Yars: Recharged – Video Game Review

Villordsutch reviews Yars: Recharged on the Nintendo Switch…

Yars’ Revenge is a true Atari classic.  It’s up there on the honorary gaming plinths of “The Best”.  Arriving way back in 1982 from the legendary though cruelly labelled occasionally as infamous Howard Scott Warshaw.  Bringing Yar and their raison d’etre, to destroy the evil Qotile via perseverance and the mighty Zorlon Cannon!  It was amazing.  It was slightly psychedelic and it’s now forty years old.  

Anyway, here we are and Atari along with Adamvision Studios and  SneakyBox have set free, across numerous different platforms, Yars: Recharged, remastered, reimagined and released upon the world!  This along with the musical talents once again of Megan McDuffee, who was just fantastic on Gravitar: Recharged, Yar is bringing their private little war into the 21st century.

First thing to note is Yar still has serious beef with everything that appears in front of it. They’re like a Space Wasp.  You’re taking everything on now with the power of a twin-stick shooter and – of course – the Zorlon Cannon.  Gone is the old move, fire and nibble – now you are putting to work both thumbs, all senses and your poor yellowing brain into overdrive, for there’s no let up here as this one little bug makes it their mission to wipe out all evil that has challenged the freedom of others… that and anyone that even thinks about spilling Yars’ pint. 

If you’re new to twin-stick shooters and you’re a touch wary of stepping into Yars: Recharged, worry not as you’re kindly given a level or two to warm up.  Though in all honesty, I seriously found this the easiest of twin-stick shooters to stumble into.  Yes, it can occasionally become a bullet or laser hellscape, but these levels are few and far between. I found Yars: Recharged more a game of mastering the strategy – in Arcade Mode – to quickly take out the guns, rather than panic and burst into bug juice repeatedly. 

This latest recharged release is a heck of a lot kinder than the previous, and you’ll soon be racking up the in-game achievements without even knowing you’re doing it.  Yes, you can make the game a touch harder with “Bonuses” in Arcade Mode, but running through these only really speeds up the game and/or brings you a lot closer to the action.  So if you’re concerned about Yars: Recharged being a twin-stick shooter, don’t be.  You’ll be rocking it in seconds within Arcade Mode.

Where the difficulty ramps up however is in the “Mission Mode”. Here everything changes.  Initially you’ll start with a false sense of security, believing that ‘These missions are easy!’ and then you’ll fly straight into the “Air Sea Battle Mission” and you’ll suddenly realise that the gloves are well and truly off now.  A constant barrage of slow moving missiles, glides at a glacial pace across the screen and you try your hardest to dodge, collect the power-pellets for you Zorlon Cannon, all this whilst trying not to die. 

This is where things get unbelievably tough.  You’re really put through your paces and they continue like this from there on it, you’re really working for your points.  I’m currently stuck on the “Tower of Terror” mission and I’ve had members of my own family ask, “Are you okay?”, when I physically scream in sheer frustration at the level.  There is zero room for any errors and I’m unfortunately making too many of them.

There is a multiplayer aspect to Yars: Recharged, but it’s local multiplayer only and due to me lacking any sort of physical friends and having no other controller to bother the household with, I could only imagine the fun I’d be having. It would be fantastic if there was an active server for lonely players like me, but nope.

However, this latest Atari release isn’t without its issues and the biggest one is the music.  It’s not bad music at all; on the title screen you can hear it play out, lots of nightmare terror insect-like doo-woo’s, 1950’s alien horror themes running throughout.  However, when the game plays, well… it sort of goes away, then it may return and play quietly for a while before going again.  At first I thought it was me and not the game.  Checking the Audio Settings, I could see nothing that would indicate what I was experiencing.  The music would be great playing across such frantic levels one moment, and the next I’m listening to Yar putt-putting their cannon across the screen, hoping to catch a few stray bars from McDuffee’s keyboard.

We also have such things as Time Bonus, that on  some missions you have no way of achieving.  Like the aforementioned “Tower of Terror”, we have zero indication what the time limit is for the map, but getting through the opening part of the level takes a silly amount of bullets.  I’m no major completionist, but these things are a tad important.  Also, in Arcade Mode, once your three lives are gone, that’s it you’re dead and you need to start back from the beginning.  Having been raised in the dark days, this is common practice for myself, however I also want to go on.  Perhaps on their next release in the “Bonuses” section they’d consider something along the lines of “Score -10% for level checkpoints”, or something similar?

Also, as I mentioned in my Gravitar: Recharged review, I wish that Atari had also crammed the original game into this release too.  Imagine a random Johnny Whippersnapper loving Yars: Recharged and wondering where it all came from, then giving the original a playthrough.  I honestly think Atari are missing out on introducing a few new people to their classic catalogue here.  Please consider this for your future Recharged releases Atari.

Yars: Recharged is fantastically reimagined here in this twin-stick shooter universe.  The updated graphics, as with Gravitar: Recharged, are just spot on for this release.  I couldn’t have wanted the game to look any other way, even if I tried to describe it to the team involved.  However, what loses points for me is the misuse of Megan McDuffee’s music.  Music makes the mood and if that’s randomly turned off and then quietly eked back in at odd occasions well, it’s breaking the feel of it all.  Hopefully this will be fixed soon and Yar will be blasting baddies to some cool vibes.  Along with the lack of online multiplayer and the odd mission requirements, Yars is bordering perfect, but it’s just not quite there.

– It looks amazing
– Reimaging it as an accessible twin-stick shooter was a fantastic idea
– The missions are brilliantly brutal

– The music needs to be looked into.  We need it fixed.
– It’d be great to give us some online multiplayer action not just local
– No original Yars: Revenge hidden away for us to play

Rating: 8/10

Yars: Recharged is available now for all current-gen machines.  This review was completed on the Nintendo Switch.



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