Gravitrex Plus


Developer John Dondzila
Publishers Classic Game Creations
Packrat Video Games, LLC
Release dates 2002
2014 (re-release)
Genres Action
Mode Single player only
Media Cartridge
ROM file

Background[edit | edit source]

Gravitar was a vector graphic arcade game that took some of the elements of Asteroids (the controls and free flight abilities of the player's['] ship[s]) but made them more restrictive by placing players inside a series of planets. Players had to skim surfaces of the planets and destroy all the bunkers therein, as well as beam up fuel cells to maintain their fuel level(s) and avoiding or destroying saucers that would also appear. The game did not do very well commercially and would only be ported to the Atari 2600 a few years later (although it has reappeared on some modern day compilations since).

Gravitrex is a clone of Gravitar, although with many differences, such as the addition of humans dotting the planetary landscapes that have to be rescued, and the Gravitrex Plus cart also includes two bonus games and other features as well. All games are for one player only.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

Solar system screenshot.

The player controls a fighter ship that begins each game in a solar system. There is a sun in the middle and several planets to choose from to enter so the player can start their mission. If the player takes too long with choosing a planet, a pair of space saucers will emerge from the reactor planet and will engage the player in a dogfight if they get close enough (although the player can just elude them by entering a planet). If the player’s ship gets destroyed or the player shoots both saucers then the player will return to the main solar system screen.

Once the player enters a planet by thrusting into it, they must destroy every enemy bunker on the surface and dispose of every fuel tank and human. Humans and fuel tanks can be shot (although the player will not receive any points for doing so), but a bonus is given if all humans are rescued on a level (see Scoring and Extras sections), plus fuel tanks are needed to keep up the player’s fuel level (which is indicated by a line right next to the score at the top left of the screen). Humans and fuel tanks can be teleported into the player’s ship by maneuvering their ship close and activating the teleporter/shields function. Once all bunkers have been destroyed and all humans and fuel tanks have been disposed of, a sound effect will signal that the mission is complete, and upon leaving the planet, it will self-destruct and the player will be given a bonus for that planet.

The exception to this rule is the lone reactor planet on each level, which has only one target – a reactor – deep inside it. This planet is different than all the others, as the player is given 99 time units to make their way through a brief maze, shoot the reactor, and get out before time runs out or else the player’s ship will be destroyed and the reactor will remain intact. If the player does not destroy this planet last in a level then it clears out the space saucers for the remainder of the level, since this is the planet that they emerge from.

Dangers include the player’s ship crashing if it runs out of fuel, plus the ship will be destroyed if shot by a bunker, space saucer or alien air interceptor (which are similar to space saucers but they appear inside a planet), if they crash into a wall, the sun, space saucer or alien air interceptor, or do not leave the reactor planet before their time runs out. If the player runs out of reserve ships then the game will end. The player’s fuel, however, is replenished mostly from a fuel tank and is fully replaced upon destroying a planet, finishing a level, or with each new ship. The player’s teleporter function also doubles as a shield to protect them from enemy fire. Also, if the player defeats all planets in a level, then that level’s sun will go nova, various bonuses are then awarded (see Extras section), and if the player defeats the third level the game will end, giving a congratulations message as well as sharing some trivia about Gravitrex from the game’s programmer John Dondzila on the screen.

Controls[edit | edit source]

  • Pause–button 1
  • Teleporter/shields–button 2
  • Thrust–button 3
  • Fire–button 4
  • Turn ship (left/right)–joystick or D-pad

(Note: these are the default controls, which can be changed on the options menu screen.)

Scoring[edit | edit source]

  • Space saucer/alien air interceptor–50 points
  • Bunker–75
  • Fuel tank recovered–150
  • Human rescued–400
  • Destroying alien planet–2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000, or 9,000 depending on planet
  • Rescuing all humans on level 3–25,000
  • Rescuing all 65 humans in game–100,000
  • Bonus ship awarded–every 10,000

Extras[edit | edit source]

During a game of Gravitrex, there are several other ways of earning extra ships aside from earning a score of every 10,000 points, which includes earning a ship for every reactor destroyed times the level number, three extra ships are earned for completing a level, five are earned for rescuing every human on level one, and 10 are awarded for rescuing all humans on level two. (Note: a level has to be cleared before any of these bonuses are awarded.)

The options menu screen allows the player to remap the controls and enter passwords, which are awarded for completing levels one and two, giving the player the ability to restart a game at the beginning of those levels that they left off at. The cartridge also includes an "arcade" version of Gravitrex (which is identical to the standard game except the player’s ship’s thrust is more powerful) and the two bonus games of Patriots III (which also has an option for using the original Vectrex controller analog setting) and Paratroopers.

Patriots III Ballistic Busters (background)[edit | edit source]

Missile Command was an arcade game where players had to defend six cities with three missile bases from enemy missile, plane and satellite attacks. If all six cities were destroyed with no remaining cities in reserve then the game would end.

Patriots III is a clone of Missile Command, although with some minor differences in game play.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

Patriots III.

Missiles come raining down from the top of the screen, which the player must place their target cursor in appropriate places below the missiles and fire from one of their three Patriot launchers in hopes of stopping the missiles. Enemy saucers and bombers will also appear and drop their own missiles, as well as Smart Bombs (starting with the third wave) making direct beelines for bases or launchers, which evade the player’s fire. The player has unlimited firepower, although after firing several shots from the same launcher in a row, the launcher will have to reload (as noted by an onscreen exclamation point over the launcher) and the player will not be able to fire from that launcher again for a few seconds.

Six bases have to be protected along with the three missile launchers; when an enemy missile or Smart Bomb hits one of these, it is destroyed. However, with every 10,000 points, a base will brought back. The game ends when there are no remaining bases in reserve after they are all destroyed.

Controls[edit | edit source]

  • Position cursor–joystick or D-pad
  • Fire from left base–button 1
  • Fire from center base–button 2
  • Fire from right base–button 3
  • Pause–button 4
  • Change modes–after pausing the game, pressing button 1 will change the cursor speed, button 2 will change from using a digital to the original analog mode

Scoring[edit | edit source]

  • Enemy missile destroyed–10 points
  • Saucers/bombers–50
  • Smart Bombs–80
  • Saved bases–100
  • Surviving launchers–200
  • Extra base–every 10,000

(Note: all items are the base scores times the bonus multiplier per wave [except for gaining an extra base, which runs a flat 10,000 or a multiple thereof]).

Paratroopers[edit | edit source]

This is the hidden game on Gravitrex Plus, being a clone of the Apple II game Sabotage, where the player controls a gun turret at the bottom center of the screen. Helicopters would fly overhead, dropping parachutists; if too many landed (four on either side of the player’s turret), the game would end. Later jet planes would drop bombs. The player earned points for everything they shot down but they would be penalized one point for every shot they fired as well.

Paratroopers is a simplified clone of Sabotage, having only planes that drop parachutists. If a parachutist makes it to the ground, it will start moving towards the player’s gun and destroy the gun once they reach it. The player would not be penalized for shots fired, however, along with only being able to shoot straight missiles (as Sabotage also gave the player the option of having steerable missiles if they chose to), plus the troopers don’t explode into pieces when shot and occasionally take out other troopers like on the original. There is also just one constant wave until the player is eventually overrun and the game ends, unlike how there is an obvious change with Sabotage when the deadlier aircraft appears that drops bombs.

Controls[edit | edit source]

  • Turn turret (left and right)–buttons 1 and 2 or D-pad or joystick
  • Fire–button 4

Scoring[edit | edit source]

  • Paratrooper–1 point
  • Plane–10

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Bug: in any solar system, the player can destroy all planets (plus the reactor one) except for the one in the six o'clock position (i. e. at the bottom center of the screen) last; then, once they destroy it, once the view changes to the solar system screen, the player must keep flying into the sun, destroying their ship. After this happens, the brief cutscene of the player's ship flying away as the sun goes nova will still occur, although slowed down a notch, plus the player's ship will become a bit larger than normal.
  • Thrust is comparable to Gravitar and Gravitrex, since the programmer of the original game (which came out in the early 1980s, and the Commodore 64 version was ported to the Vectrex in 2004) was influenced by Gravitar. The games have several similarities, such as having the same controls, the player must maintain their fuel level/beam up fuel cells and shoot bunkers, but there are many differences as well, such as a nuclear reactor on most levels that can be shot to keep the bunkers from firing (or to totally destroy the planet if shot enough times), as well as the player having to remove pods from the planet via tow line.
  • Most planets in the Gravitrex games have more than one screen: when the player's ship reaches a screen edge, there will be another screen (if not several more) of humans, fuel tanks, and bunkers.
  • Ever since its release in 2002, the level select passwords, digitized speech, “retro intro”, and the musical title/menu screens were left off the game ROM due to Vectrex emulators not running anything over 32K in size[1] (as the cartridge is 64K total). However, with the advent of the 0.70 version of the ParaJVE emulator for the Vectrex allowing 64K games, this could change at some point in the future.
  • During the introduction sequence, it reads “1982 - 2002” on the screen, recognizing the 20 year anniversary of the Vectrex (at the time of release), then the screen turns blank, except for reading “Vectrex Basic 2.0", which “Load Gravitrx” is seen typed out from an onscreen cursor. This is an ode to the Commodore 64 era, as it says the game is loading, then when it is ready the command of “Run” is typed out, taking the player to the title screen then. (This sequence can be bypassed by pressing up on the Vectrex controller.)
  • Gravitrex is still creator Dondzila’s largest game to date (as of end 2014), as it took him two weeks to draw and map out all of its levels[1].
  • This is only the second release of Classic Game Creations’s that had speech at the time (which is heard right before the Gravitrex title screen), with Spike Hoppin' being the other. Space Frenzy was the third.
  • There are several differences between the three Patriots games (note: the original Patriots was the second unlimited Classic Game Creations release, whereas the Patriots Remix was on the Vecmania cart), such as the Smart Bombs severely dodging the player’s fire in this version. The launchers also fire much slower this time around, bases resemble the arcade/Atari 8-bit versions pretty closely, all three launchers are included this time around (the other two versions only had two each), they have unlimited ammo as well for the first time ever, but they also have a reload time for the first time ever as well. Also, there is no bonus for any ammunition remaining this time around (since ammo is unlimited). Saucers/bombers don’t appear until the second wave (unlike with them appearing immediately on the other two versions), dots will appear after the player fires a missile, signaling where the missiles will detonate, and the bases fly up to the player’s score at the end of a wave, indicating their bonus.
  • None of the planets had an official name, aside from the reactor planet. The planet in the two o'clock position, which resembles an eye opening and closing, was influenced by the Duck Dodgers cartoon, starring Daffy Duck and Marvin the Martin[2].
  • The International Play Your Vectrex Day was announced in late 2012, which invited people from all over the world to participate in playing their Vectrex and keeping a record of it. It took place on November 1st, which Gravitrex tied as to being the third most popular modern day homebrewed game on that day, as three people played it, along with War of the Worlds. Vector Pilot took first place among the modern day games that people played the most, with six players.
  • Versions of Sabotage were released called Paratrooper in the early 1980s for PCs and the VIC-20 computer. When too many paratroopers land, they will all run off to the side of the screen, return with a tank, and blow up the player's cannon, ending the game then.
  • There are several humorous messages in the games, such as if the player is able to beat Gravitrex and rescue all humans in the game, as it says on the screen “Hey, did you cheat?”. On the title screen of Patriots III, it reads “Classic games never die...they just slowly fade away...then resurface on e-bay”. And when the game ends on Paratroopers, it reads “We win!”
  • Gravitrex Plus was available from 2002-2013 when it was announced that, due to a lack of time, Classic Game Creations would not be able to produce any more games. Packrat Video Games, LLC, took over the duties and re-released the cartridge in November, 2014.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Official Gravitrex page (archived)
  2. E-mail from programmer John Dondzila.

Links/reviews/strategy guides[edit | edit source]

Review[edit | edit source]

It’s funny how the failure of Gravitar in the arcades resulted with the success of the similar games of Thrust and Gravitrex. Quite a few things on Gravitrex will seem immediately similar when compared to Gravitar (the small, box-like planet on the first two levels with the screwy gravity that sucks you inwards, for instance), but programmer John Dondzila took the brilliant step of adding humans to be rescued as well as all fuel tanks, unlike just with shooting all bunkers on Gravitar in order to be able to destroy a planet.

From the opening genius of the retro intro screen to all the different planetary landscapes to all the little added touches -- such as passwords, remapping controls, etc. -- this is still one of THE biggest Vectrex carts out today and it definitely shows. Dondzila went all out here, such as having two out of the three games (Gravitrex and Patriots III) having a pause feature (earlier works such as Spike Hoppin' and more than just the Patriots Remix on Vecmania could have used one), along with the availability of earning a crapload of extra ships (which you’ll definitely need, which I also thought on like Spike Hoppin' [again] you deserved more than just one extra life) and the hidden game of Paratroopers...well, it just fit really well to be released during the 20th anniversary of the Vectrex.

All the controls work well, and I liked the graphics on several game objects (even though the bunkers on Gravitrex are just triangles, but I liked the way the space saucers and your ship look, along with the planes and parachutists on Paratroopers), along with the sounds, although the shooting noise of the bunkers and alien air interceptors I found to be annoying, like a bunch of cap guns going off.

There aren’t many bad things I can say about this cartridge -- and none of them are real big either -- and two of them I’m actually recommending some add-ons for as well (which is a first)! First, everything on Gravitrex is frickin’ TINY. Granted, that’s not Dondzila’s fault or anything – it’s the Vectrex’s small screen – but for that I recommend a page magnifier, even though the images probably won’t be as sharp with it, but they’ll be bigger and much easier to see. For Paratroopers, I think the Autofire Dongle would be good for it; why you have to press the button every time to shoot, rather than holding it down (works for Bedlam) is beyond me. I was also disappointed that the arcade version of Gravitrex wasn’t any different at all than the standard game (just with added thrust), but you can blame that on Escape Vector, an online Thrust clone, for having a totally different arcade game with the four games included, and not Dondzila. (And I think a slightly different ending on beating that version would have been good too, but to no avail.) And with Patriots III, I don’t think the analog control did the game any favors, and the game isn’t *quite* a button masher, but more like an "explosion masher", as the shots move slowly and it’s hard to anticipate where to shoot, so you’ll have to do it often (it won’t be long before it’s just your bases and one city left!). I mean, I can appreciate Dondzila wanting to try something different with the difficulty level on this one (like with the Rockaroids Remix), but to me it’s just not very fun, as I’ve hardly played it at all. If the latter was fun, this would have gotten a 10 out of 10 from myself for this cart, since that would give you an absolute TON of replay value (although the replay value is still high though).

However, this is still a very good cartridge, due to many short games of Paratroopers (in half an hour you can literally play 15-20 games), plus Gravitrex will run you 35 minutes or so if you’re able to get through all the levels, so that’s a good balance. Even though I beat that in only a little over 24 hours after I first got it, I’m still having fun with it weeks later as I write this, as well as with Paratroopers, which is amazingly addictive for only a 2K game.

And like with Thrust, this isn’t quite for everybody (thrusting, shooting, dealing with gravity AND using shields can be a lot to handle for a lot of people), but for those that do like that kind of gameplay, it’s definitely a must own. 9/10

(review by Darrylb500)[edit | edit source]

I must say I was excited when I received Gravitrex in the mail all the way from the U.S. I knew the granddaddy of Vectrex programming John Dondzila would present something which was worthwhile and professional. And I wasn't let down either. From the startup screen the Vec goes into 'Vec basic' mode, with shades of C64 days, as the game loads. Then all of a sudden a beautifully synthesised alien voice blurts out 'GRAVITREX' and then you know you've invested your $20 wisely. (see: classicgamecreations for ordering info.)

Dondzila states that the game is the first 64k Vectrex cartridge and you can see that alot of time and effort has been placed into Gravitrex to get it feeling just right. This must be the biggest game environment for a Vectrex ever. The plot revolves around the player controlling the space ship 'Explorer' which has been 'attacked after accidentally wandering into alien space'. Your mission is to locate and rescue the space ships crew who are scattered through the many levels and different planets of this gigantic Vectrex gaming environment. Once all the crew members are rescued from a particular planet then it's onto the next planet with each planet exploding once all fuel is found, enemies destroyed and crew members rescued.

Within the planets the enemy are in the form of small triangles which fire at random at your ship. Your ship has ample firepower, a shield and a teleporter device for beaming the rescued crew members to safety. Not only must the player be cautious around enemy fire but also two alien spaceships appear on nearly every screen to add to the panic and increase your vulnerability to capture and destruction. All the while the gravity plays a part much the same as it does with games such as Vectrex 'Moon Lander' and the old C64 classic 'Thrust'.

I have owned Gravitrex for around 3 years and it is such a good game, and the difficulty level set at the right setting, I have only ever reached the end of the second level. This game must be Dondzila's finest hour as a Vectrex programmer and the work gone into Gravitrex must have been very time consuming.

Gravitrex and Protector are the pick of the Vectrex games. Both of these games are definate must haves for any self respecting Vectrex enthusiast and it's very hard to answer the question as to which is the best game, Protector or Gravitrex. Whatever the verdict these two game are leaps and bounds ahead of any other original or new Vec game. Need I say more.

Score 9.2/10

Review written by Daniel Foot

Strategy guide[edit | edit source]


  • For the most part, you're going to have to shoot planes in the lowest corners first, as you only have a limited range of fire, and if they drop off a paratrooper in these corners out of your firing range then you can kiss your game goodbye. And speaking of which, remember those areas of the screen where your shots won't reach! So try to keep those areas clear (again, from planes in the low corners) before disaster strikes.
  • Although I don't have one to test it out, I assume using an AutoFire Dongle (made specifically for the Vectrex) would work well with this game, rather than constantly pressing the fire button.
  • It won't be long in a game before you should be constantly firing. You should also shoot as many enemies as possible while facing in one direction, keeping that side clear.
  • Shoot paratroopers to keep yourself alive, of course, but planes are worth 10 times more points than they are, which is something to keep in mind when going for a high score and paratroopers are on the ground, so you're going to have only seconds to rack up as many points as possible.
  • When troopers are falling from the sky, descending in the corners and over or by your base, shoot the troopers in the corners first for the most part (especially before they fall in that area where they are out of your shooting range), since they're more dangerous, and then you'll have more time to deal with the closer ones.
  • Once troopers are on the ground, ignore ones that will file in behind them once they touch down while shooting as many planes as possible for maximum points. Only shoot down troopers that will end your game more quickly, like shown below: as you can see the troopers on the ground already, just ignore the one in the D position at left, for instance, since by the time it lands, the ones at the A position will have destroyed you by then. Same goes with troopers C and B (at right); however, if trooper B were a lot closer--say at position E--then it should be shot, while still ignoring the trooper at position D or even further left than that.


Patriots 3

  • For a best game possible, if you're not comfortable with the default settings, you should experiment with using a digital vs. the original analog controller (if you still use yours), along with changing the cursor movement speed to find what works best for you.
  • Your shots move a bit slowly, and it won't be long before you'll have to give a bit of distance from a target in order to make and hit a mark, so you are going to want to lead your shots a bit, like shooting a bit in front of missiles and bombers and saucers so your shots won't miss them.
  • Also in regards to the latter, you're going to want to shoot the bombers and saucers pretty quickly, and not only before they launch any additional missiles that you'll have to deal with, but also because they will be worth quite a bit of points when the score values are increasing.
  • Dealing with Smart Bombs usually requires several shots, which you need to shoot straight above them (see picture at point A, although the label is a little off), then below (at point B) and quickly move your cursor upwards while shooting to hopefully drive them into the above explosion at point A. You will also have to shoot in an EXACT straight line above and below them; being a tiny bit off and you will miss, and the bomb will still be there. (Also firing shots a tiny bit to the left and right in the same area to try to envelope the bomb could work.) Bombs moving at a diagonal can be especially hard to try to nail in this same manner (again, by a straight line of fire, although a diagonal line this time).
  • Remember which buttons on your controller do what! Since you'll have to keep in mind which one corresponds to each base, you'll have to quickly move from one base to the next once a base temporarily runs out of shots and has to reload. You'll also have to be especially mindful in keeping your fingers on the buttons on what bases are still left once you have lost one (or more) and remember which ones can still fire!
  • And on a similar note, keep in mind what cities are left, like if there are none on the right, then ONLY protect the area on the left side of the screen to the center base while ignoring any missiles that come down on the right side (except for the right corner where your base is) unless you have some breaks where a wave is about to end and you can shoot a few missiles for extra points without risking losing track of any potential cities or bases to the left that could be destroyed if you're too distracted.
  • When you're down to one base, try to not overdo it with a rain of fire for the most part if you can, as it will take a few seconds for the base to reload. Also make sure to take out the most threatening and worthwhile targets; i. e. the saucers, Smart Bombs and Bombers, since they'll be worth more with a high bonus multiplier, while ignoring regular missiles that are raining down over an already destroyed landscape area that won't be worth as much and could cause you to lose a last base and/or city in case your base has to reload.
(Guide by Darrylb500)

Tips[edit | edit source]

General playing tips

  • If you aren't comfortable with the default controls, remember that they can be reassigned, as you need every advantage possible when playing this game!
  • The objects on any given planetary landscape screen -- bunkers, humans, etc. -- can be quite small; a page magnifier, also known as a fresnel lens, can be used to greatly alleviate this problem and make everything appear a lot bigger. These can be purchased at a medical aids- or pharmacy-type store, if not ordered online. (For more information, see the how to enlarge your Vectrex screen page.)
  • Keep an eye on your fuel, as well as time remaining on the reactor levels (although do either one quickly!). With fuel, though, you can pause the game and see how much you have left, as that is still displayed.
  • Remember that you can still shoot, turn, and thrust while your shields are on.
  • When you are on a planetary surface that has a lot of targets to deal with, a lot of the time you should only apply short quick bursts of thrust, especially when you're usually fairly enclosed, as you're going to want just enough thrust to go from one target to the next in general.
  • When the time comes that you have to pause a game, try to not only pause it when your ship is not only in a memorable screen position, but also where you're not in immediate danger, if possible! It's easy to lose sight of where your ship is, and it can be quickly destroyed at any given moment.
  • Practicing and playing the game will make you more familiar with it: the more you play, the more familiar you'll become with landscapes, enemies' positions, and knowing where the alien air interceptors will appear on a surface (which the latter will be noted with every screenshot as this guide starts going through a level by level breakdown), as it's best to be prepared.
  • As a general rule of thumb, for the most part, you're going to want to shoot at ground targets at an angle; do NOT shoot at something straight down whenever possible, since gravity can play a rather nasty role in quickly dragging your ship down, which it will take longer to turn your ship around and reply a counter-thrust to get out of a nosedive of a situation. (A "skipping" technique can work well, which will be outlined later on various levels.)
  • Once you enter a planet that has more than one screen of bunkers and humans to clear out (which is the case with most planets in any given solar system), use caution when moving from one screen to the next upon completion, since you could accidentally fly into a wall with a new screen and lose a ship. However, again, as mentioned earlier, the more you play the game, the more familiar you will become with what's next.
  • When clearing a planet surface of bunkers, remember that only one shoots at a time, so keep this in mind when selecting a target; i. e., say that there is a barrier in the middle of a screen and you're about to fly down to the bottom left area that has two bunkers, one at the top center of the area and one off to the right. If the top center bunker is closest, hover next to the protective wall and wait for it to fire, then drop down and shoot it. In the meantime, it will not fire again for a few seconds; after it has fired, the bunker off to the right will shoot. Approach as many targets as possible in this manner to cut down on the loss of ships, although you should also be on the ready to use your shields a lot as well to try to counter ship loss as much as possible.
  • There is somewhat of a cheat that will delay the firing of the bunkers and the arrival of the interceptors: once you have just entered a planet or a new screen on a planet you are already on, you can exit to the previous screen, then re-enter to the new one if you have to take out one or more bunkers and want to delay the interceptors from arriving and shooting for a few seconds.
  • During a planet surface run, once you get shot down by an interceptor, usually they won't come out again for several seconds, giving you more extra time to accomplish tasks (shooting bunkers/rescuing humans) then.
  • Keep in mind interceptors' firing range is further than yours, so be sure to constantly be on the ready to use your shields when they fire in your direction if they are out of your range.
  • If given the situation on a planetary surface where there is a human to rescue and one or more nearby fuel tanks to beam up, go for the person first, THEN the fuel, since that will give you several more extra seconds of fuel by picking that up later.
  • Use walls on a planet's surface run for protection against enemy fire to your advantage, shielding you from interceptors' attacks as often as possible (various areas that provide good cover will be illustrated via screenshots throughout this guide). Also, even once you have saved all (or most) humans and have destroyed all bunkers, you must still be careful in leaving a planet, because interceptors can still fire at and destroy one of your ships, so it wouldn't hurt (unless you're very low on fuel) to use your shields on the way off a planet.
  • You'll earn one or more extra ships for destroying a reactor (depending on what level you're on), so you might want to do this first (as no space saucers will appear to attack during the rest of the current solar system you are working through), rather than last if you want to try to get past a universe, especially if you lose all of your ships during one of these rounds. Also, a good rule of thumb is to aim at being on your way out when there are 50 units of time left (or more) remaining, plus there's an auditory blip sound that is heard indicating that you don't have much time left, so be sure to listen for this, as well as the time remaining indicator starts flashing when you're down to less than 20 units of time.
  • When destroying the planet in the six o'clock position (/bottom center) of a galaxy, always try to remember that the sun will be right above you, so don't fly into it upon exiting the surface!
  • Try to rescue all humans during a level for a big bonus!
  • You shouldn't have to deal with space saucers much while you're in open space, as, for the most part, you'll just need to enter a planet's surface to escape them (even if you're going to leave the planet a second later). Just try to fly straight into the reactor planet as quickly as possible, as this is usually when you're going to accidentally end up in space combat with the saucers, if you miss the planet. Just remember two things: one, your shot range is limited (especially when compared to theirs), and two, you can fire, turn and thrust with your shields on, so you can get as close as possible to them with your shields up and shoot them down before they're able to destroy you, if you're lucky.

Strategy guide

This will given a blow by blow, screen by screen walkthrough of every planet. Note, however, that aside from the reactor planet, creator John Dondzila did not name any of these planets, so these are just going to be named after the positions they occupy in a solar system, along with a brief description as to how I feel they look (yours may vary ;) ).

  • Planet at 12 o'clock position (ring planet)
  • Two o'clock (eye planet)
  • Four o'clock (Reactor planet)
  • Six o'clock (stalactite planet)
  • Eight o'clock (horn planet)
  • 10 o'clock (rotating moons planet)

Also, the majority of this guide will only give instructions when traveling to the left of each planetary surface run, so if you prefer traveling to the right, the strategies will change order as to what you will be facing, although most of them can still be followed through (although in the reverse order as told in this guide). Going over every combination possible would make this guide even more lengthy as it is!

Also note the position of where the interceptors originate from as well on the screenshots, although ones marked with AAI (for "alien air interceptors") indicate where they originally appear from, in case I took a screenshot a moment or two after they appeared and their position is actually a little off (which these do not appear until level 2).

Level 1 solar system guide

12 o'clock planet (first screen)

Shoot the bunker at the top center, then the one at below left. Watch out for the Air interceptors, as you should turn on your shields when they fire. Pick up the human and fly left to the next screen

Second screen

Pick up the fuel tank at bottom right, then fly upwards to pause/hover at point A (see Gallery below), being shielded by the wall, and thrust and fire at an angle towards the Interceptor(s) if it’s/they are there. Shoot the nearby bunker (or drop back down to A and wait for it to fire before flying back up and shooting at it), then the one at the left while either using shields or taking out an interceptor if it appears.

Pause at B and wait for the nearest bunker (at center) to fire, then drop down and shoot it. Shoot the bunker at the right afterwards, then grab the human and fuel tank. Either wait for the interceptors at about point B again, using the wall as a shield, shooting one or both of them or using your shields and proceeding to the next screen.

Third screen

You should be able to shoot the bunker at right before it starts shooting. Once you drop down to shoot the middle bunker, then pick up the humans and fuel tank, you could still be susceptible to interceptor fire at point A, so use the middle section as a shield and pick them off when they fly by if they’re there. Shoot the last bunker and proceed left to the next screen.

Fourth screen

Pick up the human and skip to and shoot the bunker, or get the bunker out of the way first, then go back for the human, although you’ll have to watch out for the interceptors (although you could fly back right to the previous screen, then fly left again to this screen to delay the bunker from firing and the interceptors from coming out. Use your shields for the interceptors, along with dealing with bunkers, although at each point A you’re pretty safe from bunker fire. Destroy the bunker, pick up the fuel tank, then descend to the other corner in the same manner, as well as with destroying that bunker in the same manner/position, beam up the human and fly left back to the first screen (while keeping an eye on interceptors and using your shields).

First screen (again)

Get the fuel tank at the bottom right, then take out the bunker(s), which the middle one (if it’s still there) you should be able to fire at point A at an angle and destroy it via a safe diagonal, then be on the ready to use your shields for the interceptors as you fly off the planet.

2 o’clock planet

Shoot the bunker at top center, then drop down for the human to the left. This planet has odd gravity, which pulls you inwards, so thrust away at an opposite angle, i. e. at this point, thrust at an upper left angle. Fly to point A, waiting for the Interceptor from the right to fly by, using the walls as a shield, then shoot it. Wait for the bunker right below you to fire, thrust towards area B, then shoot it and return to A. Then wait for the interceptor at the bottom to come to point C, then thrust towards B and shoot it. Pick up the human at D, then take out the bottom center bunker from about point E, being very careful to shoot straight right, since if you shoot at an angle, you could hit the human at point F. Rescue it then, then wait for the bunker to fire, then thrust towards point G to shoot it in the same way you did on the left side. Then beam the fuel tank and leave the planet then, minding an interceptor by shooting it or using shields to get past it as you leave the planet.

6 o’clock planet

Shoot the bunker at A and possibly Z too, if you wish. (You’ll probably have to take out an Interceptor as well.) Pick up the human at B, then fly down to C, wait for the bunker at point D to fire, then drop down and shoot it. Destroy the bunker at E, pick up the fuel tank and proceed to the next screen.

Second screen

You should have plenty of time to destroy the bunker at A before it starts shooting, then pick up the human and fuel cell. Either nail the interceptor at point B (if you don’t have to wait too long for it), using the planet surface as cover from the interceptor’s fire, or destroy the bunker nearby, then get the interceptor and the bunker at point C. You should use your shields to protect yourself as you drop down to the bunkers at D and E (which point Z will protect you from bunker D’s fire, and also destroy the bunker above point Z first). Wait for one to shoot, then destroy it, then the other, grab the fuel tank and go to the next screen.

Third screen

You should have plenty of time to shoot the bunker right underneath before it starts shooting, then beam up the nearby fuel tank and human, then destroy the bunker at point A. By the time you make it to point C, an interceptor will probably be coming into range, so make sure you use the landscape at left for cover and only shoot straight up at the interceptor, rather than at an angle and risk killing the human at point B. Once the interceptor’s gone, beam up that human, wait for the bunker opposite the one at point A to shoot, then drop down and destroy it, and beam up the fuel tank and dispose of the last bunker.

Fourth screen

You should have time to shoot the bunker at point A before it fires, but beware the interceptor that will be right on your tail. Once you drop down to the B area, as usual, shoot whatever bunker is not firing at you, pick up the fuel tank and humans above you, although be sure to use shields and/or take out the interceptor(s) flying overhead, as you should definitely take them out before shooting and flying over the area where the bunker is at point C, because new interceptors will appear right by the left screen edge! (You can use point D as cover against the interceptors.) Take the fuel tank and you’ll return to the first screen to finish up.

First screen (again)

Shoot the bunker at point Y, taking caution against the interceptors (use shields and/or shoot them), beam up the human, then destroy the last Z bunker (if it’s still there) and exit the planet, but make sure you don’t fly into the sun though once you return to the solar system screen!

8 o’clock planet

Shoot the bunker right below you, then proceed left and destroy that one. Be wary of interceptors as you move left to the second screen (note: ignore all the points in the photograph in the Gallery below; those will come up later), which I employ what I call the skipping technique, where I use a little thrust, shoot a bunker at an angle, thrust a little more left, then shoot and thrust again, heading left to the third screen. Again, beware of interceptors and ignore everything labeled in the photo for now.

Third screen

This is where things get a bit congested. Take out the bunker at point A, then the one at point B if you can before an interceptor comes out; if not, shoot the interceptor (as well as the one that appears at the right), then destroy the center bunker below at point D. Fly to about point C and take out the left bunker at a downward diagonal angle, then pick up the fuel tank and head to the next screen.

First screen (again)

Now you’re back at the first screen, but below the surface. Fly to the point A area and shoot the bunker at point B; if you shoot from points A and C at those respective bunkers, you should never get hit. Pick up the humans and fuel tank and proceed to the next screen.

Second screen (again)

Pick up the fuel tank, then shoot at the bunker at point A, then shoot the top left bunker and go back for the human (or you can pick it up before you shoot the bunker). Destroy the other bunker from either point B (either one is pretty safe), then fly to the next screen (which is the third screen again), picking up that fuel tank and shooting the bunker to the right from point D, which you should do it before it fires if you’re quick enough. Be sure to use your shields as you fly through the small opening with the interceptors flying by to fly to the next screen at left, take out the last remaining bunker and leave the planet.

10 o’clock planet

Fly left, shooting the bunkers. Be sure to use your shields when needed since the interceptors’ fire can go a long way. Pick up the human and fuel if you want, but I usually save those long caverns for last (just make sure to drop straight down without moving left or right, as you won’t crash into a wall then) until I complete all the other screens first, then proceed left to the second screen.

Second screen

Drop down to shoot the bunker at point A. Grab the fuel tank, but be wary of the firepower that you will be facing, as you’ve got the bunker at point B. I’d go ahead and shoot that – which you should be able to take it out at an angle at point C – then probably take out one or both interceptors that are overhead; either that, or drop down for the human, then go after them, as you’ll still have two bunkers remaining to the left. Having bunkers AND interceptors shooting all at once isn’t a good thing! If you destroy the interceptors, shooting the bunker at point D can be accomplished at around point E via diagonal angle. Shoot the remaining bunker at about point F, then beam up the fuel tank, although you might want to wait for both interceptors to appear at point F (if not a little lower) before flying left to the next screen, since you could collide with one of them.

Third screen

Drop to the bottom right to take out the bunker (you should be able to do it before it shoots) and beam up the human. Take out the bottom interceptor, then use shields as you drop to area A. Shoot the bunker at the right (you might want to wait until it fires first just to be safe), pick up the human and fuel tank, then shoot the bunker at the top of the vertical left column via diagonal shot at a little below point A. The lower interceptor should appear at area B, so be wary of that. Once that threat is over with (either by shooting or letting it go by/using your shields for protection), drop down to point C to beam up the human and shoot the last bunker, as that is a pretty safe position right above the human.

Then fly left back to the first screen to take out the remaining bunkers (which you should be able to do via safe diagonals at points A and B), then dropping down for any remaining fuel tanks and humans. Just be sure to use shields, as the lone interceptor can fire pretty far down. However, you should be able to take it out in a fairly safe spot, due to the high columns (like at either point C), then fly off the planet.

Reactor planet

Fly along the passageways until you reach the beginning of each curve (point A), which, at that point, you should have more than enough momentum to turn, thrust a little, and start heading towards point B, and then start hauling butt again once you reach the straightaways at point C. Point D (give or take a centimeter or two ;) ) is where you will be in range for the reactor; once you have hit it, turn around and haul out in the exact same manner, but in the reverse: start turning at point C, thrust a little towards point B, then go full speed towards every point A (until the first point C in the photo) until you’re out.

Level 2 solar system guide

12 o'clock planet (first screen)

Shoot the bunker near the top center at point A; you should be able to do that before the interceptor appears at the top left corner, so be sure to take that out when it shows up afterwards. Beam up the human at point B. Watch out for the interceptor and destroy it when it comes out from that upper left corner, or just use your shield for protection and let it fly by. Go to point C then, wait for the bunker below to fire, then destroy it by flying left towards point D while turning and firing at it. Wait for the bunker at point E to fire after that, then drop down and shoot it. Wait for the bunker at point F to fire, then shoot it, although be alert to use shields since it will be the last one remaining and will be firing often by then. You should probably beam up the human first at point G, THEN go for the fuel tank in the corner, since you won’t burn up as much fuel when you get that last as you move onto the second screen (but be sure not to hit any walls on your way in though).

Second screen

Drop down to destroy the bunker at point A, which you should be able to do so before it fires at you. Shoot the other bunker to the left, and you should probably get the human there first, then go for the fuel tank at the bottom. Be wary of any interceptors in the area of point B, using the walls as a shield as you wait for them at point C. Also, as you head off for point D for those targets, be wary of any interceptors there and get ready to fire and use your shields as protection.

With that way clear, fly to point E and wait for the bunker at point F to fire, then drop down and destroy it. Take the same action for the last one there (wait for it to fire while using your shields if you have to), as with it being the last one left it will fire fairly often, so be ready. Once it’s gone, get the human, then the fuel tank and exit left, although be wary of any interceptors, using the wall at about point E to shield you from their fire, or you can just go left to the next screen if the coast is clear.

Third screen

Take out the bunker at point A, then get the human. Here is where things get hairy, so take things one at a time, such as shooting the bunker at point B, while being aware of the interceptors overhead. Take one or both out if you can, especially since their fire is more accurate as opposed to bunkers. You might want to fly to the corner at point C before shooting the bunker above that area, as chances are low it will shoot you, then get the human. Destroy any interceptors if possible, then shoot the last bunker at D, waiting for it to fire (while using the wall as a shield) at about point E and then flying up to shoot it, then keep flying left to the next screen.

Fourth screen/first screen (again)

If you can get the rhythm to it correct, you can kind of “skip” around by shooting the bunker at point A (note: there is one at that point, this screenshot was taken after it was destroyed), then fly left a bit and apply just enough thrust to skip over and shoot the next bunker. (You’ll have to be quick anyway, since interceptors will be on your tail not long after entering this screen.) Start dropping down to the B area, taking out the two right bunkers, depending on which one is firing; go for the one that just fired, then take out the other one and scoop up the human and the fuel tanks at the bottom. Use area C as a shield as you wait for the bunker at point D to fire, then fly up and shoot it. Either wait for the interceptors to leave the area before flying left (if they are there) or take out one or both of them before leaving the screen, which will take you back to the first screen. Be careful not to fly into the wall! Beam up the last human at point Z and then fly off the planet.

2 o'clock planet

Drop down to point A to get the human, then stay there until the interceptor gets to about point B and then shoot it, using the walls in that area for cover (and note that this interceptor first appears at the upper left corner where it is marked as AAI in the photo). Fly to point C and wait for the bunker below to fire, then fly a little more to the left to shoot it. Remember as you fly to point D for the fuel tank that you will start being pulled INWARDS, so you’ll have to turn your ship facing towards point E (to the left) and thrust away a little in that direction. Collect the tank, but then wait right there, as interceptors will be appearing and their fire can still reach you if you’re not in that little safety area. Wait until the bottom interceptor is at about point F (bottom left corner), then fly out a little towards point E and shoot it. Fly down to point G, wait for the bunker at point H to fire, then fly down to about point F and shoot it. Treat the human at point I in the same manner as collecting the fuel tank at point D, as you’ll have to fly towards the bottom of the screen, rather than be pulled inwards.

Wait for the last bunker at J (on the right side) to fire before flying out from point K to shoot it, although be wary of the interceptor probably reappearing at point L in the corner. Grab the last fuel container in the same manner at point M as you did with collecting the previous human and fuel (i. e. fly outwards towards point N due to the inwards gravitational pull), then fly up and shoot the last bunker at point O after it has fired, then fly out and up to exit the level. Just don’t fly too far to the right or else you’ll wrap back towards point D, where you could fly into the wall and die!

6 o'clock planet

Shoot the bunker at point A, then take out the interceptor in the B area (top left corner). Wait for the bunker to fire at point C, then fly left and shoot that. You may have time to shoot the bunker at point D before the interceptor makes it back to your area in that channel near the bottom (marked with a Z). You can then scoop up the fuel tanks at the very bottom of the screen, wait for the bunker at point E to fire, then fly out from point F to shoot it. Use the area where it used to be as cover for when the bunker above it fires, then fly up a little to shoot that one as well.

At some point, though, depending on how things go, the interceptor will reappear in area Z again. Just use one of the areas at the bottom center as cover (marked as points F and Fa) and then shoot it when it gets in range, then pick up the human in the center area when you can, then fly left to the next screen (which you might want to fly through area G in case the interceptor comes out, which would result in missing a collision with it).

Second screen

Be very careful when shooting at the bunker at point A if you do it from the side, as you might have enough time (and not be hit) if you are to fly left and collect the human first, then shoot the bunker. (To minimize this risk, though, you should fire at an angle as denoted in the picture.) Wait in that area until the interceptor from area B flies overhead, using the walls for shields and then shoot it (while keeping in mind the interceptor’s fire from area C can still reach you, so be prepared to use shields). Shoot the bunker at point D, then grab the fuel tank from the center and drop down to point E to get the human, which you should be safe from the bunker next to it, so take the bunker out next while being aware of the interceptors coming out in the meantime. Destroy the bunker at point F in the same manner (using the walls as a shield), then take out the top middle bunker when you can after it has fired (while again being wary of interceptors/use your shield). Fly off the planet then, but be careful not to fly into the sun on the solar system screen!

8 o'clock planet

Shoot the bunker at point A, then fire at the interceptor that will fly right above the human at the right when it appears not long afterwards. Pick up the human at point B, then wait at for the bunker below that area to fire, then fly out to the left and shoot it. Drop down to point C, wait for the bunker below it to fire, then drop down more to shoot it. The interceptor flying in that area should be coming your way then, so try to be able to shield yourself from its fire, then destroy it as quickly as possible.

From there you can either get the fuel tank at the center or wait at point D for the bunker to the right to fire, then drop down and shoot it, depending on how much fuel you have left. You might be able to take out the bunker there, then go back for the fuel if you have enough. Shoot the bunker at point E afterwards, keeping in mind that interceptor fire can still reach on there, so you might want to hang around somewhere in area F to somewhat be shielded by them, then shoot the interceptor in the top area when you can, fly up and get the last human, then head left to the next screen.

Second screen

Here if you act quickly enough, you could be able to shoot the bunkers at points A and B before they get in a single shot at you and before the interceptor appears right overhead (this will be in the channel marked as area Y), but that will probably be unlikely. Just pick one target and destroy it, then drop down towards the human at point C, ready your shields for the interceptor, then take it out if you can. Next you’ll wait for whatever bunker is left to fire, then fly up a little and shoot it, then get the human. Be wary of the interceptor in the top area of the screen (marked as area Z), as its fire will be able to reach you, so use your shields if you have to. Start to head to the bottom center area (area E) and shoot the bunker at point D on your way down if you can handle it, although the bunker in area E usually shoots straight upwards, so have your shields ready to use. Shoot it when you can and beam up the fuel tanks. When the interceptor appears in that area, stay down there and use the walls as shields and shoot it as it comes into range, then destroy the bunker at point F with a diagonal shot from point G, then head left into the next screen. However, the bottom interceptor could appear and either destroy you with its fire or upon impact if you collide with it, so you might want to fly to the next screen in area H just to be safe.

Third screen

Again like with the previous screen, you’ll probably only have enough time to take out one of the bunkers at either points A or B before the interceptor that flies along the area of point Y appears, so you’ll probably be better off just destroying one of those bunkers, then staying by point B as you wait for the interceptor to either fly by so you can shoot it or wait (with your shields on until it flies past out of firing range) for it to come back towards you in area B and use the wall there as a shield until it comes into range (and beam up the fuel tank in the meantime). Shoot the other bunker when you can (at either points A or B), then head over to the bunker at point D and destroy that one, as you should be able to get it at a diagonal in that area without being shot.

(You also might want to destroy the right bunker at area C while you’re at it, but there are many variables to this screen, as shooting those bunkers in that area could come last, depending on the situation, but they are to be kept in mind.)

Wait until the bunker at point E fires, then drop down and destroy it, along with beaming up the human. Take out the bunkers at point C when you get the chance (if you haven’t already), then fly left to the next screen, although be careful: nearly the top entire half of the screen consists of a wall, so either fly lower than the center of the screen or just be careful not to hit the wall.

And one last tip: the interceptors that patrol areas Y and Z will be able to reach you with their shots no matter where you are on the screen, so keep that in mind and use your shields once the need arises.

Fourth screen

Take out the bunkers at point A (you should have time to do this before they fire), then rescue the human at point B. As you fly towards area C, be ready to use your shield, as the bunker there is usually firing straight down. It is MANDATORY for the human to be rescued first, since, once the interceptors come out (they shouldn’t appear until you’re in this area), if you fire straight down at them in that vertical channel right below area C, you could shoot and kill the human by accident.

If you have plenty of fuel left after destroying the lone bunker in area C, you might want to wait until the interceptors come out, destroy one or both of them, then go for the fuel tanks. Once you’ve beamed them up, wait at point D for the bunkers in area E to fire, then drop down and destroy them once you feel safe from their fire, then fly off the planet.

10 o'clock planet

Collect the human at point A; from there pause and prepare to shoot the interceptor that will fly along the top of the screen at point B. Shoot the bunker at point C at about point D, which will also allow you to destroy the interceptor that travels along area F at the bottom, as well as the bunkers at point E if you keep on coasting left. However, be prepared to use your shields from enemy firepower, as well as turning around and thrusting back upwards if you fall too close to the ground.

Pick up the humans in between points C and G when you can; if you’re running out of fuel, you might want to beam that up first, and wait in the area left of where the photo shows the interceptor coming out, using the wall as protection against the bunker fire, then fly towards the right and destroy it after it shoots. (Also keep in mind that interceptor fire can reach you from either one, no matter what position you’re in, so be alert to use your shields at any given time.) Fly back towards area E when you can, although be alert for an interceptor and use your shields accordingly, then fly to the right in area G to the next screen.

Second and third screens

Here if you use the skipping technique to apply enough thrust to shoot, then keep on going right, shooting a bunker, then applying more thrust until you reach the next bunker, then destroy it, etc., you should be able to destroy them all (if you do it correctly) without any of them shooting you, which will take you to the third screen. There’s only a few bunkers which, again, you should be able to destroy them before they shoot at you (since there are ones overhead that will shoot as well, not allowing others to fire, since they only shoot one at a time). Pick up the fuel and head back left two screens, but once you re-emerge at the first screen, use caution as you head to the next one (which is actually the third screen in the labeled photo), as there will be a wall right there once you enter that screen.

Third and second screens (again)

Go to point A and shoot the bunker at point C, which you might be able to do before the interceptor traveling in area B appears, plus you should be able to take it out before it starts firing as well. Destroy the other bunker on your way out, being alert to using your shields at any moment from its fire, as well as the other interceptor’s, then drop down before returning to the second screen, which there will be three more bunkers there. Be wary of interceptors overhead/use shields when necessary, and “skip” around, applying enough thrust to shoot one, then coast over to the other, as well as turning your ship around/thrusting enough to make sure it doesn’t crash against the landscape, then leave the planet once you’ve destroyed the last one, as you will probably be pretty low on fuel by then.

Reactor planet

Start flying down the first vertical corridor fast, but once you start nearing point A, you’ll need to ease off on the thrust by coasting and turning, then thrusting to the right, along with being careful, since that corridor at point A is skinnier than the first one you entered. Start coasting, turning and applying counter-thrust (going upwards this time) once you start nearing point B, then again start slowing down and applying counter-thrust as you start heading left near point C. Once you reach point D, all you have to do is face downwards and shoot; as long as you shoot straight down, you’ll hit the reactor, as you won’t have to get any closer to it like you did with the level 1 reactor before it gets in range of your shots.

Once you hit it, just reverse your course: start coasting/applying counter-thrust/start speeding up once you near point C, coast/slow down/apply counter-thrust to the left, then speed back up once you near point B, etc., back up to E and on your way out to the final solar system.

Level 3 solar system guide

12 o’clock planet

First and second screens

When you first enter this planet, there is nothing to do on the first screen initially, so just fly left to the second screen. From there it’d probably be best to wait a few seconds until the interceptors appear from area A, then shoot them. Note the bunker down below at point C and prepare to use shields for protection from its fire and the interceptors (however, since bunkers’ fire isn’t very accurate, it probably won’t shoot you). Once the interceptors are destroyed, drop down to point B (while having your shields at the ready in case the bunker there fires at you), then fly up high enough to fire a diagonal towards the upper left to destroy that bunker, then drop down to point D to shoot the bunkers to the left and right of you.

Now, once the bunker to the left of point D has been destroyed, you can fly along the line/area of point E and probably never get shot by the bunker at point G. Fly up to point F to shoot that bunker, then pick up the fuel tank as you fly left to the next screen.

Third screen

Beam up the human, then shoot the two bunkers to the left of area A. Again, if you stay in that area, they won’t shoot you. Continue left to pick up the other human and fuel tank as you travel to the fourth screen.

Fourth screen

Beam up the fuel tank. Note the bad bottleneck of enemies in area A: there are bunkers firing overhead in area B AND interceptors above them as well. What you should do is wait for a few seconds (after you get the fuel) for the interceptors to come out and move towards area C, then thrust over to area A and shoot at diagonal angles at the bunkers in area B (marked as BA and BB), which you won’t be shot by them as long as you stay in area A (which might take a few practice runs in order to fire at the right angles to take out those bunkers, but it can be done though). Thrust up a bit to area B when the interceptors come into range and shoot them, then float back down to area A and take out the remaining bunkers when you can. Keep an eye out on your fuel level and drop down to beam up the other fuel tank if you have to in case you haven’t destroyed all the bunkers in area B, then shoot the last bunker at point D when you can. Again, stay in the line at area A and it won’t shoot you, then beam up the human and last fuel tank (if you haven’t already) before traveling left and back to the first screen.

First screen (again)

If you’re quick enough, you should be able to shoot the bunkers at points A and B before they start firing at you. Area C can be a bit tricky though, as you’re going to have to gently apply just enough thrust to not hit the walls below or above that area as you turn just enough to beam up the fuel tanks and human, then turn your ship back to thrust a little upwards again to remain airborne.

Afterwards, go to point D and fire down at the bunker at point E, which it shouldn’t hit you, then drop down towards point E and fire at the last remaining bunker at left, then beam up the fuel tank as you fly left towards the second screen.

Second and third screens (again)

At the second screen, beam up the human (unless you already did that), then fly up at point D to get out of that underground area. Be wary of the interceptors appearing, as by the time you go to the third screen, you’ll probably be quite low on fuel, so it would probably be best to not wait for the interceptors to make it to the right area of the screen before you start heading left (plus their fire will still be able to reach you anyway). So use your shields as you head to the third screen and use the skipping technique to apply just enough thrust to carry you to the bunkers as you thrust, turn and shoot the first one you come to, thrust over towards the second one, then turn and shoot downwards at that one. The only thing is you’re going to have to watch for the interceptors and use shields when you can; other than that, after the last bunkers are gone, fly off the planet.

2 o’clock planet

First screen

Before you do anything, wait for the interceptor to appear in area A, then turn around and shoot it. There are several bunkers on the screen, so chances are low the one at area B will shoot you before you can get to it (unless you’re pretty slow). So destroy that one next, then fly out to area C and shoot the bunkers at points D and E. Meanwhile the second interceptor will be appearing in the middle trench; you should probably ignore this and wait for it to go by. Also, you’re going to be waiting for the interceptor that flies in the top area to appear once more, which it will appear in the top left corner this time around (which I marked as to being Aa). Once it appears, shoot it, then beam up the fuel tanks in area F. If there is no interceptor in the trench (or if it just isn’t close), wait by the opening in the channel for the closest bunker in area G to fire, then fly down and shoot it, along with the other one. Continue flying to H to take out that bunker, although be wary since it will be the last one left onscreen and will be firing fairly often, so be ready to use your shields, then keep flying right to the second screen.

(Note: also keep in mind what the gravity is doing, as, for example, when you’re at the top of the screen and you fly outward towards area C, the gravity is drawing you back in towards that channel area below where the second interceptor appears. If you’re at the bottom area of the screen, then you’re being pulled UP towards that channel area. Also be careful not to fly anywhere past area C, or else you could fly to the third screen and possibly crash into one of the walls there.)

Second and third screens

Once you fly over to the second screen, just keep on going, as there will be an interceptor right on your tail, plus there is nothing to do here for now, so keep on flying until you make it to the third screen. Here it’s petty much a mirror image repeat of the first screen, where you should have time to destroy the bunkers at points A and area B before any of them shoot at you, although you might have to wait for the ones at points D and E to fire before you can fly out towards area C to shoot them. Once you fly towards area F with those fuel tanks, you’ll probably have to deal with the interceptor up there, so be ready to use your shields, then destroy it when you can. If you’re low on fuel, either beam up one or both of the tanks from that area or go on to shoot the bunker at point G; just be ready to use your shields since it will be the last bunker and it will be firing fairly often by then.

After that, if you have destroyed the interceptor that appears in the middle channel (marked with AAI), either guide your ship in there and let the gravity suck you in until you’re pulled back to the second screen or enter the channel, then fly right, taking you back to the first screen, then allow your ship to continue being pulled in via gravity to the second screen. If it has been several seconds since you shot the interceptor when you enter the channel and head left, chances are pretty good another one will appear and you’ll collide with it. So feel free to “cheat” by heading right back to the first screen so an interceptor won’t come out as you head to the second screen in either direction.

Second screen (again)

Let gravity pull you in towards point A (if you entered from the right side of the screen); start thrusting to the right at about point B, then turn around and shoot the two bunkers. You should have enough time to do this before they start firing; if not, use your shields for protection. Turn back around and start thrusting towards point B again to keep from crashing into the wall. Once the bunkers are destroyed, let the gravity pull you, briefly thrust away and then fly up to area C.

Here’s where things start getting screwy though: the gravity is pulling you DOWN at this point. So be careful of that as you thrust up enough to beam up the humans, turn your ship back around and start thrusting back up again to keep from crashing into the wall below, then beam up the fuel tanks.

Then destroying the bunkers at point D will pose a problem, as the gravity will be pulling you back INWARDS there. The long (but safest) way to deal with this is to fly back out the way you came (back to the third screen) until you make it back to the channel on the first screen, then let gravity pull you back to this second screen again, then start thrusting back left long enough to break the gravity pull, turn around and destroy the bunkers in the same manner as destroying the bunkers on the other side, then very carefully fly back left so you can be free of the channel, then fly upwards to leave the planet.

Another, but more dangerous way is to fly left from the C area and shoot one or both of the bunkers from there, then fly down a little, then left to leave. However, there isn’t much room to navigate -- nor time due to the gravity -- so you’ll probably lose one or more ships with no matter what action you take. And a third option is to fly down, then left with your shields on, getting far enough from the bunkers and gravity so you can turn around and shoot them.

Also, if you entered this screen from the left, then the directions will be reversed: you’ll deal with area D first, fly up to area C, then take out the bunkers at B and leave from there, heading towards point A.

6 o’clock planet

Fly down towards the A area; meanwhile, you should probably take out the interceptor that will appear to the left of you. Depending on the circumstances, you should be able to destroy at least one of the bunkers before they get a shot in at you, but if not, have your shields ready and go for one that has just fired, as it’s not going to shoot again. You could also hover near that area and wait for one or more of them to fire before descending downwards and start wiping them out.

Whatever you decide to do, it is mandatory to take the corridor in the B area at the bottom; the reason being that you are further away from the interceptors’ fire. If you take the tunnel in the closer E area in the middle, you could still get killed via interceptor fire there. So take the B tunnel, but don’t shoot at the bunker at point D until you’re in area C. The reason for this is that, if you were to fire at the bunker at the point labeled Ca, you could kill the human by accident, so don’t fire at the bunker until you reach area C (plus use your shields if needed, as the bunker will be firing fairly often by then). After it’s destroyed, pick up the humans and enter tunnel E to beam up the fuel tank, then fly left to the next screen, but be wary of any interceptor fire, or wait for them to be away before heading off. Also be careful not to thrust too much, as you will have a wall right in front of you once you make it to that screen.

The second screen is an exact mirror image of this one, as it is reversed (with the humans/lone bunker at the left side of the screen and the long horizontal tunnels at the right). So use the exact same strategies as outlined here, then fly off the planet, although you might want to cheat and fly back to the previous screen to cause the interceptors to stay away, then fly back left to further keep them at bay. And don’t fly into the sun on the solar system screen!

8 o’clock planet

First screen

This is a pretty difficult screen, with a lot of variations that could happen in regards to what should be your next target/task you should perform and the like. The interceptors will also have to be destroyed probably three times before you can even advance to the next screen.

First off, the interceptors will appear quickly, but you should have time to shoot either one or possibly both before they open fire at you. The bunkers will start shooting as well, although with them not being very accurate, there are several of them, and they will start shooting from the bottom first, you should be fairly safe (although be ready to use your shields at any given moment in regards to the interceptors and bunkers).

Then pick your targets as you see fit: again, remember that only one bunker at a time fires. If, say, the bunker at point A has fired by the time you’ve destroyed the interceptors and you’ve started descending towards the surface, you can shoot that one, followed by the ones at point B and C after they fire. If the bunker at point B has fired, then destroy it, then the one at C after it has fired a shot, etc. In other words, go for the one(s) that have already fired, then plan your next move accordingly.

What you do next depends on various circumstances: should you go after the remaining bunkers? Glance at your fuel level; is it low? If so, you should beam up a fuel tank next; if not, go for the one human, then a tank or more bunkers. You’ll have to be careful in applying just a little bit of thrust during those narrow horizontal corridors though, no matter what your decision, and be ready to use your shields with the interceptors reappearing. Usually by about any of the point Ds in the photo you’re safe from their shots, as they can go quite a distance. Also, be aware that interceptors, after being destroyed, still come out from the same area as in the photo, but sometimes they will appear right on top of each other (i. e. both can come out from the left or right side).

Whatever you choose to do, once you beam up everything that needs to be collected and have destroyed all bunkers, when you exit the screen, it is mandatory to exit RIGHT this time (which I’ll explain with the next screen).

Second screen

Right off the bat are interceptors appearing within a second, so turn left to shoot the one right next to you, then take care of the other one, as you should have enough time to do so before they fire at you if you’re quick enough. Be prepared to use your shields from their and/or the bunkers’ fire at area A, then destroy those bunkers when you get the chance. You can also drop down to the short vertical corridor below them (marked as area B in the photo) while using your shields, then thrust back upwards while facing either straight left or right and shoot them that way, then fall back down, thrust up again, turn and fire and destroy the other one, then drop back down and follow the path until you get to area C.

Once you make it there, drop down and fire straight right to destroy the closest bunker, then fly along area D to shoot the other one, as you shouldn’t have a problem with it. Once you get to point E, tap the thrust button, causing your ship to skip and shoot the bunkers at point F, which, again, you shouldn’t have a problem with them (especially since that vertical wall is a natural shield). And before heading right to the next screen, beam up the fuel tanks when you can.

(Note: the reason why it was mandatory to fly right [rather than left] on the first screen is that you would start off near area F, but once you end up at emerging from area A, it’s a terrible bottleneck with two bunkers AND interceptors firing at you, which I can guarantee you’ll lose ships there. This route is much easier on this screen, at least.)

Third screen

This one’s pretty simple: as you drop down from area A, shoot straight right to take out the bunkers. Pick up the fuel tank as you fly right, then beam up the humans. Again, drop down from point B and shoot straight right to destroy the bunkers there, then continue through the passageway to the next screen, although be careful as you do so, since there is a vertical wall that you could smash into almost immediately upon your arrival.

Fourth screen

Fly cautiously in the corridor below area A, not using much thrust/tapping that button as you turn, then thrust away to beam up the humans and fuel tank. Once you emerge from that corridor; fly/thrust a little along line B as you fire up and to the right to take out the bunkers in area C, which shouldn’t hit you with any of their shots. Repeat your cautious flying/tapping a little thrust at a time and turning just enough to pick up the human and fuel tanks in corridor D, then fly towards your exit at point E. However, that is another bad bottleneck with no room to maneuver, as there will be two interceptors flying around (note: they will be there, but I didn’t take a screenshot while they were on the screen, but their positions are labeled as AAI). The fire from both of them can reach point E, so be careful and be prepared to use shields as the lowest one flies towards the left, then fly out of that corridor when you’re safe, and be prepared to use shields if the other one fires at you, then fly right to the final screen.

Fifth screen

This is a mirror image duplicate of the first screen (i. e. the humans and fuel tanks will be at the left ends of the horizontal corridors, rather than the right), so those strategies apply here. Once you complete your tasks, fly off the planet.

10 o’clock planet

At point A, shoot either or both bunkers (make sure to destroy the other one later if you only shoot one) before dropping down towards area B. Note the directions of the interceptors: they should appear from the left side of the screen and start traveling right. Whatever direction they head for, choose the *opposite* direction: if they start heading right, fly left to the area marked point C. Shoot one or both bunkers; if you’re able to take them out without being destroyed yourself, the interceptors will be on their way towards you by then. You’ll then take the tunnel from which you just came from towards area C on the opposite side of the screen. If you’re running low on fuel, then drop down to point D to pick up the human and beam up the fuel tank, then fly back up and resume your course to the other area C. Destroy the bunkers over there then, and if you do it correctly, you won’t even have to bother with the interceptors at all (although you might have to use your shields if the one at the top fires down at you if you’re in area B at the time). Take the tunnel back from which you came from heading towards area B and use your shields if there are any interceptors left or are nearby as you fly off the planet, taking the vertical tunnel up towards point A.

Reactor planet

As soon as you enter this planet, turn your ship around, as you have to start heading downwards immediately, as your ship starts this screen always facing up.

After that, this strategy follows pretty close to the previous levels’ reactor planets, where you apply a counter-thrust, as at the first point A, you’re to start turning and thrusting right (along with steering slightly upward as well); at about the second point A, you need to turn and thrust upward and slightly to the left, etc. This strategy will still work once you start entering the areas labeled as B, although note that those passageways have become skinnier, so you will have to be careful to be sure to fit in those without crashing into walls, along with not taking up too much time where you’ll run out before the reactor explodes.

Once you make it to point C though, you should be able to just fire diagonally (down and to the right) and hit the reactor without having to move any closer to it; however, due to Vectrex displays differing, if you indeed find you cannot hit the reactor from this area (I can with mine), fly down a little and shoot at it, then turn around and start heading out of there, following pretty much the same strategy as before, but in reverse order: with each point D you reach, start turning and applying counter-thrust (turn and start thrusting downwards while steering slightly left at the first one, then turn and start thrusting right while steering slightly upwards at the second one, etc.), and then at every point E, those corridors become larger again, so you can then start speeding up easier and quicker.

However, BEWARE of area Y! Do NOT keep on thrusting left at that opening, as you will wrap around to point Z, probably fly into the wall and lose a ship! So when you reach the final corridor at Y, turn right and start thrusting upwards and out of the planet, then enjoy the congratulation words, extra points and a few notes from programmer John Dondzila.

Arcade setting strategy

The arcade setting plays exactly the same as the regular Gravitrex game, although with one exception: your ship’s thrust is more sensitive, so you will have to be more careful as you turn your ship, as you have a greater chance of hitting walls than ever before, so some strategies need some fine-tuning, such as the long vertical corridors on the 10 o’clock planet on the first level, as you can’t just drop straight down any more: if you turn your ship at all, chances are very good you’re going to hit a wall and lose one that way. So be very cautious of this. The ending does not seem to be any different if you beat the game on either the regular or arcade settings, so it isn’t really worth it to work at beating it on the arcade level unless you’re just doing it for bragging rights.

Emulator strategies

Of course, the game is the same on an emulator, except that there are no passwords, so you’ll have to save the game as you go. Also, if the game runs too fast or slow, you should be able to change the speed of it if the emulator allows it: for ParaJVE, click on the Debug tab, click on Show framerate, then use the slider to increase or decrease the game’s speed, find what feels right for you, and leave it on that speed for your best game possible.

(Strategy guide by Darrylb500)

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