Starstrike 3D
ZX Spectrum
Realtime Software
Andy Onions, Ian Oliver
Before a change in copyright law which made blatant software plagiarism illegal, there was a huge market in home 'versions' of popular arcade titles - normally released by dodgy bedroom software companies preparing to go bankrupt at any moment. More often than not, such clones were of abominably poor quality and most had silly names too - a quick scan of any pre-1985 computer mag will reveal a multitude of adverts for games such as Puc-man, Monkey Kong, Asteroid Attack! and so on. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. Starstrike 3D - a clone of the brilliant Star Wars arcade game - was produced by Realtime Software, a company famous (in 1984!) for pushing back the boundaries of technology and consistently releasing quality software.

The action is viewed in first-person perspective from the cockpit of a space fighter. A cross-hair is used to aim your ship's lasers as well as to steer. The three action sequences found in the Star Wars arcade game are replicated in the same wireframe graphic style. The first shows your approach to the - ahem - Death Star where - ho hum - TIE fighters attack from all sides. As well as shooting the enemy craft, the laser bolts they fire must also be destroyed in order to preserve shield levels. Once the enemy stronghold has been reached, you find yourself flying across it's surface destroying turrets and towers, again destroying or dodging enemy fire as it is unleashed. The third sequence is set in a trench which you must traverse, dodging horizontal and vertical beams and yet more enemy fire. The aim in the fourth stage (the only one that doesn't borrow from Star Wars) is to shoot two units either side of a deadly shield in order to reach and destroy the reactor pods - the destruction of which causes the entire complex to explode into a million pieces. As well as keeping an eye on shield levels, there are also laser heat levels to consider. Overuse of lasers can leave your fighter unarmed at the worst possible moment. Before the game starts, players can choose from one of four difficulty levels and, when all four sequences have been completed, the player is sent back to the start at a higher level.

Shoot the screeching TIE-Fighters. Except on the Spectrum they don't screech. They sort of 'click'.

Believe me, this game was a spectacular accomplishment on the humble old speccy

Hooray - Star Wars on the spectrum and it's great! Everything is here from the arcade game except the sound effects and, although it runs at (what we would term today) a lower frame-rate than the coin-op it imitates, Starstrike is a remarkable achievement on the Spectrum. Sound is lacking as you would expect, but everything else is spot-on. The TIE fighters break up convincingly when shot, as do the buildings on the second sequence. The fourth sequence is an excellent addition and enhances the whole experience. I loved this game when it was released and - having played it on a speccy emulator - I am pleased to say it is still as impressive today. Incidentally, if you like Starstrike you might also want to check out Realtime's 3D Tank Duel - another excellent wireframe clone, this time of the classic Battlezone. Remarkable stuff.

Graphics: 93%

Sound: 36%

Gameplay: 90%

Overall: 88%
Convincing 3D wireframe graphics convey the action brilliantly. Slightly jerky but smooth enough to allow for fluid gameplay. Colour clash is evident but due to the fast pace of the game, is hardly noticeable. Even for the sonically-challenged Spectrum, quite lacking. Weak effects with very little variety and no music. If you like Star Wars, you'll love Starstrike. The first three sequences imitate the arcade game very accurately and the addition of a fourth enhances an already spectacular game. As perfect a copy of Star Wars as you could expect on the humble speccy. The graphics are a little jerky, but every ounce of playability is in there. Starstrike makes up for it's lack of real depth with sheer arcade-style exhilaration.
R E C O M M E N D E D   A L T E R N A T I V E S
Death Star Interceptor • Starstrike II

O T H E R   F O R M A T S
Star Wars (Arcade) • The Empire Strikes Back (Arcade) • Sentinel (Commodore 64)

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