Star Raiders II

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Star Raiders II
Star Raiders II box art.jpg
Cover Art
Developer(s) Atari
Publisher(s) Atari
Platform(s) Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum
Release date(s) Atari 8-bit
INT 1986
Genre(s) Shoot 'em up
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution Cassette tape

Star Raiders II is a video game released in 1986 for the Atari 8-bit home computers, and later several other home computers and game consoles. The game was originally developed as part of a tie-in with the movie The Last Starfighter, which featured an arcade game of the same name as part of its plotline. Versions for the Atari 5200 and the Atari 8-bit computers were developed in 1984, although those were never released.[1][2] Later the tie-in was dropped, and the game converted into a sequel to Star Raiders by changing a number of gameplay elements. The gameplay remained quite different from the original Star Raiders. Versions with The Last Starfighter branding made their way into the warez channels.

Gameplay[edit]

Movie concept[edit]

The plot of The Last Starfighter revolves around the latest outbreak in a long-running war between two races. In the past, the Rylan Star League protected themselves from the warlike Ko-Dan through their fleet of advanced "Gunstar" fighters, and the "Frontier", a space-based energy field. Their protection is removed when a member of the League defects to the Ko-Dan cause, destroying the Gunstar base and showing the Ko-Dan how to pass through the Frontier. The movie follows the protagonist Alex Rogan as he crews the remaining Gunstar fighter and defeats the Ko-Dan fleet. Rogan was discovered by the Rylans by his high scores in an arcade game that was actually a Gunstar simulator.

Last Starfighter[edit]

The original videogame remained faithful to this basic plotline, standing in for the arcade game in the movie. It expanded on the movie's action by having multiple Ko-Dan fleets attacking the League. Each fleet contained a group of Deckfighters for protection, Destroyers that attacked the cities on League planets, and a single command ship that was responsible for breaching the Frontier. The command ship left the fleet once the Frontier was breached, leaving the Destroyers and Deckfighters to attack.

The game opened with the player in orbit above Rylos, being attacked by the fighters. After defeating this initial force, pressing space opened a display of the local solar system, showing the multiple planets, the Frontier, and any attacking fleets. The joystick is used to move between the various objects on the screen, which can be selected in order to warp to them. Fleets could be attacked at any point, but there was an advantage to attacking them while they were attempting to breach the Frontier; in this case the player immediately faced the command ship in a defenceless state, and destroying it before it burned its way through the Frontier would leave the rest of the fleet stranded on the other side.

In the upper left of the map display was an icon representing a wormhole linking to the Ko-Dan solar system. Selecting this icon as a warp point flew the player to the Ko-Dan system. Ko-Dan fleets were generated by industrial sites on the planets, and flying here allowed attacks on the factories. As these were destroyed the spawn rate of new fleets was reduced, and when all of these were destroyed, the player won the game.

Damage to the ship and energy use were replenished by flying to the local star and orbiting it. This also heated the ship up, to the point where it was possible to melt it. Several trips to and from the star might be needed to fully repair the Gunstar.

Star Raiders II[edit]

The original Star Raiders was a graphical version of the classic text-based Star Trek game from the 1970s. The basic outline of Star Trek was to fly between the various "quadrants" in the galaxy and defeat the Klingon ships within. Damage could be repaired and energy topped off at the handful of starbases scattered around the map. This basic outline remained intact in Star Raiders, although updated with graphics, and with the names changed to avoid any tie-in with Star Trek. Combat was vastly improved with a complete 3D flying simulation and real-time combat with the enemy ships.

Initial attack by fighters

The modifications from Starfighter to the Star Raiders universe was relativity limited; starbases were added as the only way to repair damage, as well as a secondary source of energy (the star remained as a primary fueling point). The Frontier was removed, and the command ships that were originally intended to attack it became additional powerful enemies. Shields were added to the player's ship, and a new "tactical scanner" was added that displayed status information about the fighter in a single overview. Names of the ships and planets were changed, with most of them names from the original Star Raiders being used or adapted. The original animated introduction, similar to one seen in the movie, was removed and a simple "Star Raiders II" copyright splash screen was put in its place.

With those exceptions, the two versions were very similar in both gameplay and presentation. Star Raiders II thus has much less in common with its namesake than the game it was adapted from.

Other versions[edit]

Conversions for the ZX Spectrum,[3] Amstrad CPC[4] and Commodore 64[5] were published under license by Electric Dreams Software in 1987.

Reception[edit]

Computer Gaming World wrote that if Star Raiders for the Atari rated 6 out of 10 for graphics and 8.5 for design, ''Star Raiders II rates an 8.5 for graphics and a 4.5 for game design ... gets repetitious after a while".[6]

The ZX Spectrum version received mixed reviews; Your Sinclair awarded 8 out of 10,[7] Sinclair User awarded 5 out of 5 stars,[8] but CRASH only awarded 52%, feeling it did not compare favourably with the similar Codename MAT.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reichert, Matt. "The Last Starfighter (Atari 5200)". AtariProtos.com. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  2. ^ Reichert, Matt. "The Last Starfighter (Atari 8-bit)". AtariProtos.com. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  3. ^ Star Raiders II at World of Spectrum
  4. ^ Star Raiders 2 at CPC Zone
  5. ^ Star Raiders 2 at Lemon64
  6. ^ Williams, Gregg (Sep–Oct 1986). "The Atari Playfield". Computer Gaming World. p. 35. 
  7. ^ Lee, Tony (June 1987). "Star Raiders 2 review". Your Sinclair (18). Retrieved 2007-11-09. It's a good game, all in all, but limited - there's not a lot of variety, so anyone other than shoot 'em up freaks may get bored. 
  8. ^ Taylor, Graham (May 1987). "Star Raiders 2 review". Sinclair User (62). One of the more entertaining space games. Despite its rather simple graphics, it's incredibly entertaining. 
  9. ^ "Star Raiders 2 review". CRASH (40). May 1987. A dated arcade conversion of the 'left, right and fire' variety.