Gravitron 2: Thrust Things First

Gravity is the best of the four elemental forces

When chatting to Retro Remake’s Oddbob about his competition, he mentioned how much he was loving Gravitron 2. And always being a sucker for Thrust variants – GF24evar!! – I gave it a shot. It’s pretty neat. You can get the demo 12Mb Demo from here which features four of the full games’ forty (count ’em!) cave-delving thrust-o-thing. Video of it in action, a little discussion and a completely self-indulgent pop video beneath the cut…

The idea of the game is simply to get to a generator, blow it up and get the hell out of the planet before it explodes. If you want more points, you can collect scientists, and you should. Thrust-derived games for me are the natural extrapolation of the game where you have to move a metal hoop along an metal wire without setting off a buzzer – in that, you’ve got a slightly unreliable physics object to control (your arm. Especially uncontrollable, in my case) and a highly constrained route to follow through. In other words, it tends to be enormously punishing, but that’s the point: tension, delicacy and the joy of release when you finally make it. Pro-tip: use the shield to minimise harm.

It's far better than the weak force. That shit is weak.

My one problem is the generators themselves. You shoot them to take them out, and you have to hammer them a bit before exploding. The instructions say you need to hit them repeatedly – but it doesn’t actually make it clear whether they mean “they have a health bar you have to take out” or “you have to hit them repeatedly in a period of time”. This wouldn’t be an issue, but the game doesn’t give any visual or sonic clues that you’re actually harming it, leaving you more than a little disconnected from that one central action. When the game is as sonically effective as it is elsewhere – there’s a fantastic array of retro bleeps on show – I’m surprised they didn’t implement something like a ever-rising scale of disturbed and disturbing noise as each hit slammed into it.

Still: highly polished, quietly snazzy Thrust-derived game. Highly likeable. And here’s it in action…

And here’s the Super Furry Animals in action.

(The justification is the “Gravity – you just hold me down so quietly – you just hold me back” chorus, but really, I just fancied linking to the SFA. (This man don’t give a Flip – Ed))

19 Comments

  1. heretic pride says:

    is it the sunday papers already?

  2. Ian says:

    “cave-delving thrust-o-thing”

    I hate to be infantile (actually, that’s a lie, but let’s pretend I do) but that choice of words is just asking for trouble.

  3. slang says:

    I really wanted to like G2 but the “generator problem” mentioned in the article makes this pretty much unplayable for me.

  4. Lorc says:

    I have a certain amount of nerdish affection for the weak interaction. Especially now that it seems it might not act the same on matter as anti-matter.
    Science!

  5. randomnine says:

    Ehehe. I did the title track (on the video) and the danger music for this :D

    I’m genuinely not getting paid at all, so I’m not trying to sell it. But I have been playing my copy in breaks at work and some of the later levels are rock hard and very tense. It gets pretty tough, especially using the shield and conserving fuel. Compared to a equivalent-cost sandwich, it is far more entertaining but substantially less nutritious.

    Agreed on the generator thing. Trying to shoot downwards and not crash into the ground can be a complete arse to start with. I have found keyboard controls are oddly easier to aim with, though, if anyone gives it a shot.

  6. Ergates says:

    “GF24evar!!”

    GP-4evar more like. The first multiplayer game I ever played over a ‘network’ (for network – read a 20′ null modem cable trailing between mine and my housemates Amigas)

  7. MacBeth says:

    Haven’t played it yet but ‘the generator problem’ sounds like it is exactly mimicking Thrust (on the BBC at least)

    In that, the generator/nuclear reactor would need to be hammered repeatedly and would recover health if you stopped before you triggered the detonation sequence… but there was no indicator other than it stopped puffing smoke…

    So if that’s the case, it’s fine by me…

  8. Oddbob says:

    The generator thing is a tad evil at first, the lack of visual feedback completely stumped me on my first few tries and I near gave up but it’s worth sticking it out to develop a few tricks in taking them out.

    Not always possible on some of the later levels, but through most of the early ones you can clear a safe spot, land and small movements up, spin, shoot and land again will clear the generators in no time. It gets a bit more awkward when there’s 3 in a pit (oh, how I swore!) or suchlike, but by the time you reach them you should hopefully have the hang of it and the generators become the least of your problems. Getting out alive on the other hand…

    @Randomnine – the danger music is awesome! Well played, man. It really adds to the shit keks nature of the game.

  9. X-0ut says:

    Hi, thanks for all the feedback.
    Hopefully there will be a patch within the next few weeks to clear up some of the negative aspects, make the game a little easier etc.
    Anyway, hope you enjoyed the game so far.

  10. Swabbleflange says:

    Bought this without even trying the demo. I rate Gravitron as one of my favourite games anyway (alongside Gravitar, OIDS, Solar Jetman, Thrust Xtreme, Lunar Lander… you get the picture) so it was a no-brainer to scoop this up. Love it to bits. The chunky fonts detract from the purity of the vectors a bit but other than that it’s beautiful.

  11. bonuswavepilot says:

    Man, a guy I lived with got so good at GF2 it was like he was playing a whole different game. I mean, I was no slouch, but he would pull crazy turns where he never took his finger off the thrust, and set challenges for himself like taking out all but his last ship and using it to chew through all of mine; or insisting on killing my last guy by ramming him (as I recall, if both players were on their last ship and collided, player 1 won). I was reduced to using psychological tactics in the end…

  12. Phil says:

    Thanks for the heads-up! Gravitron was freaking awesome, and the only Thrust-like game I’ve ever been compelled to play for an extended period, aside from the original BBC Micro Thrust. That includes all Thrust remakes, which have different physics, and are therefore more or less unplayable to someone who played the original game as much as I did. (Why do the remake authors not understand that the physics were the game? Change them and it’s no longer Thrust. But maybe the ports to other systems didn’t match the BBC version, and remake authors are not remaking the same thing…)

    Gravitron also has different physics, but (a) it’s not a Thrust remake (and I never played Gravitar, so I’m not affected by any differences there), and (b) it’s super smooth, and feels good.

    It’s also hard as nails once you reach a certain point :) If you like a challenge, it’s an absolute must-play.

    Enough writing… Gravitron 2 demo, here I come!

  13. Phil says:

    $5? Heck, I didn’t even bother with the demo! And the game is an absolute joy to play. And while I say this based largely on the previous game, I feel safe in stating that if you have even the remotest affection for this style of game, you could not possibly get any better value for money than this. I may be biased by my love of Thrust, but you should BUY THIS GAME NOW.

  14. Phil says:

    One thing I will say is that I’m surprised by how forgiving this version is. Surviving (non-landing) surface contact without shields is certainly unexpected, let alone direct hits from enemy fire!! In the first game there were things you didn’t want to hit you even with shields.

    I do find it a little odd that there are no difficulty levels to specify this sort of thing. I’d like to see that in future versions, as it feels kinda like cheating at the moment… Even if the top score was more than 50% higher again, getting to #2 on the global high score table on my first game seems slightly silly! (not that I got a really long way into the game, so I’ll presume this is largely a case of the game being new!)

    Anyway, I mention this mainly to say that if you are finding Gravitron 2 too easy for you, then be sure to check out the original Gravitron (if you’d not already done so) for a decidedly tougher challenge — at least early on. (Gravitron 2 may well up the ante in the later levels.)

    Still fantastic value, and I still think everyone should buy it :) Thanks, X-Out!

  15. Gene says:

    I’m hoping Gravitron 3 will have the subtitle “Thrust is a weakness”.

  16. Nimdok says:

    Sub-Terrania…

  17. Phil says:

    So the game most definitely ups the ante in terms of difficulty, and I’m struggling with my current mission! I take back everything I said about it being too easy :)

    I also now realise that I only ranked so highly on the score table because everyone (myself included) is just continuing their games when they lose their lives, and therefore never scoring terribly much after the initial game over. So I did a bit better than most on my first play, but we’re all scoring pretty low from then on (until we start over from the beginning again).

    So it all makes sense to me now :)

    I still think difficulty levels would be a grand idea, mind (I guess you’d need high score tables for each one).

    The only aspect of the game that still feels weird to me is the ability to land at high speed. That kinda detracts from the whole Lunar Lander aspect, which is a shame. It especially stands out when you find yourself unexpectedly stuck to a surface after an uncontrolled high-speed rebound!

    I realise there are some men to rescue who pretty much require you to fling your ship at a surface with a bit of speed, though. The best I can think of is that the maximum speed could depends on the attitude of your ship, so if you are landing ‘normally’ you have to go slow, but you have a bit of leeway with the trickier landings.

  18. X-0ut says:

    Released a patch that sorts out some issues and makes the game somewhat easier.
    The patch can be picked up here:
    link to xout.blackened-interactive.com