This game is so alien seeming to my brain that I don’t get a clear idea of how it is played from the wikipedia article. Like I realize this era of Atari graphics were more impressionistic, and people leaned into their imaginations quite a bit with the setups for some of these games. However this is fever-dream-esque to me.
I suspect if you took a bunch of people who had never seen this game, locked them in seperate rooms with nothing but this gameplay description; you’d get a bunch of very different games.
The player controls an insect-like creature called a Yar who must nibble or shoot through a barrier in order to fire his Zorlon Cannon into the breach. The objective is to destroy the evil Qotile, which exists on the other side of the barrier. The Qotile can attack the Yar, even if the barrier is undamaged, by turning into the Swirl and shooting across the screen. In early levels the player is warned before the Swirl is fired and can retreat to a safe distance to dodge the attack. The Yar can hide from a pursuing destroyer missile within a “neutral zone” in the middle of the screen, but the Yar cannot shoot while in the zone. The Swirl can kill the Yar anywhere, even inside the neutral zone.
To destroy the Qotile or the Swirl, the player has to either touch the Qotile or eat a piece of the shield to activate the Zorlon Cannon, aim the cannon by leading with the Qotile or Swirl, then fire the cannon and fly the Yar out of the path of the cannon’s shot. If the weapon finds its mark, the level ends. If the cannon blast hits a piece of the shield or misses, it is expended. The cannon itself is dangerous because, once activated, the fire button launches it instead of firing the Yar’s usual shots and, as the cannon tracks the Yar’s vertical position, players effectively use the Yar itself as a target and therefore must immediately maneuver to avoid being hit by their own shot. The cannon shot can also rebound off the shield in later levels. An extra life is earned if the player shoots the Swirl in mid-air.