From the Gravitar Operation, Maintenance
and Service Manual,   Atari part number TM-206:

Gravitar Game Play
Gravitar ™ is a one- or two-player game with a color X-Y video display. This new display, with its 3 color guns and higher voltage, has the same technology that was used in previous Atari black-and-white X-Y displays. However, the screen now displays dazzling colors and unique visual effects.

The player controls a space ship in three different solar systems. Each solar system consists of a home base, a death star, a red alien planet and four regular planets. Each planet has its own unique terrain.

The red alien planet is the home of shooting alien ships. Some of the regular planets may have flying alien rammers to be avoided or shot down. The four planets all have fuel cells to be retrieved with a tractor beam and alien bunkers that fire shells. Successfully destroying all of the bunkers results in a MISSION COMPLETE message at the top of the screen. Achieving MISSION COMPLETE allows the player to collect bonus if he can evade the rammers when leaving the planet. If successful, he will be placed back in the solar system.

A player has two ways to advance to the next solar system. The first is to successfully complete a mission on all four regular planets. The second way is to complete a mission on the red alien planet, which establishes a link into the next solar system.

Gravitar ™ has five possible modes of operation: demonstration, attract, play, high score, and self-test. Self-test is a special mode for checking the game switches and computer functions. You may enter self-test at any time. Wait at least ten seconds after a game has been played before entering self-test or turning off power; otherwise, you may erase the high-score table.


1. Demonstration Mode
The demonstration mode allows the operator to enter their respective terrains and obstacles without being destroyed by shots from bunkers or alien space ships, or being hit by flying alien rammers. Enter this mode when you are in the Operator Information Display (see Figure 1-3) by simultaneously pressing all five player control buttons. To end this mode, set the self-test switch to off.


2. Attract Mode
The attract mode begins when power is applied to the game, after a play or high-score mode, or after self-test. This mode repeats every 30 seconds. It ends only when a credit is entered or when self-test begins.

The screen displays one of four possible pictures in this mode. The first picture displays the single player high-score table for approximately ten seconds. The words SCORE, FUEL, and GAME OVER appear. The words INSERT COIN and the coin mode appear if no coin(s) or not enough coins are inserted. The number of credits may show, if any. During this time the 1-player and 2-player red light-emitting diode (LED) lights flash.

The second picture spells GRAVITAR in an expanding and contracting letters. It lasts approximately nine seconds.

The third picture lasts about two seconds. The screen shows a solar system with a player’s blue space ship in the center at home base. All planets and their respective bonus point values are visible. ATARI MCMLXXXII copyright message appears in the center of this picture, and the number of credits (if any). Danger appears above the death star. The ship flies toward the easiest planet in the upper right part of the screen.

The fourth picture in this mode is a full-screen view of planet terrain with the player’s blue space ship appearing at the top center of the screen. The ship travels in the scrolling, zooming terrain until it crashes or is shot down. The words SHOOT BUNKERS, TRACTORS FUEL, SCORE, FUEL, and number of credits (if any) are displayed.

Game play begins when the correct credit(s) is entered and the 1- or 2-player button(s) is pressed.


3. Play Mode

The play mode begins in the first solar system with the player's blue ship in the center of the screen at home base. There are four regular planets plus a fifth red alien planet and a death star arranged clockwise around the screen in increasing order of difficulty. The planets are worth 2000, 4000, 6000, and 8000 points with a value of 9000 points on the alien planet. The positions of the alien planet and the death star vary in the second and third solar systems. After the first solar system all planets are valued at 9000 points. The death star, located near home base, is the center of gravity in each solar system. Colliding with it results in the loss of one life, and the player returns to home base.

The words SCORE (with current total score), FUEL (running total of original 10,000 point fuel supply), and BONUS (decreasing point value of planet under attack) appear at the top of the screen throughout game play.

Player controls of LEFT ROTATE, RIGHT ROTATE, FIRE, THRUST, and TRACTOR/SHIELD yellow push buttons. Use FIRE to shoot targets. A player has four shells that must hit a target or travel their full distance in order to be reloaded. TRACTOR/SHIELD does not prevent the ship from crashing into land or alien ships. TRACTOR/SHIELD and THRUST decreases the fuel supply even faster.

Blue fuel cells are positioned just below a planet’s surface. There are two, three, or four fuel cells per planet terrain (depending on level of game play). Each cell beamed aboard ship with TRACTOR is worth 2,500 fuel units.

If the player’s ship is above the highest point on some planet terrains, flying rammers attack him. Shooting a rammer scores 100 points.

If the player gets too close to a shooting alien ship, he is involved in a one-on-one space dogfight, and either he or the alien ship must die. If the player is victorious, he returns to the solar system at his original spot; if the alien ship wins, the player loses a life and returns to home base.

Red alien bunkers appear on each planet. There are two, four, six, or eight bunkers per surface (depending on the difficulty of the planet). The bunkers fire shots to protect the fuel cells. Exploding a bunker scores 250 points. Exploding all bunkers in a solar system displays a MISSION COMPLETE message.

The word SUPERBONUS and the number of superbonus points appear in the middle of the screen only after a completed mission on the first planet in the first solar system. These superbonus points are awarded on the basis of initial difficulty of the first planet successfully completed. The higher the bonus point value of the planet attacked, the higher the superbonus awarded. No superbonus points are awarded for attacking the 2,000 point (easiest) planet or for attacking the four regular planets in consecutive order of difficulty

Table 1-6Gravitar Scoring

Planet Bonus* Superbonus**
9,000 20,000
Obstacles Points
Red Bunker250
Alien Ship100

*Constantly decreases with elapsed game time
**Awarded after the first MISSION COMPLETE achieved

A player may fly to any planet he chooses. The number beside each planet is the starting number of bonus points for that planet. Entering a planet causes the distinct planet terrain to appear. To get maximum points, the player must shoot all alien bunkers and see MISSION COMPLETE at the top of the screen. A player may exit a planet at any time; he does not have to stay any longer than he wishes.

The red alien planet (worth 9,000 points) is home for the red alien ships that must be shot down or avoided. The alien planet looks the same in every solar system; terrain consists of a spiral tunnel with a reactor at its end. Under a decrementing timer, the player must maneuver through the tunnel without hitting the walls and shoot the reactor. (Hitting the walls or not escaping in time places the player back at home base.) Shooting the reactor will make it glow and pulsate. Then the player must escape before the timer reaches zero. (In the next solar systems, the timer of the alien planet decreases by two seconds, and there are shooting bunkers to overcome.) Completing the mission on the alien planet places the player in the next solar system with an additional 7,500 fuel points.

Gravitar progresses by waves of planets (new solar systems). Successfully destroying the reactor and escaping from the red alien planet, or achieving a MISSION COMPLETE on all four regular planets places the player in the next solar system (next layer of game play). The four levels of game play are described as follows:
a. Regular Gravity
b. Negative Gravity
c. Regular Gravity with invisible landscape and maximum difficulty
d. Negative Gravity with invisible landscape and maximum difficulty

Alien ship speed and firing frequency, rammer speed, bunker firing frequency, and bonus points are all based on time elapsed in game play. Both regular and negative gravity increase, depending on the initial planet bonus level.

The game ends when all lives are used up or when player is out of fuel. Then the screen briefly displays the words SCORE, FUEL, PLAYER 1 (or 2), GAME OVER.


4. High-Score Mode

This mode begins if a player has earned one of the eight highest scores. The player has one minute to enter his initials. Letters of the alphabet increment with LEFT ROTATE and decrement with RIGHT ROTATE pushbuttons. Select letters with the TRACTOR/SHIELD pushbutton. To reset the high-score table, power the game off and then on, or enter and end the self-test mode (this does not erase the top three scores)

Table 1-5Gravitar High-Score Lists

Depending on the highest score, one of eight list names appears above the table of initials
Name of List Points
ACE PILOT100,001-200,000
KILLER PILOT201,001-400,000
PONTIUS PILATE 400,001-800,000
GOTTA-BE-LUCKY above 800,000


5. Hints for Game Play

• Develop skill for controlling the space ship in regular and negative gravity.

• Beam up fuel cells with TRACTOR/SHIELD.

• Attack the red alien planet first for maximum challenge and 20,000 bonus points! Completion of this planet immediately places a player in the next solar system where all planets are worth 9,000 bonus points.

• Attack more difficult planets early in the game for higher bonus points.

• Many planet terrains have safe areas or “blind spots” from which the player can safely shoot at bunkers