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Stargunner box art.jpg
Developer(s) Independent Australian Developers
Publisher(s) Apogee Software
Engine Custom
Platform(s) MS-DOS, Windows (Windows XP and later via DOSBox)
Release November 19, 1996
Genre(s) Scrolling shooter
Mode(s) Single player

Stargunner is a 1996 horizontal scrolling shooter computer game published by Apogee Software and released for MS-DOS and Windows.


Stargunner was one of the earliest shoot-em-up games to use pre-rendering for enabling 3D graphics,[citation needed] similarly to games like Donkey Kong Country and Killer Instinct.

Its three registered episodes each followed a specific setting with complementary enemies (space, land, and underwater); the introductory (shareware) episode providing a sampling from all three themes.

Stargunner uses a credit system similar to that of Raptor: Call of the Shadows, with little emphasis on power-ups.

On June 22, 2005, Stargunner was released as freeware.[1]

In total there are 33 levels, known as Stages, to play in Stargunner, divided into four separate parts or episodes:

  • Episode 1 - Scout Mission
  • Episode 2 - Stellar Attack
  • Episode 3 - Terran Assault
  • Episode 4 - Aquatic Combat

System specifications[edit]

The following is the system specifications as transcribed in the playing manual:

  • Minimum - IBM PC or 100% compatible, 486 Processor, 8Mb RAM, VGA video card with at least 256k video memory, 1.4Kb free space on hard disk drive to play from CD-ROM (43.2Mb for full installation), 2X speed CD-ROM drive, MS-DOS 5.0 or later
  • Recommended - Pentium 90 MHz or better, 16 Mb RAM, VESA Local Bus (VLC) or PCI video card with fast DOS access & 1Mb of video memory, VESA 2.0 Compliant Video card (or software driver), 4X speed CD-ROM and speed compensating joystick
  • Supported Input Devices - Joystick, Mouse, and Keyboard
  • Supported Graphics - VGA and SVGA
  • Supported Sound Devices - Sound Blaster -family, Gravis Ultrasound, Pro Audio Spectrum, and 100% compatibles

Detailed information[edit]


The game has two separate storylines; those being the one described in the official playing manual included with the CD-ROM copy and the one which is found on the 3D Realms/Apogee website and portrayed in the game itself.

Manual Plot[edit]

The huge carrier ships of Barak entered Amdara space with signs of friendship and cooperation. The peaceful Amdarans welcomed them and helped them colonize a nearby planet. But soon after, the masked Barakians revealed themselves as a warring race with conquest in their blood. Now two thousand years have passed.

Locked and beaten down in a staggering war, the Amdarans have one final hope before surrendering to the overwhelming Barakian forces. The Amdarans have trained an elite squad for an offensive strike design to cripple three strongholds on Barak, where the majority of Barak's space fleets are amassed. If the offensive strike team can surprise the Barakians on their own planet and destroy most of their fleet, then hope is not lost for the Amdarans.

The people of Amdara have nicknamed their elite force the "StarGunners".

Website/in-game Plot[edit]

In the far distant future, an epic war for survival takes place...

Deep within the Andromeda galaxy, the people of Zile grow restless--and greedy. The Zilions secretly prepare for a massive strike against the nearby planet Ytima. Fearing such an attack the Ytimians train an elite squad of "Stargunners." Their mission: To strike the planet Zile first, and cripple the Zilions three strongholds, where the Zilion war fleets await the launch order. If the Stargunners can surprise the Zilions on their own planet, and destroy most of their fleet, then good will triumph at least one more time.

Basic game play[edit]

In-game play[edit]

The player controls a craft on a horizontal perspective going to the right. Enemies can approach from in front, from behind, from below or from above. They can be either lone flyers or formation ships. The maps have a linear quality in which enemies and power-ups appear at the same time and the same place, as is common with side-scrolling shooters. Gameplay is notably differentiated by high numbers of enemies and power-ups.

In-game items[edit]

Whilst flying, the player can pick up multiple bonuses and upgrades, including:

  • Credit Crystals - These green crystals appear after some enemies are destroyed. They must be collected by either running into them or firing a credit drone at them, otherwise the money is not gained. These provide 25 credits when dropped by enemies, or 15 when encountered in the environment.
  • Weapon Upgrades - The upgrades come in two forms: pulse and plasma. Both affect the main forward firing weapon. Each successive upgrade acquired enhances that particular weapon until it reaches its maximum power. Collecting the opposite type will switch the currently used weapon but will not increase its power. Losing a life decreases the weapon's power by one level. The pulse weapon is red in color and is mainly directed right in front of the player craft and deals significant damage while plasma is blue in color and has a wide radius of fire, but has much less power when compared to pulse.
  • Credit/Mega Credit - Besides picking up individual crystals, the player can pick up either of these items for a bonus in their income (Credit gives 200 credits while Mega Credit gives 1000).
  • Invincibility - This enables the player to harmlessly absorb enemy fire with this temporary upgrade. While invincible, the player can also go through walls without damage and ram enemy craft without any damage to the player's ship.
  • Extra Life - Essentially a free way to obtain extra lives (the alternative is buying them from the shop). Extra Lives are usually difficult to obtain because they appear and disappear randomly during the course of game play.
  • Nuke - The "Smart Bomb" weapon of Stargunner, the nuke vaporizes every enemy on the screen (except boss units which have more health than the average enemy fighter). A nuke will also destroy all enemy projectiles on the screen. Like extra lives, nukes can be obtained also by buying them. They are relatively cheap and easy to find in-game. However, in-game nuke items may automatically fire off once collected (when the player's maximum of four is reached any extra nukes will also automatically fire).
  • Shield - Shields are the player's health in Stargunner. Collecting a shield item will replenish the health meter by half (50%).

There is also a "mystery" item, which randomly becomes one of the other items when taken.

Store-bought items[edit]

There are many items which the player can buy at the shop, each of which belong to one of the following categories:

  • Engines - More advanced engines can be bought from the shop and applied onto the ship. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages; one offers good forward acceleration but mediocre speed in other directions, another one gives good all-around acceleration but also has significant inertia which takes some getting used to. There is no way to not have an engine because there is always the backup "default" engine (which is the poorest and least effective of all of them).
  • Weapons - Like any side scrolling shooter, Stargunner has a very wide range of weapons. They range from spread weapons, to auto-aiming cannons, dumb and smart missile launchers, and even high-powered dual lasers. Weapons can be mounted on the top or bottom of the ship; the location of the mount alters nothing except for the weapon's range of fire, as it cannot fire through the ship.
  • Satellites - Satellites are protector items, that work by continuously circling the player craft, absorbing enemy fire and destroying enemy ships on collision. The most expensive of them, the "Dynamo 500", also randomly fires out electrical bolts which can damage enemy ships.
  • Other Utilities - There are also other purchasable items such as extra lives and nukes (as described above in the "In-Game Items" section).

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]