AGH Atari 8-Bit Computer Review:

by Atari/Gremlin

Developed by Vortex Software in 1987 and released in Europe in 1988 by Gremlin (a division of U.S. Gold.), Deflektor is a perfect blend of strategy and action. Like Tetris, you need to think fast and logically. Here, your task is to guide a laser beam from its source to its destination.

Each level represents a complex optical circuit in which you must alter the orientation of your beam using optical devices. Only one trajectory is possible for every stage so you have to find the perfect combination.

The optical devices you control can reflect, refract and transfer (like Star Trek's teleportation) the laser from one point on the screen to the other. While finding your path, you must also use the beam to destroy light-blocking cells. To finish each stage, you must have cleared the screen of all the cells.

The joystick allows you to change the direction of the laser, by selecting a mirror, you can rotate it in the direction you want. Some of these revolve in an automatic way, a parameter that adds difficulty to the problem. While finding the direction of the beam, you must also avoid all the energy mines and especially not reflect the beam back along its own path. In these cases, you wil create a power surge and overload your laser.

If the length of the beam is too long, the laser will also overload or -literally- run out when you take too long to finish a level. Also, little devils can appear on the screen, wandering about, bringing chaos by undoing your precious adjustments. To get rid of these litlle gremlins, you just need to fire at them by using your cursor but do it fast since they're basically here to make you waste your time.

Available since 1988 on the 16-bits (Atari ST, Amiga), and on the 8-bits (Commodore 64, Sinclair Spectrum, Amstrad CPC 464). Deflektor seemed to also has been released at that time on the Atari 8-bit computer line but only in small quantities by the programmers (a few UK Atari users said they had the game before the cartridge was available). A screen shot appeared in the October 1989 Atarian Video Game magazine, the same screen shot was also used for a complete test in a 1990 Atari Explorer issue. Like Nebulus / Tower Toppler, the game was announced for an early 1990 release by ATARI but like its counterpart was cancelled due to the lack of support from the mother house.

The game was presumed to be lost until Best Electronics was able to find it in 1995. The available version is complete, the sharp graphics and the animation are as good as the one used by the Commodore 64 version. The Atari 8-bit computer version uses less colors but with many more shades (thanks to the GTIA graphics modes), a good point that will avoid your eyes to be distracted by the C-64's flashy colors. The game introduces itself with a good quality digitized speech saying "Deflektor", the music and especially the B theme developed during the game are also sufficient but not as superb as others english musical efforts of this period (try any 1989/90 Zeppelin games to hear the difference).

In conclusion, Deflektor is another Atari 8-bit masterpiece which could have been a real smash hit if released in 1988. It's a superb puzzle game where fast reaction is also needed; much more complex than Tetris, it didn't have the hype behind it at the time of its publication but it is definitely in the same league. It is also the only game of that type available in cartridge "from" Atari (No Tetris clone exists in rom, only Hypnotic Land does, a very rare italian remake of Klax). With Nebulus / Tower Toppler, Deflektor proves once again that during the second part of the eighties and the early nineties, the English software houses were really the best on the Atari 800/XL/XE (Tynesoft, Zeppelin, live forever...) If you like your Atari 8-Bit, it's simple, buy this game.

Title Deflektor
Publisher Atari/Gremlin
System Atari 400/800/XL/XE
Reviewer Pierre-André

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