Challenger
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  • Centuri
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  • Action - Shooter - 2D (example - Thunder Force)
  • 1981
  • 1-2
  • high score save
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9  |  Attack Of The Big Nose's Minions
Darryl B. , 4/14/2005 12:39:50 PM
This is a bit of a unique combination of Space Invaders and Asteroids, with a few interesting twists thrown in for good measure as well.

The Space Invaders part involves your ship shooting from the bottom of the screen...or the top. Huh? Yeah, you START at the bottom, as geometrically-shaped things (usually they're somewhat rectangular-shaped in general, but other than that, I've no idea what they are) bounce around on the screen (hence the Asteroids-type part, as they kind of mimic the vector outline graphics), which your ship will fire about three shots at once in a cone formation, reaching about the middle of the screen. (This is a good thing, since another nemesis appears near the middle and launches something that will quickly home in on your position.) If things get too intense for you, pressing warp will transform you up to the top of the screen (since shooting the bouncing things will cause them to break up into smaller pieces, also a la Asteroids [Challengeroids?]), and you also get one Super Bomb per life that will obliterate everything on the screen.

Another unusual twist is some blue thing will come out from time to time (usually once per level) that somewhat resembles an AT-AT from The Empire Strikes Back (dubbed the "big nose" by a friend of mine) with a number in it; once it stops moving, the number starts counting down. If you're able to dock with it before the number reaches zero, you will accumulate bonus points, accompanied by a musical scale, which was pretty neat back then (since not many games had killer music at the time, aside from the attract mode in Reactor and the in-game music for Gyruss, for example). However, you have to make sure not to get killed by a floating piece of debris (whatever those outlined things are) or touch the blue thing before it stops moving, as it will cause you to warp.

One screen also is a bit unusual, as all of the shapes will suddenly group to the center; once you shoot the center, one by one, they start slowly tumbling out, starting very small but rapidly multiplying. Once you get to the point where all shapes, no matter what their size, only takes one hit before they're destroyed, that's a signal to either hurry up and finish the level you're on or to use a Super Bomb (if you have one handy), since, once a certain time limit is reached, some kind of fissure in the space/time continuum (or something) will suck your ship into the middle of the screen, resulting in the loss of one of your reserve lives.

This was one of several interesting releases from Centuri, which would be cool to see a retro release having all of their games emulated nowadays in one nice CD package, but since they weren't a really huge company, chances of this happening are probably slim to none. It'd be a shame to never have Challenger see a modern-day console compilation release, as a home port was going to be made for the Atari 2600, but that never came to be, but at least Atari WAS able to release home versions of other Centuri games of Vanguard and Phoenix, both of which were pretty good (plus Vanguard also saw a 5200 release too).

Pity.

Dang, now the thumpin' music for when you dock with the Big Nose is going through my head. That really sticks with you, especially since I haven't seen, nor played this game for a good 15 or more years now!

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