Black Widow is a vector arcade game developed by Atari released in 1982. The player takes the titular role of a Black widow spider defending a web from invading bugs. The player must move the spider around the web while simultaneously shooting/avoiding various bugs and collecting the bonuses that appear after the enemies are eliminated. The spider is controlled through two joysticks; the left one is used to move the spider, and the right one is used to control the shot direction.
The game is a fixed shooter and is very similar to Robotron 2084 by Williams. Unlike Robotron, Black Widow does not have as many enemies on-screen. However, the gameplay has been characterized as just as intense as its Williams counterpart. This is because in order to destroy certain enemies, the player must lure other enemies into destroying them. It is further differentiated by the Bug Slayer, a bug that helps the player eliminate enemies, with only loss of potential points being the only consequence. The Bug Slayer can help the player in tough situations, but can also prevent the player from achieving the amount of extra lives necessary to endure later, more difficult, rounds. Also, other enemies appear on the playing field as eggs, laid by other enemies. The player can move these eggs off the playing field to both eliminate the enemy and receive points, before it reaches maturity.
Enemies and Scoring
- Mosquito - If shot, becomes '$'.
- Beetle - Eats '$', but if shot, becomes '$'.
- Hornet - Lays an egg on '$', but if shot, becomes '$'.
- Egg - Grows to become hornet or spoiler. Must be pushed off the web to score 500, 1000, 1500, 2000, or even 2500 points.
- Grub Steak - Tag for 500, 250, 100, or 50 points—the sooner the better.
- Spoiler - Invulnerable. Can only be destroyed by a grenade bug, bug slayer or rocket bug.
- Grenade Bug - Explodes if shot. Bugs and eggs within the kill zone score 500 points each.
- Rocket Bug - Invulnerable. Launches "rockettes" at black widow from the other bugs it tags. Shoot rockettes to score 100 points each.
- Thunderbug - If shot, it breaks formation and attacks. If shot again, it explodes all other T-bugs for 5000 points. Keep away from all T-bugs to earn 10000 points. The resulting chain reaction from multiple thunderbugs is very dangerous and can encompass over 80% of the level at some times, depending on how many T-bugs are involved.
- Bug Slayer - Harmless to the player and invulnerable. The Bug Slayer competes with the Black Widow for food. Beat it to its flashing prey for points
Black Widow has been re-released in compilations of classic Atari games for personal computers, gaming consoles and even cellular telephones. The game was included in Atari Anniversary Edition Redux for the Sony PlayStation, released in 2001. In 2003, Microsoft Windows PCs could play Black Widow as part of Atari - 80 Classic Games in One!. Released in 2004, Atari Anthology ported the game to the Playstation 2 and Xbox gaming consoles, and in 2005, the Nokia N-Gage cellular phone received a copy of Black Widow in Atari Masterpieces Volume 1. Most recently, Atari re-released Black Widow to Microsoft's Game Room service for the Xbox 360 console and Windows PCs in June 2010.
Black Widow was also offered as a conversion kit for Gravitar, which met poor commercial success. The kit included a new marquee, control panel, sideart, and an additional wiring harness. The kit used the original Gravitar PCB, with a few small modifications and a new set of ROM chips. Many factory-built Black Widows were produced using unsold Gravitar cabinets, and although they contain original (not Gravitar conversion) boardsets, they had Black Widow sideart applied over the Gravitar sideart.
James Vollandt holds the official record for this game with a maximum 930,100 points.