Gravitar: Recharged is a reformulation of an old classic arcade game from the 80s, developed and published by Atari. In this Gravitar: Recharged Review, we take a look at how the game has evolved and if it’s any fun to play today compared to before.
Gravitar: Recharged Review – What is Gravitar: Recharged?
Gravitar was a game people used to play in arcade cabinets – with very simple vector-based graphics and “rotate-and-thrust” controls that may have frustrated one of your grandfathers at one time. The frustratingly difficult controls made the game one of the infamously hard-to-beat games at the time.
Gravitar: Recharged is another Atari reimagining of an old classic – with modern graphics and modern controls and modern sounds. Developed by SneakyBox and Adamvision Studios, published by Atari, and was released on June 2, 2022. However, the game retained the frustratingly difficult controls that it gained infamy for. Whether that’s for the better or for worse, we’ll find out later.
Gravitar: Recharged’s gameplay is simple. You control a spaceship using the game’s rotate-and-thrust controls. By rotate-and-thrust, think tank controls but in free space. You have a dedicated button for shooting your spaceship’s weapon, which you can modify using different power-ups that you can pick up on the game’s different planets. The goal of the game is for you to blow up each planet, with each planet having its own different set of objectives, ranging from simple “eliminate all hostiles” to “destroy the reactor” and the occasional stealthy “steal the blueprint” objectives. Once the objective is completed, you can leave the planet before it implodes.
There are several planets you can explore at a time and you can drop into any of them in any order you like for each solar system you’ll enter. Upon entering a planet’s orbit, the scene changes from outer space to within the planet’s atmosphere. You can enter and leave any of the planets at any time and as many times as you’d like – but the game limits your excursions by a fuel resource that gets expended as you try to move your space ship around. Each planet also has its own gravity strength which makes maneuvering your vehicle a test of skill. Momentum is the name of the game here, and you will have to manage the direction and momentum of your space ship at all times. Hitting any of the planet’s obstacles, enemy ships, or landscapes can cause your untimely death, not to mention the bullets coming your way from enemy ships. While these bullets come at a snail’s space, don’t be fooled. Due to the game’s very sensitive controls, evading them is a real challenge.
As the game is an arcade game in nature, you receive points for everything you do and you enter your final score on a global high score leaderboard. Some modifiers that will make the game more challenging for you are available for you to take on, which include getting killed with one hit or playing an entire run with just a single life. Playing with these modifiers will also give your final score multipliers, making higher scores more possible. There are also prisons on some of the planets that you can destroy to free space prisoners – saving these prisoners by letting them into your space ship will earn you more points.
I’ll have to admit – I found the game difficult and frustrating because of its controls, and I can imagine many people dropping the game right after a few tries because of the high skill floor. But I treated the game as if it was a Souls-like, knowing that spending more time with the game will eventually let me overcome these challenges and make meeting the objectives easier. Still, the game felt unfair in some moments because the gravity just never gives any visual cues to you on how strong it will affect your vehicle’s movement. Nothing in the game, however, felt random, so there never was a time when I lost because I got blindsided by a random element that I could not have foreseen. In a way, all of the obstacles in the game can be avoided, but it’s a very difficult thing to do.
I don’t think this game will appeal to a lot of players. Even people who are looking for a challenge won’t automatically fall under the group of people who’d want to play this game. Gamers nowadays have certain expectations for different games, and Gravitar: Recharged definitely doesn’t fit a lot of players’ expectations. For one, the game’s controls are very tight and sensitive, in a way that many would perceive to be dysfunctional. Knowing the game’s background and ancestry, I know that this is not the case – but it’s a nuance not everyone would be able to appreciate.
The game also features a two-player couch-coop mode. There is no way to play the game with another player online cooperatively.
I had fun playing the game with the time I spent with it on the Nintendo Switch, but I don’t think I’ll be coming back for more any time soon.
The game just drops you into the action right away – not much story here, which isn’t a big problem given that this is a high-score arcade cabinet kind of game. The story, had it existed, would have just been fluff anyway, so I appreciate the game going straight to the point.
Comparing 1980s and 2020s graphics surely will tell you how far we’ve come when it comes to graphical fidelity and art design – but Gravitar: Recharged’s simplistic but colorful and bright graphics is hardly something to write home about.
Music and Sound Design
Its techno pop music does do the work and the sound design is cute and satisfying to hear. In spite of the game’s frustrating controls, the game’s soundtrack made me feel a lot calmer, which probably helped stop me from rage quitting multiple times over while playing the game for this review.
Apart from a color blind mode, there are not a lot of accessibility options in the game. Add to it its very hard to get into controls, then you got a game that is nay accessible to the common man.
Gravitar: Recharged Review Verdict – Is Gravitar: Recharged worth your time and money?
I think there are people who would enjoy Gravitar: Recharged. I know I did. But it’s not the kind of game that I’d recommend to all of my friends play. It’s also not a game I think I’ll return to playing – not after I’ve completed it once. The game felt like a mountain – something for me to conquer, and once conquered – I’m done with it forever. It took a great deal of grit and tenacity, and a whole lot of patience, for me to finish this game. For the asking price of $9.99, the entry fee isn’t high enough for people to feel too much buyer’s remorse if they purchased the game and found the challenge too steep for them. However, the price is not low enough for anyone to just anyone to buy and download out of nowhere. A very specific kind of crowd will enjoy this game – and I know that because the game’s high score leaderboards kept on getting updated during the days I played the game.
Pick this game up if you want to challenge yourself and you want to play something different and escape the tedium of modern gaming. This is definitely a new experience, especially for younger audiences. But if you just want to sit back and relax, then maybe find something less demanding of your focus and attention.
Editor’s Note: ClutchPoints received a review copy from Atari for the Nintendo Switch. This copy did not, in any way, affect this Gravitar: Recharged Review’s final score and verdict.