AStar is a new puzzle game for the Atari 2600 by Aaron Curtis, whose first homebrew endeavor was the highly popular Fall Down. AStar is inspired by an old calculator game called DStar. The basic idea is to collect all the items (cherries on the first level), but it's not as easy as it may seem at first! You can only move in a straight line until you hit something. You can then change your direction and again move forward until you hit a wall. You also have control of a small block to that you can use to help you navigate the level.
The number of moves you've made is shown at the bottom of the screen. Each level has a minimum number of moves required to complete it, and if you go over this the display will change color. Completing every level in the minimum number of moves (no easy task!) wins the game!
Includes cartridge and full-color manual. Available in NTSC and PAL television formats, please specify above when ordering.
AStar has built-in support for Richard Hutchinson's AtariVox. When you solve a level, AStar will record this on the AtariVox. The next time you fire up the game with an AtariVox plugged in, AStar will know which levels you've already completed! This way you don't have to complete all the levels in one sitting!
|Number of Players||1|
|Label Design||David Exton|
|Manual Design||David Exton|
The graphics in AStar are first-rate, with great-looking sprites, colorful mazes and a nice fade-out effect between levels. The music is excellent, and the rest of the sound effects are also well done. AStar has a unique feature I haven't seen on any other 2600 game - an "undo" switch. Toggling the left difficulty switch lets you undo the last move you made. This is a brilliant and most-welcomed addition, and it doesn't have any negative impact on the game, since it can only undo the last thing you did. You can't use it to cheat by backing up multiple moves, but it's great for stepping back to fix an accidental move, and in this game - every move counts.
AStar supports the AtariVox, which will keep track of the mazes you've successfully solved. One feature I would have liked to have seen was more continuity between mazes during a game. So that if you beat the required number of moves, any leftover moves would carry-over to the next maze, or if you exceeded the number of moves in one maze, you'd be penalized in the next by having less moves to start with.
AStar is a great puzzle game, with enough different mazes to keep you playing for quite some time. Even when you learn to finish a maze, solving it in the fewest moves possible becomes the true challenge of the game. It may be frustrating for some players, since the minimum number of moves can be unforgiving, but if you like puzzle games, reach for AStar.