Two players alternating turns
Challenger combined elements of Space Invaders (as players controlled a ship that fired at objects from the bottom of the screen) along with Asteroids (as objects would break into smaller pieces when shot). Players also had a warp function that would send their ship to the opposite area of the screen (i. e. from bottom to top, or vice versa), along with other unique features.
Players controlled a spaceship that started each game at the bottom of the screen. Multiple rings would bounce around the playfield, which players had to shoot to destroy. However, the rings would split into several smaller units when shot, all of which were deadly to the player's(s') ships. Added Space Bogeys would appear during sectors as well, which were extra vehicles that would appear and fly around the screen in various manners, one of which resembled a T. I. E. Fighter from the Star Wars movies, another that appeared to be a giant worm, etc. Most of the Bogeys would disappear after several seconds if they were not destroyed.
During every fourth sector, at one point any remaining rings would suddenly converge at the center of the screen. Once shot, a tiny ring would appear; after it was shot, many more tiny rings would appear afterwards. If the player took too long to destroy these rings once they became full-sized then their ship would be sucked into one of them. However, deploying a super bomb would usually wipe out all of these rings.
The super bomb would destroy anything onscreen that wasn’t full-sized (bigger rings would be knocked down into their smaller offspring, but any small rings would be destroyed), although players only could use one per ship. Their ships would also fire a shot forward and one off to each side simultaneously at about a 45 degree angle. The warp function would also warp players’ ships to the opposite area of the screen, i. e. from bottom to top, or vice versa. Also, a walking blue vehicle (somewhat resembling AT-ATs from several of the Star Wars movies) of some sort would appear a few times during a sector, which, once it stopped moving, whatever number it had in its center would start decreasing. Once the player docked with the ship they would receive 100 points per number as it counted down. If the player made contact with the vehicle before it stopped moving it would warp the player’s ship to the top of the screen (like if the player had used the warp function).
- Move left/right buttons
- Super Bomb
- Due to players being able to warp their ship to the top of the screen, Challenger was not a 100% bottom of the screen shooter.
- The game had several musical pieces, which the bass was especially prevalent when the vehicle bonus was counting down, when the player docked with it, and when the player was about to advance to the next sector. A fast musical scale also accompanied the docking process as well.
- The “Super Bomb” on the control panel and credit screen are made up of those two words, but on the promo flier it is one word together. Also, in between waves it tells the player what “sector” they are about to enter, but in the flier they are known as “phases”, which the game has 16 in all.
- Challenger seemed to be part of a series of similar games, one of which was Megatack, as both games had similar graphics and sounds, along with ring waves where the player’s ship could get sucked into a ring if they took too much time in clearing the sector. There were no warp or super bomb functions though, along with no docking ship, plus the player’s ship would alternate between firing straight and angled shots with every other shot, rather than the simultaneous cone formation firepower that Challenger had. Megatack was also made by Gameplan as well.
- Due to acquiring the Centuri license in the early 1980s, Atari had plans to bring the game to their 2600 console. The game was not released, probably due to the video game crash of 1983-1984. It is currently unknown how far into the project coding went, as a ROM for the game has yet to surface.
This article was featured from August - September, 2014.