Insight Software
1985
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.95
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

22
Chris Bourne

In days long gone by there used to be an arcade game called 'Star Firebirds'. It was a very 'hip' game to be good at and came to be one of the cheaper ways of becoming a super hero because you didn't have to spend a fortune learning how to play it. Star Firebirds is a one or two player game based on that once popular arcade game.

If you think back you will probably remember the format; you are in control of a little space craft weaving your way through space when you are persistently pestered by wave after wave of weird and aggressive bird-like space ships. The basic idea is that you move your craft left or right dodging the onslaught of missiles while at the same time firing like crazy in order to reduce the enemy's ranks a little.

If at any time you find yourself in rather a tight spot there is a 'chicken switch' which allows you to warp out to the top of the screen to appear again at the bottom. Very useful, but you only get one opportunity to do that on each wave.

The speed at which the game starts depends on which of the five levels you select, and you can choose a one or two player game. The number of enemy ships in each attack wave is set at 50. During a battle the number of ships that remain to be destroyed is shown at the top of the screen, underneath the number of lives remaining to you. The current score for each player is given at the top left and right of the screen respectively.

Each successive wave will be harder and, as the screen scrolls faster and the speed of the enemy ships increases, staying alive becomes just that little bit more difficult. It's at the higher levels that the large bombs become a real problem they descend from the top of the screen and make their way towards you. If you can, it's best to hit them before they explode and spray the bottom line with shrapnel which they will do even if you score a hit, but at least you will get some points for your trouble. The points depend on how far away the bomb is when you hit it: 50 if it's right at the top, 200 if it's nearly down your throat.

After the first wave you get a chance to re-shape the Firebird itself. It appears at the top of the screen and makes a bee line for you. If you let it get close enough it will start spraying you with missiles. Destroying it is a little difficult because you really do have to hit it quite a few times before it does the honours and turns into a ball of flame; never fear though, true to legend it will return to pester you for the next wave. The rate at which the space craft move is governed by the level you are on, but the rate at which a bomb comes at you can and does switch between three speeds. Also, the number of missiles fired by the Firebird is likewise variable.

Finally, if you manage to end up with a reasonable score you could have a little fun cracking the secret messages hidden in the high score table...

CRITICISM

'I know it's an old game but I enjoyed it anyway. I think it's fair to say that it is rather easy and by the time you have cracked the higher levels you could start to lose interest. The graphics are quite good, the movement of the space craft is smooth and quite fun to watch. My only gripe is the price. £7.95 is an above average price for a game of this sort. However, if you liked the arcade game and fancy a very straight-forward arcade shoot em up then you could certainly do worse than buy this'

07 am afraid that this is another variant out of the left/right and fire mould. There isn't a great deal of variation in the game- it just gets faster as you move from one level to another. It's clearly a copy of an old arcade game that was making the rounds years ago, so in that respect this is not an original game. At first I did find the game challenging at the higher levels, but once I had sussed the patterns of the enemy attacks I began to lose interest. I liked the loading screen which has a pretty neat counter telling you how many K of code remain to be loaded'

'Space Firebirds is a conversion of the arcade game of the same name. It is a very good copy of the arcade original but it looks very dated now. The graphics are adequate but they are not likely to make you jump up and down with glee. As shoot em ups go, this is quite a good one though it is not on par with Moon Cresta. Space Firebirds is extremely playable but you are unlikely to return to it often. What really lets it down is the £7.95 price tag. If it was a budget game I would recommend it but it is just too dear at the moment. If you like shoot em ups then consider this game otherwise it is a bit boring.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable, excluding space, symbol shift and caps shift keys
Joystick: Kempston, cursor type and Sinclair
Keyboard play: very responsive
Use of colour: well used but a few attribute problems
Graphics: very good and quite smooth
Sound: very little during the war but it plays a very good tune
Skill levels: 5
Screens: one scrolling, 64 attack waves
General Rating: Dated, but a good game.

78%
67%
84%
75%
65%
43%
73%

Screenshot Text

Don't get cocky kid. Just because you can zap a STAR FIREBIRD or three doesn't mean you're a hero.