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Communist Mutants from Space plays a bit like Galaxian, where Communist Mutants start off in a formation over players’ anti-mutant cannon as eggs. However, it does not take long before the eggs hatch into full-sized Mutants and fly towards players’ cannons, dropping bombs all the while (along with some eggs never hatching, but charge towards the bottom of the screen as Mutant Bombs). There are several differences as compared to Galaxian though, like a Mother Creature at the top of the screen that will lay more eggs if not destroyed quickly enough, along with there being several playing options from an onscreen menu to choose from, plus up to four players can play as well, both of which are fairly rare for an Atari 2600 game.
The game was released in 1982, which was developed by Arcadia and published by Starpath for the Atari 2600.
Each new game starts with several mutant eggs appearing over a player’s(/s’) anti-mutant cannon(s), with the Mother Creature hovering over the formation of eggs. Eggs will turn into Mutants, which will charge towards the bottom of the screen while shooting at the player’s cannon. The Mother Creature will continually lay eggs until it is destroyed.
As more and more waves of Mutants are cleared out, they will move faster, shoot more often, and the Mutant Bombs will drop faster as well. Whenever a player’s cannon is hit by a Mutant, Mutant Bomb, or a shot fired from a Mutant, they will lose a cannon and the game will end when there are no more cannons in reserve. Players earn an extra cannon with every other screen, along with a bonus for every wave cleared.
Players also have many options to choose from via an onscreen menu.
- Number of players–up to four players can play, alternating turns
- Difficulty level–from 1 to 9 (9 being the hardest level)
- Shields–protects players from Mutants and their fire, but can be used only once per wave per ship (i. e. if a cannon is destroyed during a wave, the player can use the shield again during that wave with the replacement cannon)
- Time Warp–slows down everything onscreen for several seconds; can only be used once per wave per ship (see above)
- Penetrating Fire–every shot a player fires will penetrate all rows of eggs/the Mother Creature
- Guided Fire–players can control their shots after they are fired
- Difficulty Switch (A position)–slows anti-mutant cannon speed down
- Arcadia had to change their name to Starpath for legal reasons. The title screen and cover still reads Arcadia as to being the company name though.
- Communist Mutants needed the Supercharger add-on in order to be able to run, as the game came on cassette. The Supercharger was like an overgrown cartridge that plugged into the Atari 2600, with a wire that could plug into a tape player. The game was then loaded from the tape. Most games had previews of other Starpath games that could be viewed after the main game was loaded, which Communist Mutants had previews of Fireball and Suicide Mission.