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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!

Starflight
1989 Electronic Arts/Binary Systems
By ?

 
Most text of the present article comes from the C64 review published in the fifty nineth issue of the British magazine ZZAP!64 (Street date: February 15th, 1990) and the Amiga review published in the sixty first issue (Street date: April 12th, 1990).
 

 

Form 2-19
Rorschach
Scientific Stationary

THE LAB REPORT

RESEARCH PROJECT: Binary code addiction as a means of controlling the world.
HEAD SCIENTIST: Prof NORMAN NUTZ Phd, Bsc, KP.
RESEARCH EQUIPMENT: C64, Amiga A500, Cray-2.
LAB ASSISTANT: The Geek

After last month's record-length intro, Ed's asked me to shut up! I've also promised not to make fun of Star Trek -- in fact, I can't make anything of it at all.

There were plenty of games to review this issue, although sadly not of the quality of last month's excellent crop. But there are still one or two worth the price of a vacuum pump. The Geek has also been busy, torturing that miserable Hogg creature to give him a Future Wars solution and map.
.

STARFLIGHT
Electronic Arts, Amiga 24.99

 

ecent studies of the southern regions of your home planet, Arth, have uncovered remarkable evidence of an ancient subterranean culture that existed thousands of years ago. This all-but-forgotten race of humans apparently arrived on Arth in a giant spaceship, Noah. They were seemingly escaping annihilation by three alien races: Uhleks, Gazurtoids, and Phlegmaks. The ship came from a planet that until now only existed in legend: the planet earth.

Suddenly intent on discovering their roots, the population of Arth has Interstel embark on a huge exploration experiment. Having rediscovered and mastered earth's knowledge of space-travel, Interstel charge a team of trainee space cadets (including yourself) with the task of exploring the galaxy to find out exactly what happened to earth.

The project isn't government-aided and funds are relatively low, hence you're only equipped with a basic ship to begin with. It's up to you and your crew to find and bring back minerals, alien artifacts and new lifeforms, trading them for cash to buy ever-better ships to explore deeper and deeper into space.

You begin your vast and intrepid commission safe and sound in Starport. Represented by a little man in a red space suit, you may choose from a number of options while docked here: you could visit the bank to admire your assets or pop into the trade depot to buy a new engine, shields, laser cannon, or missiles for your ship. However, it's recommended that you purchase four boring cargo pods for your ship before you do anything else. The drop in on personnel and get yourself a crew. You've a choice of human, reptilian, insect-like, plant-like or android personnel, each specialising (but still requiring expensive training) in navigation, science, engineering, medicine, and so on.

Your ship (which you have the pleasure of naming before it's launched) comes equipped with an engine (of sorts) and a little fuel. So once you've assigned your crew their posts, you may boldly go where everybody else seems to be going. It makes sense to explore your own solar system before heading off into deepest space, to get used to the game controls. Also you can collect some quite profitable minerals, allowing you to upgrade your ship for when you feel ready to spread your wings.

Collecting minerals, artifacts and so on from planets is achieved by piloting a terrain vehicle around your ship's landing site (fuel limits restrict travel), picking up items and info as you go.

As play progresses and you discover more and more about your immediate surroundings, little snippets of information come your way concerning the instability of Arth's sun. And it seems this is more than a natural phenomenon. Your task takes a more urgent pace as you need to discover as much as possible about your galaxy, hoping for clues as to what's happening to your sun before it goes nova.

Play is slow to begin with and watching your ship land on planets takes an age. However, the landing sequence may be turned off and once you begin to explore outside Arth's system, Starflight becomes very interesting.

There are 270 star systems and 800 planets waiting to be discovered, with minerals, ancient (and recent) ruins, alien lifeforms and artifacts there for the plundering.

Fortunately for the sake of lasting interest, not everything goes your way: space combat (or its avoidance) plays a large part in Starflight as do other elements derogatory to your success, such as running out of fuel or energy (easier to do than you might like), the crushing gravity of some planets, engine or communications failure, planetside storms and hostile lifeforms; it's a hard life in the Interstel Space Corps.

Although sound is pathetic and animation poor, Starflight is intriguing to play. There exists a real sense of discovery and even excitement as you dare to travel further from Arth. And it's a real good feeling to leave Starport in control of a ship so well decked out with shields, lasers, missiles, and a thrusting, throbbing mega-engine that she could give even the Enterprise a tough time . . . if only I had Kirk's crew.

Really-useful-information dept:
A C64 version should be available in March, priced 14.99
.

 
Atmosphere 81%
Puzzle Factor N/A
Interaction 76%
Lastability 86%

Overall

82%

STARFLIGHT
Electronic Arts, C64 14.99

 

f you want Starflight's full scenario take a butcher's at ZZAP! 59 (page 22). However, for those too lazy to do even that, the basic plot involves you and your selected crew planet hopping and mining for minerals and artifacts to sell for profit to enable you to improve your ship (and to better train your crew) so you can travel farther afield to make even bigger profits. You also need to find out what's wrong with earth's sun before it goes nova . . . it's what any descent space hero would do!

The Starport section -- where crew recruitment, commodity trading and ship upgrading take place -- is visually very different (but much funnier) than the Amiga version. You're depicted as a little man in a gleaming white space suit who struts horizontally along a corridor of openings, saluting very smartly before entering modules. He also taps his feet impatiently if you don't interact with him for a while.

Most other sections, such as decking out your ship, space flight, searching planets and so on, are similar to the Amiga game, although minor (pun intended) differences, such as having no SCAN or LOOK option to examine planetside objects and the use of coloured blocks instead of icons for object identification, exist.

Starflight's depth and massive play area is maintained on the C64 (270 star systems and 800 planets) and music and FX are at least as good (bad?) as on the Amiga. It's only graphics (and their animation) that are actually worse (hard to believe) on the 8-bit machine. However, as Starflight involves trading, communication and strategy, graphics take a back seat (more like locked in the boot actually) to game play.

The C64 version gets a better mark than its Amiga counterpart 'cause, for it to be such a close downgrade, the creators (Binary Systems) couldn't have been trying very hard on the 16-bit game.

 

u p d a t e

Atmosphere 82%
Puzzle Factor N/A
Interaction 77%
Lastability 86%

Overall

83%
 


If you want a walkthrough, visit
Jacob Gunness
' Classic Adventures Solution Archive or
Martin Brunner's C64 Adventure Game Solutions Site

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (6 Mar 2010)
The original Amiga review contained the Amiga version of the first two of its above screenshots.The original C64 review contained only the first of its above screenshots.

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