John F. Cain
1984
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£5.99
English
ZX Spectrum 16K
None

107,108
Chris Bourne

Death Star is a 3D shoot 'em up set in a trench on the surface of a massive alien craft, and as such is in the tradition of 'Star Wars' type games of which Blade Alley by PSS is another example. Unlike Blade Alley, this game has only the one screen. The scenario is that the evil Garth Fader has sent the most deadly weapons system in the Universe to destroy humankind and the only form of defence left is a squadron of three ion-drive Ford Prefects armed with laser canon. You are the only pilot left and by remote control you must save humanity, by flying along the trench firing at the enemy fighters as they hurtle towards you.

The trench is described on screen by three areas of the same blue, each divided by two pale blue lines going from the two lower corners almost to the top centre of the screen. This forms the 3D perspective view along the trench. Movement is indicated by a line of dots running down one wall, across the floor and up the other side. These appear in the 'distance' and shoot towards you, and continue to do so at intervals throughout the game. in the small slice of black sky at the top, stars are also moving towards you.

Your ship can move left and right as well as up and down, its position in space marked by its shadow on the trench floor. The aliens appear from the distance and are animated towards you through several stages. Some of them fire plasma bolts.

CRITICISM

'This is another of the 3D type shoot 'em ups, but it isn't really a very good game, it seems to lack excitement. The ship keeps getting hit even when you attempt to fly over other ships. Also it can be hit when flying high by attackers in the distance! It seemed to me that no matter where an attacker was (ie distance or height) it would hit you if it overlapped with your ship. This is surely a mistake in programming (or is it just poor program design?). The movements, etc, is okay but firing seems a bit on the "cheap" side with a streak or line going to the end of the trench (vanishing point). Not one of the best games of this type I have seen.

'Death Star doesn't have much going for it - rather disappointing after all those little ads in the magazines telling us life would never be the same again after Death Star. The graphics are simple to the point of not working - at least as far as the 3D goes, and there isn't anything special to do except shoot at enemy craft when they appear. The graphic of your ship is quite large and does distort in shape when you move from side to side, but oddly, remains the same shape no matter what height it is at. This makes it difficult to line up shots at times. The other irritating thing is that if this is supposed to be 3D, how come you can't get over a low flying enemy? Can't the programmer make his graphic characters merge or pass each other without the computer deciding you've been in collision when your eyes tell you that you haven't? All these points made the game unexciting and unplayable as far as I was concerned.'

'I probably shouldn't compare one game with another as a form of criticising it, but after playing Blade Alley, Death Star has little appeal. Everything seems wrong with it. Any sense of dashing down into a deep trench at high speed is lost by those silly little dots which move fast when they are a 'long way off', and slow down as they get 'nearer' to you. That's wrong, it ought to be the other way about. Some of the alien characters are quite nice but overall I thought the graphics poor and undetailed - also very flickery. Is this compiled? The user-definable keys are good though!'

COMMENTS
Control keys: user-definable, four need plus fire
Joystick: AGF, Protek, Kempston plus most others via UDK
Keyboard play: average responsiveness
Colour: average and unvaried
Graphics: generally reasonable, though flickery but 3D effect poor
Sound: frying bacon sounds, poor explosion noise
Skill levels:
Lives: 3
Originality: a poor copy of a much more complicated arcade game
General Rating: Below average.

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Screenshot Text

Poor looking 3D supports very little in Death Star.