Yar’s Revenge (2011) Review

When Yar’s Revenge hit Xbox Live yesterday, our Jon Soucy was ecstatic, saying, “I remember when the original Yar’s Revenge came out on the Atari back in ’81; I played it all the time with my great grandchildren. It was such fun!” Well, this ain’t your great grandchildren’s Yar’s Revenge, Jon. Your great great grandchildren’s Yar’s Revenge has undergone a few changes from that version.

First, it’s no longer about a person-sized housefly; now it’s about a person-sized person with four arms who wears a suit of armor that looks like a person-sized housefly. There’s a story delivered in large comic book panels that have subtitles rather than speech bubbles, but the story doesn’t really matter because you’re not going to be able to keep track of it anyway. I’ll explain why in a minute. So when you’re faced with one of these “cutscenes” I suggest you just enjoy the art and don’t worry about the words. The art is very pretty, after all.


Yar’s Revenge (PS3 [Reviewed], XBox360)
Developer: Killspace Entertainment
Publisher: Atari
Release Date: April 13, 2011
MSRP: $9.99

Yar’s Revenge is an arcade shooter of the third-person variety. The camera does its own thing — keeping you on rails — while you, as Yar, fly through attractive environment blowing things up. While on the rails, you’ll avoid enemy fire and random objects up and down and across the TV screen with the left stick and aim and shoot with the right stick/RT. It’s simple and not unusual.

Yar can make use of a few powerups, like seeker missiles, a healing shield and other items, including a destroy-everything weapon, which is pretty epic in execution. The game take place over six stage, each of which isn’t too long but which have only a couple checkpoints. Also, you have a limited number of lives or each stage. The battles get long and intense, and they’re exhausting; playing through a couple stage in a row put me in the mood for a nap.

The game also likes to throw read-only exposition to you while you’re fighting, which is odd. It’d be fine if the game had voice acting, but it doesn’t; and so during battles you’ll occasionally get messages that pop up in the bottom-right corner of your screen that you won’t be able to read because you have to pay attention to the other parts of the screen or you’ll lose. Sometimes I did get a chance to read what it was trying to tell me — during breaks in the action — what I saw indicated the game has an amusing sense of humor. It’s a shame that most folks won’t get to discover the extent of that humor. Too, these in-game conversations tend to establish who you’re fighting and why you’re fighting them. But who cares about that?

After you complete each stage you can replay it in “challenge mode,” which places certain conditions on the battles, like you get unlimited missiles but no other power-ups. I prefer to retry the stages in normal mode on a harder difficulty, but I can appreciate the variety.

Oh, and you can play the game in co-op.

Yar’s Revenge is a pretty fun little game. At only 800 points, I can’t really think of a good reason to tell you not to play it. You’ll probably play it for a few days and then forget about it forever since it doesn’t really have the depth of some other arcade shooters on XBLA, but if you’re looking for something new to try, I’d give this a shot.

Pros:

  • Nice art/visuals
  • Good, clean arcade fun
  • Co-op!
  • Comes with the delightfully weird comic that was bundled with the 2600 version of the game
  • Is funny…

Cons:

  • …when you can manage t read what it’s trying to say during battle, anyway.
  • Also, good luck trying to keep up with the story!
  • Not all that long

Final score: 80/100

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