Saboteur is a brilliant multi-level shooter by Howard Scott Warshaw, the man responsible for such famous 2600 games as Yars Revenge, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T.. The game revolves around a robot name Hotot who has discovered a alien missile base hidden on his planet. These evil blue aliens are using Hotot's planet as a launching site for their deadly warhead which is posed to destroy the galaxy's power source. With the help of the mysterious Gorfons, the native yellow birdlike race, Hotot must destroy the rocket, disarm the warhead, and prevent his planets destruction.
Rocket Construction Site - The first board takes place on catwalks high above the rocket launch site. Here Hotot must prevent the launch rocket from being completed by shooting the construction robots. There are three different types of aliens that come across each catwalk, learn to identify them so you can quickly tell friend from foe.
This board can end in one of two ways. If Hotot can shoot enough Construction Robots to prevent them from completing the rocket, he can sneak into the Warhead Assembly room undetected. However if enough robots get through and the rocket reaches the top of the screen it will launch, and the forces in the Warhead Assembly room will be alerted to his presence.
Warhead Factory - After successfully sabotaging the launch rocket, Hotot must now attempt to disarm the warhead. The warhead pieces are being carried on the conveyer belt at the bottom of the screen, but Hotot cannot shoot them directly. The Qotile have installed Photo-Phasic shielding over the conveyer belt to protect the pieces from Hotot's laser blasts. To make matters worse, the Master Robot from the Launch Site has followed Hotot and is now attempting to eliminate the security threat (i.e. you).
Although all seems hopeless, Hotot has one chance to destroy the warhead pieces. Scans indicate that the Master Robot's shielding is modulated at the same frequency as the shielding over the conveyer belt. If Hotot can deflect his lasers off the Master Robot, they should be able to penetrate the conveyer belt's shielding and destroy the warhead pieces.
Bouncing your lasers off the Master Robot is actually easier than it sounds. Simply shoot the Master Robot and your laser blast will travel straight down towards the conveyer belt. Unfortunately the warhead pieces are spaced irregularly along the conveyer belt, and timing your correctly is a tricky proposition at best. Of course the Master Robot isn't going to simply stand around while you bounce lasers off its head, instead he's released security drones that will bounce around the chamber until they collide with Hotot. If Hotot was able to prevent the rocket launch on the first board the security in the Warhead Assembly chamber won't be as strong. The Master Robot will only fire one security drone instead of two, and they won't be as fast. The Master Robot will also attempt to electrocute Hotot with its force shield; so do not let it touch you.
Hotot only has a limited amount of time before the warhead is assembled. If all the pieces are successfully eliminated the warhead will self-destruct and Cytonia will be saved. However if Hotot fails to destroy all the warhead pieces before the timer runs out, he be forced to destroy the warhead in a one on one battle.
Warhead Showdown - If Hotot was unsuccessful in preventing the warhead's construction, he'll have one last chance to destroy it before it detonates. Thankfully the warhead only has minimal shielding and can be destroyed in one shot. Unfortunately the warhead comes armed with an advanced defensive matrix that will attempt to hold off Hotot at all costs. If Hotot takes too long to destroy the warhead it will escape into space and destroy the galaxy. Don't let this happen!
Each time Hotot successfully destroys the warhead or the warhead escapes he will go back to the launch site, and the gameplay will continue at a more difficult level.
Launch Site - The Construction Robots, Yar Flies, and Gorfons move much faster, making them harder to hit (or avoid). The Master Robot shoots more accurately, and his bullets will begin bouncing back up once they reach the bottom of the screen. At the higher levels small bullets will begin to appear on the left and right sides of the screen and chase Hotot down.
Warhead Assembly - The Master Robot shoots more bullets. The warhead pieces move faster.
Warhead Battle - The warhead moves faster and shoots more bullets.
Saboteur contains four game variations:
Normal - This is the default difficulty.
Hard: The Master Robot's bullets will begin reflecting off the bottom of the screen. Speed increases a bit.
Difficult: Side bullets appear. Overall speed increases a little.
Insane: Side bullets appear and move faster, Master Robot's bullets begin reflecting, speed increased greatly.
Saboteur is a highly original game, and would have been a sure fire hit for Atari. According to Howard, Saboteur was compete and just about to be released when Atari decided they wanted to change it into the A-Team. Why Atari thought Saboteur would make a good game for their A-Team license is anyone's guess, but it was due to this that Saboteur got shelved indefinitely. Sadly the A-Team never was released either, so players were ultimately denied the chance to play one of the best games on the 2600.