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Sentinel was made by Imagineering Inc. in 1990 for the Atari 7800 and the Atari 2600. It supports the Atari XG-1 light gun made by Newtronics.
In the game's story the player is the creator of a pulsating glowing weapon called the Sentinel. Earth is supposedly threatened by aliens. Therefore the player sends the Sentinel to four alien planets in order to destroy all life there by blowing these planets up.
The Sentinel is travelling the scrolling screen while the player has to protect it against enemy ships and enemy fire. Missing shots will drain health. In the 7800 version the size of the Sentinel decreases the lower the health gauge gets whereas the Sentinel doesn't shrink but flies at a different altitude depending on the health state in the 2600 version. Health is replenished by shooting enemies and by shooting rotating boxes. At the end of every level a boss fight takes place. While the 7800 version features four distinct bosses in the 2600 version there are just two kinds. In the 7800 version the compartments of the bosses will regenerate after some time, if it isn't killed fast enough.
The player has four lives. If they are consumed the player is taken back to the first level. A semi automatic weapon with infinite capacity is used. In the 7800 version shooting enemies will fill a super shot gauge, whereas this gauges fills slowly but automatically over time in the 2600 version. When it is full, the player may deploy a screen clearing burst by shooting the Sentinel. This special weapon just affects ordinary airborne units. The histogram looking box at the top of the high score in the 7800 version and the number in the middle in the 2600 version show the current position of the player in the level.
There are four levels in the 7800 version: A destroyed city, a mountain landscape, a forest and a futuristic, intact city. The 2600 levels are similar. It starts with a destroyed city too, then comes a landscape with volcanic activity, again a forest and finally a water level.
Personally I like the games. The graphics are good and the music isn't bad. The game reminds me of Orbital Destroyer and Cosmic Storm but feels much more like a Shoot 'em up in comparison. The difficulty can be selected in the 7800 version, but even the lowest difficulty setting is quite challenging. This is of course adequate considering the game's short length. In strong contrast there are no difficulty settings in the 2600 version and I think it is too easy. The games felt quite rushed out to me, as the manuals discuss several elements, which I wasn't able to face inside the games. For example it is stated that a final boss will appear after the fourth level. Personally I wasn't confronted with a final boss in either version but was shown an ending screen instead. I think the story is strange. I feel I am the bad guy here as I wipe out whole planets as a preventive measure.
I think the cover is pretty, but neither the perspective nor the shown objects make much sense.