Yar’s Revenge Review (Xbox Live Arcade)

Game Review: Yar’s Revenge
Release: April 13, 2011
Genre: Shooter
Developer: Atari
Available Platforms: Xbox 360 and PC
Players: 1-2
MSRP: 800 MS Points
ESRB Rating: E 10+

Thirty years ago, Yar’s Revenge stormed Atari 2600s, and became the best-selling original title for the console. In it, an insectoid creature had to deal with a barrier in the way of the it’s giant, cannoned opponent. In 2011, a girl, Yar, is out for revenge after her insectoid opponents previously defeated her and stole her previous armor. In this rail shooter, Yar is out for revenge, but should this franchise have stayed rested?

The modern Yar’s Revenge effectively throws out anything to do with the original game, outside of insectoid warriors shooting energy. Yar is re-imagined as a young girl in mech armor, faces off against legions of monsters in lush forests and caves, instead of being what looks to be no more than a fly out in space attack flashing colors. The game adds a variety of weapons, alongside a co-op mode (we were unable to test out), and basically brings the title to the 21st century downloadable field.

Certain weapon pick ups assign to different buttons, allowing for a variety of attacks to be available at any given time. These weapons range from a Rez-style multi-lock-on attack or standard blasts, to armor-piercing rail guns and special shields. Using the left control stick to move Yar, you use the right control stick to aim, much like a first-person shooter. You’re set about a standard path, but you have to dodge rocks, enemies, and the like that get in your way towards your goal. As you’re on your journey, your allies will start communications with you, much like any of the Star Fox titles.

This remake greatly throws out the original concepts and mindsets of the original title, one that didn’t really have much a story, given the Atari 2600 basis. The new art style brings a very Japanese motif to the shooter genre, and the boosted story doesn’t break any boundaries, but is an added bonus. The game also includes two bonus features, including preliminary art for the remake alongside the original comic book that came with the classic.

There’s no doubt that Yar’s Revenge is a heavily difficult title, but most of it stems from the control scheme. The fact that you have to control both your physical position and your targeting reticle, all the while managing your weapon selections. The game does keep you on a path, thankfully, but unlike such similar rail shooters as Star Fox, you’re not given the benefit, or even the option, to just automatically move towards where you’re aiming. Undoubtedly, some will fine this extra level of control to be beneficial: in fact, it’s very similar in concept to most first-person shooters. Still, for those that don’t care for this scheme, you’ll need to go to easy mode just to beat the first level. The music also leaves much to be desired, if only for the fact that it just seems to coast in the background, not enhancing or affecting the game experience.

Yar’s Revenge is a competent game, but it’s disastrously difficult thanks to the control scheme. Some players might have no trouble with this scheme, and they’re rewarded with an almost-generically designed shooter that brings a few visual elements to the field. For $10, it’s about what you’d expect from a bargain bin title; you’ve got a few good elements, but nothing that makes it stand out from the crowd. People who like this type of game will get their fair share of enjoyment, but others will pass by and not miss anything.

  • Difficult control scheme
  • Nice visuals
  • Good variety of weapons

Final Score

5 out of 10

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