Game of the Week (4/8/18) – Space War (Videocart-5)

Space War was the 5th cartridge released in the Fairchild Channel F Videocart series. This puts the release somewhere in 1977, based on the copyright date printed on the cart and manual, although specific and definitive release dates for the Channel F carts are unknown. Space War, like many Channel F games, is a 2-player only game.

The goal of the game is to defeat your opponent in a space based arena by depleting their energy reserves down to zero. Each player starts the game off with 90 energy units for their starship, colored either green or blue depending if you are the left or right player/controller. Energy units decrease either by using your laser weapon or by getting hit by your opponent’s. Firing you laser uses up 2 energy units and getting hit by opponent’s laser will deplete 5 energy units. You must have at least 10 energy units left in reserve in order to fire your own laser so once you reach 10, you’ll need to retreat towards one of the two star bases, which is a good idea anyway since you only have 10 energy units left. Another quirk is that the game keeps track of how many energy units are used when firing your laser and you can only use a total of 40 (the equivalent of 20 shots) before you must replenish your reserves. This is necessary regardless of whether you have well over 10 total energy untis left. The bottom line is, if you try to fire your laser and you can’t, you have to recognize that means it’s time to hit up a star base for replenishment. The two red-colored star bases are in the upper left and lower right hand corners of the screen that can replenish your ship’s energy back to 90 instantaneously.  There are also a number of green colored asterisk looking objects identified in the manual as stars scattered across the screen that can act either as shields, since lasers can’t go through them, or allow you to become a sitting duck while you slowly work your way off it if you happen to fly into one. Once a player’s energy level is at zero, the game ends and the winner receives 1 point in the overall tally. You can then press restart and continue on to round 2, playing as many rounds as you and your opponent agree to.

As for the controls, the joystick is used to move in any direction on the screen by pressing up, down, left or right. To fire, you must press down on the joystick’s top while either twisting it to the right or to the left in order to aim your shot.

Space War does what it needs to do fairly well, but unfortunately, games may go on way too long since you can constantly replenish your energy using either star base. It would have been better if just one star base was considered “yours” so you would have to utilize a bit more strategy. That way you could adjust your own technique depending on what your opponent was doing. For example, you can take either an aggressive approach by chasing after your opponent or a defensive approach by staying close to your star base. Space War is a decent game but likely won’t entertain you and a friend for very long.

Rating: C

Currently in my collection: game, manual, box

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