fuel, which is drained whenever thrust is applied and their shield/tractor beam is used. There are also Limpet Guns scattered around the landscapes that fire at the player. Colliding with a fuel cell, any part of a planet's landscape, being shot, having the attached pod get shot or hit a wall, or still being on the planet when a reactor reaches critical will cost the player a reserve ship, and the game will end when there are no more ships in reserve or the player runs out of fuel.
Fuel pods can be beamed up via the player's tractor beam to add to their fuel level, and also helping the player, at times, are nuclear reactors in each level. Everything on the planet is nuclear powered, which, if the player shoots a nuclear reactor, if there are nearby Limpet Guns, it will disable them for a time; the more times the player shoots a reactor, the longer the guns will not fire. If the player shoots a reactor 14 times though, it will become critical, and the player only has 10 seconds to get off the planet before it explodes. The mission will be considered a failure if the player does not have a pod in their possession, but if the player does make it off the planet with the pod, they will earn a bonus for destroying the planet.
There are also a few sections in the later levels where corridors are blocked by a door, which has a button to shoot in order to open the door so the player can get in and out of that particular area.
- Move ship left and right--left and right on joystick or D-pad
- Lock thrust (Hard+ mode only)--button one
- Tractor beam/shields--button two
- Thrust--button three
- Fire--button four
Note: the controls can be reconfigured at the title screen by pressing button two.
- Destroying Limpet gun--750 points
- Destroying a fuel cell--150 points
- Beaming up fuel cell--300 points
- Mission completion bonus--varies
- Destroying planet--2000 points bonus
- Perfect bonus (Hard+ mode only)--varies
(chosen during the attract mode by pressing button one)
- Normal--this is the default game.
- Hard+--the Limpet Guns fire an additional weapon that homes in on the player's ship, which will only disappear once being absorbed by the player's shields, eventually dissipating into a wall, or making contact with (and destroying) the player's ship. The player won't receive an extra ship at every 10,000 points like on the Normal mode, but every 20,000, although there is an extra "Perfect bonus" awarded if a player makes it through an entire level without dying, destroying every Limpet Gun, beaming up every fuel cell, and destroying the planet. The player is also able to use an extra control by aiming in one direction while also being able to thrust, and there are two new levels after the usual level six is conquered, although they aren't really like Thrust at all, there is barely any room to maneuver around in them.
- Time Attack--the player has 75 seconds in order to make it as far as they can as possible. No score, lives or fuel are displayed at the top of the screen though, unlike with the other two modes.
There are only six levels in a game (not counting the extra two in the Hard+ mode), which, if the player is able to defeat the sixth level, the game will start over at the first level, but this time around the player has to contend with reverse gravity, which will pull the player's ship upwards towards the sky, not the other way around.
If the player is able to get past the last level of the reverse gravity universe, then they will enter the invisible landscape planets, where the landscape is invisible; only the pods, bunkers, doors, etc. are visible unless the player activates their shield (which consumes energy faster). If the player can get past the last level, then they will enter the reverse gravity/invisible landscape levels, and if they are able to get past the last planet there, the game will end, displaying the congratulatory message of "well done!" sandwiched in between two Thrust logos on the screen. This ending is the same on the regular and Hard+ modes.
Pressing two at the main menu will enable the player to reconfigure the controls (button one), watch a demo for the first three levels (button two), and reset the high scores (button three, although that will also lock ZSB back up, which will have to be re-earned if the player had previously accomplished this).
This is the unlockable hidden game included with Thrust. After the game has been unlocked, once the Thrust attract mode starts, this third option will appear; pressing button three takes the player to the ZSB title screen, then pressing any button from there starts the game, which is a clone of The Empire Strikes Back, which was released for the Atari 2600 and Intellivision.
In this game, the player controls a ship that must destroy Imperial AT-ATs. There is a base located below the player's starting point that they must defend (which was not shown onscreen on the 2600 version) from the AT-ATs. Unlike with the original where the AT-ATs take 48 hits to be destroyed, these only take 12, although there are no bomb hatches that appear that, with a well-placed shot, can destroy an AT-AT right then and there.
AT-ATs can only take damage in the head, and not anywhere else on it's body (except for the legs) like in the original. The AT-ATs also only fire one kind of weapon, rather than the regular shots and the smart bombs from the original, and plus if the player destroys several AT-ATs then they can fire several of these shots at once. Also, the AT-ATs will start jumping after several of them are destroyed.
There are no pit stops for the player to repair their snowspeeder with, along with no Force included here either like with the 2600 original to make them invulnerable to the enemy.
The player starts off with three ships and will lose one when hit by enemy fire or by colliding with an AT-AT (not including its legs, which the player can again fly through). The game ends when there are no more reserve ships left or if the player's base is overrun. An extra ship is awarded at every 10,000 points.
Unlike with Thrust, the high score is not saved once the Vectrex is turned off, and there is also only one game, no over a dozen of them with several variations like with the 2600 original.
- Move ship (up and down only)--joystick or D-pad
- Reverse ship--button two
- Thrust--button three
- Fire--button four
- Hitting an AT-AT--30 points
- Destroying an AT-AT--100 points
- Extra ship--every 10,000 points
- Thrust made sense to be ported to the Vectrex, as with many versions of the original, the graphics showed outlines of objects, imitating a vector graphic look. This version is based on the Commodore 64 game.
- The player can only have a maximum of nine ships in reserve.
- Gravitrex Plus, a clone of Gravitar, was released in 2002. Even though the Gravitrex games on the cart have many similarities (same controls, the player has to destroy bunkers and beam up fuel cells), there are also many differences, as it is mandatory to dispose of every human, fuel tank and bunker on a planet's surface, as well as destroying a reactor planet on every level, plus the tow cable to dispose of the pods are exclusive to Thrust only. The creator of the original Thrust game was influenced by Gravitar as well, hence the similarities.
- Thrust was originally released by Vectrex carts starting in 2004, which was then taken over by programmer John Dondzila (with his Classic Game Creations outfit) in 2008 when Vectrex carts's owner Mark Shaker's father had to be admitted into a hospital for an extended period of time. This continued until 2013 when Dondzila announced he did not have the time to produce cartridges any more, but Thrust began being redistributed in December, 2014 by Packrat Video Games, LLC.
- Ville Krumlinde's Vectrex pages
- Two secrets can be seen at the Vectrex game Easter eggs page
- Packrat Video Games, LLC Thrust page
- Click on the tabbers below for two reviews.
The original Thrust was dreamed up by some either total genius or a total moron, due to thinking it would be a good idea to take the gameplay basics of the arcade game Gravitar and make it even harder. How this actually worked, caused the game to be ported all over the place from back then to even modern computers nowadays (homebrew PC versions have been created) is beyond me, but it succeeded.
As it says on the main Thrust article, you fly your ship around several planetscapes while dealing with enemy guns shooting at you, gravity, depleting fuel, and switches in the later rounds that need to be shot to open doors to access even further areas while searching for each level’s pod to attach a harness to, then fly off the planet with it. Yeah, good idea, since this could cause your ship to swing around like a pendulum if you’re not careful! Also, if you or the pod hit any cavern walls or you shoot it by accident you’ll lose a life in either situation.
Get far enough into the game and you could end up dealing with reverse gravity, invisible landscapes, and even both if you’re real lucky.
Also, a bonus game of ZSB is included as an unlockable feature, which is a simplified clone of The Empire Strikes Back for the Atari 2600. There are no pit stops, the Walkers don’t take near as many hits to be destroyed, they only fire one kind of shot at the player, there are no bomb hatches and no over a dozen game variations to choose from, although the Walkers can start jumping though (!) if you destroy enough of them, which is a hoot. Not bad, but the original is better with all its variations, although creator Ville Krumlinde had further ideas he wanted to implement but he was pretty much out of space for the package (since back then the largest game a Vectrex emulator could handle was only 32K in size).
Rounding things out, I found the graphics to be a bit boring (not a big deal, as I come from the blocky Atari 2600 and Microvision days, I’m just pointing them out), although the controls work perfectly, and the sounds are adequate.
Even though this is a pretty challenging and fun cartridge, it’s not quite for everyone (again, its inspiration of Gravitar bombed), as it can be a bit difficult. Also, it only has six levels until they repeat (although playing it on the Hard+ mode has two more levels added, but you only get an extra ship at every 20,000 points on that mode and the blasted guns fire an additional, annoying homing shot at you as well, so you might not live to see them!), so once you get good at the game it can get repetitive with those few levels. Still, it’s really worth the cheap price (not even $20 U. S. including postage, although if you’re overseas, it’ll cost a little more), as Krumlinde packed it to the max, including a high score save, demos for the first three levels, the bonus two levels/Hard + mode and remappable controls.
I give this a 7.5, maybe an 8 out of 10, as I can’t quite make up my mind on what rating to give this, although either one is a pretty high number though, which is what made this a must have the instant it was released in 2004, ranking up there with Protector/Y*A*S*I and Vecmania. (Review by Darrylb500)
Introduction: Whilst Ville Krumlinde is quite new to the world of coding for the Vectrex his Thrust offering has all the workings of a classic Vectrex gravity shooter with grit and polish. Thrust is based on the Commodore 64 classic of the same name, which was released by Mastertronic back in 1985. But this time there’s no colour but still the capricious gameplay, which made the C64, game a sizzler.
As the story goes, you have been incremented by the resistance to steal some important pods from the Empire’s accumulation. The Empire has captured a number of battle-grade starships and it is the job for the player to steal these pods from the Empire. When you start off on Thrust the introduction screen takes you straight into an ambient transient sci-fi world and sets the atmosphere for the first level as you take flight and wonder for the first instant what in the world is going on. But soon you realise that Krumlinde has manufactured something likeable and at first difficult to master.
The Graphics: The graphics in Thrust are simple yet do the job something like Dondzila’s Gravitrex did the job for a gravitar style game. The vectors are sharp and crisp and there is only the slightest bit of overhang on some of the vectors such as the fuel stations and the Klystron pods. Stars appear in the night sky and if you hover your ship above the foreboding landscape down below you could imagine you are floating through space on a mission with a pod attached to you’re ship roaming and waiting to destroy the remaining ‘Limpet’ guns which fires shots at you’re ship. So to be sure the graphics are well defined and do the full trick.
The Gameplay: The ship you are commanding has a very sensitive thrust mechanism and to refuel once you’re fuel supplies are running low is just a matter of activating the tractor beam and you’re fuel supplies will be replenished. To collect a Klystron pod the same method is used but the player must be aware that hovering around the planets night sky with a pod attached to you’re ship can send the rookie hurtling out of control in search for a final resting place for the pod. Klystron pods and the odd space station thrown in are also well-drawn withy only the aforementioned slight vector overhang. The non-volatile high score memory offers appeal and functionality to save high scores.
Sound: No in game music to speak of but all the sound effects seem to accompany each movement of the ship and the warping sound which triggers when the ship is refuelling fits nicely into the vibe of the game. The lasers sound out a phaser blast as you’re ship takes fire at the limpet guns and with around 3 or 4 shots to take out one of the limpet gun there is no accompanying explosion sound but the gun vaporises and an onscreen score is displayed for reward.
Conclusion: Thrust is a well designed if tricky game. Having had some experience with the old C64 classic it won’t take the retro enthusiast too long to be picking up pods and firing at the power plants. The main difficulty is when the Klystron pod is attached to you’re ship and getting the motion just right so you’re ship and the pod are not rotating and flying out of control with no prevailing means of in hindrance. The graphics and SFX are solid though it may have been nice to see graphic indications of you’re remaining fuel supply instead of just a numerical representation. Those who liked Dondzila’s Gravitrex should like Thrust and a quick trip over to Mark Shaker’s www.vectrexcarts.com will land you a copy of this quality gravitar clone for US$11.50 plus shipping. Great!
GFX - 8.5 / PLAY - 8.5 / SFX - 9
Review written by Daniel Foot
- ↑ E-mail from Krumlinde.
This article was featured from January - February, 2011.