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Antstream Arcade Archive: Yars’ Revenge

In our latest Antstream Arcade Archive series, we take a look at another specific retro game from the Antstream Arcade vault, giving you the lowdown on its plot, gameplay and tips. This week we are proud to present Yars’ Revenge, the 1982 shoot-‘em-up that helped consolidate the Atari 2600 as the dominant home console of the late Seventies and early Eighties. With the Antstream Arcade Yars' Revenge tournament, there’s never been a better time to play this Eighties classic!

I’ve heard of this – it’s a bit of a legend isn’t it?

Certainly is. Yars’ Revenge is a pioneering Atari 2600 game that set a new standard for depth of gameplay beyond many of the simple shooting games on the system. We are honoured to be hosting it on Antstream Arcade.

What’s it about?

The player controls Yar, an insect creature with a stinging energy missile attack. Yar is bravely defending its world from the Qotile, a triangular being that sits behind a cellular structure on the right hand side of the screen. Yar can shoot his missiles at the cells to expose the Qotile, but this is where it gets clever. With its own energy weapon useless against the Qotile itself, Yar must call up a feared laser, the Zorlon Cannon in order to destroy the enemy. This powerful gun is summoned by eating the cells of the wall or touching the Qotile. Once the cannon appears on the left of the screen, let loose this beam of destruction, not forgetting to get out of the way!

I wondered why nothing was happening as I blasted away! I imagine the enemy doesn’t just sit there waiting for destruction?

No it doesn’t. The Qotile has two weapons of its own with which to dispose of the annoying insect buzzing around it. The Destroyer Missile is a small, yet deadly beam that steadily homes in on Yar, while – swirly thing alert! – the Qotile itself transforms into the Swirl, a pretty little pattern that speedily dashes in the direction of the player and kills the instantly upon touch.

Yikes. What’s the colourful area in the middle all about?

In a nod to Star Trek, that’s called the Neutral Zone, and when the Yar is inside this glittering part of the screen, it cannot be killed by the incessant Destroyer Missile. Unfortunately it also can’t fire, and can still be destroyed by the Swirl.

Are there any game variations?

As with most Atari 2600 videogames, there are multiple versions of the same game, selectable at the start. 0 is the easiest version, while 1 is the two-player game. Option 2 ramps up the difficulty culminating in a Zorlon Cannon that rebounds off the shield in game 4 and the unusual twists of Ultimate Yars, games 6 and 7. With these two games, the Yar has to collect energy in order to summon the Zorlon Cannon, making it an addictive game of cat and mouse. For Antstream Arcade, press F12 when Yars’ Revenge loads to select your game version.

Wow… lot’s to learn! So any tips?

Yar is a nippy fellow so learning to control it adeptly will pay high dividends. Otherwise, while the homing missile is easily dodged in the early stages, it’s not long before its unerringly advancing towards the player with great speed. If you want to give yourself a breather from the Destroyer, lurk in the top left and wait for it to reach you. Just before it does, dart straight down and it will disappear off the screen, giving you some precious breathing space to work on the Qotile.

Are there any Antstream Arcade challenges for Yars’ Revenge?

At the moment there’s only one Yars’ Revenge challenge, but it’s a cracking high score test that is a fun way to thrown down the gauntlet to your friends on Antstream Arcade. In ‘Yar Simply The Best’ the aim is to score as many points as possible with one life, and you’ll need to vanquish that Qotile multiple times to get up this challenge leaderboard!

I love a score-attack challenge! What about a tournament – don’t tell me I’ve missed it!

OK we won’t, because you haven’t! Based on the challenge outlined above, the story goes like this: “An attack from the enemy known as the Qotile, has decimated Planet IV! As the newest recruit, you must now avenge the recently destroyed planet and bring peace back to the Yar Community. Good Luck!” Log in to Antstream Arcade to take part in a tournament that’s sure to be hotly contested.

Is there anything similar available on Antstream Arcade?

For more outer space shenanigans in a classic Atari theme, check out the rock-blasting Asteroids or 1978’s venerable shooter, Space War. You can also try Taito’s Lunar Rescue and Space Invaders.

Watch out for another Antstream Arcade Archive soon!

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