| Doug Neubauer
|Atari's answer to
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 engine.
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 they
may share the same engine, the games themselves are very
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
Machine Guns - This is your main weapon, so
you'll be using it a lot. You start out each mission with
2550 rounds of ammo, while this may sound like more than you'll
ever need, 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
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 the mission.
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 life.
Mission 3 - Mission 3 introduces the dreaded
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 more than another 'me too'
clone and deserves its own place in Atari History.
||Radar Lock C300042-176A 2600
to 2600 Software