3D Starstrike - ZX Spectrum review by Florinthedwarf

Realtime? Does that mean it's 1984 again?

This is a bit of a first for me - reviewing a Spectrum game that I didn't play back in the day, or indeed any day after back in the day. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I hadn't played it before. Hope that makes sense now. So, it's a bit like playing a new game for me, which is an oddity in itself but also exciting too as I'd only heard positive things about 3D Starstrike. Though excited, I also remain sceptical as I usually find if I'm told I have to play this game or have to watch this film etc., I usually find myself disappointed. Very rarely I end up liking the recommendation so how would this one fare? (Cue tense music).

'Wow!' is all I can say. Where has this game been all my life? Nowhere near my house, unfortunately. How have I let this game pass me by? It's rare that I get gripped so instantly by a game but this has it all. This just has everythng you need in a space-themed shooter; multiple level styles, plenty of enemies to shoot and some chances to put your dodging and flying skills to the test. Looks are great and it benefits from having some very impressive wireframe 3D graphics that really show what the Spectrum is capable of. Not only are the graphics impressive but they're also very quick, which is surprising given how much is going on within the screen. Swooping up, down, left and right are a breeze and even if you start blasting your lasers, you'll find the gameplay as swift as a....swift. Excellent stuff.

Oops. Missed.

What is Starstrike all about? Well, evil doers (known as the Outsiders) have decided to do what they do best - evil things. Having gathered an army to try and take over and ultimately destroy the universe (it's never anything simple, is it?) you're handed the responsibility of stopping them. I'm not sure who has the biggest task here given that there's hundreds of them and only one of you. I hope you're up for a challenge. The game itself is laid out into various sections: the first part (see above) has you in straight-on dog fight in space; speed you way through the upper reaches of the galaxy as you're bombarded with enemy ships trying to take you down. This is your chance to show how good your shooting skills are as you aim to destroy everthing in your path; enemies are plentiful so will keep you on your toes but is also a lot of fun. Is there anything better than just having to destroy everything in sight? Nope. Thought not.

Got him! *does happy dance*

Next up it's time to get onto that planet to infiltrate the enemy base and, well destroy things again (told you this game was good), though this time you fly close to ground taking out enemy buildings, which fire bullets as they aim to stop you in your tracks. It's another fast paced affair with enemy buildings seemingly incessant in number and dare I say 'hell-bent' on trying to kill you. You've only gone and destroyed some of their army - what's their problem? They're also still trying to take over the universe so try not to take it too personally.

Now I know what a TV dinner feels like.

You've infiltrated the base, now it's time get into the equatorial ducts. Sounds painful but it's not a euphemism, so we're all good. Speed your way through narrow tunnels, avoiding oncoming laser and enemy fire as well as barriers you'll below and above you. This is one of my favourite parts of the game as it really is test of skill and manuverability as you dodge lasers shifting up and down trying not to crash into the many fixing bars you encounter along the way. It's a test but also very fun, too; you'll find yourself physically moving up and down just to make sure you don't crack your actual head on something, even though it's just a game, so you could well sell this as an 'immersive' experience. If it hard been marketed that way when it was originally released, they could have sold it for a least £10 more. A missed opportunity there, I mean missed by 34 years but still, missed all the same.

Ooh, that looks interesting. Best I probably shoot it.

After avoiding the trappings of the ducts (and possibly making yourself look like a fool bit moving your head up and down), you've finally made it to the reactor base and this time there's some electricity to enjoy. Though, don't spend too long enjoying it as you have a job to do and it's a job you'll have very little time to complete as you'll need to destroy the reactor pods you see and either side of the white wavy thing (electricity). If you're quick and accurate enough, you'll be free to proceed and blast off into hyperspace (whoo!) if not, back to the start with you!

Dodge the catwalk? I own  the catwalk, baby!
Inevitably, there are comparisons between this game and the Star Wars game released on the Speccy roughly a year before. No, not because they both have 'Star' in the title but because of the look and level design. What can I say other than (apart from not having played Star Wars before either - I really must work on these things) 3D Starstrike really does hold its own as a space based shooter; I'm genuinely quite sad I didn't discover this game sooner. From what I've read about Star Wars (still haven't played it), the general consensus is that this is a lot better in terms of gameplay and speed. Sometimes official game tie ins aren't up to much (who'd have thought?) and you're better off playing unofficial tributes. But enough of comparisons, 3D Starstrike is a behemoth of the genre; very impressive graphics, animation and plenty of enemies to shoot; what more could you want in a game?  Maybe a Wookie, but that would be a bit of a stretch, I think. Wookie or not, 3D Starstrike is what you need in your life.


Ok ,Chewie - I'm coming!

That's my queue to leave, I think. 

If you like what you read, follow me on Twitter if you like @florinthedwarf

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