Solar Fox (2600) Review

Games like this are tough for me to review.  Every fiber in my body wants to give Solar Fox the text equivalent of a sloppy, unrestrained blowjob.  But I mustn’t blather; I have to maintain my composure to protect the integrity of this fine website.  But it’s not easy, because this is one of the best games I’ve ever played, and the odds are good that you’ve never even heard of it.  The same way drug addicts are always looking for somebody new to get high with, I feel the need to spread the addiction of this game.  And I can guarantee you’ll be hooked from the very first hit.

The plot of Solar Fox is that the wicked Andross has taken over the once-peaceful Lylat System.  As Fox McCloud, it’s your duty to foil his evil scheme by collecting all the little squares on the screen.  Meanwhile, cannons on the top and bottom of the playfield swoop back and forth while taking random potshots at your ship.  Your little spacecraft is armed only with… well, it’s not.  Unlike the arcade edition of Solar Fox, the 2600 port doesn’t give you any means to defend yourself or fight back.  This makes for a more focused, intense and arguably better game, as you now have to concentrate entirely on dodging and collecting, without the safety net of being able to shoot your way through enemy attacks. The baddies certainly take advantage of your helplessness, sometimes unleashing a string of attacks with only one opening for escape.  Another review I’ve read compares the experience to a particularly brutal game of dodgeball, and that’s a pretty apt analogy.  This is what dodgeball must be like for the nerdiest kid in the world.  At a school filled with sadistic, homicidal bullies.  Who use rocks instead of balls.

Luckily, your ship is fast and maneuverable, but you’d better be damn well sure your joystick is in perfect working condition.  Movement is grid-based, meaning you can only turn at 90° (or 180°) angles.  Since you don’t have a gun, the “Fire” button serves as either a brake or speed-boost, depending on how you set the Atari’s difficulty switches.  I’d advise you to nut-up and use the fast setting (with the button slowing you down), not because I’m teh hardcorez or anything (but I so am, n00b), but because speedy players can get some nifty bonuses.  At the beginning of each level, a little meter with the words “skip a rack” begins draining.  By completing the level before it’s drained, you’ll skip the next level/rack, but still get all the points for it.  Not too shabby, eh?

Probably the only problem I had with the game is that the responsiveness of directional inputs is instantaneous and highly sensitive.  This is usually a good thing, but in this case it’s a bit much, since you’ll sometimes make unintended turns when you try to do an about-face.  This gives the game an “out of control” feeling, which sends both the intensity and difficulty through the roof.  With time I was able to utilize a delicate “twiddling” technique to overcome this hypersensitivity – becoming a better lover in the process.  But I never was able to complete the game, so I have no idea how many levels there are.

This issue aside, it’s simply beyond my abilities to give Solar Fox anything but a perfect score.  It’s my favorite game for the 2600.  I like it more than Pitfall, more than Kaboom, more than even (dare I say it) Yar’s Revenge.  If you own an Atari, buy it.  If you don’t, buy one just for it.

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~ by Krooze L-Roy on February 3, 2009.

10 Responses to “Solar Fox (2600) Review”

  1. I still have about 2 or 3 comic books from the 80s with THIS AD in them:

    Never played the game, but I dry-humped the page in my comic a few times, so I GUESS it’s sort of special for me too.

  2. You gots to love the way they advertise the box art as a bunch of little boxes instead of the NES masterpiece-that-has-nothing-to-do-with-the-game style.

  3. Umm… don’t you mean 2600 classic, P.G.?

  4. No, no, Johnny, I’m comparing it to how NES box art in general looks.

  5. Off the subject, Krooze, but here are some photos from my Saturday at Playland Not At The Beach. It’s well worth the $15 to get in (or $13 if you mention Yelp.com).

    http://www.bobfreemanboard.net/showthread.php?t=14417

    And click my name to check out their website.

  6. BTW, I forgot to take photos of the three different pinball rooms. They have one with mostly older pinball games (which are awesome), one with mostly newer ones (including Funhouse, Pinball 2000, etc), and one smaller room that’s lit with blacklights and trippy snakes designs that features only horror-themed pinball machines.

  7. I’m going to be volunteering there once a month or so, also.

  8. I’m not sure how else to get ahold of you, so I’ll try this. You have the best taste in video games I’ve ever seen on the internet. My friend Josh and I have been playing tons of games over the past year and a half in a quest to find the best video games of all time. A lot of my (and his) favorites have been discussed in your blog. You rule. Thanks.

  9. Come back to the fucking internet, you magnificent bastard. I check the site two or three times a year to see if you’ve posted anything new. Hit me up on Facebook or something. We never got to shoot the shit about Amplitude and pinball.

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