Back in the day the developers, Argonaut Software, were known for their 3d graphics know-how and a few years after Starglider 2 was released they were hired by Nintendo to develop the Super FX chip for the SNES and program a certain famous space shooter starring talking animals in spiky starfighters. So yeah this game is pretty much Star Fox's older brother.
The cockpit frame is a bit crappy looking and there's no music, but this 3D is ridiculously slick for a 1988 Amiga game. Plus I'm sure this must be pretty close to Star Fox quality graphics.
|Star Fox/Starwing (SNES)|
To put it in context, Starglider 2 was throwing polygons around the screen the same year as games like Super Mario Bros. 3, Ninja Gaiden and Wasteland first hit the shelves. Though that's still four years after Elite pioneered space exploration action with its wireframe universe.
There's a few different control options, but I'm using the mouse right now and it works about as well as you'd expect. I can swoop around okay, though I'm struggling to get the thing to do a loop (or a barrel roll).
Okay, so the holographic bar on the far right must be my altitude, and the grey one next to is is my engine thrust. I'm still working on figuring out the three on the left. You know what would've been nice here? Labels. Real cockpits are covered in labels: half a novel's worth of vaguely decipherable text scattered across a thousand buttons and dials. Here the best I get is "-: Leaving Planet :-".
I'm pretty sure 'T' activates the tractor beam, but finding out where the damn cargo ended up in the infinite reaches of space might be a problem. Especially with this radar. It's a long way from the two screen radar perfection of TIE Fighter.
TWO MINUTES OF INTENSE DOGFIGHTING ACTION LATER.
TWO MORE MINUTES OF SPACE PIRATE SLAUGHTER LATER.
I'm blaming this on whoever had the bright idea to call my ship the 'Icarus', because that never works out well for fictional spaceships. If you're going to pick a mythological character to name your ship after, try picking one who got a happy ending or else nominative determinism will inevitably kick your ass at a suitably dramatic time.
It would have been nice if they'd given me a hint about what the hell I'm actually meant to be doing while they were at it. There must be some goals in this game besides getting a high score.
Well, I'm trying the fire button like they said, but it's not really working out for me. My lasers are so damn slow that it's difficult to get them to connect with anything moving.
And then I ended up accidentally crashing into the planet at full speed and blowing up. But hey at least I learned a important lesson about managing my reentry velocity (is it even still called reentry when you're entering an atmosphere you've never entered before?)
Okay, so now I know that the far left bar is my laser energy, the grey one next to it is my shield energy, and the one after that is my fuel. And none of them recharge. So I may have just burned up too much fuel getting here to be able to get back home again. Damn.
But I've been all around this planet already and I haven't seen even one damn hole in the ground, though I have been seeing these domes around. They're (apparently) indestructible, but every now and again the doors open up for a vehicle to come out. I'm thinking that maybe if I time it right I can fly inside their base.
Well, it turned out that I couldn't. So much for that idea. Still, at least it gave me a chance to catch a nice screenshot of a walker stomping by.
TIE Fighter training sim are finally paying off.
TWO MINUTES LATER. SERIOUSLY.
FIVE PAINFULLY LONG MINUTES LATER.
The message continued, very slowly:
I like how they slipped in 'cask of wine' there, as if I wouldn't notice. I'm sure that'll be an absolutely vital component of my awesome new Neutron Bomb.
Wait, what was that? The Professor is headlining a show on Broadway you say? Uh whatever, just point me where I need to be already and I'll go save the day.
So next time you get tired waiting for a cutscene to finish in a modern game, spare a thought for the unfortunate souls who bought Starglider 2 back in the day. At least you have graphics to look at, maybe even a few explosions.
TEN MINUTES LATER.
Advice for players: Draw a map.
Advice for developers: PLEASE don't add a pointless empty tunnel maze to your games.
FOUR MINUTES LATER.
Actually before I turn it off, there's a mysterious option on the menu screen called 'Painting with Rolf' that I have to check out.
Not only can I browse through the models, but I can also draw squiggles by dragging the item around, for whatever reason.
I think Starglider 2 was a fantastic idea for a game and it is surprisingly slick and good looking for its time, but I just didn't find it very entertaining. I'm all for flying around in space doing missions and shooting pirates, believe me. (I'm sorry, but if anyone ever made Skyrim in space I'd quit this site in a heartbeat to make more time for space adventuring). But hunting for items and exploring endless tunnel mazes is incredibly boring. And with the crap radar, slow lasers and no targeting, even the combat in this is a pain. Still I suppose it could've been worse, I could've been playing the ZX Spectrum version. Next game.