1987
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Firebird BleepLoad

124,125
Ben Stone, Paul Sumner, Mike Dunn
Chris Bourne

Mother Earth has been invaded. A strange breed of sophisticated beings from a distant planet overwhelmed the World's primitive Star Wars defence system and enslaved the human race. The aliens seem to have settled in for a long visit and life looks bleak and futile for mankind. The only hope for humanity lies in one final plan.

Hidden away inside a nearby moon a research team has been concentrating on creating a totally new type of fighter craft. Just in the nick of time their experiments come to fruition in the form of the Pulse Fighters. With an expert team of pilots know as the Gunstar Fleet manning these small but powerful craft, the enslaved population can stage an attempt to reclaim Earth. Time for you to step in...

There are five levels to the game. The mission begins with direct combat as you meet waves of aliens on the vertically scrolling playscreen. After the alien fighters have been dealt with, fly through an asteroid belt, dodging the rocks until the alien command ship is encountered. To destroy the command ship, its gun emplacements have to be knocked out and then it's on to do battle with an alien robot that is defended with... gun emplacements. Finally, the mission comes to an end when you dock with the Earth Mothership and refuel the fighter ready to take on another wave of alien pilots and their fighters.

Three Pulse Fighter pilots are in the Gunstar Fleet and at the start of a mission the name of the Space Ace you control flashes on the screen, together with a few personal details including his experience, hobbies and the sort of Pulse Fighter he's flying. When a pilot dies you move on to the next Fleet member.

The score amassed by dealing death to aliens is displayed at the top right hand corner of the screen in the status panel along with your fuel status and engine temperature. An icon is highlighted to indicate which pilot is currently in the cockpit.

CRITICISM

'Well this makes a change, I haven't seen a nice budget shoot 'em up for months. It really is good fun gratuitously blasting enemy fighters and dodging waves of meteors, but as it isn't difficult to become competent at it doesn't take too long to complete and then it gets very, very boring. Graphically Gunstar is pretty: the characters move about smoothly at speed and there are a lot of nice touches both during the game and on the title screen. Although there are no tunes, the sound effects are fairly good. This will probably keep you quiet for for a couple of days and I'd say that It is well worth two quid.' BEN

'Mmmm, strange little game, this one. For £1.99 nnEBe1D seem to have come up with the almost typical little budget game. Gunstar comes with great presentation, with lots of nice little spot effects and featuring good use of colour. The actual content is very minimal, but I still find it very addictive and fun to play. Maybe it is a bit like Moon Cresta, but what there is of the game is very well designed and simply structured. If you want a fun game for £1.99 then you can't go far wrong with Gunstar. Simple but effective.' PAUL

'What a pleasant surprise: a really playable game. The humour is good enough to keep you playing for a while and then the game itself ought to keep you going. It reeks of budget labels but for £1.99 it does represent very good value for money. The high score table looks very DESIGN DESIGNesque although it lacks the original, amusing responses of Dark Star. The pilot details, although good, tend to be frustrating after half an hour or so and the pauses get a little aggravating. However it's very definitely the sort of game you just keep playing again and again.' MIKE

COMMENTS
Control keys
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: monochrome action area
Graphics: a little basic perhaps
Sound: minimal
Skill levels: three
Screens: 32
General Rating: A neat but undemanding budget shoot 'em up.

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