I claim to have a deep love for Atari; a love that stretches back to playing on the Atari 7800 for many years when I was younger. However, I never played Yars’ Revenge, arguably one of the most well-known games for the Atari 2600. So, I went into Yars: Recharged a bit blind. But what I found was a longing feeling of regret that I missed out on the original, because I was having so much fun with this new version.
Anyone that has been following the Recharged series will know that Yars is the sixth title to appear. Starting with Centipede: Recharged, we have also enjoyed Black Widow: Recharged, Asteroids: Recharged and Breakout: Recharged in the first season. The second season launched with Gravitar: Recharged and now we are here with Yars: Recharged.
The second season has an alternative art style to those featured in the first, and it is miles better than what came before. Yars: Recharged continues that trend and once again features a much-improved look over the previous Recharged titles.
In Yars: Recharged you control an insect-like being called a Yar. It can fire bullets and – if close enough – munch away at enemy barriers and weapons. Your primary target is the central structure known as a Qotile. These are impenetrable from attacks by a Yar but destroy enough of the barriers and you can line-up a shot with your Zorlon Cannon to destroy the Qotile and complete the level.
That’s a lot of jargon, and currently my draft review is covered in lots of red underlined words as a result. Yars: Recharged has more when you consider enemy turrets are referred to as Silorak Cores and the Qotile fires a projectile called the Swirl. Essentially, Yars: Recharged plays like a top-down shooter. Each level has you destroying barrier blocks and turrets to make it easier for your cannon to hit the central Qotile hidden within.
Things do quickly ramp up in difficulty though across both the Arcade and Challenge mode, and the term bullet hell doesn’t feel out of place.
Anyone who has played a Recharged title will know what to expect from the Arcade and Mission mode. Both are playable in co-op and each feature thirty levels. Arcade mode eases you in with easy to hit Qotile but this doesn’t last long. Yet, despite this high difficulty curve, it remains highly addictive to play.
Arcade mode also features modifiers to improve your highscore. With leaderboards once again active for both modes, these can make the difference.
Mission mode on the other hand features one-shot levels that feel a bit more experimental in their designs. Again, these can vary in difficulty, with some of the harder ones almost feeling like a puzzle as you try to find the best plan of attack.
This Recharged version of Yars differs quite a bit from the original. As is traditional for a Recharged game, there are plenty of power-ups to give you the upper hand. These range from triple shots all the way up to a railgun and are tied into the type of Silorak Core you destroy. And depending on what you are trying to destroy depends on which power-up is best; the triple shot is good at causing real damage to the barriers along with the 360° shot, but the rail gun is far better at wiping off health from other cores. Thinking tactically in Yars: Recharged is crucial, but don’t dawdle either.
Destroying anything will also award you with droplets to charge up your Zorlon Cannon. In this new version, this is a vessel that a Yar has to fly into before using. It does make you impervious to almost all attacks apart from the dreaded Spiral; that remains a one hit kill.
The second season of Atari’s Recharged titles continue to evolve the classics into much more interesting titles. Gravitar: Recharged built the foundations on how to improve these old-school experiences and Yars: Recharged continues the trend. It is better in just about every department than the original four: graphically, musically and more. Here we have a title that has far more substance in terms of playing tactically and formulating a plan beforehand. The basic framework hasn’t changed since the beginning: you still have two main modes. But in terms of gameplay, there is a lot here to keep you playing way longer than anything else previously. Not least in terms of the difficulty.