|Communist Mutants from Space|
2-4 players alternating turns
Communist Mutants from Space plays a bit like Galaxian, where Communist Mutants start off in a formation over players’ anti-mutant cannon as eggs. However, it does not take long before the eggs hatch into full-sized Mutants and fly towards players’ cannons, dropping bombs all the while (along with some eggs never hatching, but charge towards the bottom of the screen as Mutant Bombs). There are several differences as compared to Galaxian though, like a Mother Creature at the top of the screen that will lay more eggs if not destroyed quickly enough, along with there being several playing options from an onscreen menu to choose from, plus up to four players can play as well, both of which are fairly rare for an Atari 2600 game.
Each new game starts with several mutant eggs appearing over a player’s(/s’) anti-mutant cannon(s), with the Mother Creature hovering over the formation of eggs. Eggs will turn into Mutants, which will charge towards the bottom of the screen while shooting at the player’s cannon. The Mother Creature will continually lay eggs until it is destroyed.
As more and more waves of Mutants are cleared out as the player shoots them with their cannons, they will move faster, shoot more often, and the Mutant Bombs will drop faster as well. Whenever a player’s cannon is hit by a Mutant, Mutant Bomb, or a shot fired from a Mutant, they will lose a cannon and the game will end when there are no more cannons in reserve. Players earn an extra cannon with every other screen, along with a bonus for every wave cleared.
Players also have many options to choose from via an onscreen menu.
- Number of players–up to four players can play, alternating turns
- Difficulty level–from 1 to 9 (9 being the hardest level)
- Shields–protects players from Mutants and their fire, but can be used only once per wave per ship (i. e. if a cannon is destroyed during a wave, the player can use the shield again during that wave with the replacement cannon)
- Time Warp–slows down everything onscreen for several seconds; can only be used once per wave per ship (see above)
- Penetrating Fire–every shot a player fires will penetrate all rows of eggs/the Mother Creature
- Guided Fire–players can control their shots after they are fired
- Difficulty Switch (A position)–slows anti-mutant cannon speed down
- Select option–joystick up/down
- Choose option–joystick right/left or button
- Start game–Reset switch
- Move cannon–joystick (left/right)
- Shields (if applicable)–down on joystick
- Time Warp (if applicable)–up on joystick
- Steer shot (if applicable)–joystick (left/right)
- Back to menu–Game Select switch
- Start new game–Game Reset switch
- Mother Creature–500 points
- Mutant Eggs–10 points
- Diving Mutant Attackers–60 points
- Clearing a screen–100 points
- On the title screen, the company name still reads as "Arcadia". The name had been changed to Starpath earlier due to legal reasons.
- The majority of the games released for the 2600 were on cartridge. However, all Starpath games came on cassette tape, as the Starpath Supercharger was like an oversized cartridge that fit into the 2600, boosting the RAM of the console from only 128 bytes to over 6000 bytes. A wire ran from the Supercharger that could plug into the deck of a stereo or tape recorder, which the Starpath game would load from the cassette, taking about half a minute to do so until the game was fully loaded. The flip side of the cassette would take longer to load in case side A of the cassette had trouble loading.
- After Communist Mutants has been loaded, the 2600 can be turned off and back on, then the tape can be played for several more seconds to load a preview of Suicide Mission (another Starpath game), then the 2600 can be turned off and on and the tape played for several more seconds to see a preview of the Fireball game.
- A graphical hack of the 2600 version of Space Invaders was created titled C.I.F.S., which the elements in the game (the laser cannon and invaders) are replaced with graphics from Communist Mutants.
- The Communist Mutants from Space programmer’s initials are hidden in the game. To see them, the joystick button must be held down while the 2600 is turned on. The "HI" on the high score screen will change to "SHL", the initials of programmer Steven H. Landrum.
This article was featured from September - October, 2016.