Saboteur - The sequel to Yars' Revenge

Saboteur - The sequel to Yars' Revenge

When Atari released the Saboteur as a 2600 cartridge we had an opportunity to ask Howard Scott Warshaw some questions about the Yars universe and the sequel’s place in the timeline. 


Completed in 1983, Saboteur was meant to be a fast-following sequel to Yars’ Revenge. Atari’s new parent Warner-Brothers decided to convert the game into The A-Team to fulfill a licensing obligation, and Saboteur and its contributions to the Yars universe were lost for decades. 

 The game has an overlapping storyline, involving Qotiles and Yars, but places them on a new planet (Cytonia) and adds some new races (robots and Gorfons).  Saboteur received an AtariAge homebrew release in 2012, and then a long overdue official Atari 2600 cartridge release in 2022. 

Saboteur advances the Yars storyline, but it raises more questions than answers.

How does the story in Saboteur link to Yars Revenge? From the Yars’ Revenge comic book, we know that the Yars species lived on three planets: III, IV, and V. Planet IV was destroyed by the Qotile. The map at the back of the comic indicates that the Yar in Yars’ Revenge is leaving Planet III to destroy a Qotile enemy camp. Once there, the Yar discovers Yar comrades from Planet III working as prisoners on the rocket launch site. What remains unrevealed is how these Yars ended up as prisoners. Has Planet III fallen? 

Why are the Qotile so violent? What is motivating them? In the Saboteur user manual, elders from Cytonia explain that the Qotile survived a supernova centuries ago and had left their galaxy in order to rebuild their community.  The Qotile blamed the Cytonians, who shielded themselves from the blast, and vowed to return for revenge.  But the Qotile may actually have other interests in the galaxy and more complicated motivations than just vengeance.  Knowing that Yas universe is full of secret motives and agendas it’s hard to say if we can trust the Cytonians’ version of history.

What do we know about the protagonist in Saboteur, Hotot? In Yars’ Revenge, you always play as an unnamed Yar, giving the impression that each playthrough is done by a different Yar that is part of a larger force.  Hotot in Saboteur has a distinct personality and (if you’re able) defeats the Quotiles. What is driving Hottot? Is Hotot a robot? A human? A hybrid human-robot? 

We asked Howard to help shed light on these questions and he revealed some information Howard and hinted at more:

Atari: The Yars’ Revenge comic book explains that Yars descended from the common house fly on Earth, who were transformed into magnificent, sentient creatures through some sort of accident. Can you tell us what happened?

Howard:  I *could* tell you what happened, but we don’t have enough pages here. I can tell you that the transformation from house fly to Yar was an evolutionary process over hundreds of years.

Atari: What’s up with the Yar in Saboteur?

Howard: That’s a good question. Perhaps a better question is: What’s the Yar up to in Saboteur? You will note the Yar contributes to the building of the rocket transport, but it is not clear what exactly that Yar is contributing. Remember this: You can take the Yar out of Saboteur, but you cannot take the saboteur out of Yar.

 Atari:   The hero in Saboteur is a heroic robot. Where is he from?

Howard: Hotot is a Cytonian mining robot, and his identity is part of an elaborate cover story. The same could be said for the explanation of other activities in Saboteur. So far, very little has been revealed about the true purpose of this manufacturing facility. I can’t tell you everything right now, but suffice it to say that the hero in Saboteur is actually a human being on a species-critical mission.

Atari: The villain in both Yars’ Revenge and Saboteur is the Qotile. Why are they so mad?

Howard: You wacky humans! You think just because someone kills you they must be angry. Are you mad at the ants you step on while hiking? Or is it just an unfortunate consequence of a chance interaction? Also, I would question your assumptions about the role of Qotiles in Saboteur. The Yar-niverse is full of secret motives and agendas.

Atari: What can you tell us about our protagonist, the robot Hotot?

Howard: Precious few people realize just how deeply Saboteur is already stitched into the Yar-niverse. Hotot’s identity is just a cover story. Hotot is actually a human on a species-saving mission.