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Starglider

Moby ID: 1203
Atari ST Specs
Included in

Description official descriptions

The Planet Novenia has been attacked by the Egrons, who snuck in by disguising their craft as the protected Starglider species, which Novenia's automated defenses were programmed not to shoot.

Your task is to fight them off using only an obsolete Airborne Ground Attack Vehicle. This was designed as the ultimate combat machine, with sophisticated hardware up to Draziw Yarg's high standards. It has a fully-rechargeable shield, plasma drive unit, an inbuilt scanner and 10,000-sector map, a top speed of 2550 Urads and two homing missiles.

The game is viewed from within AGAV's cockpit, with control over speed, weapon targeting and firing. There are several control options to decide exactly how the craft works, with fixed or floating sighting, and the option of automatic centering, allowing you to balance the game between easy sighting and advanced shooting ranges.

Repair depots must be visited frequently, as they can refill the weapon bays as well as repairing the ship. Crucially, the Egron Stargliders need 3 missiles to shoot down, so at least 1 visit to a depot is required to complete this job, at which point you move up to the next, harder, level.

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Screenshots

Promos

Credits (Commodore 64 version)

7 People

Original Program
Commodore Version
  • Solid Image
Starglider Novella
Graphic Design
Title Screen
Music
Documentation

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 84% (based on 17 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 44 ratings with 1 reviews)

Sitting on her head like a paraffin stove

The Good
Starglider was released at the dawn of the 16-bit era, all the way back in 1985. It was one of the launch titles from Rainbird games, a spin-off of British Telecom. The company (founded by a man called Tony Rainbird) was the posher cousin of Firebird games, and released its produced in blue cardboard boxes at a hefty price of £14.95. In its day Starglider was an extremely desirable thing.

It was an early showcase for the new wave of 16-bit machines that was emerging at the time. I believe the game was written for the Atari ST and ported for the Commodore Amiga, as was the fashion for several years. It caused a lot of people to migrate from their ZX Spectrums and Commodore C64s. There was however a very good conversion for the ZX Spectrum, particularly the 128k version, which retained the special missions of the original and had an attractive synth-pop theme tune. Using emulation I have compared the ZX Spectrum version with the Atari ST original, and they are very close. The Spectrum version is more jagged, but it has the same gameplay and isn't much slower, despite the CPU running at less than half the speed (then again, it had less to do).

The game is based on the "towers" sequence of Atari's Star Wars vector graphic arcade machine. You fly over a dotted grid, and your job is to shoot a wide variety of air and ground targets, most of which shoot back. The game was packaged in a typically sturdy Rainbird box, with a manual and novella, although it is basically a shoot-em-up. Once you scored over a certain amount of points, you went to the next level. If you destroyed the Starglider of the title - a big metal bird - you received a large points bonus.

The game was notable for its enemy vehicles. There were lots of them and they were diverse. There were standard fighter planes and tanks. But there were also two-legged walkers that evoked the AT-ATs of the Star Wars universe (at times the game resembled the obscure "Empire Strikes Back" arcade game, which had not yet been converted for home systems in 1985). The Starglider was a large animated bird that flapped its wings majestically, like a lesbian, or Liza Minnelli in "Cabaret".

The refuelling sequence, in which you had to flow slowly over glowing subterranean power lines, sticks in the mind.

The Bad
There wasn't really much to it. Once you reached the second level you had seen most of what the game had to offer. It had none of the depth of "Elite" or "Mercenary" and it was actually less fun than the Star Wars towers sequence because it kept on going long after the novelty wore off. There were very few ground obstacles and you could come to a dead halt, so there was no "3D Deathchase" sense of barrelling through a packed forest of instant death.

Today it is a period piece.

The Bottom Line
Starglider has dated badly. It was the only major 3D game for the 16-bit machines that did not use filled polygon graphics. Even on the ST and Amiga it wasn't really fast enough to be exciting, and there was no depth at all. It was attractive and received some television coverage, but nowadays it is nothing. The ZX Spectrum conversion was by a company called Realtime Software, who had previously written a game called Starstrike, which was a note-perfect copy of the Star Wars arcade machine. Starstrike is the better game.

I believe that Starglider is one of the first action games to support mouse control.

ZX Spectrum · by Ashley Pomeroy (225) · 2006

Discussion

Subject By Date
Macintosh?? Silvano Ciccioli (152) Feb 23, 2021

Trivia

Farewell message

When the player exits the game to DOS, the following message appears just above the command prompt: "Thank you for playing StarGlider - Have a nice DOS!"

Get Fresh

The game was shown regularly on the Saturday morning ITV kid's show Get Fresh. To quote from Rainbird's official memorial site, "two players had to battle at the same time get the highest score in a specially modified time-restricted version of the game". This was probably the first instance in UK television history of a computer game being included on a television show not as a freaky high-tech novelty, but as a organic part of youth culture, as relevant as pop music or BMX.

Awards

  • Power Play
    • 1987 - #2 Best Amiga Game '87
    • 1987 - Best Digitized Voice (Clare Edgeley)
  • Commodore Format
    • July 1993 (Issue 34) - Modern Classics: Sims

Information also contributed by MS-DOS Guru.

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  • MobyGames ID: 1203
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Will D.

Commodore 64 added by Quapil. Amiga added by necronom. ZX Spectrum added by Kabushi. Apple II added by Paul Jones. Amstrad CPC, Atari ST added by Martin Smith. Amstrad PCW added by Игги Друге.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Ashley Pomeroy, Martin Smith, Echidna Boy, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Game added March 28, 2000. Last modified January 23, 2024.