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Starship Command

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Released: 1983

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: BBC Micro

Publisher: Acornsoft

Developer: Peter Irvin

Submitted by: Alex Reeves

One of my favourite early arcade games, Time Pilot, featured a lone ship, at the centre of the screen, with an approximation of 360 degree movement around the playfield.  The approximation came is based on a limited 8 direction movement, which somewhat spoiled the effect.

I was reminded of Time Pilot when I first played Starship Command on the BBC Micro.  With your ship based in the centre of the screen, and the entire playfield rotating around the ship, the early promise of Time Pilot was delivered in full.

As the commander of a starship (who would have guessed) in the mould of the Enterprise, your mission was to take on as many enemy ships as possible until you either died, or successfully ejected from your overwhelmed vessel.

Your peformance was then rated by Starfleet, and if you had scored enough points during the level you would be awarded a new ship and a new level.

The particular pleasure in this game involved using the unique rotational physics to overcome the numerous enemies, anticipating where they may be on screen by the time your bullets arrive, and to finish with a flourish, use your escape pod to destroy one last ship.  There was also a tactical element in the form of alternating shields and scanners, only one of which could be used at a time.

The game was however fairly repetitive, the only reward being to access new and previously unseen ships to command. 

Whilst not having the depth of Elite, this game was a great space based shooter with graphics that Spectrum owners at the time could only dream of.