Not the most original of games, but it was still a fun shoot 'em up that had variety, probably more so than the games it was inspired by. Of course, you also had that great musical score by Gary Gilbertson to accompany you. I hadn't played this in a long time and forgot about its scoring quirks, such as you LOSING points when you fire arbitrarily without hitting a target (probably to curtail the players that would frenetically do the rapid fire method to plow through the levels, or as we'd say today, "beast mode").
I've always liked the two different "game over" music themes. The first (if you didn't progress too far) was that funeral dirge, followed by the a playful rendition of the "nah nah nah nah nah nah" taunt, as if to tell you to do better next time. The second one was a more heroic fanfare.
I don't care what it is or isn't a clone of, Tail of Beta Lyrae is one of my two or three favorite games I ever played in the history of games.
The music I know had a lot to do with this.
Daniel Thomas MacInnes - 11/05/2011
Tail of Beta Lyrae is always on my short-list of all time favorite Atari 800 games. Exceptional graphics, animation and music, some of the best of the system's '80s heyday. The random layouts are a masterstroke. Oh, and the escaping aliens at the end remind me of Girl Scout Cookies. I like cookies. My teeth hurt.
Houdi, no offense, but I think Caverns of Mars II is a MUCH better Scramble clone than this. TOBL is the only game on the 8-bit where the intro is better than the game itself.
Whart we need is an image of a new or not played much disk - someone must have one - Please, please post it! The game is much more fun with the Gravity balls!
I believe what some have mistaken as a copy protection scheme, harder enemies, flashing screens, etc., was actually a gameplay feature. One of the selling points of this game was that it had a primitive form of adaptive difficulty, meaning, the game kept count of how many times you played it (hence, the need to write to disk) and introduced new challenges as your play-count grew. Not sure if there was a way to reset the difficulty, though.
Still can't get that music out of my head!
This game did have a copy protection scheme. In addition, it had to be run from a notched disk so the program could write to it as you advanced. If you played it with a w/o a notch (or if you copied it) the gravity balls (?) would appear more often and kill you quickly.
IIRC, this game had a copy-protection scheme where if it thought it was playing on a copied disk, it would turn the background light, making it harder to play. Unfortunately, this scheme would sometimes also affect legitimate disks, including the copy I owned. This would explain the "metallic look" comments.
This horizontal scrolled wasn't the best graphically, but the action-packed, varied gameplay and excellent music more than made up for it. The aliens had all kinds of weapons to throw at you, and you needed lightning reflexes to be able to dodge them all at anything other than the easiest difficulty levels.
Yungstar 2006 - 28/08/2006
i never liked the game, but the music is great
I had a different version of this and graphics looked very different... It had two modes of play... one scramble type and the other very mettalic and dimensioned in the city scene itself it was awsome and lost it seems now. Please if anybody can recover the awsome version I remember it ran on my 800XL but there was a problem with the DOS they used causing it to corrupt over time. It made me an 8 bit addict.
Don't agree with the above comments. This game is based on Scramble not Defender and is easily the best Scramble clone on the 8-bit machines. The accompanying music themes (a different end theme depending on the the score achieved) are worth playing the game for alone. Don't know about the validity of the screen shots above as I seem to remember everything being much more 'metallic' in appearance.