Atari 2600 Game
Produced by: Avalon Hill
7 Very Rare
Year of Release: 1983
Programmer: Bill Hood
Houston we have a problem! Hopefully the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger won't be saying this, as you help them in their mission to construct a space station high in orbit around the Earth. It's Shuttle Orbiter for the Atari 2600.
This is one of the best simulator games available for the 2600. It is quite complicated. You should read the manual all the way through before you play the game. The game has 2 main screens, the orbital screen and the mission screen. In the orbital screen you have to match your speed and altitude to rendevous with one of the three mission screens, which are side-scrollers. They require you to gather parts and build the Space Station. The biggest tip I can give is to watch your fuel, as it is easy to do a long burn and empty half of your fuel tank.
Yes this game allows you to pilot the ill-fated Challenger (as does several other Atari games). This game was made before the Challenger disaster. The producer would have probably picked a different shuttle otherwise.
Playing tips from the manual
Any time the shuttle hits the Factory, Depot, Space Station, or debris it will be damaged and leak fuel. The greater the number of hits, the greater the rate of fuel loss.
Any time the Challenger hits an object there is at least a 25% chance you will damage your cargo. Due to packing constraints, if you are carrying two sections and hit an object, you will definitely damage one section, possibly both. You can only examine the sections at the Factory or Space Station. If the section has no prongs on the right-hand side, it is damaged and cannot be used. If one of the two sections being carried is damaged, the good section will be brought out first by the astronaut.
The shuttle consumes more fuel carrying two sections (damaged or not) than carrying one section, and more fuel carrying one section than with no cargo.
Only one refueling should be necessary for the truly proficient pilot.
This game is fairly rare, just like most Avalon Hill games are. Shuttle Orbiter is valued at around $100 USD, and games with boxes and manuals may go for more.