Keys for Success in Solaris
By Scott Stilphen
The following tips will help you master Solaris, one of the most popular game sequels ever made. Before getting started, I recommend that you copy the map and make plenty of notes. Be sure to read the manual as well. When your playing becomes proficient, you will need the map to plan a path towards your goal - planet Solaris!
The farther from your starting point, the harder the enemy will fight. They will maneuver faster and fire with greater accuracy. Planet rescues, minefields, and corridors will take longer to complete, and attack groups will increase in size. Fight multiple ships one at a time.
Enemy ships will not appear until the planets scroll off. Use of a second joystick button is a must for serious playing. Speed is important when using a plan. Waiting for the map screen to appear can waste valuable time. Somewhere, a base may be under attack and by the time you reach it, it will probably be destroyed. This results in a Red Zone - something you don't want, if possible. You can't save every base, but the more you save, the easier it will be to play. Learn to use the distance gauges early on. That way, if the scanner becomes damaged, you won't have to waste time getting it repaired.
In using the map, S is your starting point and E is the location of Solaris. The galaxy is divided into two parts: quadrants 1-7 and 8-14. Notice once you enter quadrant 8, you cannot go back - a star cluster seals up the exit. Note that some exits are only one-way. Wormholes allow you to pass through most star clusters, but sometimes it depends on what side of the cluster you enter it. Attempting to map wormhole routes can be tricky. Some wormholes move between sectors, and it will have different destinations for each sector it occupies.
Cobra ships: Fighting a live cobra snake is probably easier. Try not to move too much left or right. Push forward, keeping the ships near the top of the screen. Be careful - pushing forward too much will cause the ships to wrap around and appear right next to you! A good strategy is pulling down, firing, and quickly pushing forward again. Cobra ships are the hardest enemy to hit, and you will not always get away without a loss. Upon reaching the Solaris quadrant, I'm sure you'll find them a worthy opponent.
Flag ships: One tip to remember is these ships cannot fire while releasing distractors. However, in higher levels of the game, they will pair up; one flagship will release distractors will the other fires at you. Concentrate on the flagship's movement and try not to worry about distractors.
Mechnoids: These ships are very dangerous. Keep them in front of you, since they tend to dart to one side before firing. If their accuracy is good, it's almost impossible to avoid it because their fire comes at such a steep angle to your ship.
Glides and Raiders: After a few Zylon planet rescues, they can be formidable opponents. Keep the stranded cadet off to the side, out of sight, until you are near him. Steer the enemy to one side and push forward to quickly pass them. Sometimes you can easily pick them off at a distance, but fly slow when using this strategy.
Targeters: Your reflexes are really put to the test here. Make use of movement to steer approaching targeters away before they get too close. Keep firing while moving and you shouldn't have too much of a problem with them.
Kogalon Pirates: They like to sneak a shot at you when "zooming" in and out of the screen. Force them to the top of the screen and fire when they come into view.
Corridors: Don't fire until you enter the corridor; once inside, fire like mad! It's easier shooting the guardians than avoiding them. Pull back to fly at the slowest speed. Keys can be difficult to get, especially when placed at either end of the corridor. Your ship must be right over the key, otherwise you will miss it and crash into the Ion door. In later corridors, losses can be heavy.
It will take some time playing to get the feel of each enemy's movement, so don't be frustrated at first. This is one game you won't beat overnight. Make use of the map and plan out a pattern. I could tell you the pattern I used, but what challenge would that be?
I also modified a standard Atari joystick to reverse the controls when flying in a Red Zone. I know what you're thinking - cheating, right? Those of you who have played this game will side with me; completing this game requires every trick in the book!
I hope this information helps you enjoy the game even more. It's probably the most challenging and demanding VCS game every programmed. It boasts incredible graphics and sound quality, with no flickering. Nice touches, such as the way Cobra ships appear, add to the game, while planet take-offs and warp scenes are particularly appealing. Douglas Neubauer, the designer and programmer of Solaris, also created (400/800) Star Raiders, Radar Lock, and Super Football. These last two games are excellent and really push the VCS to the limit.
See the Easter egg entry for this game.
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