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Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Thrust (Commodore 64)

Although I'll be a mixture of the great and the good and the weird and the wonderful today, it seems only right that I begin with a game that is considered to be perhaps the Godfather of budget games... Thrust.

I'll be honest... I hated Thrust when I first played it. It was keyboard only, for a start. We 64 owners were used to using joysticks to play games. And who wanted that big brown thing perched on their lap? Nope... hated it.

For some reason, though, I kept going back to it. Maybe with it being so highly rated I figured it was me that was wrong about it, maybe I just felt drawn back to it to at least try and complete a couple of levels... but eventually I was drawn in.


This doesn't look like it'll end well...

The premise is pretty simple sci-fi stuff... our planet is running out of energy, but it's known there is a system of planets that was mined to death years ago, and the plan is to send in a ship to retrieve a power pod from each planet, blow up its main generator thus setting off a world-destroying cataclysmic explosion, and then get out of there with the power pod before you're caught in the blast.

Naturally, it's not as easy as it sounds. And the real beauty of Thrust lies in the perfectly balanced gameplay. The controls are absolutely spot on, the inertia is absolutely spot on... when you connect to the power pod and try to lift it clear, you really feel the extra weight. And then you go spinning out of control and implode on a cavern wall. Well, I do.


OK... sooo... now what?

Just when you start getting good at it, the game turns into an utter bastard and will throw in a new element to keep you on the hop and further test your skills. Get a few levels into the game and you'll have to deal with reverse gravity. Get further still and the walls of the caverns become invisible. Yes, that's ridiculous... you can only see the walls when you activate your shield.

Thrust, unbelievably, is twenty-five years old this year. Quite often, home computer games from that time have aged badly, and aren't what you remember them to be. Thrust, however, is still as fresh, playable, demanding and entertaining as it ever was. It seems incredible that it only cost £1.99 when it was released. It's an absolute stone-cold classic, and if you've never played, get it downloaded right now. Better still, get onto eBay and buy the setup you need to play it for real. It's an amazing game.

*Thrust did not originate on the Commodore 64... in fact, it was a full-price release on the BBC computer. Amazing that it wasn't full-price when released on other systems.

2 comments:

  1. It's definitely one of the best C64 games, the graphical style works very well. I presume everything was line-drawn on the Beeb, since it could draw lines very quickly, and re-done with sprites on the C64 since it couldn't draw lines worth a damn, but had lots of h/w sprites.

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  2. I mean, it's Gravitar but better. That made it quite something at the time. Home games weren't supposed to be better than something in the arcades. I loved Thrust, but then I always had a weird aptitude for games taken from the Asteroids blueprint. It did feel weird on a C64 though...

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