ST Entertainment - Complete ST Game Software Resource
Improvement on an outstanding originalby Harvey Bernstein
In the computer entertainment biz, sequels can be as risky a proposition as in films. However, just as some film sequels ("Godfather II," "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan") can expand and improve upon the original, so it is with software. Since the original Starglider, released almost two years ago, is still one of my favorite games and perhaps the finest ST arcade game overall, it was with a great deal of trepidation that I first booted Starglider II. Did two years lead to a major improvement? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!
In the original Starglider you fought Hermann Kruud and his elite Egron armed forces as they attempted to conquer your home planet of Novenia. Piloting a lone AGAV vehicle, you kept his stompers, tanks and saucers at bay, ultimately destroying Kruud himself.
Now the Egrons are back, more dastardly than ever. Rather than launch another direct assault on Novenia, they have successfully conquered the five planets of the Solice System. By constructing collection stations and a giant transmitter on the moons of those planets, they hope to channel the power of the Solice sun into a beam of tremendous energy. And guess where that's aimed.
Once again it's you against impossible odds, as you pilot your vehicle (this time it's the Icarus) from planet to moon and back again, fighting Egron patrol ships, knocking out collection stations (which are rebuilt over time) and eventually destroying the transmitter itself.
Of course, the transmitter is no pushover. In fact, the only weapon that will destroy it is a neutron bomb. And the only way to get one of those is to have it constructed by the scientists of Apogee (where the game begins). Naturally, they don't have everything they need to build one, so the bulk of the game is somewhat of a scavenger hunt--finding things like nuclear fuel and diamonds scattered throughout the Solice System.
Most of the planets are inhabited, and the inhabitants can be contacted only at Service Depots far underground. While battling your way through the Egron defenses, you must find your way into a complex maze of tunnels. Once you arrive at a Service Depot, the natives will be able to replenish one of your weapon systems, as well as offer one of the nine components of the Neutron Bomb in trade for something else, of course.
Obviously, Starglider II has a lot more depth than the original Starglider which, excellent as it was, was just a shoot-em-up with very little strategy. The good news is that the arcade elements have been vastly improved as well.
The Icarus craft has twice as many weapons systems as the original AGAV vehicle, including lasers, Time-Warp Cuboids, Homing Missiles and the Neutron Bomb itself. In the original, you could regain energy only by skimming along power lines--a tricky maneuver. In Starglider II, there are five different refueling techniques including my favorite--flying as close to the sun as possible to gather excess energy without melting. The Egrons are a proportionally greater threat too, with their original arsenal doubled.
The flat-looking cockpit display of the original has been improved and now includes 3-D bar graphs indicating the status of weapons and shields. Standard view is out-of-the-cockpit, but views in all directions are available. You can also switch to an external perspective and view yourself in the heat of battle.
The wireframe graphics of Starglider have been replaced by solid 3-D models, but the game hasn't slowed down one bit. If anything, the Icarus is even more responsive than the AGAV. Joystick control has been added, but I found it unwieldy. Fortunately, the mouse works the same here as in Starglider--steering with the mouse while firing weapons with the left button and controlling acceleration with the right.
Digitized sound effects enhance Starglider II immensely. Rainbird also has made a technical breakthrough with its own customized operating system that allows both the ST and Amiga versions of Starglider II to reside on the same disk! Not only will more dealers carry the program, but it may usher in a new generation of Atari/Commodore flippies.
To say that I highly recommend Starglider II is an understatement. Rarely does a program achieve such high standards in graphics, sound, story or playability. It deserves a place in every ST game library.
$44.95, color. Rainbird Software (Mediagenic), P.O. Box 227, Menlo Park, CA 94026. (415) 322-3996.