Remember the days when Space Invaders were king, and the buzz which went round the arcades when Galaxians appeared? If you do then you must buy yourself a copy of Thrust from Superior Software. Loading up Thrust was like discovering an old master in the attic.
Your spacecraft and all buildings and gun emplacements are displayed as high resolution line drawings. The game is played as a series of missions of increasing complexity. In the first one the drive unit is on the planet's surface, along with a fuel dump, gun emplacement and nuclear reactor. In subsequent missions, the drive will be located in underground caverns.
Fuel can be taken on board by hovering over the dump and activating the tractor beam. Hovering is achieved by pointing the ship away from the planet and using short bursts of thrust to counter the effects of gravity.
The gun emplacements are deadly accurate but can be taken out by a single shot. Firing at the nuclear reactor will halt the operation of the guns for a short while.
Having located the drive unit, the tractor beam can be used to tow it behind your ship, and this is where the fun really begins. The programmer must be either an ace physicist or an articulated lorry driver, because the drive unit hangs beneath the ship like a pendulum attached to a fixed point on the ship by a solid bar.
Each movement of your craft will cause a realistic movement of the pendulum. As a pilot you must fly as smoothly as possible, counteracting every swing of the drive unit. Should the swing become uncontrollable you will surely be dragged into a cavern wall.
The mission is completed by towing the drive unit into space and jumping into hyperspace. As with every good arcade game, there is an opportunity for the arcade aces among you to earn big bonus points. Having emerged from the cavern with drive unit in tow you can fire on the reactor until it goes critical, at which point you have five seconds to make your hyper-space jump. This feat of bravado will earn you an additional 2000 points.
Thrust is a classic game, a game at which the natural games player will excel. This is a definite contender for my game of 1986.