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Astro Chase (Atari 5200) artwork

Astro Chase (Atari 5200) review

"Beautiful graphics don't always make for a great game."

Astrochase is one of the Atari 5200's few missteps. The system has very few games that are truly not much fun to play but Astrochase, as beautiful looking as it is, is one of those such games that's not much fun to play and I found myself not wanting to ever come back to it after only a few play sessions.

Let's start out with the good. Astrochase may be one of the nicest looking Atari 5200 games released to date. The game has a great little intro with your astronaut entering the space ship in the city street and being beamed up before going to battle. The color usage is excellent as the colors are bright and deep. The playfield looks equally great. Earth is well defined and large and colorful and the planets around the area are also nicely detailed though much smaller. The only downside to the playfield would have to be in the enemy design; their are several enemy types but they are hard to tell apart and it's hard to tell what their behavior will be due to that. As you play on there are also intermisison scenes where your astronaut will land on Earth and often times will get a hero's welcome and those scenes are equally great and really add some charm to the game.

Astrochase is essentially a maze game but also a shooter. You have to fly around the playfield and shoot and destroy eight mega mines which look like red and white glowing fuzzball. There is an energy barrier around the edges of the playfield signified by little round circles. You have to navigate the maze of planets and destroy all of the mega mines before they get close to earth and destroy it which is an instant game over even if you have lives to spare. You can move and shoot in eight directions and can fire independently of the direction you're moving in.

The game has thirty four stages in total which essentially are more difficult versions of the same repeating round and with more agressive enemies. I found the difficulty to be too slowly paced as I made it all the way to round twelve before I had a game over and that was only on my first time playing the game. Another annoyance I had is that there are little stars that are barely visible but you'll still bounce off of them if you hit them and they are often times hard to see and they made the game feel glitchy and oftentimes I felt like I was running into nothing.

If I have to be honest, the game plays fine and I have to admit that there are very few actual flaws in the game itself but unfortunately Astrochase just gets too repetitive and boring pretty early on and I felt like it was just droning on and on and for me this makes the game nothing more than a mediocre to average experience. This game plays Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture over and over in the background and it even plays during the intermision scenes and the music only serves make the game feel even slower paced.

Astrochase is by no means a bad game at all and some claim to like it a lot and it each of its ports was praised in magazines back at the time of its release but there are just too many games that are much faster paced and a lot more fun and exciting to play on the Atari 5200 so I can't recommend the game unless you just have to play every game on the system. Just make sure you have a good digital controller for this one like a Competition Pro Joystick or this game will be unplayable.


vgc2000's avatar
Community review by vgc2000 (June 14, 2019)

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

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