Star Ship (Atari 2600)

Star Ship Atari 2600 Shooting space objects in Star Ship

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Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
2.1
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Written by  :  eratik (109)
Written on  :  Sep 02, 2008
Rating  :  1.25 Stars1.25 Stars1.25 Stars1.25 Stars1.25 Stars

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Summary

Breaking Ground - In a Lame Sort of Way

The Good

The first-person shooter games are, considering the age of this game, entertaining. The trippy computer bleep background music lends atmosphere.

The Bad

The gameplay is poor. The graphics are poor. The portions of this game that aren't a first-person shooter aren't really a game - more like a 2600 functionality demo.

The Bottom Line

Star Ship packages three basic games, each reflecting the program's spaceship theme. In the first, the player is looking through his ship's front window as it hurdles through space. Using the ship's laser beam, the player gains points by shooting crudely rendered enemy crafts. The player loses points by failing to avoid crashing into asteroids or enemy ships. Different settings of this game permit faster action or more enemy targets on the screen at one time. A more significant variation allows a second player to take control of the ship being fired upon.

The second game, if it can be described as a game, retains the first-person perspective, but removes the shooting aspect. In "Warp Drive" you simply attempt to avoid hitting asteroids as you slowly accelerate. Due to the slow movement of your ship, it will quickly become impossible to avoid a centrally generated asteroid. Every few seconds in which no asteroid appears in the center of the screen, however, you collect a point.

The third game, also not much of a game, is in the more common third-person perspective. "Lunar Lander" requires you to move your space craft to the portion of the screen where a "moon" is located and press the button. "Watch Out" for the "asteroids" which move slowly and in a strict narrow band. The two-player version adds some playability by allowing the second player to control the movement of the moon.

As my description of the game may indicate, of the three games included in the package only one is moderately enjoyable. The first-person shooter is mildly fun for a short period, but quite limited for today's audience. The game, as advertised, places you in the front seat of a star ship and lets you blast through alien hordes while avoiding the ubiquitous asteroids. Unfortunately, the game's shortcomings outweigh its strengths and, indeed, its potential. The graphics, despite being rendered in a unique (for the time perspective) are poor and, in my opinion, poorly thought out. (How does the space monster propel himself through space and why is he the same size as a Klingon spaceship?) Furthermore, the game proceeds at a geriatric pace and the star ship controls react as if your star ship were mired in a tar pit. To say the least, the shooting fun quickly ends. On the other hand, I found the music to be atmospheric, even a little creepy. (I actually think it sounds a bit like an inspiration for the Metroid music.)

The other portions of the game are worse - feeling more like programing demonstrations than games. In "Warp Drive" you simply move your joystick based on the location at which an asteroid appears. However, due to the sluggish controls, you will inevitably crash in short measure because, once your ship speeds up, you can't move quickly enough to avoid a centrally appearing asteroid. Frustrating and not really a game. "Lunar lander," simply indicates a spot on the screen to which you must move your object before depressing the fire button. Slow-paced, easy and, also, not a game.

I'm not the sort of person who believes that breaking new ground outweighs a game essential suckiness. True, this game went where no other had gone before, but it did so poorly. Though I doubt that you'll spend much time with this game, the first portion of the game may be worth checking out if you're in the mood for some slow-paced action and a retro, even historical, experience. Do not, however, count on enjoying yourself much.