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Atlantis's gameplay involved players defending the city of Atlantis against enemy Gorgon ships that flew over it, dropping closer with each time they made it to the other end of the screen; if they got too close, they would fire a deathray that could start taking out the Atlantis installations that the player is trying to protect. If all of the installations got destroyed and the player had no more left in reserve then the game would end. Players could defend themselves with up to three firing Posts located at the bottom of the screen which fired upwards at enemy vessels. The game was released for the Atari 2600 in 1982.
Enemy Gorgon ships will start flying overhead once a game starts. If they are to make it to a screen edge before the player can destroy it with one of their Posts, the ship will drop an notch closer to the planet’s surface and wrap around to the other side of the screen. If the player is unable to destroy a Gorgon ship once it reaches a screen edge for the third time, once the ship starts its fourth pass, it will fire a deathray, which could take out the player’s center Command Post, which also doubles as a shield. Once the center Post is destroyed, then the six installations on the planet are vulnerable to attack. If all other installations are destroyed and there are no more installations left in reserve then the game will end. A reserve installation is earned with every 10,000 points scored.
Also during a wave, a Bandit Bomber could also appear, which is signaled by its loud warning sound and it moves faster than the large Gorgon ships. If destroyed, however, it will take out all other onscreen Gorgon vessels.
The player can control up to three Posts (on half the games; see Fun facts section below): the left Post fires towards the top right corner of the screen, the right Post fires towards the left top corner, and the middle Command Post fires straight upwards. The player can only fire two shots at a time.
- On half the games, the center Post will not fire. Game three is the only two player variation, with each player controlling a side Post.
- At the end of the game, a saucer is seen flying off. According to the story in the instructions for the game, the saucer is flying off with the remnants of the last remaining citizens of Atlantis in hopes of repopulation. This is a direct tie-in to Cosmic Ark (also released for the 2600), where, along with defending the Cosmic Ark from meteor showers, in the second stage of the game, players would use the same saucer to beam up creatures from planets' surfaces in hopes of saving them and repopulating their race.
- The game would also be ported to the Intellivision, Atari 400/800 computer line, the Odyssey2 and Commodore 64.