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Star Raiders - The Atari Times

Star Raiders


A True Classic
by Lawrence Armstrong

February 22, 2005
One of the most well-known Atari classics is Star Raiders. This game's appearance on the ST features beautiful graphics. The game runs in a normal GEM environment, complete with drop down menus. The title screen is similar to an actual game play screen, except it features the title of the game filling the entire view port in bright green/blue graphic characters, surrounded by some of the enemies you will be facing. Below the title is your ship's very detailed control panel. Not only is it detailed, but most of it is actually functional. You have a view screen, throttle, and other knobs and readouts.

To start the game, you choose Start from the Options menu. This menu also features several difficulty levels you can choose from--Commander, Warrior, Pilot, and Novice. Once the game is started, the first thing to do is locate where all of your star bases are. They appear as green dots on the view screen in the middle of your control panel. The object of the game is to destroy your enemies before they surround and destroy your star bases. The enemies are clusters of orange dots on the view screen. Learning keyboard commands is important, as most functions are carried out this way. The S key turns on shields, which is very important to keep you from being wiped out with a single direct hit. You have a targeting computer which is activated with the C key. The H key warps your ship at light speed into another sector. You can tell what sector you are in by looking at the view screen. The orange triangle is where you are currently located. After you've warped to an enemy sector, you must be prepared to engage the enemy.

The game play for the ST version of Star Raiders is not as exciting as other versions of the game. Unlike the 2600 version, where you are engaged with very fast, skilled enemy pilots, ST Star Raiders feels more like shooting at orbiting satellites. The enemies are usually drifting aimlessly toward you from a distance and seem to have no artificial intelligence or maneuvering capability. You aim your targeting crosshair at them and shoot them like fish in a barrel. It is not uncommon to be able to pick one off in the far distance when it appears as a motionless spec in the center of your crosshair. The higher difficulty levels of play are more exciting, with enemies swarming in front of and behind you, usually with deadly and accurate photon attacks. Another aspect of the game play is the ability to use the number keys to control the ship's speed, as it is necessary to occasionally dock your ship at a star base for recharging and repair.

There is no music in this game, but the sound effects are pretty good. The explosions, as is usual for the ST's sound chip, are very shallow sounding. The sound of firing your photon torpedoes, hyper warping, and other sounds are quite suitable for their respective tasks. I just wish there were someway for the programmers to get more realistic sounding explosions from the sound chip.

This game is a classic on the Atari 2600/800 and is beautiful to look at on the ST. The game play isn't as realistic and exciting as the 2600 version. The enemies just don't seem like very skilled pilots. Game play consists of simply aiming your ship at the enemy and firing the photons, except on the higher difficulty levels. I love the way this game looks, and although it is rather boring on the Novice difficulty level, it does indeed get quite a bit more exciting on the Commander level. If you enjoyed other versions of Star Raiders, you should definitely check this one out.

Certainly one of the 8-bit classics. Wonder how it's 16-bit big brother fares?
Nice shooting sounds!
"We'll keep a cold one on ice for you."
Star Raiders
System: Atari-ST
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Simulation
Graphics Score: 95%
Sound & Music Score: 60%
Gameplay Score: 90%
Control Score: 95%

Final Score: 90%



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