Starglider (Rainbird) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action


Starglider
By Rainbird
Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Action #17

Mastergame

Starglider

Until now Rainbird has produced only utilities and adventure games, but this heralds its arrival on the games scene. The game started life on the Atari ST, a 16-bit machine (the CPCs are based on the 8-bit Z80 chip), so you'd think it would be very tricky to convert. When you've got Realtime Games doing the converting, though, you can bet the graphics and gameplay will be of the highest order.

At £15 on cassette and £20 on disk it needs to be good to convince you to shell out for it. If you could judge a game by its packaging you'd have no doubts: it comes impressively boxed with some tasteful artwork. The instructions are in the Elite mould, featuring a novella by James Follett (he wrote the film Who Dares Wins, but don't hold that against him!). The story and 'playguide' booklet don't tell you all the instructions clearly - it's up to you to deduce some actions from what you are told. Don't take the instructions too literally either: there are also some misleading parts.

You won't have much trouble getting into the game. It's just a matter of loading up, choosing from the comprehensive control options and blasting a few aliens. However, you'll soon find yourself needing to pay attention to the strategy side of the action in order to survive for very long. The novella and playguide tell you all you need to know. You just have to sort the hard facts from among the fiction.

Your task is to do a major demolition job on the enemy forces occupying your planet. You've got a single, antiquated fighter with which to do it. The view is from inside the fighter's cockpit, an instrument panel at the bottom of the screen and the landscape above it. All the objects that appear on the planet are vector graphics, but they come in different colours, there are lots of them and they move beautifully.

There are 15 different enemies armed with several different weapons. They all have their own different behaviour characteristics and weaknesses which you'll soon know very well. There are superbly animated walkers and stompers - very like the ones in the Star Wars films that stride about shooting missiles. Tanks trundle along, also armed with missiles. In the air you face the threat of several Elite-type fighters and, of course, the infamous Stargliders. These are large mechanical birds that have a delightful flapping action.

Your ship is armed with missiles and lasers. Multiple laser hits are required to destroy most enemies, and missiles will be needed for the larger machines. These are TV-guided to give you a missile's-eye-view in flight. Missiles are in short supply and you have to work out how to get more.

Some ground targets won't attack you. Two in particular are essential for refuelling, repairing, energising the lasers and collecting missiles. The story and playguide will give you hints on what to do, and then it's up to you to work it out while playing. And then you can go on a rampage of non-stop destruction.

Once your score reaches a certain level (it won't be easy!) you proceed to a new level where the enemy appear in greater numbers, are more intelligent and also better equipped. You'll find that even with plenty of practice the going will get very tough.

The graphics really are superb: fast-moving, colourful, excellent animation. The gameplay is out of this world as well: easy to start off with, but as you progress, strategy gets tricky and the enemy get tough.

I know it's horribly expensive, but if you like fast-action games with lots of heavy blasting, you should have this in your collection.

Second Opinion

The long-awaited Starglider has arrived! The vector-graphic animation of those dreaded stompers is classy; watching the Stargliders with their flapping-wing motion is better still. As for getting down to the game, you won't want to switch off. I enjoyed the good old blasting. And, underneath its simple game-structure, Starglider has lots to offer for the strategist.

Green Screen View

Will cost you in both senses of the word.

First Day Target Score

5,000.

Good News

P. Slick packaging with its own novella.
P. Fast-moving vector graphics.
P. Superb animation.
P. Never a shortage of things to shoot, into play.
P. Strategy element gradually comes more.
P. Increasingly difficult levels.

Bad News

N. Ouch! That price.

Bob Wade