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The Dreadnaught Factor (Atari 5200) artwork

The Dreadnaught Factor (Atari 5200) review


"One of Activision's hidden gems borrows heavily from Star Wars!"


Activision was at the top of their game when they were starting out as a company. Few games were truly poor playing and it seemed that each and every game that they produced was just brimming with new and creative ideas and as a result they are responsible for some of the most beloved and memorable games released during the early 80's.

The Dreadnaught Factor capitalized on the then wildly popular space craze and probably took a lot of its inspiration from Star Wars as one several of the Dreadnaughts bear striking resemblance to ships from the Star Wars Films.

If you need a good laugh you need not look further than the game's manual and read the storyline that talks about it being rude that the fleet of 140,000ft. ships have invaded with the intent of destroying your solar system and home planet. It's pure 80's video game cheese at it's best. The game has you taking the role of a small ship which is out to destroy a set number of Dreadnaughts to save your planet. Before you take on each new Dreadnaught you're given a screen showing the distance and the shape of each ship you are up against. This game plays a lot like the much more well known Xevious except you're making passes at a single large ship instead of a scrolling stage. Each time you pass the ship it gets closer to your home planet and if it reaches it it destroys your planet and it's game over. You are armed with a laser for destroying gun turrets and missile silos and the second button on the controller drops bombs for bombing vents and destroying the Dreadnaughts' engines which slow the engine down giving your more passes. You have to bomb all of the vents of each Dreadnaught which will ultimately cause them to blow up. Death Star trench anyone? The Dreadnaughts come in several shapes and styles and each one will require a different strategy and technique to destroy them. I myself can get to the final "Tie Fighter" shaped Dreadnaught on the 5th skill level but cannot defeat it yet. The final skill level is called "YGTBK" or You've Got To Be Kidding! as it pits you against 100 Dreadnaughts. Gotta love the over the top terminology here.

The visuals are simplistic but really fit the bill. The Dreadnaughts are made up of a lots of greens and grays but also have a lot of small details. You only need to look at the recoil of the laser turrets to see what I mean. Your small ship is only a single color but still looks nice. A lot of other small details are present if you take the time to look at the visuals. I'm a big fan of the Atari 5200 audio and Activision took advantage of it here and all of the laser fire, your ship's fire, and bombs sound really good and are really just a lot of fun to listen to and bring back so much nostalgia for me.

I can honestly say that this has become one of my most played games on the Atari 5200 system as it has a lot of variety and I always have to invent new strategies to defeat new Dreadnaughts and that just works for me. If you're a fan of shooters than you should really check this out as it's just different than other conventional vertical shooters in the sense that each ship is essentially a giant boss fight. Activision also offered a patch for this game if you could complete games 4 through 7 so there's an achievement to work for. My controller of choice for this game is a Wico Command Control but the standard Atari 5200 controller thankfully works surprisingly well for this game which in that controller's case is a rare achievement so don't let the infamous controllers turn you off to what is a great game as it's one that any Atari 5200 owner needs in their library.

5/5

vgc2000's avatar
Community review by vgc2000 (March 11, 2017)

vgc2000's more extensive backlog of reviews can be found on GameFaqs. But some now live here.

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