FailSafe

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The War Continues...

After the successful elimination of the terrorists and their missile silo complexes, we have heard through various sources that they have relocated, and have doubled their security! Once again you must invade enemy territory and prevent the missile launching aimed at Washington D.C. and stop the terrorists once and for all!

In FailSafe you must make your way through five different terrains in search of the Depot where you will pick up Fail-Safe clues. One letter in the code, in its correct position, appears in the center of your fuel gauge. The sixth terrain is the most dangerous of all - the missile silo is heavily guarded by all enemies, including a mine field! If you make your way past that, you will have to enter the four-digit hexadecimal code to stop the launch and save the world. Do that, and you will start over in a more difficult environment. Otherwise...

Along the way you will encounter more accurate jeeps, cruise missiles, stationary shooters, pill boxes, and even the terrorists themselves, hiding behind bunkers! Don't worry though, the U.S. has dropped helpful packages which are unfortunately guarded by these enemies. But once you destroy them, the packages are yours for the taking! They will come in these forms:

  • (F) Freeze Enemy - these will jam the enemy radar and halt them for a period of time.
  • (I) Invincible - your tank will be invulnerable to enemies and their fire, but it only lasts for a few seconds, so be quick!
  • (S) Speed - gives your tank a temporary speed boost, making it capable to plow through trees, towns and water like they were open road.
  • (D) Distance - your tank will be able to shoot much farther distances than your enemies, for a short period of time.

When these power ups are about to run out of their power, your tank will begin to flash. Make sure you get to safe ground!

FailSafe is a new Atari 7800 homebrew game by Bob DeCrescenzo (aka, PacManPlus), who has a stellar track record in releasing a variety of high-quality arcade ports under his belt. FailSafe is an unofficial sequel to Atari's original game Countermeasure for the Atari 5200. In February 2010 AtariAge held a FailSafe Label Contest to solicit artwork for FailSafe's cartridge and manual. We had 50 great submissions, with the winning label submitted by AtariAge users Jah Fish and Nonner242.

Includes cartridge and eight-page, full-color manual. Available in NTSC and PAL television formats, please specify above when ordering.

Author Bob DeCrescenzo
Artwork Jah Fish, Nonner242 and Stug Meister
Number of Players 1
Controller Joystick
Cartridge Size 48K

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Funkmaster V on 07/17/2017 07:25pm
I know some people don't dig how slow this game is, but I love it's deliberate pace. I never owned a 5200, and ALWAYS was a little green that the 7800 never had "Countermeasure" in the library. Now. we are stylin' and profilin' with this take on that game. This is a heady, unique shooter that you need to try.
Jonathan Clark on 01/11/2014 09:38pm
I chose to buy this game because it was one of the few homebrews for the 7800 that is not an arcade port. I love the arcade, but there are many ways to play those games, so I wanted to go for something a little more original.

I had also never played Countermeasure, so I took the time to play it for a couple of hours before playing Failsafe.

There are a lot of updates here and super fans of C'measure (if there are any) may not appreciate some of the changes. Probably the most notable difference is that rotating your tank turret is gone. You only use one button in this game (fire) and your tank always fires forward.

Probably the only thing that I missed from C'measure was the fact that you can't guess the code as frequently. Instead, you must play through 6 long stages before getting your first (and only) opportunity to guess. This isn't all bad as the challenge presented by each stage is welcome, but it almost makes the code irrelevant as you are bound to have received all digits by the end of your run. This also means that if you are running out of time, you have no option to force a guess.

The challenge is about right in this game - you'll be able to guess the code and complete your run on the easiest level, but l was not able to complete a run on even the intermediate level (yet). Graphics are colorful and detailed enough while retaining some basics from the original. Sound is nothing spectacular and may have been better on the 5200. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who knows the specs of the two systems.

Overall, I'm happy with Failsafe, it delivers a unique experience for a console that had very few, and it honors Atari's roots by providing a sequel to a game that was itself probably the best attempt at a one player sequel to Combat.
Nathan Strum on 12/15/2010 01:48pm
Failsafe is an unofficial sequel to the Atari 5200 game Countermeasure. Having never played Countermeasure, I can't judge Failsafe's success as a sequel, only on its own merits as a standalone title.

The goal of the game is to drive a tank across hostile enemy territory, while destroying enemy gun emplacements, jeeps, terrorists and cruise missiles, while collecting pieces to a code that will allow you to to disarm a nuclear missile before they can launch it. To help you in this task, you can collect power-ups to increase your speed, make you temporarily invulnerable, freeze your enemies, extend your firing range, and so on. If all of your tanks are destroyed or you fail to enter the code in time, the bad guys win.

The controls are simple - just move and shoot. However, your tank moves frustratingly slow (especially when you encounter certain types of terrain), which makes it all the more imperative to pick up power-ups whenever you can. You can move and fire in eight directions, but the 45° angles aren't actually 45°, which takes some getting used to, since you have to line up shots at odd angles. The plus side is that the enemies actually do shoot at 45° angles, so you can sneak up on them. The sound effects are minimal, but adequate. The graphics are detailed, but the limited color palette makes the game rather plain looking, and it's difficult to read the tiny letters that distinguish the power-ups. Generally, I just pick up anything I run across, and hope it's something useful. Unique icons or different colors would have helped make them more distinct. There's good variety to the terrain, although sometimes you're forced to slog your way through nearly impassible sections that can make the game more frustrating than fun. The 7800's second fire button isn't used for anything special, which is too bad. It would have been nice to be able to pick up and save a power-up for later use.

Failsafe plays very much like Strategy X does on the 2600 - you drive a tank, you shoot some stuff. But from a 7800 title, I'd hope for something more - like less linear progression, or requiring the player to get out of the tank and fight hand-to-hand or switch vehicles (like Taito's Front Line). Still, Failsafe is a pretty good game as it is, and there are multiple difficulty settings which let you find a good match for your skill level.
Curious Sofa on 10/05/2010 11:27am
I am basically in full agreement with all of the praise that Lord Thag had in his review. This is simply a great 7800 game, absolutely fantastic on every level.

It is a great action game with some mild bits of thinking thrown in. The sounds (particularly the opening music), graphics and controls are absolutely top notch. Everything is crisp and professional, and you can just feel that every detail of the game has been pored over many times by the programmer.

As you pilot your tank across the plains, it's insanely addictive, wanting to see what is up next to face while racing the clock. Timing the turrets right, out-maneuvering enemy tanks, picking just the right angle to take out an enemy from, it's immensely satisfying.

I've never played the game that is technically its prequel (Countermeasure for 5200), but can say with absolute confidence that Failsafe stands on its own as a must-have game for any 7800 owner.
Lord Thag on 09/04/2010 11:32am
Failsafe is a truly excellent homebrew. It's the unofficial sequel to the 5200 game Countermeasure, and like that game, you control a tank, fighting your way through enemy forces, trying to get the launch codes that will avert nuclear armageddon.

But the similarities end there. Countermeasure was an interesting, but cumbersome affair. Failsafe is anything but cumbersome.

The graphics, for starters, are very well done. There is a lot of detail the the different levels, and everything is crisp, clear, and colorful. The levels have lots of color and variety. Your tank animates nicely. No problems here.

The gameplay is dead on. Your tank controls very precisely, and you must guide it through five long (and I mean long) levels, fighting enemy gun turrets, soldiers, tanks and air units. One of the really awesome additions are the powerups, of which there are many. Everything from invincibility to speed to time freezes. All good stuff. All of this is random every time you play too (only the actual level layouts stay the same) making this highly replayable too. Each level hgives you a piece of the launch code (and you can find extra pieces randomly via powerups).

The sound is good as well, but nothing too remarkable. The focus is definitely on the gameplay and having some very well designed levels to roll through. Each level is completely different from the others as well, everything from seascapes, towns and forests, to big maze-like enemy bases. Enemy units are introduced on most stages, and each different one adds a lot to the mix.

All in all, this is one of the best original homebrews out there, and it will stand proudly on the shelf next to the best the 7800 has to offer. It's as good or better than any of the author's previous works too (and that is saying something)

All in all, I have no doubt that this will be one of your favorite games on the system, should you decided to purchase it. I heartily recommend it. It's an easy 5 out of 5 stars.

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