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Cover art of Starglider
Developer(s) Argonaut Software
Publisher(s) Rainbird
Designer(s) Jez San
Platform(s) Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Amstrad PCW, Apple II, ZX Spectrum, MS-DOS, Commodore 64
Release date(s) 1986 (8-bit), 1987 (16-bit)
Genre(s) Space flight simulator
Mode(s) Single-player

Starglider is a 3D video game released in 1986 by Rainbird. It was developed by Argonaut Software, led by programmer Jez San. The game was inspired by Jez San's love of the 1983 Atari coin-op Star Wars.[1]

Plot and gameplay[edit]

It is a fast-moving, first-person combat flight simulator, rendered with colourful wireframe vector graphics. The game takes over the surface of the occupied planet Novenia, and it is the player's goal to rid the world of the mechanised Egron invaders. To this end the player is equipped with a high-performance AGAV fighter aircraft, which is armed with lasers and television-guided missiles.

ST/Amiga version title screen

Starglider was originally developed by Argonaut Software for the 16-bit Commodore Amiga and Atari ST machines. Rainbird also commissioned Realtime Games to produce 8-bit versions for the Amstrad CPC, Amstrad PCW, and ZX Spectrum (128k, with a cut-down 48k version without sampled speech or special missions), and also for the IBM-compatible PC running in CGA. Solid Images were commissioned to produce versions for the Commodore 64 and Apple IIGS. Most versions included then-novel sampled speech, from Rainbird employee Clare Edgeley.[1]

The Amiga version has a title music by Dave Lowe using digitized samples as instrument sounds (before the age of tracker music). Both ST and Amiga versions also have about 15-second long song - a single PCM sound file - with real vocals and synthesizers. A male voice sings: "Starglider... by Rainbird".

Starglider was packaged with a sci-fi novella by James Follett, describing the game's background story, in which the Egrons effortlessly blitz Novenia despite the planet possessing a previously impenetrable network of utterly deadly defense satellites. The Egrons defeat the system by disguising their battleships as a flock of intergalactic migratory birds, the Stargliders (of the title). The defense satellites had been programmed not to fire on these birds (which migrated between planets regularly) and hence did not recognise the Egron battleships as enemies, allowing the Egrons to reach the surface unopposed. You pilot the only existing example of a prototype fighter craft, initially armed only with lasers, as the TV-guided missiles require an enormous amount of energy to launch and control, which can only be gained by induction as your craft skims over areas with high-tension power conduits.

It was followed in 1988 by a sequel, Starglider 2.


Starglider was Firebird's third best-selling Commodore game as of late 1987.[2] Compute! called it "a visually smooth concoction that is so realistic in its feel that you'll duck and squirm in your seat", especially praising the Atari ST version's graphics and sound.[3] The game won the award for Game Of The Year 1986 in Crash magazine.[4]

Get Fresh[edit]

A timed version of Starglider was used for the Get Mucky segment of UK Saturday morning children's TV show Get Fresh. Two contestants played three-minute sessions on the modified game, the winner being the contestant with the highest score.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Bird Sanctuary's memories of Starglider
  2. ^ Ferrell, Keith (December 1987). "The Commodore Games That Live On And On". Compute's Gazette. pp. 18–22. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Eddy, Andy (May 1987). "Starglider". Compute!. p. 46. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  4. ^