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Starstrike II

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Released: 1986

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Realtime Software

Developer: Graeme Baird / Ian Onions / Ian Oliver

Submitted by: Gavin Eke

Starstrike II was the much anticipated sequel to 3D Starstrike, itself heavily based on the Star Wars coin-op.

This time, Realtime raised the bar further than the humble Spectrum had ever been. Wireframe graphics had already been achieved with great aplomb on pivotal titles such as Elite, Tomahawk & Starion. However, Starstrike took the daring step of filling in the wireframe graphics, enabling objects to assume a solid form.

Realtime also took the step of fleshing out the prequels paltry three stages, into a more meaty campaign. The plot had you, piloting a more evolved variant of the Starstrike fighter into Outsider territories to ensure that they wouldn’t invade your solar system again.  There are twenty two planets (campaigns) spread over five star systems with your first decision being where to strike first. The planets are categorized into Agricultural, Industrial & Military with each offering a slightly different challenge. Industrial & Military planets are more heavily defended, therefore, will provide stiffer opposition. The stages within a planetary mission follow a template of an approach to an enemy space station, crossing a defense grid, facing enemy fighters, &  attacking ground defenses. After which you would fly into an expanded version of the Star Wars trench scene. Make it past all the enemy defenses & you’ll have free shot at the reactor/core. Destruction of the core will nullify the Outsiders planets capacity to launch further attacks.

The media’s reaction to this title was overwhelmingly positive, with reviewers gushing over it’s graphics, pushing the Spectrum further than it had ever been. However, despite the critical acclaim, there was a price to be paid for pushing Sinclairs machine so hard. Certain reviewers implied that the speed of the game wasn’t affected by the graphical breakthroughs, but play the prequel & you’ll definitely notice that Starstrike II is more sluggish/less responsive than Realtime’s earlier title.

It is this reduction in speed that makes the prequel a better, more playable game. 3D Starstrike may’ve been only three stages in length but they were brilliant fun. Whilst the premise of the title had been expanded, sometimes it seems, less is more.