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Meltdown was made in 1990 by Atari for the Atari 7800. It uses the Atari XG-1 light gun.
In the game's story an international group of terrorists attacks nuclear power plants using so called ''sparkx''. These sparkx are objects which bounce around in the reactor core and damage the control rods which eventually causes a nuclear meltdown. The player has a special kind of gun which is able to destroy these sparkx.
The game consists of 20 levels. Each level begins with an overview screen, which shows a preview of the map, the number of sparkx that will appear, and the kind of power ups that will be available. The reactor is an arrangement of blocks. Purple blocks are the control rods which have to be protected. If the player shoots outside the black stage, the whole playfield will shrink which makes the game more difficult. The playfield expands again if E icons are picked up. Shooting at a position in the stage which is not a block or a sparkx will create a temporary block, which repels sparkx. The player may use these to build protective walls in front of the control rods. The K power up will make repelling from these player generated dots harmful to the sparkx. Picking up a C icon will change the used weapon from semi automatic to full automatic. The capacity is unlimited, but the number of user generated spots on the playfield is limited. This threshold can be increased by two when picking up the 2 icon. The B icon will increase the size of the user generated blocks.
There are power ups which don't modify the weapon but the game itself. F icons will slow down the game temporarily. R icons will repair control rods. P icons will create barriers around control rods. D icons will grant bonus points. Destroying sparks will cause yellow blocks to appear. Shooting these will give bonus points. Shooting multiple of these blocks consecutively before they disappear will increase the score per block up to a maximum of 400 points. The player is encouraged to finish a level fast, as up to five earth quakes will take place which cause damage to the control rods.
Beating a level will display the pass code for the next level. These level codes can be entered at the beginning of the game, acting as a stage select. If all control rods are destroyed, the walls will slowly collapse eventually ending the game and a game over cut scene will be shown. Succeeding level 20 will display the ending cut scene. The cut scenes are followed by a score screen where the player may enter the name.
Personally I really like this game. I quite enjoyed the catchy music. I think the graphics are adequate. The difficulty of the game can be set to novice or expert. Together with the level select feature and the high score system this game has good replay value. I suppose the game is self-aware of the lackluster hit detection capability of the 7800 and doesn't over relay on precision, which is very welcomed. I strongly appreciate that the game takes an own new approach to the light gun genera and does something unique.
The cover looks quite interesting. The perspective is far from perfect but overall I like it.