Colour or monochrome.
TOS in ROM required.
Ever since the ST came into being, it must have been
inevitable that a game would appear which is not only better than
almost anything available for the 8-bit machines but is better than
anything which can be written for such machines. Starglider is that
game. Put crudely, this is a shoot-'em-up, but one of such quality
that even those who don't like such games will be impressed. It
describes itself as 'an air to air and air to ground combat
simulation' and I would say that is exactly right.
The plot of Starglider is simple. The peace-loving
inhabitants of the planet Novenia are invaded by the loathsome
Ergons (led by their despicable commander Hermann Krudd) who rapidly
conquer the entire planet. Having long since discarded their armed
forces, the only means of I striking back left to the Novenians is
an old Air to Ground Attack Vehicle (AGAV). Museum piece (literally)
it may be, but it is better than anything the Ergons have, their
strength lying in numbers. It is hardly necessary to point out that
you are the pilot of the AGAV.
On loading the game (supplied on an autoboot disk)
you are presented with an excellent title screen and the best
computer-generated music (including vocals!) I have ever heard.
Pressing any key launches you onto the planet's surface to be
confronted with a bewildering variety of enemy craft What are all
these vessels, and what can they do? All becomes clear as you play
the game, but to give you some idea the Ergon forces range from
tanks to Bute fighters (manoeuvrable but slow), proximity mines to
the near-invulnerable walkers, and ground laser bases to Starglider
One (Commander Krudd's ship).
Your AGAV is armed with the usual lasers and, at the
start, one guided missile. The lasers are conventional enough, but
the missiles are quite extraordinary. On pressing 'L' on the
keyboard a clear female voice says 'missile launched' and a new
screen appears which instead of showing you the the view from the
cockpit of the AGAV shows instead the view from the nose cone of the
missile. You guide the missile simply by steering it to the target
using the mouse. I say 'simply' but it takes quite a lot of practice
to hit the target consistently, and even then the missile may be
destroyed in mid-flight by enemy fire. You also have shields, which
are depleted alarmingly quickly by enemy missiles, and an energy
supply which is also gradually used up during flight. Fortunately,
several Novenian bases survived the Ergon onslaught, and it is
possible (again with a considerable amount of practice) to dock with
these silos and replenish missiles, lasers and shields. Refueling
cannot be done here though – to do this involves a tricky and
dangerous piece of flying, very low between the energy towers
present on the planet's surface. The AGAV is destroyed if you run
out of energy or if your shields are exhausted.
The ultimate aim of Starglider (from the enclosed
novel) appears to be to destroy all the Ergon vessels finishing with
the command ship Starglider One – no easy task! The game has several
levels of difficulty, exactly how many I'm not sure although I have
seen the figure of 30 plus mentioned elsewhere! You proceed from one
to the other automatically as your score increases. However, I don't
know of anybody who has got anywhere near the finish – perhaps only
the programmer really knows how it ends.
The graphics of this game are excellent; there is a
3-D view out of the AGAV cockpit (or missile) with everything in
perspective and with very smooth scrolling. Enemy ships, buildings,
missiles etc. are drawn in wireframe graphics with full hidden line
removal. The interior of the AGAV cockpit is very detailed with
plenty of instruments and gauges.
Control of the vehicle is virtually entirely by the mouse, with
occasional keystrokes needed for some actions.
The packaging and documentation are quite superb. As
well as the game disk, you get a 64 page glossy printed novel
(essential reading to get the most out of the game), a flight manual
for the AGAV, a quick reference card and a full colour poster of the
vessel. Information about the various enemy craft is not included in
the documentation – you only get this after docking with a silo and
interrogating its computer, a nice touch I think. The documentation
is of such quality that other companies publishing software at
identical prices should take note.
Overall, this game really has to be seen to be
believed. If you don't own a copy, go out and buy it now. If you
don't have an ST, Starglider might well convince you that you should