Review: Beamrider (Atari 5200)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out a game that was previously unknown to us. This game is called Beamrider and it’s a third person shooter for the Atari 5200. We find out if this is unknown because it wasn’t good or if we unearthed a gem of a game.

This particular game was released in 1984. We really didn’t know about this game until we played it for the purposes of writing a review about it.

Essentially, you are a space ship chasing UFO’s. You are constantly moving forward and are stuck at the bottom of the screen. Still, you can move between one of the 5 blue “beams” (which are really just blue lines) as you try and destroy enemy crafts. The alien space crafts move around the screen and, when they get close to you, try and fire at you in an effort to destroy you.

There are other obstacles that you encounter as well. There are rocks that sit on top of the beams. These brown rocks cannot be destroyed with your main weapon, so your only option is to move around them. There are also what appear to be yellow mines that can be shot for extra points. In addition, there are light blue mines that race out in front of you and set down on the beam you happen to be on. Again, you cannot destroy them with your main weapon, so your only option is to simply move around them.

There’s some weird yellow object that moves across the screen as well that you can destroy. The only purpose seems to be for you to shoot it for additional points (or possibly block a shot at an enemy, thus keeping the enemy count high).

The advantage you have is a count on the top right corner of how many enemies you have left. Once the number drops to zero, you have to avoid a set of light blue mines and watch a UFo fly across the screen before advancing to the next sector.

Each time you complete a sector, you’ll advance to another sector that has the difficulty slightly increased. It seems that you keep going until you lose all three of your lives.

In spite of the bare bones graphics found in this game, I actually found this game to be an interesting one. I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t heard of this one before now, but it is a fun game to play.

Graphically, this one is hard to judge. On the one hand, you have very bare bone graphics to deal with. On the other hand, the animations of the lines scrolling past you are very smooth and it is a third person perspective on an older Atari system. That, in and of itself, is quite impressive. So, I’ll say that the graphics were good for a game on the Atari 5200.

The sound effects really reflect a retro futuristic feel. There’s the speed up at the beginning and the decent sound effects. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much in the way of music in this game. That was a little disappointing to me.

Overall, though, this was a surprisingly good game to play. If you enjoy semi-rail shooting games or third person perspective shooters, this game might be right up your alley. An enjoyable game all around.


Furthest point in game: Sector 6.

General gameplay: 19/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 70%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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