Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Matter of Import 59: Azurian Attack [Rait Electronics 1982]


Azurian Attack is a rare example of a fixed screen shooter that allows the player to maneuver in eight directions with the joystick, rather than being anchored to the bottom of the screen. Modded from the Galaxian arcade board by New Zealand developer Rait Electronics, it used many of the same sound samples untouched, but gameplay feels very different and less cohesive. 

If anything, Azurian Attack suffers from comparison to the game that it was built from - the sprites are tiny, the graphics aren’t great, and worst of all, your ship controls without any semblance of inertia or velocity - it simply moves where you send it, stopping on a dime when you center the joystick. Your attack is very narrow as well, and since you can only face the 8 “compass” directions a joystick provides, this leaves huge gaps in your arc of fire.

The game alternates between two screens with fairly divergent gameplay. In the first, you face waves of small, fast-moving enemies - each with different appearances and attack patterns - that attack in small groups from off-screen. After you’ve defeated a sufficient number, you’re taken to the other screen, featuring endless waves of scrolling space debris between you and your mothership. No enemies appear to harass you here, but instead you need to battle your janky ship’s controls and try to clear a path all the way to the top of the screen.

It is, unfortunately, a frustrating play experience, difficulty not coming from the skill of the opponent ships but by the ineptitude of the game’s design. The art is primitive, and even the sound - ripped from Galaxian - isn’t used to its greatest effect. It may be the worst shooter released in 1982.

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