Review by BClarke

Reviewed: 09/25/01 | Updated: 09/25/01

Star Raiders dog-fighting for Atari Jaguar

The folks at B&C Computers (www.myatari.com) discovered a prototype ROM for an unreleased Atari Jaguar game. The game is SpaceWar 2000; B&C have produced a limited number of copies of this cart.

I received my SpaceWar 2000 cart several days ago and have spent quite a few hours playing it.

I think the game is a crude but playable prototype, and is perhaps 50-60% of the way towards a commercial game. Take the dogfighting part of 8-bit Atari Star Raiders (with no galactic chart, starbases, etc), improve the graphics substantially, and you pretty much have SW2K.

I've read that SW2K uses the graphics 'engine' from the HoverStrike cart, but I have no problems with the graphics. Since the view shows only a few ships and asteroids at a time, it can use fully textured 3D polygon ships and asteroids and still have a much higher framerate than HoverStrike. The sun and missile fire are done with scaling sprites. The framerate is fairly high and very smooth. I wish there was more variety to the graphics - there are no planets and there seems to be only about 3 types of enemy spaceships.

The control of your spaceship is fairly intuitive and logical. I have a Procontroller and the extra buttons do make it a little easier to get side and back views. If you have one of the regular controllers, the game is still very playable.

CONTROLS:
A) laser bolts
B) torpedos
C) special weapon
Option special weapon
Pause
D-pad flight controls
1) reduce speed
2) cockpit view
3) increase speed
4) left view (also L on a Procontroller)
5) change radar distance; short, medium, far.
6) right view (also R on Procontroller)
7) ?
8) aft view (also Y button)
9) exterior view (also X button)
0) toggle music
#) cloaking device
*) decoy device

The menu system for changing game options seems most buggy. The programmers borrowed the 'Meltovision' effects from the Tempest 2000 menu screens, but it just looks jarring and ugly here. Yuck. I'd rather they just stuck with plain menus - but this is just an early demo anyhow.

I've found that SW2K crashes a LOT when trying to pick options in the menus, so I'd suggest that you pick your options right away on power-up and stick with it. I like to set the enemies to be ''way too fast'' with a closed universe, blasteroids, and a sun.

During actual gameplay the game seems more stable, but it has locked up occasionally, I'd say about once every 20 minutes of gameplay.

I've seen some folks say they find the radar confusing. It is very similar to the ''long distance'' scanner in the original Star Raiders. Personally I find it easy to understand.

Overall I would say it is a welcome addition to my Jaguar collection. If Atari had finished this game it might have been a big hit; as it is it makes for a fun, cockpit-view shoot-em-up for the Jaguar.
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Rating:   4.0 - Great

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