Although it may not look like it, Omega Race for the 2600 was
a bit of a technological marvel. Utilizing not only CBS
Electronics RAM Plus board (which added 256 bytes of RAM), but
also the Booster Grip accessory which added an extra fire button
to the 2600 controller. All this added expense seems odd
considering the arcade game was only a mild hit, but someone at
CBS must have seen something in it. Although it lost the
vector style visuals, the resulting game is actually pretty fun.
It is the year 2003(!) and the leaders of the Omegan Star System are using a method of training their elite warriors called The Omega Race. However the leaders have grown bored and are looking for a new challenge. That challenge is you! As earth's representative in the Omega Race, you must defeat wave after wave of Omegan warriors to bring peace to the galaxy get the highest score possible. Although Omega Race starts out pretty easy, the difficulty really ramps up quickly.
As mentioned earlier, Omega Race uses a special accessory called the Booster Grip. The Booster Grip is a grip with two fire buttons that slides over the joystick in order to provide an extra fire button. This is needed because Omega Race uses one button to shoot and one to accelerate. Each level has a border around the outside of the screen and a small rectangle in the center all of which you can bounce off of. Your goal is to thrust around the arena and shoot all the enemy ships in order to proceed to the next wave. Speaking of enemy ships, let's meet them now.
After destroying four waves of Omegan forces
you will receive a Droid Force Bonus of 5,000 points as a reward
for your skill. Omega Race offers one or two player modes,
but no choice of starting level. Thankfully CBS foresaw
that players wouldn't want to buy two Booster Grips so they
allow each player to share the same joystick if the right
difficulty switch is set to B. It is unknown if the
Booster Grip was ever sold separately (possibly directly from
CBS) but it was packaged with Omega Race at no extra charge
which was a nice feature. Interestingly players can also
use a Colecovision controller instead of a Booster Grip (this
isn't a hack, it is specifically mentioned in the manual), but
then you're stuck with the awful Colecovision controller.
Still, this is a nice way to play the game in modern times where
most Booster Grips have been lost or are in landfills.
One has to wonder why the Booster Grip was necessary at all. A prototype version of Omega Race has surfaced that doesn't require one (up is thrust) and works quite well. Perhaps CBS had other games in mind for the Booster Grip and Omega Race was simply a test game to see how it performed? The only other known game that was planned to use the Booster Grip was the plane game Wings, although the only known prototype doesn't actually need it. One has to wonder just what CBS had in store for their new accessory. Whatever the reason, Omega Race is a nice little arcade port for the 2600 and worthy of a second look.