Starion (Melbourne House) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action

By Melbourne House
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #2


Setting new standards in vector graphics that better even Tankbusters and leave you starry-eyed, this deep-space blast moves at tremendous speed and gives you a real mental challenge.

The action takes place in three time blocks, each split into nine time grids, which are further subdivided into nine time zones. This calculates out at 243 time zones in which you have to recover a cargo and return it to its rightful place.

The cargoes are composed of letters stored on alien ships. The aliens had stolen the cargoes from many times in history and to restore order you have to return the objects to their right times.

Once in a time zone the aliens will appear individually to battle with you. They can be tracked on scanners on the instrument panel. These are in two planes, vertical and horizontal, which are easy to use after practice and are much more effective than the kind of scanners normally found in games of this type. Once the alien is in the upper screen cockpit view you can centre him on the target cursor and let him have it with the lasers. A hit will release a letter of the cargo.

Letters can be picked up by flying into them, although while doing this you will come under attack from further hostile craft. The aliens come in several forms, but all shoot back and with the speed of the action can be hard to hit and easy to be hit by. Once all the letters in a zone have been picked up the computer automatically goes to a screen where you have to organise the letters into a word - the cargo.

In block one, grid one, zone one, the cargo is BIBLE. Armed with this information you have to go to one of the other eight zones in the grid. Here are found planets and flying into them lets you know if you've got the right cargo for that zone. If correct the oxygen and fuel are replenished and it's off to solve another problem. If wrong though you should note the historical problem for later use (another cargo will solve it), fight your way out of the zone and try another zone.

After completing nine time zones (one grid) a password has to be formed from the nine first letters of the cargoes to allow you to travel to another grid. The action is repeated after nine grids (one block) using the first letters of each grid password. If all three blocks are completed you'll have three block passwords, the first and last letters of which will form a six letter master password allowing you to become the CREATOR. Gosh!

It sounds complicated but once started everything falls into place fairly easily. The hardest part of the game is the actual fighting. The ship is equipped with five hulls which can be heated up or destroyed completely by collisions with mines, rocks and missiles. In addition to these indicators there are also speed, letters collected, pitch, yaw, roll, oxygen and fuel indicators.

The zones can become somewhat repetitive but the challenge is still strong. The fact that the password routes stay the same means that you can gradually adventure your way through them learning which passwords go where. Outstanding graphics and gameplay make this another winner for the down-under software house.

Second Opinion

The graphics really are stunning - it's just about the best version of space I've seen on any computer, let alone the Amstrad - and the idea of battling through to become the Creator certainly appealed to the megalomaniac in me.

Excellent shoot-'em-up action too. The only drawback is the possible similarity of the zones. But then I've seen too few to tell.

Good News

P. Marvellous 3D vector graphics.
P. 243 zones and 255 passwords.
P. Strong, lasting challenge.
P. Shoot-'em-up gameplay is addictive.
P. Well-implemented abstract game idea.

Bad News

N. Zones become repetitive.
N. Controls may be too fast.