The year is 2947. Earth is being invaded by the evil K’caj clan from the Yenrut galaxy. You are Galactic Commander Frank Drexor. The United States Space Guard has commissioned you with the task of defending the most important sector of the galaxy from the invaders. K’caj technology is much more advanced than the technology of Earth. Some of the ships have tractor beams. Others are equipped with subspace energy disruptors. These disruptors create energy barriers that will actually cause the shots from your cannons to reflect back at you! If your mission is a failure, the K’caj will gain control of this vital sector of space, allowing them to maneuver their troops and equipment much more efficiently and gain a larger foothold in the battle for the planet. This would certainly spell disaster for the citizens of Earth. Their fate is in your hands!
Backfire is a homebrew game for the Atari 2600 written by Chad Lare. In Backfire you have two guns, one on the top of the screen and one on the bottom. To control the gun on the top of the screen, press up, to switch to the other gun, press down. Once you are controlling a gun, you can move horizontally and shoot. If you have a clear shot all the way across the screen, you can accidentally blow up your own gun. Also if you shoot one of the barriers, your shot is reflected back at you and you have to get out of the way (hence the name Backfire).
The label design created by Earl Green for Backfire was chosen through the Backfire Label Contest. Dale Crum then created a full-color 12-page manual to accompany the game, in the same style as manuals that accompanied Atari's picture-label games.
|Number of Players||1|
|Label Design||Earl Green|
|Manual Design||Dale Crum|
The gameplay starts out very simple, but the difficulty ramps sufficiently to provide a solid challenge. There is probably a frustration level for anyone who likes mindless shoot-em-ups, but for the gamer who is looking for a shooter with brains, this is the perfect fit.
Graphically the game isn't flashy, but it doesn't need to be. There is the issue of the missile being very small and hard to distinguish from the background, but I see that more as a challenge and less of a hindrance.
Backfire is a great homebrew!
Backfire was a very frustrating game starting out, since I tend to play this type of a game with a "shoot first, and forget about asking questions" approach. But with Backfire, patience and careful shotmaking are the keys. You have to be sure that if you miss your target, you aren't going to blow up your other cannon, or hit one of the many shields populating the screen and have your shot reflected back at you. You must always be aware of where your shot is going to go and where your cannons are at all times. Making the game even more challenging is that the shields are always in motion, so you can't just camp out in a comfortable spot and blast away. Plus, if the enemy ship gets too close to you, your ship shudders violently, making it a matter of luck whether you hit him or not. The enemy ship can attack either of your cannons, so you must switch control between them and shift your focus from one half of the screen to the other. And if that wasn't enough to deal with, there are bonus ships that fly across the center of the screen which make for tempting targets... and distractions.
Once I got over not being able to blast everything in sight, I enjoyed Backfire. I think it's still a very hard game, and there are times when it seems a bit unfair - such as if you get shot, you're momentarily incapacitated, but the enemy just keeps coming and you can easily lose two lives in rapid succession. Of course, the only way to get shot is by shooting yourself, so I suppose it's good incentive not to do that. There's not much sound in the game, and some audio cues for the enemy getting closer or the bonus ships approaching would have been a nice addition. The graphics are pretty good, although some of the colors don't have very good contrast. One complaint is that you can't start a new game with the fire button, so you're going to need to reach for the Reset switch quite a lot. Also, the collision detection is a little off, so your shots will pass right through the enemy ship's tail from time to time. Backfire is a good game though if you're looking for something that's a little different, and a definite challenge.