Thrust+ Platinum Edition Review | Atari 2600

The resistance is about to launch a major
offsensve agains the Intergalactic Empire. In preparation for this, we have captured
several battle-grade starships, all we lack are the essential power sources for these
formidable craft, Klystron Pods. This Resistance would like to commission you, Captain, to
retrieve these pods from the Empire’s stocade planets. Many of these pods are stored deep under the
planet surface and are heavily protected by batteries of “Limpet” guns, powered by a nearby
nuclear power plant. By firing shots at the power plant, the guns can be temporarily disabled.
The more shots fired at the nuclear reactor, the longer the guns will take to recharge
allowing you to slip past their defenses. Warning, should you fire too many shots at
the reactor, it will become critical, giving you just ten seconds to clear the planet before
it is destroyed. Remember we need those pods. DO NOT LEAVE THE PLANET WITHOUT ONE. Of course,
if you have retrieved the pod feel like wasting the planet, the Resistance will reward your
efforts. Once you have retrieved the pod, proceed directly to the low orbit where we
will jump you to the next stockade. Intelligence reports indicate that further
into the enemy system, they have engineered planets with REVERSE GRAVITY and something…even
more deadly… This is Thrust+ Platinum Edition This is an extremely well designed and fun
homebrew game. It also has one of the best opening musical scores of any game I have
played, a truly catchy tune. It is my understanding this version supports numerous controllers
including an Atari 2600 compatible foot pedal controller. You have been tasked with recovering pods
off of far-away planets before you run out of fuel and before the planet goes nuclear.
Your ship whose design seems to borrow from Asteroids, rotates in all directions allowing
you to shoot in all angles. The difference here being you have to contend with the relentless
pull of gravity. Therefore you must counter that force by using
the games namesake, “Thrust”. You have to be careful with the over application of thrust
because you do have a limited amount of fuel. Your fuel collection is cumulative, meaning
your fuel does not reset after the completion of a level, so once you run out the game is
over. You earn a new ship every 10,000 points. Thrust+ is a single player game. Along the planets surface and within the caverns,
there are nicely placed fuel drops. In order to retrieve the fuel canisters, you must maneuver
your ship above the fuel and use your tractor field by pressing back on your joystick controller,
this also activates your shields. Similarly, to retrieve the pod, you must maneuver
over the pod, use your tractor beam while also using thrust. The planet is laden with
tactical security robots that constantly fire torpedoes toward you. You have the choice
to either destroy them, by firing your torpedoes, or use your shields to avoid being destroyed.
You can also fire at the nuclear reactors. Doing so will temporarily disable the security
robots. However firing too many shots at the reactor will cause it to go nuclear, leaving
you with ten seconds to flee the planet. If you destroy the reactor and escape the planet
with the pod, you will be nicely rewarded with a generous bonus. When towing the pod and attempting to destroy
the reactor, you have to be careful, since your fire can hit the pod with the resulting
explosion destroying your ship. With the pod in tow, neither the pod nor your ship can
touch any of the walls. However unlike your ship, the pod can pass through the reactor.
This is a bit of a break because maneuvering with the pod takes can take a while to get
used to. The game is generous with checkpoints, which I was not expecting, so when you lose
a ship, you may not have to start over at the beginning. Once you surpass six levels on the EASY setting,
the gravity reverses. This is sort of like turning your world upside down. This is one
place where the game is a bit unforgiving. By the time you get to this point you may
be down to your last few ships. It can be quite challenging to learn reverse gravity.
Ran out of ships? No problem, just start all over from level one until you get it right. There are five game variations that adjust
the difficulty, but personally I cannot imagine intentionally increasing the difficulty. This
is already a difficult game to master. This game boasts five different variations
which can be chosen using the game select switch on your console. The right difficulty
switch toggles between NTSC and the PAL version. Over on the website, there is
one record listed: Expert/A swlovinist 15,000 This game is clever, it has polish and again,
is extremely fun. You have to remember the Atari 2600 is an
extremely limited hardware design. It’s greatest limitation is its lack of memory and what
the homebrew community and the original Atari programmers had to do was to be creative to
work within these limitations, and it is exactly what Thrust+ Platinum programmer Thomas Jentzsch
has done. Hope I got that right. This is one of my favorite homebrew games on
the Atari 2600 and I highly recommended it. *****


  1. Great review! One of my favorites for the 2600.

    It's funny; some of these earlier homebrew games are almost old enough to be considered classics themselves.

  2. The tune sounds like a basic rendition of the theme from the C64 original. Given how poorly suited the 2600's sound hardware is to music, it's a decent attempt!

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