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42 Years Later, Atari Is Giving a Pivotal Franchise a New Lease on Life

A classic reborn.

Yars Rising

At Nintendo’s most recent indie showcase, Atari announced the new platform adventure game Yars Rising, developed by Wayforward, the studio behind the beloved Shantae and River City Girls series. While Wayforward’s pedigree is enough to be excited for, Yars Rising is actually much bigger than just that, as it marks the revival of a pivotal Atari franchise that’s been buried for over a decade. It’s an inventive way to bring back a classic, and looks like it could continue 2024’s Metroidvania renaissance. Yars Rising is planned for release later in 2024, and is coming to all consoles and PC.

The Yars series first debuted on the Atari 2600 with Yars Revenge in 1982, which ended up being the best-selling game on the entire system. The best way to describe Yars Revenge is a shooter that’s a sideways version of Space Invaders mixed with elements of Asteroids. As you might expect there was a very small story, revolving around bug-like aliens called Yars taking revenge for the destruction of one of their worlds.

Yars Revenge would go on to be hailed as one of Atari’s biggest classics, but the franchise simply failed to take off after that, likely due in part to the video game crash of 1983. There was a re-release on Game Boy Color in 1999, a 2011 remake on Xbox Live Arcade, and an obscure sequel called Yar’s Return on the Atari Flashback 2, a short-lived system with built-in games.

That’s exactly what makes Yars Rising momentous, it’s a second chance for a classic franchise, and fittingly, it looks wildly different. Right in line with what Wayforward is best at, Yars Rising is a Metroidvania realized in a lavishly colorful art style.

Yars Rising seems to integrate the original 1982 game as a kind of lock-picking minigame.


The game has a decidedly futuristic and sci-fi vibe but is clearly taking some inspiration from the cyberpunk genre. The cityscape at the beginning of the trailer looks ripped straight out of Blade Runner.

The description for Yars Rising notes the protagonist, Emi Kimura, is hired by a mysterious patron to infiltrate the “shadowy Qotech corporation,” and discovers the corporation’s secret as well as her link to an alien race. Of course, just like with Shantae, there seems to be a healthy dose of anime inspiration, with Eri pulling an extremely Dragon Ball-esque Kamehameha move at the end of the trailer.

Yars Rising bears Wayforward’ trademark style and colorful aesthetic.


Yars Rising looks like an interesting blend of classic sci-fi and cyberpunk, and hopefully, it means Wayforward will be able to flex its storytelling muscles.

In a press release, Wade Rosen, chairman and CEO of Atari says that “Wayforward’s proven story-telling and world-building powers made them a perfect choice for reimagining one of Atari’s most enduring game franchises.”

2024 is already shaping up to be a stellar year for Metroidvanias, between the likes of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, Tales of Kenzera, Berserk Boy, and the upcoming Animal Well. Wayforward has been a key player in the genre for decades, and it’s tantalizing to think about what the studio might be able to do with a new project set in a vibrant world.

Yars Rising is scheduled to release in 2024 on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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