Company: Atari
Model #:
David Lubar
Year: 1990
One of two 2600 games to utilize the Atari light gun


Starting in late 1989 Atari started dabbling in light gun based games.  For a short time light gun games were all the rage on the NES, but this craze died off rather quickly.  Still, Atari wanted to prove that the 2600 remained a force to be reckoned with, so light gun games it was.  Amazingly both of the light gun games developed for the 2600 are actually quite good (especially considering the fact that the hardware was over 13 years old at that point).  However of the two games that were made (Shooting Arcade and Sentinel) only Sentinel was released.


Sentinel is a shooting game that plays like a side scrolling version of Crossbow.  However where as in Crossbow you had several people to protect as they walked across the screen, Sentinel only has one large orb you have to protect.  As your orb (known as The Sentinel) moves steadily across the enemy planet, it will be under attack by numerous small aliens. You goal is to protect the Sentinel from getting hit at all costs.  However given the speed of the aliens and inaccuracy of the light gun, this isn't an easy task.



The Sentinel was built to absorb all the energy from the alien planet (sort of like that Crystalline Entity from Star Trek).  This is accomplished by shooting the enemies on the screen.  Enemies in Sentinel come in two flavors, air enemies and ground enemies.  Air enemies will either attempt to ram the Sentinel or will hang back a short distance and shoot bullets.  Ground enemies will always stop and shoot at the Sentinel.  Accurately shooting all the enemies on the screen as quickly as possible is the key winning this game, as the longer you let the enemies congregate the quicker you will be overwhelmed.  If things begin to get out of hand you can shoot the Sentinel itself to set off a super bomb which will destroy all the enemies on the screen.  The super bomb can only be used when the "S" meter at the bottom of the screen is at 99.



As you progress deeper into each level you will begin running across power ups.  Power ups appear as odd looking square boxes that fly at the Sentinel.  Shooting these boxes will give you one of these bonuses:

Energy Pod Circles and protects the Sentinel
Super Shot Destroys all the enemies on the screen
Automatic Shots Causes the Sentinel to automatically absorb energy (no shooting required)
Movement Allows the Sentinel to move up and down faster
Energy Capsule Increases the Sentinels energy (max of 50)



One thing that sets Sentinel apart from other 2600 game is the inclusion of bosses.  At the end of each of the four levels you will run into a giant space station boss (the distance to the boss is shown by the "D" meter at the bottom of the screen).  The boss will mercilessly pound you with bullets until you blast each of its four pods.  However since these pods will repair themselves if give the opportunity, you must take them down with rapid shooting.  Once you destroy the boss, you'll move onto the next planet.  Although each planet and boss looks slightly different, they all have a mysterious similarity to them.


Sentinel is one of the better 2600 games out there, and is quite unique with its light gun style gameplay and large end level bosses.  Unfortunately groundbreaking games like Sentinel came too late in the 2600's lifespan to make any noticeable impact (Sentinel carries a copyright of 1990!).  By 1990 most people were either die hard NES or SMS fans, and new 2600 releases often went unnoticed.  Still, Sentinel proves that the 2600 was a very flexible platform and could be forced into doing great things if properly motivated.


Version Cart Text Description
?-??-90 Sentinel PAL Final PAL version


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