The sun of Alpha Ro is fading fast! Soon it will flicker out. The Cosmic Ark races to save creatures from doomed planets in that solar system. Meteor showers bombard the Ark, threatening its Atlantean crew - and planetary defense systems make this mission of mercy doubly treacherous! Time and energy slip away - work fast or these defenceless little beasties will disappear for all time.
The Cosmic Ark has travelled thousands of light years in order to preserve the many exotic species peculiar to the Alpha Ro solar system. When that sun novas, life on planets there will wither and die.
Nothing about this mission is easy. Heavy meteor activity throughout the system makes travel hazardous. And each planet has an automatic defense system that cannot be knocked out. Can the Ark succeed in saving the many helpless creatures of Alpha Ro? Can the Cosmic Ark survive? How many planets can you reach?
--From the Atari 2600 Cosmic Ark instruction manual.
Cosmic Ark is a game where you pilot a huge ship through the universe, picking up life forms from different planets. First, you must navigate through meteor showers and then fly a smaller ship to pick up inhabitants from the surface of unidentified planets.
Graphics are colorful but pretty much simplistic and not enthralling. You are piloting a giant flying saucer through space and a smaller version of your ship is used at the planets you visit. The Space-age sound effects that accompany your journey do not offer much, such as simple bells, beeps and buzzes. Controller response is good, but gameplay is kind of weak. If I were to fly on the Cosmic Ark, I would have to be the skipper and skip this game.
In Cosmic Ark, you are flying the Ark through outer space, searching for planetary life, as waves of meteors assault your ship from 4 directions. You do not have actual lives or hit points, but fuel units which the meteorites deplete by striking the ship. Your fuel is monitored by a red meter under your score counter. Move the joystick towards the direction of the incoming meteor to fire at it and destroy it.
On the second board, you fly a smaller vessel from the mothership, picking up lifeforms with a tractor beam from the planet's surface. Fly over the erratically moving beings, and press and hold fire when directly above one, to pick it up with the tractor beam. When you pick up lifeforms successfully, return to the mothership and add points to your score and fuel units to the ship. When both lifeforms have been retrieved, you return to outer space to fend off meteors, en route to another planet.
These two stages repeat in an endless, if not pointless, loop. Each planet you visit changes color and the endangered lifeforms change in shape. When your fuel is expended, the game is over.
|Joystick (1st board)||Fire at Meteors|
|Pick Up Lifeforms with Tractor beam|
|Watch Out for Meteors|
|When on a planet's surface, if you spend too much time picking up lifeforms, an alarm will sound. When it does, get back to the mothership and prepare for a meteor attack!|