Screenshot of Starfox


(Reaktör, 1987)

Reviewed by Pug

Aliens have moved into the eight systems that are at peace with one another. Now chaos rules within the systems and space travel is dangerous. You pilot your Starfox fighter hunting down this alien menace. Starfox is a 3D space simulator with vector and filled polygon graphics. Wormholes supply quick routes to other systems and an autopilot alters your course to lock on to the baddies. Your ship and weapons can be upgraded as you progress through the eight stages of this action game. This is one of those games that will either grow on you or become boring very quickly.

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Screenshot of Starglider


(Rainbird, 1986)

The Egrons have invaded the planet of Novenia, and two inhabitants of the planet decide to destroy them single-handedly using an ancient Airborne Ground Attack Vehicle (AGAV). You manoeuvre the AGAV around Novenia’s surface, destroying the Egron craft with lasers or missiles. There’s a radar at the bottom of the screen which shows your current co-ordinates. You’ll need to remember where underground depots are located so that you can replenish your lasers, shields and missiles. Your energy can be restored by flying slowly between the two towers marking the power lines which can be found around Novenia, but this requires some precision. The 3D vector graphics are relatively fast and the game is an absolute joy to play as a result – one of the classic 3D space shoot-’em-ups.

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Screenshot of Starion


(Melbourne House, 1985)

Aliens have caused chaos in the space-time continuum by removing objects from time zones and scrambling them into other time zones. You’re the bold pilot who has to venture into the time zones, retrieve the objects, and put them back in their correct places. It’s not as simple as it sounds – the objects are really anagrams, and each letter is collected by shooting alien spacecraft. You then have to work out what the anagram is, although you’re given clues when you enter a zone. The game features very fast vector graphics, and with nine sectors and nine time zones in each sector (and an anagram for each one!), this game is going to last you a long time.

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Screenshot of Starquake


(Bubble Bus, 1986)

An unstable planet has suddenly appeared from out of nowhere, and Blob, the Biologically Operated Being, has landed on the planet in order to repair its core before it explodes. The core consists of nine parts which you must find within the vast caverns of the planet – and there are 512 screens! Fortunately there is a teleportation network which you can use, but you need to know the correct codes. Blob flies around the caverns using hover pads, but some objects can’t be picked up if you are using a pad, and you also can’t use the teleports. You have a supply of platforms to raise your height, but these are limited. This is a wonderful game and an absolute joy to play. The game might be a bit too large, but exploring the caverns is such fun that it doesn’t really matter.

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Screenshot of Starring Charlie Chaplin

Starring Charlie Chaplin

(US Gold, 1987)

Have you ever wanted to make your own 1920s-style silent movie starring Charlie Chaplin’s famous Little Tramp character? This game offers you this opportunity, but it proves to be quite disappointing. You select one of eight scripts, and then you film each scene in the script one at a time, with each scene lasting about a minute. This involves moving Charlie around the screen and repeatedly knocking other actors to the ground, or letting them do the same to you. You can then watch what you’ve filmed and shoot it again if you’re not satisfied. Once filming is completed, you can release it, watch it in its entirety and wait to see what Variety magazine thinks of it. The main problems are that there’s very little you can do when you’re filming the scenes, and the option to edit each scene really offers nothing of the sort at all.

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Screenshot of Starstrike II

Starstrike II

(Firebird, 1986)

The Federation is planning a pre-emptive strike on the Outsiders, using their new generation Starstrike II spaceship. This will not be an easy task, as there are 22 Outsider planets to be penetrated, and they are spread across five solar systems. Each planet is either agricultural, industrial or military, which determines how heavily defended it is and what types of gameplay you will be playing. Your fuel and shields are limited, although fuel can be used to replenish your shields. Fortunately you can replenish both by returning to your support module. This shoot-’em-up is a big advancement on its predecessor, with significantly improved 3D graphics and a greater variety in the gameplay – definitely a game that is not to be missed!

See also: 3D Starstrike.

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Screenshot of Starting Blocks

Starting Blocks

(Coktel Vision, 1988)

Five events are bundled into this game; the 400m sprint, parachuting, the 50m swim, the ski jump, and track cycling. For a game that fills up nearly an entire disc, that’s not a lot! Four of the events involve some furious joystick waggling, although thankfully the keyboard can also be used. The parachuting event involves positioning yourself to land on a target, while the ski jump requires both joystick waggling and ensuring that you land correctly. You can practice the events, or play all five at once, competing as either Africa, America, Europe, or Asia and Oceania. The game as a whole isn’t bad, although the combination of events seems rather strange. The graphics are fairly good in most of the events and the music at the start of the game is also nice.

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Screenshot of Stationfall


(Infocom, 1987)

After your heroic mission in Planetfall, you are now a Lieutenant First Class on the Stellar Patrol Ship Duffy, but your latest assignment is ridiculously mundane – go to a nearby space station to pick up a supply of forms. When you get there (accompanied by your robotic friend Floyd), the station is completely deserted, most of the machinery is going crazy, and an alien ship has brought something rather nasty with it. Of course, you’ve got to save the station from being taken over by it. The sense of foreboding and isolation pervades this text adventure, which increases the difficulty level considerably with respect to its predecessor – and this is the main reason why I don’t like it as much. It’s still very good, though.

See also: Planetfall.

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Screenshot of Steel Eagle

Steel Eagle

(Players, 1990)

Ho-hum – another cheap, horizontally scrolling shoot-’em-up. This one has the added bonus of making your CPC pretend it’s a Spectrum, and that is never a good thing. You can collect up to five different power-ups, all of which add some extra weaponry to your spacecraft. Unfortunately, if you aren’t able to collect these power-ups, you’ll have great difficulty getting far, and that’s the main problem with this game. The scrolling is reasonably fast, and I can put up with monochrome graphics, but there are too many enemies and not enough room to dodge them.

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Screenshot of Steg the Slug

Steg the Slug

(Code Masters, 1992)

It’s a tough life looking after your family. Steg is a slug, and his little slugs, the T’yungunz, are hungry and want their favourite food – grubs. On each of the ten levels, Steg must blow bubbles to trap the grubs which are to be found crawling around. The bubbles float upwards, and hopefully they will find their way to the T’yungunz at the top of the level. On the first two or three levels, this isn’t a problem, but on later levels, you’ll need to intervene by blowing more bubbles or gently blowing on to them to make them move. The concept behind this game is quite original and is fairly similar to Lemmings. However, the game crawls sluggishly (pun intended), and as a result, each level takes ages to complete and things become boring. If this wasn’t a Spectrum port, it could have been a lot better. The music is good, though.

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