v 1.1
                      author:  Dimetric Houston

  Main Screen Description
  Map Screen Description
  Quadrants, Sectors, and Space
  Red Zone 
  Tips, Tricks and Secrets


Hello all.  This FAQ covers the game Solaris for the Atari 2600.
It is a cool space-action game.  

I am not going to bother with the copyright stuff.  If you are low enough
to try to bank a profit off of this, or you decide to plagiarize it, that's 
your wretched morality.

The newest version of this FAQ can be found at the following sites:

GameFAQs (

  v 0.5  7-30-00
     -Preliminary edition.      
  v 1.0  8-1-00
     -updated Walkthrough section    
     -updated Tips, Tricks, and Secrets section
     -other minor changes
  v 1.1  8-3-00
     -minor formatting changes
     -updated Main Screen Description section
     -updated Tips, Tricks, and Secrets section
     -other minor changes


The Zylons (of Star Raiders fame) have returned to wreak havoc upon the
cosmos.  It's up to you to destroy them.  While doing this, you are also on
a journey to locate the lost planet Solaris and rescue the Atari pioneers
stranded there.


Joystick:  -Moves fighter.  This is not like an aircraft.  Pressing up will
            move your fighter up, down will move it down.  Left and right do
            just that.
           -Moves cursor on map screen.

Button:  -Fire photon torpedoes
         -Engages hyperwarp on map screen

You can plug a joystick into the second slot to be able to access the map 
screen whenever you wish.  Just press the button on the second controller and
the map screen will appear.  You can even do this in battle.  I suggest you
use this feature as it will save time.


A description of the items on the main screen follows.  This is the screen
where you control your fighter.

Targetting Computer--the set of gauges at the bottom of the screen.  Houses
                     all displays pertinent to your mission.

Radar--the long rectangular box in the lower middle of the screen.  This
       indicates enemies, planets, prisoners, and all other moving objects
       coming your way.  This can be damaged by a non-lethal hit on your
       ship (usually enemy shots that don't make contact with your center).
       When damaged, the radar flashes white and you can't tell what is 
       coming your way.  You must depend on the distance indicators at this
       time.  Repair by going to a docking bay.

Note:  You will also notice that the radar changes color.  This will indicate
       the particular situation.  These are described below:

       Blue:   Clear.  No enemies are in the sector.
       Red:    Hostile.  Enemies are nearby.
       Green:  Friendly.  Only seen on Fed Planets.  No enemies are on the
               planet.  Only cadets and docking bays will appear.

Lives--these are indicated by the flags in the lower left corner of the
       screen.  You lose one whenever your fighter is destroyed.  Extra lives
       can be gained by destroying Zylon Planets.

Distance Indicators--these are the numbers to the left and right of the
       radar.  They indicate numerical distance to objects and are very
       useful (essential really) if your radar is damaged.  A further
       description follows:

       Left/Right Distance--the left number.  This shows your horizontal
                            distance from an object.

       Up/Down Distance--the right number.  This shows your vertical distance
                         from an object.

       You will notice triangles above the numbers indicating the direction
       an object is from your ship.  An X indicates the object is directly
       in front of you.

Fuel--the group of right triangles in the lower right next to the word FUEL.
      This shows your remaining fuel.  If it runs out, your fighter explodes
      and you lose a life.  Replenish by going to Docking Bays.

Score--at the top of the screen.  As you destroy enemies and rescue
       prisoners, you will get points.

Neutral Planets--these are the fast moving planets that appear when you warp
                 into and out of a sector.  If they hit your ship, you lose

Note:  When Fed Planets are being attacked and you are on the Main Screen,
       you will hear an audible signal (also from Star Raiders)
       and your score will flash the word "Scanner."  This is telling you to
       look at your map screen and get to that Fed Planet!


A description of the items on the map screen follows.

Jump:  this counter indicates how long before Zylon and other objects in the
       sector may move.  When it reaches 0 (or within about five counts to 0)
       the Zylons and other objects may move to different sectors.  Planets
       (Fed and Zylon) and Corridors never move.

Star Clusters:  these are the collection of dots seen in the sectors.  They
       act as walls that you can not go past.

Allies and Enemies:  See the respective sections to get an idea of what they
       look like.

Your ship:  Shown by a flashing X.

Note:  The map screen appears several seconds after you destroy the Zylons in
       a sector or when you first enter a new quadrant.  You can speed up the
       appearance of the map screen by pressing the button on the second
       joystick (if you have one plugged into the second slot).


The map screen shows your travel through space.  As you pass from quadrant to
quandrant, you will see different configurations of enemies, allies, and star

Each map screen display is called a quadrant (an 8x6 matrix).  You will
notice that each quadrant is divided into squares.  These squares are called

Different objects reside in a sector:  star clusters, allies, enemies, and 
you.  Multiple objects can be in a sector together (except for star clusters
which are always by themselves), and you will notice this by the symbols
alternating in the sector to show what is there.


You travel from place to place by warping.  During warp, you will hear your
engines increase in power and the screen will brighten.  At the max pitch of
your engines you will fly through two colored plates and your fighter will go
into the background.

While you are revving to warp, you will notice that you ship will duplicate.
This is called focus.  While preparing to warp, your task is to keep your
ship in focus.  Keep the two images as close together as possible.  

The Up/Down indicator will show your focus number. 0 is good, 3 is bad.

The better your focus (the closer to 0 it is), the less fuel you will lose
when you warp.


You do have some friends in this hostile battleground.  A description of them
follows.  I am putting some ASCII art to show their appearance on the map
screen.  Names are from the manual.

Note:  Your ship is shown by a flashing X.

Solaris--your goal.  On the map screen, it has the same symbol as a 
         Federation planet except it blinks.  It is the only planet that
         blinks, so watch for it.

* blinking

Federation Planets--these are your planets.  They contain essential Docking
         Bays which will restore your fuel and repair damage.  The Zylons are
         after these planets are you are their only defense.  If a Federation
         Planet is destroyed, the entire quadrant becomes a Red Zone.

* not blinking

Space Cadets--humans who are stranded on Zylon Planets.  You must rescue
              them.  Space Cadets on Federation Planets can be ignored.

  / \

Docking Bays--essential items for your mission.  These look like rectangular
         boxes.  Going into one replenishes your fuel completely and repairs
         your radar if it is damaged.  If you destroy one by shooting it, the
         planet blows up and the quadrant becomes a Red Zone.

|  ---   |

Wormholes--these will send you to some other sector in the quadrant, 
           jumping past several star clusters which block your path to some
           other sectors.

-\  /--\  (VERY bad I know.  think of a sideways "S" with a dot within the
  --- o   (upper curve)

Note:  Wormholes do a "double warp"  animation.  You go through the normal
       warp animation (see Warping section), then go through the last part of
       it again (with VERY high-pitched engines), so keep alert and keep your
       focus so you don't lose fuel.


There are quite a few enemies opposing you.  Below are their
descriptions.  I am providing some (VERY BAD) ASCII art in some cases to 
attempt to show what these foes look like on the map screen and what some
of them look like in battle.  Name are from the manual.

I classify the Zylons into two groups:  Space Force (SS) and Ground Force
(GS).  The Space Force Zylons are met only in space.  Ground Force Zylons are
found ONLY on Zylon Planets or when Federation Planets are being attacked.
So I reiterate, you will not ever meet GS Zylons in space.

Note:  All Space Force groups end with the appearance of a Flagship.  Destroy
the flagship and OFTEN you have destroyed that group of Zylons.  There are 
some exceptions, usually with Cobra Ships which love to appear after it 
seems you've cleaned house.

Attack Groups (SS)--these contain Mechnoids, Flagships, and Kogalon Star 

/_/     /

Zylon Planets (GS)--these planets look like Saturn.  If that description
               doesn't describe them well enough for you, they are the
               only enemy at an angle on the map screen.  Rescue the cadets
               on them and they explode.  Doing this gets you an extra life!
IMPORTANT NOTE:  Zylon planets are the ONLY way to gain an extra life.  I
                 HIGHLY recommend you destroy one when you are able, as the
                 extra lives are invaluable later on in the game.

Corridors (GS)--indicated by the word COR underlined.  They consist of two
              parts.  First you will be on a Zylon Planet with your only
              enemies being the Guardians.  Reach the actual corridor (looks
              like a docking bay--use your radar and left/right distance
              indicator to find it) and you will enter a fast moving tunnel.
              This is the actual corridor.  Destroy the guardians as you go
              and get the key to get past the door/barrier.  Get past all the
              doors and you destroy the corridor.  No, you don't get an extra
              life for this.

_Cor_ (underlined)

Guardians (GS)--these are located only on Corridors.  While on the outside of
              the corridor, the Guardians won't shoot unless you shoot first.
              Once inside, they will fire at will.

-- --
\/ \/

Key--not really an enemy, just listed here because the manual does it.  These
     are necessary to get past the doors in the Corridors.  Just fly your 
     ship into them and you get them and the doors open.

(you can't miss it ^_^ )

Blockaders(SS)--space mines.  They move up and down though space really fast.
               Dodge and shoot as needed.

|\      /|
| \    / |
| /    \ |
|/      \|

Kogalon Star Pirates(SS)--look like Star Wars Tie Fighters.  Aggressive
                        fighters that often loom out of shooting range and
                        take pot shots at you.  They are also renowned for
                        kamikaze attacks.  Be careful.

-          -
|   |--|   |
-          -

Cobra Ships(SS)--ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARES!!  Avoid if possible!  These are very
                 fast and vicious fighters.  They move so erratically that
                 it's hard to hit them, and they fire very quickly.  If you
                 encounter them, become extremely aggressive and go
                 head-to-head with them.  You can NOT be passive with these
                 enemies.  Cobra ships have a tendency to appear in other
                 groups of enemies as well.

S (yep, it looks like an "S" on the map screen)

Flagships(SS)--look like stereotypical flying saucers.  Larger than the other
           Zylon ships, these craft attack with shots and more often with 
           Distractors.  They can be rather difficult to hit sometimes.


Distractors(SS)--little red diamonds used by Flagships.   If they hit you,
                 you lose fuel.

Mechnoids(SS)--pink enemies met only in space.  Part of Attack Groups.  They
              are either easy or hard.
              They usually stay still while over you, but when they move to
              the side, they can fire really fast and take you out.

Gliders(GS)--Zylon Ground Forces.  Appears on Zylon Planets and when the
             Zylons attack a Federation planet.  They move in long sweeps and
             will mostly be annoying to you.

     / \
  /  \

Raiders(GS)--Zylon Ground Forces.  Appears only when the Zylons attack a
         Federation planet.  Rainbow colored foes that move little.

Targeters(GS)--Zylon Ground Forces.  Found on Zylon Planets and when the
               Zylons attack a Federation planet.  More aggressive than
               Gliders and Raiders, these foes come right to you as much as
               they can.

\         /
 \___ ___/
 /       \
/         \   

Note:  Although the map screen has these symbols indicating particular 
enemies, sometimes other enemies will appear as well.  This is especially
true if two enemy groups are near each other (I guess some fighters just
"pass over" into the other groups).

Note:  Only Attack Groups, Kogalon Star Pirates, and Flagships can attack
       Fed Planets.  Blockaders and Cobra Ships do not.  Also, although you
       will see the symbol of one of the SS groups attack the Fed Planet, 
       once you are on the planet itself, you will only encounter GS groups.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  When the Zylons attack a Fed Planet, you have 40 seconds to
                 save it.  If a GS member goes past your fighter on the
                 Fed Planet, you will have to face another wave of GS.


When a Federation Planet in a quadrant is destroyed (either by the Zylons or
if you shoot a Docking Bay), the quadrant becomes a Red Zone.  In a Red Zone,
your controls are reversed, and the main screen becomes bright red.  
Often the screen flashes white and utters with a thunderous BOOM!! Not a nice
place to be in, let me tell you.

Some quadrants do not have Federation Planets, yet are not Red Zones.  If you
enter a quadrant that is automatically a Red Zone, that means the Federation
Planet in that quadrant was destroyed before you got there.


This walkthrough will help you find your way to Solaris.  I will attempt to
guide you through each quadrant on the path that will take you to Solaris.

The way I am doing this is to show the quadrant (Q) and the exit you should
take.  The position of the line leading from the quadrant tells which exit
you should take (ex. the left line leading from Q1 tells you to take the 
left exit in quadrant 1)

You start in quadrant 1 (Q1).  The numbering system I am using only indicates
the necessary quadrants you need to traverse to reach Solaris.  The quadrants
are not actually numbered.

The letters indicate optional/other areas you can go to (or will go to in
some cases depending on certains actions you take).  Usually these areas
have Zylon planets (for extra lives) so that's why they are mentioned.  You
need only go along the Q# paths to reach Solaris.

As you travel further along, things will lengthen.  The enemies become more
numerous and much more aggressive (they all fire much faster), there are more
doors to go through in Corridors, and you have more cadets to rescue on Zylon
Planets (giving the GS more chances to kill you).

There is only ONE path to Solaris.  Go off from it and in many cases you will
NOT be able to go back to it.  Watch my advice for wormholes especially, as
taking one at the wrong time will end your chance to reach Solaris (resetting
is then your only option).

Aside:  Although it seems cruel, don't be noble here.  Don't try to destroy
        all the Zylons in a quadrant.  Just destroy those in your way or
        those posing an immediate threat to a Fed Planet THAT YOU WILL NEED.
        Ok, if your sense of duty/chivalry/nobility just won't let you heed
        this advice, go ahead then ^_^

Abbreviations used:

AG--Attack Groups
KGP--Kogalon Star Pirates
C--Cobra Ships
ZP--Zylon Planet

                                          |         |
                                          |         |
                                         Q9         ?
                                c        Q8----Q7*
                                |               |      
                                |               |
                                |        Q2----Q1---a
                                |        |
                                |        |
                                |        |

Q1:  You start here.  Nothing much happening.  The KSP don't move from the
     left exit, so you'll have to fight them.

     a.  Enter Q2 here to find a Zylon Planet right above you.  Get that
         extra life!

Q2:  No, the red background on the Scanner does not mean you are in a Red
     Zone, so relax.  Let the KSP attack the Fed Planet, then go after
     them to fight the GS forces.  By this time, the AG and second set of
     KSP should merge together and be right under your Fed Planet.  Now that
     the way to the COR is clear, go there (you will have to go the
     long way around.  You can't go through the Fed Planet).  Remember what I
     said, don't be noble.  You don't need this Fed Planet to risk yourself
     trying to keep it safe.

Q3:  Only the KSP and AG can attack the Fed Planet.  The Flagships are cut
     off by the Cobra Ships.  DO NOT go to the ZP near the Fed Planet.  Doing
     so will trap you and you will have to destroy the Fed Planet to get

     b.  Destroying the enemy in front of the left exit in Q5 will put you at
         the right exit of Q3.  There is a Zylon Planet you can get at the
         bottom.  Do NOT enter the wormhole!  It will warp you to the right
         side of the Fed planet.  Although you can get the Zylon Planet here,
         you will have to destroy the Fed planet to get back out!! You want 
         to keep this Fed Planet (see Q5 for the reason).

Q4:  A long journey is ahead, so get prepared.  Destroy the Blockader and 
     wait until the wormhole moves and gives you room to pass.  Then go and
     destroy the Corridor and take the north exit.  DO NOT enter the
Q5:  As you will notice, there is no Fed Planet here, yet it is not a Red
     Zone.  You will have a fuel problem going from Q4 to Q6.  This is why
     you want to keep the Fed Planet in Q3.  Enter the wormhole (yeah, we
     FINALLY get to use a wormhole), and it will warp you to the other side
     of the star clusters.  See note "b" under Q3 before doing this.

     Note:  Make sure you're fully ready before entering the Q5 wormhole.
            You will have to face a lot of enemies with no breaks (ZPs or Fed
            Planets) before reaching the next Fed Planet.  There is one ZP
            you will be able to get to, though. . .

     c.  Destroying the KSP at the north exit in Q5 leads to another
         quadrant.  There is a Zylon Planet to the left.

Q6:  Still alive?  Ok, unless you are low on fuel, my suggestion is to take a
     breather by letting the Zylons here (KSP and AG) attack the Fed Planet
     and deal with the GS.

     d.  Destroying the corridor in Q6 lands you in another quadrant.  Just
         leave at the exit below you.

     Note:  In Q6, wait until the Cobra Ship drops to the lower sector before
            using the Wormhole.  IOW, wait until the top row of sectors is
            completely open.  Use the wormhole and it will warp you to the
            top sectors and thus you will have avoided an unnecessary (and
            deadly) fight.

*Q7: Solaris is here!! (but you will have to go a roundabout way to get to
     it).  Don't enter the wormhole and, uh, don't faint looking at the way
     to Solaris.  Yeah, THREE squads of Cobra Ships. *shudder*

Q8:  Do NOT enter the wormhole.  It will warp you on the other side of it and
     you will not be able to go back through.  You can try for the ZP but
     watch your Jump value.  By the time you are finished, the AG may have
     moved to block your path and the Flagships may be attacking the Fed

Q9:  only one path to take here--and an extra life (ZP) to boot.

Q10:  Ok, you are between a rock and a hard place here.  You need to take the
      right exit, so either battle the Cobra Ships or take on the AG AND KSP
      (and if you are really nuts, fight all three for the heck of it).  This
      quadrant is high up in the game, so the enemies are all very
      aggressive.  You actually may be better with the Cobra Ships, but
      honestly it's up to you.

**Q11:  Automatic Red Zone!!  Nasty, nasty, NASTY!!!  I've never managed to
        make it through here.  I'm only guessing that the south path will
        take you back to Q7 and thus to the final path to Solaris.

TIPS, TRICKS, AND SECRETS (some from the manual)

To save fuel, destroy neutral planets to avoid colliding with them.

Also to save fuel, keep your craft in focus when you warp.  A lower focus
number will help prevent fuel loss.

I find the GS Zylons easier to deal with than the SS groups.  If you can
manage it, let the Zylons attack a Fed Planet and then take them on so you
only have to deal with the GS group.

You can destroy enemy shots.

Strategy for dealing with the various Zylon groups (see Walkthrough section
for abbreviation descriptions):

General:  Zylon SS groups will start in the background as small dots.  You
          can not hit them while they are like this.  Only once they come 
          into mid or full view can they be hit.  There are three stages of
          animation for movement between foreground and background.  These
          are described below (you can only hit the Zylons in Stage 2 or 3
          of movement):

          Stage 1:  Dot.  Unable to hit.  If you eyes and TV are good, you
                    can tell what is what by the dot color.
          Stage 2:  Mid-size.  Here you can slightly make out what is what
                    (ex. you can see the moving parts of Mechnoids).  Can be
          Stage 3:  Full size.  All details are visible and the enemy assumes
                    its full size.  Can be hit.

KSP:  Stay under them and move down to see where they will fire.  When they
      veer off the screen, wait until they come back, then move in the
      opposite direction (if they enter from the left, move to the right) 
      while moving down to give some room.  Then get back under them.  Move
      up and down and little while firing.  This will hopefully hit them 
      when they come into shooting range and save you the trouble of close-up

F:  These can be hard to hit because of their "hopping"  motion while
    releasing Distractors.  My suggestion is to sit still while they release
    three Distractors.  When three are released, the Flagship tends to move
    much less than normally.  Now QUICKLY go up to it while firing.  You 
    should hit it or be close enough to eventually do so.  Avoid chasing a
    Flagship.  They will continue hopping and going away and pelt you with

    When facing the actual Flagship group (from the map screen), the
    Flagships tend to fire as well.  The above method leaves you a sitting 
    duck in this case.  Here you want to go down to avoid the Distractors,
    then come around from the side and try to meet right up with Flagship.

Blockaders:  They can't be hit until you start seeing the yellow parts
             moving.  Early on you can mostly avoid them by going to the
             upper left or right side of the screen.  Most of them will pass
             you this way.  If that doesn't work, keep a keen eye to see
             where they will appear, then quickly move--either into range to
             shoot, or away to avoid them.  Moving up should keep most of
             them from colliding with you.  You will get a feel for them as
             you have more battles with them.

Mechnoids:  Handle basically the same way you face KSP, but since these don't
            veer off the screen, just try to stay under and away from them.
            Keep them at the edge of shooting range.

Cobra Ships:  Ok, get drop-down aggressive here, or else these fellows will
              make you too afraid to battle them.  Get right up next to them
              while firing.  If they manage to get past you, go FAR over to
              the left or right and try to get under them to see where they
              will fire, then go after them again.

Guardians:  No problems really.  Just stay in front of them near their center
            as much as possible.

Ground Forces:  Stay in line with them.


God--for the strength, life, and intellect to do this FAQ

I hope you have enjoyed this FAQ.  If there are any corrections, additions,
etc. that you see that need to be put here, please e-mail me and let me know.
Thanks for reading.
Dimetric Houston

The End

AtariAge - Solaris strategy