> In a bygone era, flat-shaded polygon graphics were all the rage in PC
games, and to some extent coin-ops. It was the first step away from 2D
into the realm of 3D. Namco introduced StarBlade
to arcades back in 1991, and it was fairly well received. Home consoles
of the time didn't have the horsepower for this kind of detail until Sega
released its Sega CD console add-on.
> The story is simple: "Red Eye" (enemy mechanized moon) is moving towards
the Mother Planet. Sit in the gunner position of a "FX-01 GeoSword" spacefighter,
and blast your way through an onslaught of enemy ships on a mission to
destroy Red Eye's power reactor, "Octopus". Much easier said than done.
The enemy has a multitude of fighters, capital ships, and turrets to defend
Red Eye. Can a squadron of GeoSword fighters penetrate the enemy defenses
and succeed in saving the Mother Planet?
> Since this game has simple gameplay and minimal options, the importability
rating is perfect -- just make sure you have a conversion cartridge, or
play it on an emulator.
> The game features ultra-smooth, 3D polygon graphics as you zoom along
imaginary rails. The backgrounds are pre-rendered for the Sega CD
version, very much like Silpheed; Meanwhile, the wireframe
enemy fighters are hardware rendered. I like the detailed capital ships,
explosion animations, enemy photon torpedoes, and the constant sensation
of flight maneuvers. Overall, it's leagues above anything you'll experience
on other 16-bit consoles. My only beef is that the on-screen action is
not presented in full-screen; it's windowed with a side panel instrument/score
display. Perhaps this was done to maintain the smooth frame-rate?
> There's not much to do in this game, other than appreciate the scenery,
as the player is only tasked with firing the laser guns of a spacefighter.
Therefore, aiming with the D-pad and firing with the B-button is your only
duty. Of course, it's not always so easy, since the player isn't flying
the spacecraft through its constant pitching, turning, and rolling. For
the record, I'm fine with the speed of the aiming reticle. Anyway, easy
to learn and tough to master (remember) the enemy patterns.
> StarBlade has no music, which is unusual for an arcade
game, and completely uncharacteristic of a Sega CD game.
However, it has lots of great sound effects: There are various explosions,
swooshing jets, a low shield alarm, enemy photon shots, numerous laser
shots, and lots of radio chatter. It all sounds great, and I suppose it
adds a touch of seriousness to an otherwise entirely arcade experience.
> First of all, if you don't like simple point and shoot games, then you'll
have no fun here. On the other hand, if you like accessible, difficulty
adjustable arcade games, then this might satisfy your quick gaming needs.
I'm in the second category, so StarBlade is right up my alley.
The notion of flying through space to defeat an armada of enemy fighters,
capital ships, and installations is cool. Sounds a lot like Star
Wars, and I'm sure that's not coincidental. Anyway, it's good fun
a few times through, and is eternally easy to get back into this groove.
> StarBlade does a great job of bringing home the arcade
original. If you like space combat, and want an impressive looking 16-bit
rail-shooter, then Namco delivered the goods. I really like
this genre, and this one is super easy to pick up and play -- absolutely
no need to study an instruction manual. If you want longevity, 3-button
gameplay, and beautiful background music, then move along.
7.3 | Graphics: 8.5 | Control: 7.0 | Sound: 7.0 | Fun: 6.5