Review: Yar’s Revenge

Lately I’ve often joked that we are living in the age of retro remakes and reboots. Thanks to the rise of the digital mediums like Steam, XBLA and PSN more and more companies are returning to classic IP’s that haven’t seen the light of day in decades, retooling and in many cases completely reinventing these games as small bite sized digital offerings.  With smaller development cost and easier than ever distribution methods, they can effectively test the waters for making something old, something new.  Continuing that trend is Atari’s Yar’s Revenge, a complete retooling of their classic Yars Revenge, with much more than just a subtle difference in name.  Does this highflying adventure soar to new heights or is it destined for the bug zapper?

Yar’s Revenge in a nutshell has you flying through exotic worlds battling super insects, mutated forms of Earth insects exposed to cosmic radiations. You play as one of the last remaining Yars, one race of evolved insects that was nearly wiped out to extinction.  Originally a brainwashed tool of destruction, this particular Yar is awakened when she dons some Yar armor.  Not pleased with the knowledge of what has happened to her people, and seemingly a tad bit upset about the whole ‘brainwashed tool of destruction’ thing, she sets out to blast some overgrown insect away with an array of weaponry.

Like most of the old Atari games, visually there wasn’t much to work with in the classic Yars that would be useful in a modern game, so it is no surprise that very little about this game is going to make you think about the classic (although there is one subtle and well implemented reference to the visual style of the classic game).  Basically Atari took the basic story concept and built a new game from it, and while some retro enthusiast and purist may have an issue with it, the result is a game with truly fantastic art design far beyond what I imagine the original creator of Yars would of ever thought of.  It isn’t the “best looking” game I’ve seen on XBLA, openly admitting that it is a relative term, but it certainly is one of the most interesting to visually take in.  With clear signs of inspiration being drawn from the anime art style, playing Yar’s is often like flying through a painting.  The slightly cell-shaded look of the characters blend well with the background sticking out on their own but still managing to fit in with the overall look of the game, and the various comic-based cinematics are certainly noteworthy for their style.  The game sports a soundtrack that certainly has epic qualities to it and the camera is often quite dynamic.  My only complaint about the game visually was your character has basically no animations.  Additionally it has to be said that the game certainly lacks from any recorded dialogue though, making for oddly quiet cinematics and in-game dialogue you will simply miss because there is so much happening on your screen you can’t stop to look in the bottom right corner and read the text.

The game is a rail-based shooter that makes used of the twin sticks for flying and aiming, and after about a minute the controls should feel pretty natural.  There are some aspects of the game combat that aren’t immediately clear, like that missiles are limited and how many you have, but for the most part it is pretty simple: aim and shoot to make bugs dead.  The pace consistently changes, from swooping along at high speeds to more cautious, slow paced action, keeping things fresh as you move forward in the level.  The enemies vary from the easy to kill drones, to the bigger bugs that require bigger weapons (luckily you have one), and the game throws them at you in various intervals and groupings helping to keep the game challenging and fun, especially since some enemies are more susceptible to certain weapons.  Overall there is a very refined and quality style of game play in Yar’s, and it is bound to appeal to fans of the arcade shooter.  This is especially true for those who like a challenge.  The game does not hold your hand and even on normal it can be challenging to survive, and the various modifications, such as playing the game on “hardcore” mode, challenges, or even go for the fairly difficult achievements make it even harder.  Most gamers are likely to see replay value in Yar’s based on the simple fact that they will want to improve their ability to play the game; whether it be to get the “Beat the game without dieing” achievement or simply to beat all the levels on hardcore.  If you are looking for a challenging shooter, Yar’s is willing to bring it to you.  Additionally Yar’s does offer a local co-op mode, but unfortunate I was unable to try it out in time for this review.

Ultimately Yar’s Revenge is fun rail shooter with quality art design that will entertain most gamers for a few hours, and be a much longer source of entertainment for achievement junkies and people who like a good, old fashioned, challenging arcade game.  The game’s narrative does fall flat, and it is a bit short with a couple of very notable issues; namely for me the lack of dialogue, but it is certainly a very interesting and creative adaptation of the original game worth checking out.  If you fall into that group who loves a more challenging arcade shooter and is obsessed with beating a game at its hardest difficulty or simply beating your personal best, this is well worth the 800 Microsoft Points ($10), but for those looking for a more casual experience? I might recommend waiting for a sale.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Approximate Time to Completion: ~3 Hours
Gamer Score Earned: 20 – This is not an easy 200
Price Bought at: N/A – Review copy furnished by Atari
Current Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10)
Recommend Purchase Price: 400 MSP ($5) for the casual gamer, those who love challenging arcade shooters though will likely see more value in this game at 800 MSP.

But as usual, we want to give a gamer a chance to play Yar’s Revenge for the best possible price: free!  CBR is excited to be giving away a copy of Yar’s Revenge for XBLA courtesy of Atari!  Want to enter? Just read the details below:

First entry:  Post on this review and tell us what retro game you think should be remade into a XBLA/PSN game.  That’s it!

Second entry: Follow us on twitter and send the following tweet:

@ClearanceBinRev is giving away Yar’s Revenge for XBLA! Details:

Remember that you have to follow us; any winner we attempt to DM via Twitter who isn’t automatically forfeits their win.

If you enter via Twitter include your twitter name in your post below, winners who have their twitter listed will receive their codes immediately after winning.

Third Entry: Like our Facebook page and then simply like the post on our wall for this review.  Simple as that. (Keep in mind the article may be lower on the Facebook page towards the end of the contest)

Good luck! And remember, if you don’t win this we are giving away another copy of Yar’s Revenge as part of this months’ CBR Rewards!

Contest will go until Friday at 8pm CST.  A pool of all eligible entries will then be randomly selected from and the winners will be notified. CBR reserves the right to disqualify any entry we feel either violated the rules or spirit of the contest, including attempts at duplicate entries. Winner selected with no twitter name provided will be notified by email and have 24 hours to respond.


About Tristan Rendo

I've made movies, written and performed music, and in January of 2011 got bored and started the awesome gaming site you see before you. My gaming roots began with the original NES, and endless hours spent spilling quarters into machines at the local arcade. I have a personal collection of over 200 Nintendo 64 games, and for many years it was the only system I owned. I re-entered the modern generation of gaming consoles when I decided to purchase a 360. I typically prefer the single player experience of games, so I’m usually playing through some single-player campaign, but can occasionally be found doing some damage in Halo Reach.