Xbox Game Review — Caverns of Mars: Recharged


Caverns of Mars: Recharged takes the easy, addictive appeal of the original game and adds more caverns, more challenges, more weapons, modern graphics, and leaderboards. And it would not be a Recharged title without a fantastic new original soundtrack. Read on for more details and my review of this new Xbox video game from Atari.

In Caverns of Mars: Recharged, you descend into tunnels beneath the surface of Mars in a mad dash to destroy the reactor and the furthest depths of the enemy’s base. Dodge debris, clear out obstacles and blast enemies, all while conserving ammunition as you descend at high speed into enemy territory. Your ammo is limited, and enemies are plentiful, so make every shot count.

The original Caverns of Mars was a hit that came out of nowhere. In an era of side-scrollers a high school senior named Greg Christensen developed a game where players descended vertically. The few vertical scrolling games that existed were largely skiing and driving games, but Christsensen made a space game, set in the tunnels of Mars. He submitted it to APX, Atari’s mail order software catalog. The day his project arrived in Sunnyvale it was recognized for its quality, and it became the very first APX submission to be released as an Atari game, and one of only a handful to ever make that leap.

Caverns of Mars, originally Caverns, was created by a high school senior for the APX game development competition. Atari would later purchase it in 1982 in exchange for royalties. When Atari approached the developer, Greg Christensen, to collaborate on a port to floppy disk, he declined because he had already started college. Caverns of Mars had a great reception and won the 4th Annual Arkie Award for “Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy Computer Game.” Later, Christensen would create two more Cavern of Mars sequels, but they reached much less attention.

Fully Destructible Environments

Blast your way through obstructions, but be mindful of fuel reserves — each shot also accelerates your limited time to reach the bottom


Traverse the three depths of Mars in a race to reach the bottom and destroy the reactor, strategically accumulating upgrades that’ll make each run unique.

Challenge Mode

Progress through 30 unique missions that ramp up the difficulty and deliver bite-sized challenges across navigation, combat, and other scenarios.

Power Ups

Collect weapons that will change your strategy on the fly. Carve a new path with the focused railgun shot or leverage the spread of rapid shotgun blasts.

Local Co-op

In a unique spin on the gameplay, split the responsibilities while one player navigates and the other shoots from a separate drone in tow.


Compete in global leaderboards for points or speed.

Final Verdict

Caverns of Mars: Recharged by Atari for Xbox is a phenomenal reimagining of the classic game that expertly blends nostalgia with modern gaming advancements. The updated graphics are vibrant and captivating, while the meticulously crafted levels challenge players in a fresh and engaging way. The soundtrack is an impressive fusion of retro and contemporary sounds that immerses the player into the game’s world, adding a unique auditory layer to the experience. The control scheme is intuitive and responsive, making it easy for both newcomers and veteran gamers to navigate the treacherous caverns. Overall, Caverns of Mars: Recharged is an outstanding title that pays homage to its origins while delivering an unforgettable gaming experience that will captivate players for hours on end.

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