Newton's never seen his laws like this.

Source // Moby Games

A word like thrust is typically associated with the likes of air or spacecraft, or at least it is to me, so I imagined Thrust to have something to do with flying. I was right, in that the game is about flight if you're successful, otherwise the word we're looking for is 'crashing'.

It certainly looks like it should be familiar to you, with strong vibes of Lunar Lander and Gravitar being thrust upon our screens. Ah-hah. Thrust. Get it?

Get on with it... What does it play like?


Thrust does indeed play like Lunar Lander. You need to delicately manoeuvre your craft above the planet below, dodging artillery fire, returning fire of your own, stealing fuel and eventually, if all goes well, picking up a pod with your tractor beam and getting out of there.

It sounds oh so simple, and then physics slaps you in the face. True to its roots and the intentions of its developer, Thrust requires you to think long and hard about the physics of your movement. You've got to worry about inertia and gravity. So far, so manageable - practice makes perfect and all that.

Then you pick up a pod and are connected to it via a rod. Your pod on a rod changes the way your craft moves thanks to all those laws of physics that are in play, to the point where you could find yourself spinning out of control with nothing to stop you but a fiery impact with the ground. Not so good, not so manageable.

If you make it to the safety of space with fuel to spare, congratulations, onto the next level you go. If you don't, you might want to practice a bit more, because things will only get tougher...

Fun Times

I was playing a modern JavaScript homebrew port, I'd guess you'd call it, and didn't get too far at all. Watching a run on the BBC Micro version gives an impression of what a competent player can - and must - do.

Caverns keep the action tight, the pressure for precision all the more greater. Turrets leave players with no alternative but to return fire. The constant loss of fuel because every little thing you do requires it turns it all into a race against the clock, but you've got to race slowly, smoothly, in order to safely get the pod out of the hot zone.

And sometimes there are switches that open doors. Of course there are. Because this game just isn't difficult enough.

Final Word

It's not difficult difficult, no. Some players will pick it up in an instant, others will take a little longer. That's just how these kinds of mechanics work. Whether skilled or not though, you'll get the same reactions from Thrust as you get from the likes of Gravitar and Asteroids - those moments of panic followed by huge sighs of relief, only to replaced with words to the effect of 'oh, darn', upon crashing into something else instead.

Thrust may not keep you entertained for hours on end, but as a simple little distraction for half an hour it does wonders. It was ported to a fair few places and many games carry on the legacy and themes of it and games like it. Everything stands on the shoulders of that which came before it, and all that.

Check it out and see how quickly you crash.

Fun Facts

The official Commodore 64 port of Thrust came out before the original BBC Micro version was available. Unofficially, people were creating ports for the Atari 2600 in the early 2000s. Players love Thrust.

Thrust, developed by Jeremy Smith, first released in 1986.
Version played: JavaScript, 2010.
Version watched: BBC Micro, 1986 (cpmisalive)