Melbourne House
David M. Webb
1985
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

22
Clare Edgeley
Chris Bourne

BATTLING with aliens in space to gain a jumble of alphabetical letters is an odd but original theme. Melbourne House has come up trumps with Starion where your powers at sorting out anagrams will be called to the fore.

Starion constitutes a series of word puzzles and anagrams and is a fine mixture of arcade style graphics combined with strategy and superb 3D effects. A good general knowledge of history and spelling is essential.

The idea is to re-write 243 events in earth's history over the last few hundred years. Killing off enemy space craft causes them to drop letters which when collected form a word - though you have to unscramble it first to make sense. That word will change one event in history but it is up to you to choose the correct era.

The game is divided into time grids and time zones grouped in blocks of nine. In each zone, the letters have to be collected and a word formed to enable you to fly through the time warp - very tricky as its centre never remains still. Once through you reach the time grid, which allows you to choose the year to which your wordy cargo belongs and to head straight for Earth. If the word fits, you will then have to repeat the process in the remaining eight zones.

After re-writing history in all nine zones battle recommences taking you to a further eight time grids in the next block.

The screen shows the view outside the cockpit with your laser guns' cross hairs firmly centred in the middle. Aliens and flying debris hurtle towards you at great speeds giving the impression of flying forwards. It is no mean feat to hit the aliens due to their speed and erratic movement. Debris should be dodged to avoid damage to the craft.

At the bottom of the screen is the instrument panel displaying speed, the letters collected and two radar scanners which scan both horizontal and vertical fields.

When picking up the letters, lock them into the centre of the cross-hairs and fly forwards. One gripe is the length of time it takes for the letter to travel towards you, although it can be appreciated that the letter has to be redrawn continuously at it gets larger.

Station can be viewed either as a light educational adventure in time or purely as an arcade game. Whatever view, it's well worth buying if only for the pleasure of turning history upside down.

Clare Edgeley

Publisher: Melbourne House
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair

****

4/5