OOH! Now here's a treat! Polaris... Wow what a game, It's gotta be one of my favorites for the system... Polaris is a submarine shooting game with other elements thrown in for good measure. Out of all the games that Tigervision published for the 2600 it's a near tie for me between this game and Jawbreaker as my favorite, but I think Polaris just beats it out. Now Tigervision, who were a subsidiary of Tiger Electronics, have put out some of the rarest and most expensive games on the 2600, thankfully this is not one of them (unless you were trying to go for the variation with the green end label, in which case it is a bit expensive). Polaris tends to sit around the 30 dollar range price-wise and it's worth every single penny.
This game looks good. While the environments are a bit blocky and the subs are only one color, the simplicity doesn't hurt the game it all seems to fit together so very nicely. The planes which drop bombs onto your sub in the first level actually look like planes, unlike another game I reviewed recently. And the patrol boat which cruises by whenever you spend too much time near the surface is an absolute treat to look at. Everything in this game is large and well defined and inherently shootable and thereby blow-upable. which leads nicely onto the gameplay.
Gameplay is where this game shines, the premise is simple: shoot everything! In the first part of the first level you are pitted against two bomber planes... that... well, drop bombs on you, the bombs drop slowly and are easy to avoid so they pose little threat to you. There is also another sub, but like the bombs it poses no threat unless you intentionally drive into it. When you dispatch the two bomber planes and enemy fighter jet appears. This guy is quick and very much enjoys dive bombing you while dropping heat seeking torpedoes on you, dispatching the jet is a simple affair, shoot it while it's dive bombing you and you should be golden. When the jet is gone the second half of the game begins, a top down driving section. The scrolling is a little bit choppy but that shouldn't be an issue since you can control the speed of your sub, you can't stop entirely but you can slow down quite a bit. You'll also find that you can shoot in the top down sections by pressing the button, this is for the mines which appear in later stages, they move back and forth and are a pain to avoid so you can just shoot them. And it keeps going on like this. Each level increases in difficulty by either adding more bomber planes or more subs, the top down sections get harder as well, with the mines moving back and forth faster and faster.
The sounds of this game are fairly standard with one exception, the absolutely obnoxious sonar pinging that plays all throughout the game. Mute button please! But otherwise all other sounds are fairly standard, but that explosion sound is nice and meaty.
This game is very good, in fact I would say that this game is a hidden gem on the 2600. If you can find it at a good price then pick it up for sure, do not fall for the overly expensive listings on Ebay, it's a 30$ game at best.