Star Raiders II (The Great Galactic Adventure Continues) is, pretty obviously, the sequel to Star Raiders.
Apparently, back in the good old days of Star Raiders I, the Zylons were all but wiped out on account of not being very nice chaps at all. A few of the Zylons, however, seemed pretty well behaved and were allowed to resettle on their home planet. And guess what! They didn't stay well-behaved for long. Under the leadership of Chut -a bitter and twisted Zylon filled with psychopathic hatred for everyone because hs parents gave him such a stupid name - they assembled an entire battle fleet in 45 minutes and took to the stars to wreak revenge on their old adversaries.
That's about all you need to know of the politics of the situation. Let's talk about weapons, shall we? Firstly, as hardened space pilots will know, it is essential to familiarise yourself with the controls of your ship, where all the light switches are, how to use the coffee maker, that sort of thing.
Apart from the domestic stuff there's plenty of dials and gauges about the place. Some are important, others aren't. Most important is the energy gauge. This runs low if you got a bit crazy with the weaponry, or take a lot of hits - particularly if your shields are down. More about what to do in a low energy situation in a moment.
The weapons bar tells you whether you are using pulse laser cannons or, for ground bombardment, SSBs. There is one other type of weapon - the ion cannon, but this autolocks whenever destroyers appear on screen. The weapons bar is pretty much a waste of time as you can tell which weapon you are using from the target sights.
Pulse laser temperature bars are not much more useful. They tell you when the lasers are about to overheat. When they do overheat, they stop working and you can't fire, but they cool down almost immediately, so overheating isn't much of a problem.
Come to think of it, hardly any of the instrumentation is of any use whatsoever. The tactical scanner tells you if your shields are up, which is worth knowing alright, but what about the rest? What, for instance, does the 'sub space radio monitor' do? It makes pretty squiggly lines, as does the 'master computer display' and the 'library computer monitor'.
So much for what you don't need. What you do need is the battle window, which provides you with a view of the outside world. In the battle window, you can see a number of different things, depending on what you happen to be doing at time. If you are in orbit over a planet, you can see the planet surface complete with cities revolving below. If there are any around you might also see Zylon fighters and destroyers. If you decide to dock with a space station for refuelling and repairs, that is what you see.
Finally, pressing the space bar presents a map of the battle zone. The map shows the locations of the two star systems - Celos IV and Procyon, with locations of the planets in the system you currently occupy.
What it all comes down to is a battle of tactics. It's quite straightforward really. The Zylon squadrons are on their way to destroy all the cities on the planets of the Celos IV system. You must stop them, defend the cities and at the same time hit back at the Procyon star system.
To defend your cities you must first destroy the fly fighters. The fly fighter pilots are intensely stupid and copy each other's manoeuvres to the pixel, so if you can get the first one, the rest are a piece of cake. When all the fly fighters have been shot down, you must go for the destroyers - a bit trickier because it takes more shots to finish them off, but no less boring. When the destroyers are gone, you occasionally get to have a go at a command ship.
It is essential you defend your planets because if you don't all your cities are destroyed and that's you lot. Every now and then, though, you get five minutes to go and have a bash at the Zylons. It's the old bombing run trick. The planet revolves below you, as do the cities on its surface. You must drop the bombs, or surface star bursts, and guide them onto the target with the crosshair sights. It's so tedious I can hardly bring myself to describe it.
Well, that's about it. In between you frequently have to hyperspace to a station to stock up on fuel and SSBs. A fascinating sequence during which a yellow diamond scrolls onto the screen and off again.
If Star Raiders II had been released two years ago I might have been a bit impressed. As it is, it has a very old-fashioned look about it. On top of that the inclusion of loads of boxes with fancy names, but no function whatsoever, makes me very suspicious.