Fractalus 1.0 Released!

Fractalus 1.0.0 is now available for download from the Fractalus project page, and is available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, and VR (Oculus/OpenVR)!

It’s been a long running project but it’s finally complete! Fractalus 1.0 includes a heap of changes that bring it very close to the original game (including the alien pilots!).

The 1.0.0 build may not be the last build, as I’m sure there will eventually be bugs and issues found that will need fixing, and there have been several ideas put forward by others and some I’ve had myself for things to expand a bit on the original game.

Huge thanks again to David Fox, Loren Carpenter, and Charlie Kellner from the original Rescue on Fractalus team for their help with bringing the remake as close to the original as possible, and also huge thanks to everyone who helped out with testing and gave feedback during development!

Here’s what’s new in Fractalus 1.0.0;

  • Gameplay
    • Added New Game screen with starting level selection.
    • Added Game Over screen.
    • Added High Scores screen.
    • Added bonus points sequence on return to mothership.
    • Added intro sequence when game is launched.
    • Added Demo Droid mode.
    • Game progression is now persisted, allowing player to return to the mothership and exit the game, then pick up from the same level and continue playing later.
    • Removed “Restart Level” and “Return to Title” menu options, replaced with “Abandon Game” when a game is in progress.
    • Mothership availability is now varied.
    • Levels 1-8 now have randomly flatter terrain.
    • Changing levels in the mothership is now animated.
    • Cockpit radar is now centered at the bottom like the original.
    • Added VR support (separate controller required – VR controllers not supported).
  • Graphics
    • Added video settings for changing resolution and quality.
    • Added Saucer model.
    • Added Mothership model.
    • Added Valkyrie model.
    • Added Alien model.
    • Added planet model in level entry sequence.
    • Updated Cockpit and Frameless Cockpit models.
    • Updated Pilot model.
    • Updated mothership hangar/launch tunnel models.
    • Updated cockpit instruments to match appearance from original game and box art.
    • Cockpit instruments will now be rendered transparent when in frameless cockpit or flat HUD modes.
    • Improved atmosphere texturing.
    • Added dust particle burst when landing/launching.
    • Fixed UI scaling issues on ultrawide or surround aspect ratios.
    • Fixed low quality text rendering in various places.
    • Changed several textures to use high quality compression to reduce artifacting and banding.
    • Improved compass texture.
    • Slowed down weapon sparks on collision with terrain.
  • Sounds
    • Updated player ship engine sounds.
    • Updated player and turret weapon sounds.
    • Updated pilot knock sound.
    • Updated title music.
    • Added music for game over and level completion.
    • Added landing/launch impact sounds.
    • Improved Saucer sounds.
  • Controls
    • Added control rebinding options.
    • Added support for using a throttle axis instead of throttle up/down buttons.
    • Added default bindings for joysticks Saitek X52 and Logitech Extreme 3D Pro (other joysticks will need their bindings manually set up by the player).
  • Ship Improvements
    • Ship can now be landed at any speed.
    • Landing at high speed now causes the ship to lurch forward on impact.
    • Player can now return to mothership while landed.
    • Throttle up while landed now launches ship.
  • Turret Improvements
    • Turret firing rate is now slightly varied for less rhythmic firing on higher levels.
    • Turret lock-on now has a level-dependent delay on first lock and after each time the lock is broken.
    • Turrets will no longer fire at player while returning to the mothership.
    • Turret shield and beam colour is now aqua to better match original.
  • Saucer Improvements
    • Added new Saucer model.
    • Improved Saucer flight logic and pathing.
    • Saucer sound is now directional.
  • Pilot/Crashed Ship Improvements
    • Added Ace and Alien pilots.
    • Pilot now approaches player ship much faster at high distances.
    • Crashed Ships are now only considered as in range if they are within a 90 degree cone in front of the player, matching the radar.
  • Other Improvements
    • Red overlay on cockpit instruments when ship is damaged is now blended correctly.
    • Updated some in-game message text to match original.
    • Added dark outline to menu text to make it easier to read.
    • Pause menu is now accessible while docked with the mothership, rather than returning to the title screen.
    • Added credits screen.
    • Fixed issue where boosting to mothership would fail to ascend, leaving the player stuck.

If you have any thoughts, comments or feedback, leave a reply below or let me know on Twitter or Facebook!

Enjoy and stay safe, pilots!

Tags: , , ,

36 Responses to “Fractalus 1.0 Released!”

  1. Jeff D says:

    I can only but say that this plays like a dream.
    Music, sounds, graphics are fantastic, loving the mothership and the cockpit radar.

    Very addictive and runs well on my PC.

    Thank you very much, 1st fell in love with the original some 30+ years ago on the Atari 800.

  2. Marc M. says:

    This is a wonderful remake of Rescue on Fractalus!
    It’s so much fun flying through the canyons and saving the pilots, trying to shoot the saucer and destroying the turrets, especially at night!
    Thank you for this gem!
    Just one more…

  3. Peter B says:

    Wow this runs great and brings back happy memories.
    Scared the s… out of me those aliens back in the days.

  4. Dario Hugo Aversa says:

    Testing Atari 5200 roms I found this game, which in my youth I knew how to play it for hours with a friend on his Atari 800 xl, and it occurred to me to find out if they had made a new version on a 16 bit console, and I came across this fantastic remake , you are a genious

  5. asoces says:

    Awesome – The game looks and plays great! Thanks for sharing your work 🙂

  6. Pete H says:

    Atari 800XL circa 1985 – For me, this was the best game ever made and well worthy of this superb remake. It may have been a labour of love, but do you have Paypal? I’d like to buy you a beer!

  7. Loafmeister says:

    Congrats on the release Luke. Your persistence has paid off! Excellent freebie VR title, excellent in flat screen too, perfect tribute!!

  8. J.R. says:

    Very good remake with beautiful models and graphics. Perfect. Thank you very much for sharing.

  9. WoPo says:

    It turned out great, the mothership animation at the beginning is great. Also the other elements like the aliens or the cockpit, just great. Thank you very much for the program.

  10. jvva says:

    Fantastic JOB. I love Fratalus on Atari and your remake bring my memeory back. Thank you a happy new year.

  11. UnDead says:

    Great remake! It keeps the spirit very well.

    One question: is save feature planned for future release? 🙂

  12. Luke says:

    Thanks! The game is saved each time you return to the mothership (or when your ship is destroyed, which ends the game) so you can exit from there and then pick up from where you left off later on, but there are no separate save slots for now. This may be something I’ll add in a future version.

  13. Thorsten N. says:

    This is awesome! Very well done. I love approaching the mothership after a level, great!
    Just two things maybe: The high-pitched engine sound has a very “dominant” unpleasant frequency. This was better in 0.9 imho!
    Maybe add a sort of squeek sound effect when the Alien appears at the cockpit, like in the original. Just for a bit more jumpscaring. 😉
    My Fractalus setup: 😀

  14. Luke says:

    Thanks! I’m currently working on adding a jumpscare sound for when the Alien appears, and also adding in the ability to change the volume on individual engine sounds so that the player can reduce or remove unpleasant sounds.

  15. Steve says:

    Loved this game on my Atari 800 when I was a kid. Version 0.9 was great. Version 1.0 runs but doesn’t like my Thrustmaster joystick, Macosx. So you can go down, but no other direction!

  16. Luke says:

    Hi Steve, sorry to hear Fractalus isn’t working with your joystick. Others have reported similar issues in 1.0 with other controllers and when multiple controllers are plugged in. The reason this is an issue in 1.0 and not in 0.9 is because 1.0 is built with a newer version of Unity, where they removed the ability to redefine controls at launch and made it so that adding the ability to rebind controls in the new version required use of a new input system which works differently to the old one.

    I’m currently working on rewriting Fractalus’ control system to better support situations where there are multiple controllers and also to provide better support for rebinding controls. Hopefully this will fix the issue when I get the next build out.

  17. Simone says:

    Hi Steve, the 1.0 version is awesome! You did a great job but i have a problem with the keyboard: it doesn’t work. I can’t rescue the pilots or land or escape frome the mission. With the previous release 0.9 there are no problems and the keyboard works! The problem is with this new version 1.0.
    No way to save the keys in configuration mode.
    Do you have any solution for that?
    Thanks a lot.

  18. Luke says:

    Hi Simone, there are known issues with some controllers and with multiple controllers being plugged in at the same time – specifically if you have a controller plugged in that is constantly sending signals, then Fractalus will only pay attention to that controller and ignore all others including the keyboard. I am currently working on rewriting the control system to hopefully fix this in the next build.

    The only workaround for this currently is to disconnect other controllers while running Fractalus. If you have tried rebinding controls, once you have disconnected other controllers you may need to go into the Options and reset the bindings to the defaults.

    – Luke

  19. Great work, Luke! Congratulations. I am so happy you got it finished and that you got such great feedback from the original authors. 🙂

    Looking forward to possible updates of course and good luck with future improvements/projects!

  20. Moonwalker says:

    Hi, thanks for the effort.

    I feel difference when compared to the atmosphere of Atari 8000 version.
    Your game is very nice, but the Alien seems much like innocent puppet to me.
    Also, there’s the feeling when I’m airborne and see many beacons at once from above. I feel they are very close to me and I can be like choosing bird of prey, vertically going for them, picking point of touchdown nearly touching them, impossible in Atari version. I mean, pilot is seven click on my radar, but my atltitude feels like 25 km high or so. It seems to me there’s too much vertical scale applied here, I just feel I should be flying lower or the terrain proportions – mountains, should be not so high.

    Despite all my criticism, thanks again for the effort and you passion. Communicating with original developer like David Fox must be a dream experienece, afterso many decades to revive old classic!

    Thanks, moonwalker

  21. Markus Welscher says:

    Hallo Luke,

    this is plain fantastic. You really nailed it. One of my all times C64 favorites (next to Koronis Rift of course).

    It brings back great memories and plays so fine with my gamepad. Will surely test in short on my Pimax 8kx.

    It is your game. So you are free to do, whatever you see right. But I would like to recommend a few small tweaks, that might bring the game more to the original und make it even more enjoyable.

    1. I understand, that the backgroundnoise shall enhance the feeling of the foreign and dangerous wildness of the planet Fractalus. But the sound is a bit annoying, if I hear it for too long. So it would be nice, to make the background noise volume changeable.

    2. I always got the feeling in the original, that a mighty and poisonus explosion was going on, when the entire sky went blue for a moment, when something was shot, i.e. turrets. shipwrecks or saucers. On Earth we have a blue sky, having a red sky from an explosion is a bad sign. Should work the other way on Fractalus, where the sky is ornage, and bluesky is a bad sign for the Jaggies. Gives more the impression of a big bad explosion.

    3. I am not so sure, if the low resolution of the original was the reason for that, but the turrets were bigger and could be seen easier. Maybe you could make the turrets a little big bigger. I hate it to be shot from somewhere, flyin in cirles and often have big touble locating the turret.

    4. The synchro lock up. It works too fast, is too hard to unlock. And in the original one was only multitargeted, when more turrets were within their firing range. A single turret never gave a multiturret power shot. That was the intention behind this kind of shot: that more turrets connected to fire simultanueosly on the ship.

    5. In the original, it was possible, to start the engines and launch directly from Systems off state. Seeing a green helmet running my direction made me press “thruster up” and automatically I started flying and the systems were activated. Just a matter of convenience, if I would not have to press systems on again, after picking up a pilot or grilling an incoming alien.

    6. The saucer seems to be not really controllable by the pilot, because it flies like a drunken sailor. In the original the saucer was incoming straight very fast, so you had to shoot it down really quick. In this version now, I only shot the saucer down by chance.

    7. One important point in the original was, that when the systems of my ship went of, at that moment I was completely cloaked for the enemies. The synchroshot lock was broken (as is on your version too) and the saucer did not hit you, even if it was just a half a second away, when you shut off the systems. In your version I am often hit by the saucer, when I already landed and deactivated my systems even after 5 or more seconds. So shutting systems off is not a “free parking”-function anymore.

    But… the feeling and fun is there. All these things I wrote not to critize the game. But out of love, to make it even more true to the original and more fluent to play.

    Again, thx for the great game you made.

    Best regards from Germany


  22. Luke says:

    Hi Markus,

    Thanks for the feedback! I’ll answer each of your questions here;

    1) The next build will include the ability to control the volume of individual sounds, so you can make the sounds quiet or silence them completely.

    2) I can experiment with this to see how it looks but I’m not sure it will have the same impact as the original due to the higher graphical fidelity.

    3) The turrets can sometimes be hidden just behind the edge of a mountain, but they use a point slightly above them to check whether they can see you, resulting in them being able to shoot you without you being able to see them. This is done to avoid that detection logic from detecting the mountain when you’re flying below the turret. I can look at revising this logic to make them easier to see when they are able to shoot.

    4) I recall in the original that once a turret locked on it was able to stay locked on indefinitely, though this may have been only on the higher levels. I’ll need to recheck this in the original.

    5) Unfortunately I made the default keyboard bindings for both ‘Airlock’ and ‘Throttle Up’ use the ‘A’ key, which means that the expected behaviour doesn’t work when using the keyboard. I think it should work when using a Gamepad or Joystick however, as they have different buttons for Airlock and Throttle Up.

    6) In the original, the saucer ignored the terrain as it was just a sprite overlaid on the screen. In the remake, the saucer has to navigate the terrain, which results in a somewhat chaotic path. I will look at improving the saucer’s pathing logic.

    7) I will need to check the saucer’s logic to make sure it ignores the player ship when systems are off, as that should be the way it works.


  23. Slavo says:

    Hi Luke,
    Amazing! I remember when i found this project quite a while ago, now look at this. Great job.

    Two questions if i may:

    1. Are Ace pilots actually appearing?
    Because i have been playing number of times, usually starting from highest possible level and finishing on lvls 20-30, but i have not yet encounter single one, or maybe there is no message or sound jingle signaling that ace is rescued?

    2. Is Valkyrie “health” persistent between different aliens hitting cockpit windshield?
    I noticed that, on higher levels they can break it with only one punch after a while (it’s usually how i die :P)

    Again thanks for your effort, looking for further updates and some new ideas for expanded gameplay.

  24. Luke says:

    Hi Slavo,

    Thanks! On your questions;

    Ace pilots should be appearing however I think I made the chance to spawn an ace pilot too low. I’ve recently made some changes to the ace pilot spawn logic so in the next build they should appear a bit more often, and at most once per level.

    The Valkyrie’s windshield health resets for each encountered alien, but on the higher levels it takes fewer hits for the alien to break it, down to a minimum of one hit so on higher levels you will need to react quickly. This is the same as in the original game.

  25. Plastik says:

    Time to do Koronis Rift, now that you’ve already got the engine done!

  26. Thanks for this remake and also for the VR edition! Will try both.

  27. Justin says:

    Hi there! Many many thanks for this game! Strangely my MS Defender SmartScreen reports that this app might harm my device(?) It reports “that this app is not commonly downloaded; you should only open files you trust”. But maybe in this case there is no problem…? 🙂

  28. Luke says:

    Hi Justin and thanks! It’s a common problem that SmartScreen will attempt to block applications that aren’t well known or frequently downloaded, and that includes my Fractalus remake as it’s not well known or frequently downloaded.

  29. Olivier says:

    This game is awesome! Thank you for this remake.
    I retrieve the feeling I had with the original game on my C64.
    By the way: any change to have it on android mobile device?

  30. Luke says:

    Hi Olivier and thanks! I would like to do an Android version but I would first need to optimise the graphics for mobile devices and also add support for on-screen controls. During development, I did a test build for Android and while it worked, it ran slowly and required a separate controller. I will likely look into adding Android support in a future version.

  31. Jammer777 says:

    This is amazing. Such a wonderful evolution of my favorite game on Atari 8-Bit. Thank you for all your hard work. You have done an amazing job. There are two related things I would like to request and they are to make the pilot knocks much louder and more stacatto and also to make the alien make a loud scary sound when he pops up. That was one of the things that made the original so great and I can’t help but notice that this would be perfect with those changes. Again, great work and thank you for doing this game.

  32. CCAnderson says:

    The game brings back a lot of memories of the early days of computers. I think you did a great job of updating this, except for rescuing aliens. What I remember from the original game is the quietness of the game while you waited for either a loud knock or the Alien jumping up on the windshield with a loud noise. I remember jumping many times when the Alien appeared. I think you should increase the volume on the knock and when the Alien jumps up. Right now it is on the soft side and doesn’t make me jump. Other than that this game is a lot of fun to play.

  33. BG says:

    Mr. Luke,

    Congratulations on this development effort, it is truly fantastic. I played the game in ’83+ on my atari800 and this looks like the gameplay has been matched with precision. The detail is outstanding. Using an Intel NUC I5 CPU gameplay at the highest resolution is excellent, though the cooling fan does ramp up a bit. Thank you for your work.


  34. TroubiCZ says:


    Greetings from Czech Republic! I have stumbled upon your remake by accident, when we were arguing with my friends what is the best video game ever and I wanted to show them the real masterpiece from good old 8-bit times… and realized there is a new masterpiece, a true remake, and really, really awesome! Many thanks for your effort, it just brings up a lot of memories… especially of one destroyed joystick I had destroyed when an alien jumped me the first time 🙂
    Speaking of aliens, I must repeat what was said above – the alien should be much more scary. The original game was innovative in terms of putting a lot of details on sounds. Not only the jumping alien – all other sounds in the game were perfect, from an airlock opening to a mothership bleep. I think it’s my only complain about the remake. Anyway, I enjoy it immerselly, a lot of fun to play.


    P.S. Ok, one more suggestion – make the saucers to fly some more predictable patterns. Simply following the terrain does not do, they jump like a crazy goat, making them impossible to shot.

  35. Void says:

    This is awesome – so faithful to the original. Very well done.

    I desperately want to play this, but I’m using OSX 10.9.5. Is there a technical reason it requires 10.12+ or could it be compiled for 10.9.5?

  36. Luke says:

    Hi Void, Fractalus is built with Unity 2019.1, and the minimum requirements provided by Unity for that version is macOS 10.12+ (see Because of this, I cannot recompile for older versions of macOS, and it would be a nontrivial effort to backport Fractalus to an older version of Unity that supports an older version of macOS.

    I’m also not sure if their specified minimum requirement for the macOS version is a hard limit or not, it may be possible to run on an older version of macOS. Can you try running it on your system despite the stated minimum version to see if it works anyway?

Leave a Reply