[Scorpio Gamesworld]
16/32K Cassette
Programming: Paul Marshall
Cover Illustration: Bryan King


REVIEW by AtariGrub

In this game from Paul Marshall (author of Crazy Cobra), you are the daring Cavern Commander assigned to explore the caverns on the planet Hesikos. For each screen you have to navigate your spacecraft using the joystick to move left and right, with the fire button to activate ascent thrusters. Your aim is to land safely on the landing platform without touching any part of the cavern walls, ceiling or ground. Ghostly flying skulls travel diagonally across the screen and must also be avoided if you don't wish to lose one of your 3 lives. Gravity naturally drags your craft down when the thrusters are not on. But your descent is at a steady rate so you will always land safely when you reach your goal, no matter how far you've fallen.

Cavern Commander is Scorpio Gamesworld's only release for the Atari 8-Bit and was available on cassette with a 16k version on one side and a 32k version on the other.

The 32k version features 5 different levels, with a 600 (1min 20sec approx.) time limit to reach each platform. At the end of these 5 levels a victory tune will play, then the game begins again on the first level with slightly faster flying skulls to contend with.

The 16k version lacks the end music, and only features the first 3 levels from the 32k version with a tighter 500 (1min 10sec approx.) time limit to complete, making it a slightly harder challenge. Also, the third level of the 16k version, features a slight alteration to a tunnel in the centre of the screen, creating a more dangerous path for your craft to navigate.

For me this was a very easy game to complete and with only five levels the chances of coming back for more are quite slim. Playing the 16k version is in some ways more of a challenge with 10secs less to complete each of the three levels.

Overall Cavern Commander is a variation of the Lunar Lander game which is fun for about 10mins, by which time you will probably have completed all the levels and be reaching for a different game to load in.


End of Level 5 Music
(32k Version)



You start the game with 3 lives, which you'll lose if you touch any part of the cavern or a flying skull. As soon as a skull appears on the screen it will continue moving in the same diagonal direction until it flies off the edge of the screen. Keep an eye on these enemies so you can work out the best time to travel certain cavernous tunnels without becoming trapped.

LEVEL 3 - 16k and 32k variations
Move the mouse cursor over the screenshot below to see the difference between Level 3 on the 16k and 32k versions of this game:

There is no fuel gauge to worry about in Cavern Commander, so feel free to use your thrusters as you please. However there is a time limit, which is approximately 1min 20secs on the 32k version and 1min 10secs on the 16k version, per level.

CLICK HERE to Download an Unlimited Lives file for use in the Atari 800Win Emulator.

Further Information:


1960s Danish covers for the Angus MacVicar novels 'The Lost Planet', 'Return to the Lost Planet' and 'Secret of the Lost Planet'.

The cavernous planet Hesikos explored in Cavern Commander, was also the name of the planet featured in the sci-fi novel 'The Lost Planet' from the early 1950s by the author Angus MacVicar (aka André Norton). This and its first sequel 'The Return of the Lost Planet' were also made into BBC Television serials in 1954 and 1955.

LUNAR LANDER (Atari 1979) - Arcade Game

Lunar Lander was released by Atari in 1979 and allowed you to control the descent and landing of a Lunar Module on its mission to the moon. The game featured realistic gravity effects as you manouveured your craft gently to a landing pad. Unfortunately the limited fuel would always be your downfall, unless you had a spare coin or two for the arcade machine, which would then increase your current fuel level!

lash - Lunar Lander
(An online playable version of Lunar Lander) - Killer List Of Video Games
(Pictures and information on the original 1979 Atari arcade machine)

The Wee Web - Authors and Illustrators Archive
(Some information on the Scottish author Angus MacVicar)