| Doug Neubauer
|Atari's answer to Afterburner
Radar Lock was Atari's answer to Sega's smash hit air combat game
Afterburner. Although the 2600 had had no chance of duplicating
Afterburners amazing visuals (in fact most home systems of the time struggled
with Afterburner), Atari was able to come up with a similar (yet graphically
simpler) game. Atari's secret was simple, they reused the Solaris
It's no secret that Atari was heavily into reuse of existing code, but
Radar Lock may be the first time an entire game engine was reused. Apparently
Doug decided not to mess with success, and modified Solaris into a new
game. Although the may share the same engine, the games themselves
are very different.
Radar Lock is a mission based air combat game in which
you control an experimental Delta Wing fighter armed with the latest weapons
systems. The game is separated into three different segments: Take
Off, Air Combat, and Refueling.
This segment of the game is really nothing more than eye
candy. By pushing the fire button your jet will accelerate and take
off from the airfield. Fans of Solaris will have a strange feeling
of Deja Vu after watching this...
This is the main segment of the game, and is where most
of the action takes place. Unlike most 2600 games, Radar Lock makes
use of both controllers. While this can seem a bit overwhelming
at first, it actually becomes second nature after only a few minutes.
Left Controller - The left controller is used for movement.
Pressing left or right will cause your jet to bank left or right,
while pushing up or down will cause it to climb or dive. Pressing
the fire button will cause your jet to fire the selected weapon.
Right Controller - The right controller is used for weapon
selection. Pushing up selects machine guns, left selects guided
missiles, and right selects proximity missiles. Pressing and holding
down the fire button will increase your speed.
Machine Guns - This is your main weapon, so you'll
be using it alot. You start out each mission with 2550 rounds of
ammo, while this may sound like alot, you'll be amazed at how fast you
burn through it. Machine guns will tear through just about any type
of enemy except for Bombers. Bombers require 25 machine gun hits
to destroy, so it's best to use missiles.
Guided Missiles - Guided missiles are used primarily
for taking out heavily armored Bombers. When an enemy is in range
of your missiles, your radar will turn blue or violet indicating the enemy
is in front (blue) or behind you (violet). Once the enemy us in
range you must try and target him with the cross-hairs, if you succeed
you will establish a lick and the cross-hairs will turn dark red. This
is your cue to fire your missile and destroy the target. You start
out each mission with 5 guided missiles.
Proximity Missiles - Proximity missiles are a special
use weapon which is only available in missions three, four, and five.
Proximity missiles are launched by holding down the fire button,
and detonated by releasing it. When a proximity missile is detonated
it will destroy all the enemies on the screen except for Bombers. You
only start out with 3 proximity missiles so use them wisely.
The main screen shows a variety of useful information,
which you will have to consult often. The gauge to the left displays
how much fuel your jet has remaining. Fuel can only be replenished
at the end of each mission, so make sure you complete your missions as
fast as possible. Next to the fuel gauge is your short range radar
which shows the positions of enemy jets on the screen. To the right
of the short range radar is the long range radar, this radar show the
position on enemy jets that are far off screen. Below the long range
radar is your machine gun ammunition display, which shows how much ammo
you have remaining. Above the play field is your missile display
which shows how many missiles you have remaining.
After completing each mission you will have to meet up
with your midair refueling jet. To find the fuel jet, you must use
your long range radar and quickly accelerate towards it. When you
near the fuel plant it will let out a fuel hose, you must touch the nose
of your jet to the hose to begin the refueling. If you successfully
dock before running out of fuel, you will complete your current mission.
Radar Lock is separated into five different missions. Each
mission has a different type of enemy aircraft you must destroy. By
destroying both waves of enemy aircraft and successfully you will complete
Mission 1 - This mission is the easiest of the five. Here
you get some target practice by destroying Drones. Drones are large
red planes which are completely defenseless. After destroying all
the Drones and refueling you will advance to the next mission.
Mission 2 - On this mission you will encounter Interceptors
and Patroller jets. Interceptors are the easiest of the enemy jets
to destroy, and can only shoot targets in front of them. Patrollers
are yellow aircraft which follow a set path, but beware they like to sneak
up from behind. After finishing this mission you will earn a bonus
Mission 3 - Mission 3 introduces the dread Bomber. Bombers
are large white aircraft which are flanked by blue Escorters. Taking
out a Bomber is a difficult task, as they are heavily armored and can
shoot from behind. Use extreme caution when approaching Bombers.
The second half of this mission features another wave of Patrollers.
Mission 4 - Starting with mission 4 your jet now has the
ability to roll. This allows you to move much faster to the left
and right, however the enemy planes also start moving faster at this point.
Mission 4 also introduces Steal Fighters which can block your long
range radar. Stealth Fighters are quick and like to sneak up from
behind, so use extreme caution when approaching them.
Mission 5 - The final mission! This mission starts
out deceptively easy with a wave of Interceptors, but then introduces
the games ultimate enemy: The Super Bomber. Super Bombers are hard
to destroy and are capable of firing massive missile barrages. The
Super Bombers are also flanked by Patrollers, Stealth Fighters, and Escorters.
By destroying all 5 Super Bombers you will complete the game.
Radar Lock is one of the more impressive games on the 2600,
showing just what this ancient system could do when pushed to its limits.
Although it can be frustrating at times, Radar Lock is one of the
best air combat games for the the 2600 and is a rewarding experience if
you can get past the steep learning curve. While it may have been
touted as Atari's answer to Afterburner, Radar Lock is than another 'me
too' clone and deserves its own place in Atari History.
||Radar Lock C300042-176A 2600 5/1/89
to 2600 Software