Atari has steadily been bringing many of the classic games to modern platforms with new features in their Recharged line of titles. We’ve covered many of them here on the site like Missile Command Recharged, Breakout Recharged, and others. Their latest title is Caverns of Mars: Recharged which is one that I had never played back in the day. Here is my review of the PlayStation 5 version.
Caverns of Mars originally released back in the early 1980s which was a several years before I was born. It’s a vertical shooter where you are descending into caverns while trying to destroy enemies and dodge obstacles to stay alive as long as you can. There are two modes in this Recharged version with those being Arcade Mode and Challenge Mode. I started off with Arcade Mode first which had me trying to get the best score possible while descending further and further. Controls are pretty simple with movement tied to the stick and X letting you shoot. The game is highly skill based as you have to dodge enemies and obstacles while also keeping an eye on your ammo reserves and fuel. You have limited ammo so you need to be mindful of your shots. You can also fire your weapons to slow yourself down a little with the recoil which can help you dodge things more easily.
New weapons can be obtained as you play such as lasers or a shotgun blast which all of their uses. You can also obtain upgrades after finishing levels but they usually have some kind of trade off. You might gain more of something but lose something else so you need to be mindful of which ones you choose. After messing around with the Arcade Mode for a bit I checked out Challenge Mode which consists of 30 individual challenges. Each of these puts you in a level with a specific criteria like having to beat it using a certain weapon. These can be fun to challenge yourself with and each one has a leaderboard so you can try to get your name as high as you can. You can also play the game in local co-op but it’s a bit different in that one player controls moving the ship while another controls shooting. I didn’t get to try it out but it’s there as an option if it interests you.
Caverns of Mars: Recharged still uses that neon aesthetic that the other titles in this line have been using and it does so to good effect. Everything on screen looks crisp and seeing the destructible environments blow up from your weapons is satisfying. The sound effects from your weapons are also great and the redone soundtrack by Megan McDuffee is a winner too delivering some nice beats as you play. Trophy hunters will find 16 trophies to collect including a Platinum. It’s a pretty easy list too so long as you can complete all the challenges.
Caverns of Mars: Recharged provides some short bursts of arcade fun and is one of the better entries in the Recharged line of games that I’ve played. I never played the original but the concept here is simple but can also be addictive. Some may tire of it after a short while but if it hooks you the challenges and leaderboards can keep you coming back for one more dive into the depths.
*Caverns of Mars: Recharged is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 5 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.