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OriginsEdit

Thrustxtremetitle

Thrust Xtreme title screen shot.

Gravitar was not a big hit when it debuted in the arcade in the early 1980s, as it was definitely not for people who couldn't handle thrusting around very well while performing various other duties around a very tight-knit atmosphere, like with Asteroids.

Conditions were much more closed off with Gravitar though, unlike with the free range of Asteroids, since the player had to fly through caverns and various landscapes in a series of planets to destroy bunkers, beam up fuel cells, and contend with gravity as well. One critic dubbed it as to being "the worst game ever made" due to its difficulty level.

So, one might question the business tactic of a video game company that would take the inspiration of Gravitar, yet arguably make it even tougher by having the player deal with flying off planets with a pod attached, causing their ship to, at times, swing like a pendulum if they weren't careful. However, somehow Thrust actually worked when it was originally released for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron in 1986 containing those elements, along with being ported to other platforms, and unofficially ported to the Atari 2600 and Vectrex years later as modern day homebrews.

Thrust Xtreme is a modern day remake based on the Commodore 64 version of Thrust, having many minor changes and eight new levels and other items added. It was created and published by Wiebo de Wit for the PC in 2006.

StoryEdit

The Intergalactic Empire has a diabolical plan, as they have captured many battle-grade starships to launch an offensive against their resistors. The one thing they need in order to launch their plan are Klystron Pods so their starships can be powered.

It is the player's mission to infiltrate the Intergalactic Empire's planets and steal their pods to prevent their plans from taking effect.

GameplayEdit

The player must penetrate planets to make it to the pod bases. They then must engage their tractor beam to attach the pods to their ship, then either navigate off the planet with the pod still attached or destroy the planet by repeatedly shooting the planet’s reactor (if it has one; see Remake differences below) to complete their mission.

The player has to contend with many factors during their mission; one of which is the consumption of fuel, which is drained whenever thrust is applied and their shield/tractor beam is used. There are also Limpet Guns scattered around the landscapes that fire at the player. Colliding with a fuel cell, any part of a planet's landscape, being shot, having the attached pod get shot or hit a wall, running out of fuel, or still being on the planet when a reactor reaches critical will cost the player a reserve ship, and the game will end when there are no more ships in reserve.

Fuel pods can be beamed up via the player's tractor beam to add to their fuel level, and also helping the player, at times, are nuclear reactors in most levels. Everything on a planet is nuclear powered, which, if the player shoots a nuclear reactor, if there are nearby Limpet Guns, it will disable them for a time; the more times the player shoots a reactor, the longer the guns will not fire. If the player shoots a reactor several times though, it will become critical, and the player only has 10 seconds to get off the planet before it explodes. A bonus is awarded if the planet is destroyed or if the player makes it off the planet with the pod.

There are also a few sections in the later levels where corridors are blocked by a door, which has a button to shoot in order to open the door so the player can get in and out of that particular area.

Remake differencesEdit

As far as the original six levels of Thrust goes, they were left pretty much intact, having mostly minor graphical and some slight gameplay mechanical changes made to the game, such as there being a fuel trail when the player flies around, along with fuel particles being visible when the player beams up a fuel tank. Landscapes on planets are now multi-colored, along with having some vector overhang (see Trivia section below), along with stars appearing when the player’s ship gets close to leaving the planet, plus there is a new animation of the ship and pod quickly disappearing once they exit the planet they are on. The doors that need to have a button shot in order to open now have details to them, along with a circuit being seen connecting the buttons. Planet surfaces also scroll as the player flies around, unlike with most versions of Thrust where only a section at a time will change once the player reaches a certain point on the playfield.

Some minor gameplay mechanics were also changed as well, such as the player being able to fire several more shots at a time. The game won’t end when the player runs out of fuel (they’ll just lose that ship), plus the pod/player’s ship won’t be destroyed if they make contact with each other. The reactor can be destroyed, plus the player still gets credited with the mission being accomplished/they will still earn a bonus if the pod is still left on the planet, unlike with other versions of Thrust. They also earn points for destroying the reactor immediately, which was not in the original game. All levels now have a name or catch phrase as well.

There are also many additions to Thrust Xtreme once the player gets past the sixth planet (which would cause the game to start over, but on the next level of difficulty with Thrust), as eight new levels were added. There are lost astronauts on several of these planets, each are worth 500 points if the player beams them up via tractor beam. There are also defensive lasers that block corridors for several seconds until they switch off, allowing the player to fly past them then, although ones on other planets need to have a button shot in order to be deactivated and to allow passage. Piles of rubbish also block passageways on a few planets that need to be shot in order for the player’s ship to get past.

Other new items include a rotate wall, which is like two doors that need to be opened by shooting a button that, in essence, forms a new passageway once they rotate. A windy passage is also found on the last level, causing the player’s ship to quickly drop down a vertical passageway. There are also rotate wheels that automatically turn and cannot be manually turned, nor stopped. There are also items placed on the surface of several planets, such as astronauts, bunkers and fuel tanks, as the majority of these items in Thrust were below planets’ surfaces. The reactor is missing on a few planets, however, and the pod is on its side on one level, rather than on a cavern floor.

If the player is able to defeat all planets, that will count as to beating the current level (which the game starts at "level zero") before they start at the next difficulty wave. At the end of a game, like with Gorf, the player earns a ranking, starting as a Rookie, then they are promoted to a Sergeant if level zero is beaten, and so forth.

Finally, the game also includes an editor for the player to create their own levels.

ControlsEdit

  • Turn ship left and right–A and S keys
  • Tractor beam/shields–spacebar
  • Thrust–shift key
  • Fire–enter key
  • Pause–P key
  • Start next level–fire key
  • Take screenshot–F12 key
  • Quit game–esc key

Note: these are the default controls, which can be remapped.

TriviaEdit

  • One might think the area in one of the final new levels that causes the player’s ship to suddenly drop very quick is a gravity well, although it actually, according to programmer Wiebe de Wit, “...was meant to represent a windy passage... I should have introduced it as a horizontal passage first, that would've made more sense.[1]
  • De Wit had also previously created Thrust Deluxe, which levels from that game are included with Thrust Xtreme, although redone.
  • There is vector overhang with some of the graphics, being a tribute to the Vectrex video game console, as graphics can vary from one console to the next due to vector drift.

ReferencesEdit

  1. E-mail from de Wit.
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