Originally released for the Exidy Max-A-Flex arcade machine (an Atari 600XL in an arcade cabinet), Astrochase is a overly difficult 2-D maze chase game that quickly becomes an exercise in frustration. This is a shame because not only is Astrochase a beautiful game to look at, but it has a whole lot of potential.
Astrochase starts out promisingly enough. There's a cool little cut scene of your astronaut boarding the spacecraft which changes every 4 levels. Once you board your ship and take off the game begins, unfortunately this is where things start to go wrong. The main problem with Astrochase is that it's hard and boring. This is not a good combination...
Your goal is to stop the dreaded space mines from reaching earth (which just happens to be at the center of the universe). However you can't just go around zapping space mines unhindered, no that would be too easy. In Astrochase the universe is actually a giant maze of stars and planets. As you weave your way through the maze you'll begin encountering the enemy ships (what space game would be complete without a few enemy ships). Depending on the kind of ship, they will either try to shoot you, ram you, or just obliterate you on sight. Are we having fun yet?
Thankfully you're not completely defenseless, you're armed with (wait for it...) a laser! You can use this laser to either shoot ships or space mines (which is of course the goal of the game), but shooting takes energy. Every time your ship shoots, bumps into a planet or star, or moves, it eats up energy. Once your ship runs out energy it blows up, so don't let that happen. To recharge your energy, simply fly through one of the energy generators conveniently located in the four corners of the universe. Your ship can also generate a force field by flying through one of the force field generators located on the edges of the screen. While generating a force field your ship is invincible (feel free to ram the enemy), but will cost you 100 units of energy. The force field lasts approximately 10 seconds.
While the earlier levels may be simple enough, the later levels quickly become insanely difficult. Combine this with the fact the whole game itself is rather boring and you get a cartridge that sits in the back of your collection collecting dust. If the difficulty level had been bumped down a notch and the maze element ditched (or at least simplified), Astrochase might have been a bigger hit. Although it's not one of the better games for the 5200, Astrochase is still fun in short bursts. Just don't throw your controller at the screen when the earth blows up for twentieth time in a row.