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DOS - 1987

Also available on: Amiga - Amstrad CPC - Apple II - Atari ST - Commodore 64 - ZX Spectrum

Year 1987
Platform DOS
Released in United Kingdom, United States
Genre Action, Simulation
Theme FPS, Sci-Fi / Futuristic, Shooter, Tank
Publisher Firebird Licensees Inc., Rainbird Software
Developer Argonaut Software Ltd.
Perspective 1st-Person
Dosbox support Playable on 0.70
4.78 / 5 - 18 votes

Description of StarGlider

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StarGlider is the legendary (for non-PC systems that is) wireframe 3D action shooter developed by Argonaut Software and Realtime Games. One of the first of its kind ever.

As typical for many games of that period, the game was a huge success on the Spectrum, Commodore 64, and Atari ST (which is undoubtedly the best version)-- but fared quite poorly on the PC. The novella that came with the game (which was one of the hallmarks of many Rainbird games of the era, e.g. The Pawn) provides a very well-written backstrory that tells about the war between Novenia and ruthless Egrons, which disguised the Novenian's Sentinel robots and used them against their creators.

You play Jason and Katra, two Sentinel repair workers who embark on a mission to destroy the invading aliens. All they have at their disposal is an obsolete museum piece of a fighter equipped with lasers and capable of carrying two missiles. Your goal on each level is to find Starglider one, a golden, bird-like craft with animated wings, then destroy it. This would take you to the next level, where basically you do the same thing again against greater opposition.

StarGlider introduces many new features to the space simulation genre. Two types of sight are available - fixed and floating - and a choice is made before the game starts. Floating sights makes it much easier to hit the target-- the crosshair "follows" targets automatically. Fixed sights makes the game more challenging by fixing the crosshairs in the middle of the screen, so you must maneuver to line up the shots. An optional centering system may be enabled or disabled at the start of the game - automatic centering can be effected on either the vertical or the horizontal axis, in all directions, or not at all. With fully automatic centering, the fighter returns to flying straight and level when it is left to its own devices.

There are more than 16 types of Egron crafts to destroy, some of which are very reminiscent of Elite, as well as their groundbased counterparts, including tanks, missile launchers and those walker robots similar to the ones in Return of the Jedi There were usually two or three bases where you could replenish your supply of missiles. For actual refueling, though, you have to use one of the game's innovative features: fly into between two fueling towers to recharge your fuel cells. This arrangement is complicated by the fact that the opposition would usually try to make the best of their advantage while you are a sitting duck.

Yet another innovation is the missile firing sequence, where you effectively pilot your missile (not the ship) to home in on the target after firing it, via a missile-chase camera. You could also interrogate the computer when you were docked for useful information on the vehicles you encounter that may shed some light on how to destroy them.

With revolutionary spaceflight dynamics and a long list of innovative features, StarGlider ranks as one of the most underrated space sims of all time. Too bad we can't offer the wonderful novella for download here because its author, James Follett, is planning to re-publish it as a commercial novel (yes, the novella is that good :)) Two thumbs up!

Review By HOTUD

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Comments and reviews

Pickwick 2018-11-25 4 points Atari ST version

Great game. I remember playing this on the Atari ST back in the 80's.

I remember thinking Starfox for the Super Nintendo was similar, and I do wonder how / if Starglider influenced other games down the line.

Hoodie 2015-10-28 2 points

And here we see a game that Argonaut took and said "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could make this work on the NES"

And they did
And Nintendo thought it was cool, too
And then space furries happened

Nikola I. 2015-07-22 0 point DOS version

Jesus! This is one among first games I had on my Amstrad CPC 6128. I was only 9 back then and among a few owners of Amstrad in Yugoslavia. I have never thought I'll see this ever again. YaaAAaAAAAAaaaaaYYY!!!!!! I need a guided missile for walker robot, see how I still remember everything :D

BobR 2015-06-08 1 point DOS version

I still remember being gobsmacked when I popped in the 720k floppy on my Atari ST and the damn thing SANG "Starglider... from Rainbird...!"
First time I remember hearing digitized sound in a computer game.

(Of course, that was all there was, the actual game sound was typical audio for the day.)

OM 2013-02-07 0 point DOS version

...Rainbird was reportedly working on an EGA version that addressed the color and control issues, as well as a VGA version. Neither surfaced, although a demo in EGA was being shown around some of the trade shows - remember those, old people? - and it actually looked much better. Then again, any game that's not in the three known shades of infectious pus *has* to look better.

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