Amstrad Action1st March 1990
Published in Amstrad Action #54
Oh, the smell of rocket fuel and the, er, void in your hair! As one of the dashing heroes of Galaxy Force your job was to rip around the star system at ridiculous speeds, look good and talk in a funny language about prangs, kites, and some bandits who were apparently arriving around three o'clock. That was until the Forth Empire obliterated five friendly planets and started light-sabre rattling at countless others.
Now you're being asked to do some fighting and save the galaxy, which is something they forgot to mention when you signed up for the Force. The five captured planets have to be re-taken, and the Forth bases destroyed if the imperialist dogs are to be stopped from total domination of free worlds everywhere. The squadron seems to have gone down with a mysterious stomach bug, so you are left to complete the task alone. You may not be ready, but this is the time for action.
Before the off, you can do a little reccie, and decide which of the worlds you want to have a crack at. None are going to welcome you with open arms, just firearms, and lots of them! They range from water worlds to fire planets, the difference being largely scenic, with only the occasional special enemy to kill.
First, you fly above the surface, picking off incoming fighters with your constantly-firing lasers and guided missiles. Wait till the head-up display blinks into the 'lock on' position, pump the trigger and they're history. Unfortunately, the members of the Forth Empire don't seem to mind the dying, and throw themselves tirelessly in your path. A factor luckily balanced by an infinite supply of missiles.
After the defeat of the surface fighters the trail leads underground and to an assault on the base itself. Naturally, flying at Mach 3 through tunnels isn't actually a very safe occupation. Great care is needed to avoid walls, ceilings and other hazards one would expect to find when piloting a spaceship in a cave. To compound the difficulty, Forth fighters still insist on flying straight towards you, trying to ram you out of their airspace.
At the end of the tunnel is the Forth base, not light. Once here, the fighters magically disappear, you can slip your ship into neutral and slam off explosives until the battle station crumbles. After the base has been trashed, it's back onto the intergalactic express, to find some more Forths on another world.
That's the theory, anyway, but things don't actually work out that way. The scrolling's jerky, especially in the tunnels, which critically impairs judgements about safety margins. To make matters worse still, the little 'guider' arrows that are supposed to show you the safe route through the caverns don't actually work!
They appear on screen too early, causing eager pilots to fly straight into the cliff face, only to disappear at precisely the wrong moment at the end of the turning.
As for gameplay, there's none to report. All you have to do is fly along keeping away from the enemy and tunnel walls. The shooting becomes simply a pleasant way to pass the time while you save energy by avoiding things. The enemy craft don't fire back, which makes shooting them down seem pointless and doesn't form a riveting foundation for a game.
Galaxy Force looks and plays like Afterburner but in a much lower league. With the threat factor traded off for the tunnel sequences, these have to be extra-tortuous, so you're bound to die after repeated impacts. The credit feature prolongs the agony rather than giving you a second chance.
Galaxy Force is a disappointment, as was its arcade forefather. It's almost impossible to play well, as the tunnels are simply too jerky to negotiate, regardless of skill. The shooting is pointless - it's not in self-defence and serves little other purpose than distracting you. The sound's oddly absent, although its credited (on the tape version) and the spot effects are tiresome. All in all, more of a Galaxy Farce than Force.
There are games with great-looking graphics but no gameplay. There are games with appalling graphics but superb gameplay. Galaxy Force combines the two - dismal graphics and non-existent gameplay.
First Day Target Score
Finish level two.
Green Screen View
P. Very jerky scrolling.
P. Confusion city.
P. No tune.
N. Average spot effects.
Grab Factor 50%
N. Killing things is easy...
P. ...because they don't fire back!
Staying Power 30%
P. Five levels.
N. Not exactly riveting.
Tiresome arcade blast.