Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39505)
Written on  :  Aug 15, 2011
Platform  :  Amiga
Rating  :  4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars

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A remake that improves on a classic game in so many ways

The Good

When an early Eighties arcade game was popular enough to warrant a release, those releases were made for 8-bit computers such as the Apple II, Atari 8-bit, and Commodore 64. A couple of years later when 16-bit ones first came out, it was not uncommon for developers to remake one of these classic games onto the machines, while taking advantage of the machine's best features and adding extra gameplay elements. There was Deluxe Galaga and Deluxe Pac-Man for the Amiga and H-Mec (another Pac-Man remake) for the ST, and StarRay for both of these machines.

The game was released by Logotron in the late Eighties, and it plays very much like Defender, in which you have to blast aliens that appear on screen (with laser fire or smart bombs) while watching a radar at the same time to know where they are and what they're up to, and the only difference is the humans are replaced with ten installations that you have to protect. (The game ends when all of them is destroyed.) The game is brilliant. Basically what Logotron has done is take a simple, popular game and improve on it in such a way that is sure to impress 16-bit owners who yet haven't witnessed the original game.

For example, the music that plays on the title screen is brilliantly composed by Nirto K. Fischer, and, according to Hall of Light, StarRay was his first project. The soundtrack is easy to know off-by-heart. The title screen looks sophisticated, with the ship occupying most of the screen and the picture of the mountain serving as the background. Both the orange sky and Arno Seiler's use of a stenciled title, written in a gray/dark-blue gradient makes this title screen all the more pleasing to look at. In my opinion, this title screens looks superior to the one used in the US release, which is known as Revenge of Defender. If you wait a few seconds, you get to see a preview of Quadralien, a strategy game also created by Logotron.

You do all the killing through backdrops that look fantastic and animated nicely. The sprites are well drawn and their exploding animations are nice. The radar at the bottom of the screen looks good. It gives a clear indication of what is happening, so you'll know when the installations are being attacked. There are a few things added to the gameplay. There are different power-ups that you can get, but you never know what they are until you actually collect them; and there are satellites in the later levels, and if you shoot them, your radar will be messed up and you won't know what's happening.

The digitized sound effects are excellent and they blend in with what you are doing. An alarm sounds when one of the installations is under attack, and it is heard loud enough that you can actually hear it among other sounds. There are times that this alarm will irritate you and that's way it's important to kill the alien attacking the installation. The sound effect played after you launched a vaporizer is bizarre.

Pressing [Esc] during the game will bring up a menu, allowing you to customize the game to your satisfaction. You can start on any of the first four levels, making it ideal for those bozos who just lost all their installations in their level and can't be bothered to replay said level. One of the menu options lets you turn the sound off, making StarRay slightly faster.

Control-wise, StarRay lets you control the ship with either the joystick or mouse. When using the latter, the left button fires your ship's laser, while the right launches a vaporizer. The joystick, on the other hand, provides a bit of speed as well.You may think that the mouse is ideal for this game.

The Bad

However, each control method has its disadvantages as well. The joystick has no button where you can vaporize the aliens, so you need to make sure that the mouse is connected to your Amiga. The mouse may have two functions, but it is a pain to control the ship.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, StarRay is brilliant, both in graphics and sound. It is similar to Defender, but with a few gameplay difference, with the prisoners being replaced by installations and a variety of power-ups you can collect along the way. The backdrops and the sprites are well designed, and there is smooth animations all throughout. If you have played the original arcade game and are fortunate enough to have an Amiga 500, you might want to check this out.