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Solaris Review

Atari 5200 Guy

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I've only played this game for about 2 hours.  I can't help but write about my thoughts on this game for those who are curious about it and have never played it before...much like myself.


Solaris on the 2600, from what I am understanding, is the sequel to the 2600 Star Raiders.  But this is a lot more polished.  After a while I was so involved with the game that I forgot I was playing this on the 2600...the console with very limited abilities.  This game is absolutely stunning in every detail.  And I'm sure that the 2600 engineers were not thinking of games like Solaris when they designed the hardware.  Yet, here is a game that could easily be called a sleeper title for the 2600.  Why did I say that?  Simple.  This title is one that I rarely seen and when I was buying a JR model and a few games this one was not on the shelf.  So...here is a game that I missed, never really heard much about, and one that I would have overlooked.


Now then, to give a bit of insight, Star Raiders gave us a single map.  On the 5200 the map, also known as the Galactic Map, was a 16 by 8 map.  The 2600, being a more limited system, got this game with a 4 by 4 Galactic Map.  So, while both were good games, the 2600 version was not as in depth as the 5200 version.  Solaris took the Star Raiders concept and completely blew it beyond expectations.  In Solaris you have 16 Quadrants (Star Raiders fans this would be the equivalent of 16 Galactic Maps) instead of one, each Quadrant is a 6 by 9 map.   There is a lot of strategy, planning, and depth to this game.  It's not going to get boring overnight and some might lose hours of sleep by playing this game.


My final verdict:  This game rates a perfect 10 in my book.  Everything that said couldn't be done on the 2600 this game proves that it can.  It's not the only 2600 game that attempted 3D visuals on the system but it is one that got it right.  The graphics are awesome and very detailed, the sounds are spot on, the controls are tight, and the game play has a lot of replay value, and it's flicker-free!  If you have a 2600, and you don't have this game in your library, shame on you!  This game belongs in every 2600 gamer's collection...to be played and not just to sit there.  If you are going to buy Solaris just to collect it then pick up a second copy to play.  This one does not need to be missed by any serious 2600 gamer.  I finally found a 2600 all-time favorite title.  And it's name is Solaris.  If I could I would build a stand up arcade cabinet with 2600 hardware and this game with it's own artwork and marquee.  Seriously...this game is that good.

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It's my all-time favorite 2600 game too. it and about 10 other games are all I play on the 2600 anymore. Most games are just too primitive for me, especially when I can play better versions of my favorites on my Atari 8-bit computer. But Solaris is a 2600 exclusive and better than many Atari 8-bit and 7800 games! If I want Star Raiders, I go straight to the Atari 8-bit, best version ever. But my top three favorite 2600 games are Solaris, Star Voyager and Star Master. I can't get enough of space shooters on the 2600. But only Solaris still blows me away with it's graphics. Another very classic, old school space shooter that is really fun is Exidy's Star Fire. I used to play it all the time in the arcades way back when. The Atari 8-bit has an excellent version of it too. The reason I mention Star Fire is because it's a rare High-res 320x192 monochrome game on the Atari 800, and done well. However, none of them compare to Solaris.


It was definitely a later 2600 release when Atari Corp. started making 2600 games again for the 2600jr. I missed out on it back in the 80's because I had long since moved on from the 2600 by the time the jr. came out. IIRC, I got my copy of Solaris in a box load of all kinds of vintage games and consoles I bought from a game dealer in Texas about 10 years ago (I got a Vectrex with it all too, another system I wanted as a kid but never got). I was curious about Solaris, so I popped it on my 7800, not expecting much but maybe another Star Voyager/Master type of game. Wow was i surprised!

"Slugs, he created slugs?...Is this not the work of a complete incompetent? I would have started with Lasers, 8 o'clock, day one."-Evil (Time Bandits)

"...burn the land and boil the sea, but you can't take the sky from me..."-theme song (Firefly)

"I try to respect him, I really, really do, but he's just such a Smeg-head."-Lister (about Rimmer, Red Dwarf)

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