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Despite simplistic graphics and sound effects
Thrust is a brilliant game and the best budget title I have yet seen. The Rob Hubbard soundtrack, however, is boring, but does contain a few nice bits and thankfully only makes an entrance on the title screen. Thrust is virtually flawless and it's a steal at only two quid; in fact the loading screen alone is almost worth that, as it is that good.

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At last!! A version of
Gravitar which plays just as well as the original. Although not being a totally faithful copy, Thrust adds its own elements and comes up with one of the most addictive and playable arcade games I've played in a long time. OK, so the graphics are very basic and the sound isn't amazing, but who really cares when the game is as good as this? If you want a brilliant game at a very low price then beetle out and get this, you'll be at it all night.

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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Thrust
1986 Firebird
Programmed by ?
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the thirteenth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: April 20th, 1986).
 

THRUST
Firebird, 1.99 cass, keyboard only


During the expansion years of the first Empire the future was bright, sparkling and hopeful. Mankind was in its foundling years, suckling on the still plentiful resources the universe had to offer. Planets were mined for their ore content, stars tapped of their mighty energy and the humans proliferated at a horrendous rate, easing themselves into every corner of the cosmos.

But that was a long lime ago and now, as the universe itself is becoming old and decrepit, energy to feed the hungry mouth of man is becoming harder and harder to find. Atrophy and entropy are the rules of the day and hungry aliens steal the energy previously given. Mankind is getting scared . . .

After a millennia of a technologically-based way of life, evolution has seen to it that the human race can't survive without the trappings of their mechanics. Day after day countless tales of dead worlds, devoid of energy but full of corpses, flood in via News Circ. Mankind is getting very scared . . . and then The Plan is hatched.

Deep within the abandoned carbon worlds of Gargos is a system of planets that were mined to death by the extravagant First Empire. Riddled with abandoned shafts the worlds themselves are totally unfit for any sort of habitation due to their severe instability. Still, in those days valuable energy sources were treated with a blase attitude that is now considered shocking. Within each of these worlds lie the machinery and energy sources of the criminal mining operations. The Plan is a stroke of genius.

There are huge amounts of power locked within each of these now defunct planets and it can be released by destroying each of them in turn. As an extra benefit there is also a power pod on each world that contains now very valuable power. Destroying a planet is easy: just blast to destruction the generator connected to the grid stabiliser holding the shaft-riddled planet together. To make such an operation feasible, the energy expenditure in taking the much needed power source must be slight, so a corps of ex-navy fighters were assembled and each given a one man craft equipped with cannon, force field and las-leash. Fuel was carelessly left behind on the planets and it can be collected. There are also armament systems, which are still operational, and for safety's sake they are best destroyed.

Having just been enlisted to work for the Planetbusting service, understandably enough the easy jobs are handed to you first. Your debut mission is the easiest since it's only a strip mined planet that needs to be destroyed. There is one armament primed and the generator and power pod are on the surface: no underground navigation is required. An in-ship scanner represents the outside world in an angular and simplistic way. A representation of your ship is constantly displayed in the middle of the scanner and as the ship moves off towards the boundary of the view, more planetary surface appears. Because of the scanner's simplistic interpretation of the real world, everything is seen as a two-dimensional side scene.

The ship supplied is a much advanced version of the famous standard issue craft used by meteor miners (see Asteroids for reference) and can spin through 360 degrees and thrust in all directions. Controlled via a keyboard interface, A and S rotates the ship and SHIFT activates the engines. The space bar brings the multi-purpose force field into action. This handy piece of equipment has three functions depending on the surroundings. When flying through mid air, booting the field into action puts a shielding bubble around your machine. Any bullets heading your way disintegrate upon hitting. Hovering over a fuel dump (handily marked FUEL) and letting the force flow, pulls fuel into your tanks. Once the dump is exhausted it disappears from the scanner. Finally, activating the shield whilst hovering over the power pod (a small round object on a pedestal) instantly connects the las-leash to the middle of the pod. Thrusting into the air pulls the pod from the pedestal, away from the ground. This is tricky though, since the pod's weight and momentum also count and it's all too easy to plunge into the ground, spinning end over end after a bit if mis-applied thrusting. However, whenever the shield is operative your fuel drains away at quite an alarming rate, so use the equipment only when needed. No fuel and the claws of gravity pull you downward into the ground; there's nothing you can do.

To complete a mission perfectly, both power pod and generator have to be destroyed: a hefty reward in points is thrown your way for this feat, but returning to the Planetbuster Corps with just the pod means being sent to the next, harder, mission. Blowing up the generator is quite easy, though it gets tougher on later stages. It's well worth going after the extra bonus; using the cannon mounted on the ship's front end, just blast about a dozen shots into the machine and the generator goes unstable and starts to flash. Only ten seconds are given to vacate before the planet explodes. Fly straight up and after a couple of seconds a warp will take you and any cargo in tow, back to corps base. The next mission is then sent your way.

As things go on, your job progressively gets harder and harder: the armaments get nastier and more numerous. If you leave a world without totally finishing a mission then the sub-etha equipment is able to contact the next planet you travel to, warning the defence systems of your imminent arrival. The welcome you receive is not nice, all guns within the caverns are now ablaze and a lot of shield use is necessary. There are six types of world and after completing the six, an arduous task to say the least, they repeat but with added difficulty. The first extra hazard encountered on the seventh sheet is reverse gravity. After six sheets of a normal environment, such a weird thing as inverse gravity can really freak a pilot out; it's all too easy to crash hopelessly. The strangest effect is that the power pod now balloons upwards as soon as it is wire-leashed to the ship. On the fifteenth sheet the landscape is totally invisible except for when the ship's shield is activated.

     

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Upon loading I'm afraid that Thrust just looks hopelessly dated -- a throwback from the ancient days of computing. Still playing the game puts any reservations the graphics may have aroused far into the back of your mind. Thrust is immensely playable, mixing in with a fair amount of originality is a blend of certain elements from such arcade classics as Gravitar and Asteroids. It's just a great game to play.

Also very impressive is the realistically simulated gravity, inertia and momentum. When the power pod is hooked onto the back end of the ship, all its forces are taken totally into consideration. Though there are only six different screens, the mixture of various elements (anti-gravity and invisibility) means that this great little budget game should keep you hooked for ages. For the price there is no excuse to miss this slice of arcade action that will keep you glued to the keyboard until the wee hours of the morning.
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Presentation 88%

Handy little demo mode and high score table, but no joystick option.

Graphics 80%
Though somewhat dated looking, movement is the main graphic attraction.

Sound 80%
Rob 'I get everywhere' Hubbard supplied the annoying main screen ditty, but befitting FX make up for this
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Hookability 92%
A good Thrusting is great fun and it's all very easy to get into.

Lastability 94%
The very cleverly graded screens means that it will need a momentous amount of skill to stop Thrust from offering a challenge.

Value For Money 99%
Games of this quality just aren't usually offered for a ridiculously low price like this.

Overall 94%
Most enjoyable game we've played for ages and at the price you'd be silly to miss it.
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Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (19 Jun 2005)

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