Thrust is a 1986 single-player, multi-directional shooter designed and programmed by Jeremy C. Smith. Superior Software and Firebird published the game for the BBC Micro. Two years later, in 1988, Firebird published a sequel called Thrust II. Thrust received multiple ports for various at-home consoles, including the Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 16, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum. Thrust took a lot of inspiration from Atari’s 1982 classic arcade game, Gravitar. Gravitar also featured the “rotate-and-thrust” controls that gave Thrust its name. Gravitar and Thrust’s gameplay also looks incredibly similar.
Today, players can find Thrust Legend on Steam. Thrust Legend was released in 2020 and it is a modern remake of the 1986 classic, Thrust. Since Thrust Legend is a remake that set out to modernize the retro feel of the original, though, it won’t give players the same satisfaction. Fortunately, modern gamers can still play Thrust in its original glory. My Abandonware has the original game free to download. Players can choose from the following versions: Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 16-Plus/4, Commodore 64, Electron, and ZX Spectrum. My Abandonware has a large catalog of retro games including titles like Ace of Aces (1986) and Tau Ceti (1985). The website is a great resource for anyone interested in exploring classic games.
Due to the game’s age and simplicity, it’s difficult to track down reviews written about it. That said, Thrust did reach the best-seller charts for the Gallup All Formats and Commodore 64. It also reached first place on the BBC Top Ten chart. Today, modern gamers are still fond of this classic shooter. Thrust proved popular enough to have a modern remake. My Abandonware rates the game a 4.2 out of 5 and Lemon64 gives it a 9 out of 10.
Players control a spacecraft that needs to pick up a pod and fly it into space. The spacecraft can pick up the pod with a tractor beam. Players need to keep an eye on how gravity and inertia affect their journey. The spacecraft and the pod are both impacted by these simple yet deadly principles and if they aren’t careful, they can be thrown off course by spinning out of control. The spacecraft needs to move through tight corridors, caves, and passageways, and hitting a wall will immediately destroy the ship. If players lose control of their ship, they’ll likely spiral into a barrier and die.
The spacecraft needs to navigate through planets to find a place where it can launch itself into space. Each planet has a defense system powered by a reactor. This reactor powers turrets that can destroy the ship with a single hit. Players can attack the reactor. Shooting it enough will take the reactor offline for a while, allowing the ship to continue its journey without fear of being shot out of the sky. Shooting the reactor too much can cause it to go critical. If that happens, the reactor will explode, taking the planet out with it. If this happens, the spacecraft needs to clear the planet in 10 seconds, or it’ll be destroyed too.
The ship can pick up fuel (which it needs to keep traveling) with the tractor beam. Running out of fuel will trigger an automatic Game Over, so players should pick it up where they see it. Players can also activate a shield to protect the spacecraft, but using it will prevent the player from shooting. It also consumes fuel, so only use the shield when absolutely necessary. As the game progresses, the levels become more involved and complicated. Ultimately, the game keeps going until the player loses.
Thrust Main Characters
Thrust doesn’t feature a story, overarching plot, or characters. It provides the player with the simple goal of taking the pod to space and that’s it. There isn’t even a main playable protagonist seen or referred to. Players play as the spacecraft, not as a person or living creature of any kind. This wasn’t an uncommon playstyle for early video games in the late 1970s and well into the ’80s. Space Invaders (1978) is a perfect example of an iconic classic game where a player controls a piece of tech, not a person. In Space Invaders, it happens to be a laser cannon while in Thrust, it’s a spacecraft. Gradius (1985) also features a playable spacecraft called the Vic Viper.
Thrust Titles in the Series
Thrust did go on to manifest a small series of its own. Games in the Thrust series include:
- Thrust (1986) – Heavily inspired by the classic arcade game, Gravitar (1982)
- Thrust II (1988)
- Thrust Legend (2020) – A modern remake of the original Thrust
There is also a 2022 game called Gravity Thrust that mimics the “rotate-and-thrust” controls and overall feel of the original Thrust game. This game may not be directly connected to the franchise, though. Gravity Thrust is available on the Nintendo Switch through the Nintendo eShop for $4.99, but it’s on sale for $1.99 until February 26, 2024. The PlayStation Store also has the game for $6.79, but it’s also on sale until February 21, 2024, for $2.79. The PlayStation Store also offers a free trial to test out the game before purchasing. The Xbox Store also has Gravity Thrust for $4.99 and Xbox also offers a free trial.
Thrust Cheats, Cheat Codes, & BASIC Commands
Most retro games from the 1980s and early ’90s are surprisingly difficult. For modern gamers, this can be hard to imagine because video games that come out today are so complex. In comparison, the simplicity of these classic games feels deceptively easy. However, players need to play most of these games in a single sitting. It was rare for a game to have a way to save. If players received a Game Over, they wouldn’t even keep any checkpoints they unlocked. Completing a game took a lot of practice and sometimes, without cheating, it could feel like a daunting task. For these reasons, many game developers built cheat codes or other ways to cheat straight into their games.
Some games of the time, like Thrust, weren’t designed with winning in mind. These types of games didn’t have an “ending” so to speak. Players didn’t win, they just played until they inevitably lost all their lives or failed their objective. The appeal of these games is to get the highest score possible. That often meant that the difficulty of the game increased quickly, purposefully trying to force players to trigger Game Overs. Fortunately, Thrust does have some cheats and tricks to make getting that high score somewhat easier.
Please keep in mind that Thrust came out nearly 40 years ago. Each version of the game plays a little differently and these cheats won’t work for every version of the game.
Commodore 64 Thrust Cheats
- To activate slow motion, hold down F5 and F7
- When done correctly, this should activate slow motion on the spacecraft, making it much easier to move through planets
To use BASIC commands, load or reset the game, then execute the commands before running or restarting the game.
- Cheat Mode: POKE 6139,234 POKE 6140,234 POKE 6141,234 SYS 2304
- Unlimited Reactor Time: POKE 12974,165 POKE 34094,165
Amstrad CPC Thrust Cheats
- Skip Mission/Level: [NUM8] + [NUM5] + [NUM2] + [UP CURSOR] + [ESC]
- Use this cheat during gameplay
- Press the number pad keys at the same time to activate the level skip
Thrust Cheats FAQ
If players Google “Thrust video game cheats”, a few FAQ results pop up, but none of them are relevant to the game. Most of these questions ask about general cheat code knowledge. Meanwhile, just Googling “Thrust video game” turns up no frequently asked questions.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Xyphoe / Superior Software / Firebird.