Review – Gravitar: Recharged

We’re back at it with yet another installment in Atari’s Recharged series. After the release of the flawed yet unique Kombinera, I thought the series had finally stopped to be in the company’s mind, but I guess I was wrong. Though I have to admit that something about Gravitar: Recharged was piquing my curiosity. It looked… different. Different from the generic, vector-based remakes that had defined the Recharged series up to that point. Upon finally playing it, I have to say this might be the shot in the arm this stale franchise needed all along.

Gravitar: Recharged Gameplay

Be careful with this giant star, as you’re constantly being pulled towards it.

First of all, I think that choosing Gravitar as the starting point for what I’d like to call “Recharged 2.0” was a great idea, as the original game was a bit meatier than the average early 80s Atari arcade game. A pseudo-sequel to Asteroids, it borrows that game’s “tilt and thrust” control scheme, but instead of a static screen filled with rocks to shoot, you’re exploring an entire solar system, where you’re told to land on different planets, complete a task in each one of them. This is all while struggling with intentionally drifty controls, as well as the gravitational pull from the big star itself. For a 1981 game, I have to say, it’s impressive.

Gravitar: Recharged doesn’t change anything about this gameplay loop, but it broadens its scope with a larger star system and new planetary puzzle sections, the vast majority of them still revolving around dealing with its controls and physics. Add in the fact that it didn’t bother adding unnecessary power-ups like other Recharged titles, remaining true to Gravitar‘s more complex gameplay loop and vibe.

Gravitar: Recharged Visuals

An art style of its own. It took them like five Recharged titles to finally achieve that.

What I enjoyed the most about Gravitar: Recharged, however, was the fact it has an actually unique art style. Every other Recharged title featured the same vector-based graphical scheme, which worked fine in games set in space, while looking absolutely ridiculous in titles like Breakout. Not the case in here, as Gravitar: Recharged has a graphical style of its own, blending minimalism and striking colors in a tasteful manner. Will this be a pattern for all future Recharged games, or will they all feature a different visual style of their own? That remains to be seen. Sadly, as with the vast majority of the games in this series, I can’t say I cared for the mediocre-at-best soundtrack that much.

Winding Cavern

This one is “TMNT for the NES’ water level” degrees of tricky.

I like Gravitar: Recharged more than the vast majority of Atari’s Recharged series of retro revivals. It’s the one game in this series where I feel like a lot more effort has been put in order to make it stand out among the myriad of arcade-inspired indies out in the market. Instead of featuring the same vector visuals and repetitive power-ups present in all other Recharged games, this title boasts a brand new art style and brand new content, being more than just a remake of an old game, but a “reboot-quel” of sorts, as well as a means to introduce newcomers to one of Atari’s long-forgotten franchises. If this is what the Recharged games will look and feel like from now on, then I’ll stop complaining about their repetitiveness. More of this, please.


Graphics: 7.5

The first game in the Recharged series not to be focused around vector graphics. This is the first game to have an art style of its own, and I must say I did like the overall result, despite its simplicity.

Gameplay: 7.5

The difficult “tilt and thrust” controls add to the game’s challenging charm. For the most part, it’s responsive and easy to learn, despite the artificial hindrances.

Sound: 6.0

Better than most Recharged soundtracks, but still far from being considered ideal. It’s okay, at the very best.

Fun Factor: 7.5

Gravitar: Recharged is a bit meatier than other Recharged games in terms of content. It does stand out from its peers due to its unique presentation as well. It fits well on a portable like the Switch.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Gravitar: Recharged is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Atari VCS.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Gravitar: Recharged was provided by the publisher.