Perhaps the most disappointing thing about Space Jockey is that it was programmed by Garry Kitchen. You know, the same programmer who produced such Activision greats as Keystone Kapers and Pressure Cooker. Pretty weak effort here, Mr. Kitchen.
In Space Jockey, you are put in charge of a large, green unidentified flying object which looks a lot like a hamburger. Your mission? Destroy hot air balloons, tanks, airplanes trees and houses on an unidentified planet. See the problem with this? The player, apparently, assumes the role of an alien attacking earth-bound vehicles. Uh, who wants to take part in something like that? Who wants to play a game in which points can be scored by blowing up earthlings' houses? That's just a rotten concept.
Odder still is the fact there are 16 game variations and, on half of them, you're ship won't explode when you come in contact with an enemy vessel, tree or house. The game is simple and mind-numbing enough as it is, so why make it easier? There are some other options worth mentioning, too. This is a side-scrolling shooter and the player can choose to either move his ship strictly on a vertical plane or have the ability to move horizontally and wander all over the screen. Also, the player can choose whether to be confronted by enemies which move predictably or at random. Also, there's a very bad option which allows the player to direct his shots (which can really get confusing if you tend to shoot and move at the same time - the shot will go the same direction in which the ship is moving).
Regardless of which option you choose, you'll likely get bored in a hurry with this game. Still, the most challenging variation - in my opinion, at least - is number 15 because the player can't control the direction of his shots, but enemies move at random, the ship can be moved horizontally and vertically and collisions will destroy the flying hamburger. Extra lives are awarded for every 1,000 points scored. That can be a drawback because it's easy to rack up 1,000 points, so this game just goes on and on and on...
The graphics are rather plain, but not too bad. This is a two-kilobyte cartridge, so you shouldn't expect much. The items on the screen are very large and well-defined, and the action takes place over a landscape which never changes - it's kind of brown and has some dips in it. Yawn. At least screen flicker isn't a problem.
The sound stinks, too. It, much like the graphics, is very plain and none to exciting. The Atari makes an obnoxious sound whenever a shot is fired, and that "fake laser" noise simply gets aggravating after a time. If you must play this game, at least find some good music to play in the background.
The one saving grace is the control. The ship is very easy to guide around the screen and the joystick is quite responsive. This game might not be much fun, at least the controls are good.
As I hinted earlier, the gameplay is just plain boring. It starts out rather ho-hum at first, and then goes downhill from there as nothing ever changes. You start out blasting wave after wave of enemies, and they just dumbly fly at you and shoot at your ship until you're either destroyed or - more likely - you cut off the game out of sheer boredom.
I do believe I've made my point - you can do without this game. The cartridge is quite common, but I'd only advise getting it if you can find it for either free or some price close to that.
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