Wednesday, 16 June 2021

StarFighter 3000 (MS-DOS) - Guest Post

This week on Super Adventures, heroic space reviewer mecha-neko has returned with a quick look at another classic game. It's Star Fighter 3000, by the people who made Stunt Racer 2000 (no relation to Stunt Racer 64). It came out on a few systems and on most it's kind of obscure, but on the Acorn Archimedes it was an actual big deal. I was browsing an Acorn owner forum called StarDot and it's in basically everyone's top 10 lists for the A3000... possibly because there aren't too many original games on the system to choose from.

Hey everyone! While rooting through all my old DOS stuff like Fade to Black and Halloween Harry, I've found another game I'm familiar with but haven't played in a really long time.

StarFighter 3000 MS-DOS title screen
Developer:FedNet|Release Date:
Acorn Archimedes:19th September 1994
MS-DOS:8th October 1996
Iyonix:April 2008
|Systems:Acorn, 3DO, DOS, PS1, Saturn, Iyonix

It may sound like a boxing game about robots in the future, but it's actually about spaceships and lasers! Wanna see?

"We are FEDNET. The year is 3037, and we are now in control."

A polite but authoritative voice, accompanied by rave beatz, welcomes us to the world of StarFighter 3000.

"This is a simulation run to provide test data for the 'Starfighter' project, a part of the FEDNET Ultimate Expansion Program. All tactical and operational aspects of your performance in the combat zone will be monitored for future analysis and development purposes, spearheading the drive for the next generation of defensive and assault craft."

This pre-rendered intro is skippable, which is good because it's long. Down and down and down and down it goes.

"This information is strictly classified. Date: August the 29th 3037. Welcome to FEDNET Total Immersion Systems, Program 3. Welcome, pilot. You are Squadron Leader 1. Your project test craft is the Predator Mark 4 Medium Range Fighter."

You can just about see my guy's head in there between the two layers of the techno-fortune cookie. When it finally reaches the lowest point of this cavernous room, the top canopy seals shut around the pilot.

Wait, why is the date classified?

"This is the FEDNET command and control vehicle: the 'Mothership'. Developed as a 'Launch and Defend' craft, to oversee the combat arena, it is an awesomely powerful defensive craft and tactical control center. Fitted with three high-energy laser cannons, and a battery of air-to-air missiles, it is capable of carrying up to eight tactical fighters over long distances."

When the pilot is sealed into his cookie, the camera pans towards a 'FEDNET' screen which in turn opens up to show the Mothership flying past. The big circular room with its central chute would never fit inside the Mothership, so I'm thinking that all of this is a virtual reality magic demonstration of things to come for the player's benefit.

This is the only shot they give you of the FEDNET Mothership, since it's simply too damn long to show any other way. It looks a lot better at the right frame rate though (click to see).

"This is the Predator Mark 4, a hybrid planetary assault vehicle."

"Checking stabilisers. Initiating ignition sequence. Tracking lock engaged. All systems functioning. Ready to launch."

The pilot's got a voice!

"Fitted with two hyperdrive thrusters with built-in gyroscopic stabilisers, it gives excellent handling at high and low altitudes, over a range of operational speeds."

It doesn't look all that stable, if I'm being honest.

"On-board energy processors allow for the in-flight reconfiguration of many of the ship's characteristics, including engine and laser power, which gives the ship the ability to adapt to its local environment."

By this point, Mr. FEDNET's technical briefing is going way over my head. It's got shades of Bud Haggert and his famous Turbo Encabulator (YouTube link). I just want to fly spaceships.

The intro keeps cutting to the same ten frames of the pilot's head slowly bobbing up and down in his cockpit looking sad, like he overheard that FEDNET have Taken Control of all the ice cream in the universe, only to immediately outlaw it.

"Project 'Starfighter' will launch in T-minus 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... Launch successful."

"Good luck, pilot."

"Tracking lock off. I'm in pre-flight. Handling better than last time!"

He shoots out the runway at the back of the Mothership, flies back past it and hot-dogs for a bit.

"Looks like I'm gonna need backup. Run launch sequence Hazel 5, Callum 3 and Jake 9."

"Running launch sequence. Hazel 5. Callum 3. Jake 9. Attack team will launch in T-minus 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Launch successful. Radar lock detected. Six seconds until enemy craft in weapons range. Tracking multiple incoming targets."

The other guys don't get a fancy launch sequence like me. They just get thrown out the ship like empty beer cans and left to figure space out for themselves.

"Formation locked. Okay! Engage all weapons systems, and accelerate to maximum velocity! We're going in!"

And with that I finally begin the game!

Here's the mission select. The planets do eventually stop spinning but their take their sweet time over it.

I can pick any level I want from my current tier, but since I'm starting at the bottom, I've got to pick Planet 01: "Rookies Start Here".

Aw, come on. Nah... nah, you don't expect me to read all that as it bip-bip-bips onto the screen one letter at a time do you, game?

I seem to remember this having a voice-over. Maybe I got confused? Let me check this.

Nerd note: if you don't hear the briefing voiceover on the PC version, try copying BRIEF.RES (or the one for your language) from the game CD into your installation directory, in case the game's installer program forgot.

^ - Rookies Start Here - ^
Location: 'Earth'
Date: 08/29/3037 A.D.

Welcome ...
To Fednet Total Immersion Systems


Welcome pilot, to the first of many testing simulations.

For these simulations you have been allocated a "Predator MK-IV" in training colors.
Please keep it in good condition...

Aim and Objectives:
(1) Flight control
(2) Safe docking procedure
(3) Use of tactical map

You are free to fly around the map without simulated attack.

To complete your mission dock with the FedNet Mothership.

Callum Blaze
Kelly Forester
Jane Holly-Dean

Absolutely riveting stuff. Whatever. I'll figure it out.

Planet 01: Rookies Start Here

A female voice whispers through my headphones "Death by stereo..." and the mission begins!

StarFighter 3000 is what we had in PC land when you guys with your fancy consoles were playing Star Fox. But, unlike your common-or-garden Arwing, the Predator Mark 4 can fly freely in all directions!

The interface is very simple, kind of After Burner-like. There's no targeting computer, radar, or throttle. Just you and your pointy starfighter drifting about in the fog.

Nothing is coming up on screen to tell me where to go, and I'm not getting big reticules zapping over each object telling me that it's really important that I've got to blow it up. As a result, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do here. There's nobody on the radio (except for the beatz) so I might as well shoot something and see what happens.

Oh, that's lovely! I was wondering what would happen if I took out the middle of that walkway, and the game definitely did not disappoint. Look how festive the explosions are! This is all very impressive for a fixed 256 colour palette.

I'm getting points for all of this junk I'm destroying so I'm guessing FEDNET built a whole model enemy base just for me to blow the heck out of it all.

This GIF barely does justice to how slick StarFighter 3000 is to play. The Mk. IV is ridiculously agile - I'm playing with a Gravis-like gamepad and the gentlest tap sends the ship whirling about on the spot. I'm sure if I had an analogue flightstick handy, it'd be different.

The green markers in the sky are my mothership, the Callum Blaze, and my two wingmen. You can see the jet exhaust of the mothership as it's decided to hang around perilously low to the ground.

MS-DOS (3dfx)


I regret to inform you that the remainder of this post is going to be nothing but explosions.

MS-DOS (3dfx)

Look at all the (not-so-)shiny jewels!

Destroyed structures yield clusters of floating crystals, as they ought to in any self-respecting video game. You pick them up by flying straight into them, of course (don't try this at home!); the trick is that only specific combinations of crystals collected in the correct order give you special prizes! (I'm sure I can hear a few cheers at the back there from the Blinx: The Time Sweeper fans in the audience.)

I'm about to collect Red, Red (click to reveal), which gives me a permanent LASER UPGRADE Energy Award, hurrah!


The game's got a whole bunch of selectable camera angles. At any point you can pause and move the camera about, lock it close to or far from the ship and play it from there. You can play on inside view if you like, or show off the new console you got for Christmas with a series of back-to-back dynamic fly-bys. (Making the game completely unplayable because you still have to pilot the thing.)

Funny how the Predator Mark 4 doesn't look anything like what it does in the pre-rendered intro.

The Mk. IV's got two speeds: boringly slow but too fast to hit anything, and ludicrous afterburners. With the afterburners on, you can cover the entire surface of the map and end up back where you started in about a minute. It's been a while since I've been outside but I remember 'Earth' being a little bigger than that. It looks like I'm about to bomb the dickens out of the Final Fantasy VI world map.


I wouldn't say the Saturn version has an unplayably close draw-distance, but, well, you can see what I can see.

My one and only objective on Planet 01 is to fly the Mk. IV into the back of the Mothership. No, I don't know why the in-game Mothership isn't the three-mile-long pre-rendered tube ship from the intro. I guess FedNet can have multiple types of ship if they really want.


And that's that. I get another bit of pre-rendered footage reusing scenes from the intro, shown a couple of stats and I'm dumped back on the spinning planet select screen. To save the game I've got to carefully back out to the Main Menu without quitting the game and hit Save Game from there.

Ready for some more StarFighting? You bet I am!

Planet 02: Aerial Strike Training

Wait, this is the same place as the first place. That's a bit of a swizz. At least the Callum Blaze has shown up to do a cool fly-by and show off how ridiculously low to the ground it flies, and how small it is.

MS-DOS:  640x480 3dfx Textured 640x480 Textured 640x480 Flat 320x200 Textured 320x200 Flat
Other:  3DO PlayStation Saturn RISC OS 'Next Generation'
Click the buttons to change version of StarFighter 3000

These are all the ports of StarFighter 3000, with the exception of the original Acorn version.

I think the 3DO version was made first and the other ports were ports of that. I'm not sure why the life slowly gets sucked out of the world as you go from 3DO to PlayStation to Saturn.

The PC version lets you configure the draw distance, toggle textures on and off, and reduce the resolution, but these images are good as it gets. There's a lot of charm to the flat-shaded version - it's visually very similar to glorious Amiga 'bloke sim' Hunter. The 3dfx patch was made available shortly after release, letting original 3dfx Voodoo owners enjoy a tip-top hardware accelerated gaming experience, but it doesn't add much as far as I can see. There's a wider colour palette and the texture mapping is neater, but it's nothing you can notice in motion. To me it looks like everything's just gone a bit bluer, like I'm at the bottom of the ocean. You'd think it would add dynamic lighting effects of some kind, something Quake pulled off phenomenally without any hardware acceleration at all, but the patch hasn't even improved the maximum draw distance.

I'm showing the 320x200 MS-DOS images distorted here so they line up exactly with the other versions. The sun becomes an ellipse, but the field of view is identical, which I suppose means everything in VGA World is canonically squished a little compared to SVGA World. If you want to see the raw image with the correct aspect ratio, use your browser.

The 3DO version has a conspicuously larger draw distance by far. It doesn't even seem to have any fog at all! It's gotta be a trick. And it is! To show you, I'm going to take a closer look at the version I haven't shown yet: the original Acorn Archimedes version.

Acorn Archimedes StarFighter 3000 Title Screen
Acorn Archimedes (Demo) Title Screen

Welcome to Star Fighter 3000, The highest rated gameshow ever on a Fednet universal satellite channel. The year is 3037, and peak-time TV has acquired its most successful audience participation show ever.

A result of the intensified battle for advertising revenue and military hardware between the two rival broadcasting companies, Fednet, and TrashTV, lucky viewers were selected from thousands of applicants to take part in the Star Fighter UEP [Ultimate Expansion Programme].

The idea was simple .. Assemble an enourmous military attackforce around progressively difficult strategic locations (mostly belonging to TrashTV), invite viewers to take part in the ensuing battle, and broadcast the results.

TrashTV responded quickly, reinforcing its defences and launching a massive counter attack, 'Commander Ace' on channel 53, but it wasn't as good, and it had more advert breaks.

The fight is on. Are you up to it ?

Star Fighter 3000 Features : 108 Superb missions, Highly detailed texture mapped landscapes, V.Fast 3D graphics, etc.

Yup, before StarFighter 3000 was rewritten to become all serious for the console and IBM PC versions, Fednet was a cartoonishly unscrupulous intergalactic multimedia megacorporation; a network that invited the audience to 'come on down' and take one of their prototype spaceships to go on ridiculous suicide missions to blow up rival broadcasters on live TV.

Needless to say we were all a bit culturally immersed in the RoboCop 1/2/3 - The Running Man - Smash T.V. mood back in the nineties.

Acorn Archimedes (Demo)

I couldn't include the Acorn version in the comparison above since it has different maps, but other than that it sure looks like the same game to me. I've still got my Mk. IV, and holding down fire still spews a trail of laser lines of death in my general direction.

Acorn Archimedes (Demo)

The general gist is the same as usual: blow up boxy things, don't get blowed up yourself. This Acorn version is a one level demo, but there's tons to do, all laid out for us on the GLOBAL WARFARE SYSTEM , and the planet looks huge!

Acorn Archimedes (Demo)

I can't see any reference to flightstick or joypad controls in the menu or docs. You can either use the keyboard or the mouse. The mouse kind of works, but it's very weak and floaty. That's annoying because the Acorn version is a madhouse. You'll be fired upon within seconds of starting, with half a dozen different kinds of enemy ships swooping all around you or chasing you where you can't see them. Without sensitive controls you can't dodge incoming missiles, but that's okay since you can't see incoming missiles or where they're coming from anyway.

Acorn Archimedes (Demo)

And get a load of this: instead of collecting crystals, you've got to buy your upgrades with money tokens that fly out of exploded stuff. You start off with enough cash to buy maximum shields, and you're gonna need them. I don't know what the difference is between an Escape Pod and an extra life. They cost the same?

Alright, I said I brought up the Acorn version because I wanted to show you the trick the 3DO version uses to eliminate fog. Here we go.

Acorn Archimedes (Demo)

The base landscape in Acorn StarFighter 3000 is a completely flat, textured, infinite plane. It's like the track in Super Mario Kart or the bonus stage in Jazz Jackrabbit. Acorn StarFighter then draws hills, buildings and objects on top of that textured ground. You can see the hills surrounding this airfield pop into existence as I swoop towards it to destroy a tower that I had no idea was actually there. I didn't alter the colours here either to make the hills stand out - they really are a luminous, plastic green on top of the muted marshy textured floor. The draw distance for 3D objects then is more or less the same here as in the later console versions, except only the 3DO version kept the textured ground plane.

If you're wondering if not being able to see the things you're supposed to be flying towards and blowing up makes the game confusing and unplayable...

Acorn Archimedes (Demo)

... the answer is yes, it does.

Writing a 3D engine with textures and neat tricks like the distant ground is never anything to be sniffed at. StarFighter 3000 is the best game I've ever played on an (emulated) Acorn! It's also the only game I've ever played on an (emulated) Acorn! I don't have any baseline for whether this game is a technological prodigy, or if all Acorn games are like this. You need a top-end Acorn to play StarFighter 3000, and since they were as expensive as an IBM-compatible PC, but compatible with nothing but educational software and industry-specific media programs, they'd have been way out of reach of anybody but the most curious stinking rich computer nerds. If you were a complete swot perhaps you'd have touched an Acorn at school, but I doubt they'd have had the game and let you play it. (Not bitter.)

Everything I've read about this version says it has '108 missions', which I earnestly hope is a misunderstanding. It feels like it'd take an hour to even make a dent in all those targets on the map!

Back to the DOS version:

Planet 02: Aerial Strike Training (again)

On this mission, I've been told some structures need a good seeing-to with my rap-a-pap-a-pap autofiring lasers. Here we are.

That big green thing on the right is an anti-air missile that's decided to ruin my day. There's only one thing for it!

Yes, the Predator Mk. IV can do a barrel roll! (Except it's not really a barrel roll say the aviation nerds, etc. etc.)

Performing this manoeuvre is of absolutely no use in StarFighter. The Mk. IV's got a massive collision hit-box, and trying fancy moves makes you an even bigger target. The roll provides no protection against missiles or lasers whatsoever, and will probably hurl your ship into the nearest hill.

The Mk. IV's defence against missiles is a pack of single-use Electronic Counter-Measures (E.C.M.s). You hit the button, and your craft does a magic techno-fart and your missile worries are instantly over. Until you run out of E.C.M.s, that is. The enemy towers and craft all have infinite missiles and you've got finite countermeasures, so that's a lot of fun.

Planet 03: First Wings

I'm the spaceship-shaped spaceship at 8A and I've got to destroy all the things marked with a big red . Can't get any simpler than that. I don't know what the FFs are. The M is the mothership.

This map reminds me of the putting assistant from the Amiga PGA Tour Golf game. Or maybe I'm thinking of Fuzzy's Miniature Space Golf.

Enemy fighters incoming!

Aerial combat is a bit confusing to me, as a concept. Everything's so fast and so small that fighter pilots would basically have to guess, wouldn't they? Or perhaps they'd follow trails. This is why I write about games, not fly planes. Luckily, the Mk. IV's HUD marks out enemy craft with a red circle so I stand a fighting chance.

I've got some Air To Air Missiles I could try out, but there's a slightly huge problem with that idea.

Here's the Mk. IV's stats, courtesy of the blandest menu in the universe.

I've got ten each of Air-To-Ground and Air-To-Air Missiles, three charges of E.C.M.s and two extra lives, and that's it.

The missiles aren't refilled between missions - there's no shop or hangar or anything like that, unlike the Acorn version. The only way to get additional missiles is to determine the right crystal combination through trial and error, write it down, and then make sure to carefully only blow up the correct buildings in the correct order and collect only the correct crystals before they quickly disappear. Good luck pulling that off while you're under attack from gun turrets.

Alternatively you can collect the parachutes that drop from the sky occasionally! These guys are randomly dropped onto the map from outer space by the mother-mothership and can contain anything from missiles, to new weapons, to ship upgrades to ship downgrades. You'll never know until you ram into it!

This made a little more sense when the warzone was also a gameshow.

I've got some wingmen! This mission is all about ordering the wingmen to attack your target, to break off and retreat, and all that kind of jazz. It's all completely pointless, and it's a shame.

There's no way to tell what the wingmen are currently doing, or any straightforward way to tell them to attack a specific thing. There's a multi-step menu on the pause screen with some commands in it, but I Ain't Got Time to be messing around with all that. In Wing Commander you could order your pals to shoot specific space cats with a twiddle of the number keys. Even Star Crusader let you keep on top of things pretty easily if I remember right.

It's best to ignore these guys, or keep them close so they draw enemy fire. If you send them off, they're going to get scattered and blown up, not that it seems to matter. I get generic warning messages when they're under fire, as if there's anything I can do about it. I'd care more if these guys had faces or dialogue, voiced or otherwise. They're just a bunch of floating, lifeless polygons. It's not exactly Star Fox.

On this mission, you start off on a grey foggy planet and you have to destroy some enemy structures. I'm spotting a pattern.

Is there anything that StarFighter 3000 can offer to break up the monotony?

Destructible terrain! If you're being pursued by nasty old missiles or enemy fighters, you can make yourself a quick gully in a hill to hide inside, if you like! You'll still get shot up the butt by laser beams though and knocked off-course straight into one of the walls of the canyon you've just mined, but it's clever anyway. There's often anti-air emplacements on hills, and it's an immediate kill if you undermine them.

The bright green hills were indestructible in the original Acorn version.

If you're very lucky, you'll find a parachute prize that contains the Mega Ship!

The Mega Ship slaps four additional pods onto the wings of the Mk. IV, doubling your firepower and tripling your acceleration and manoeuverability, turning your ship into an even more ungainly veering mess! But now you have almost unlimited access of all the Mk. IV's weaponry, including the fearsome Beam Laser - a fearsome whirling stream of minty-fresh toothpaste that emerges from the nose of your ship with an innocent 'doop' sound and thrashes anything in its path to pieces in moments!

You only get it for sixty seconds, in true Super Nashwan Power tradition, but the planets are so small and the Beam Laser so devastatingly refreshing that that's all you'll need to completely flatten a planet.

Ground combat in this game is a total disaster. The 3D models clip through scenery and buildings so you can't tell if something is in front of or behind a hill. Aiming the Mk. IV at ground targets without getting yanked off course by a laser impact would drive even the most patient player spare. Have fun figuring out the shape of the landscape from this magic-eye image catastrophe.

I find it cute how the Mk. IV's normal laser has a different colour in these Mars-like stages. It isn't because I've upgraded it or anything, it's because the game uses a different colour palette on each planet.

I'm waiting for the part where the game is going to burst into life, and give me a reason to care about any of these lifeless grey voids I'm assaulting. I don't know who I'm fighting, or why. Or even if I'm fighting anyone at all. The game is very vague about whether this is training, or testing, or real combat, or what. There's no point to any of this!

You can fight capital ships! Well, kind of. This thing is the enemy's version of our Fednet Mothership. Like the Mothership, it's inexplicably barely bigger than the fighters it's supposed to hold.

You can't target the subsystems like you can in TIE Fighter, there's no shields and hull distinction, you just hold down the pap-pap-pap button until it explodes into sweeties. Speaking of TIE Fighter: notice how the lack of any radar means I have absolutely no awareness of where enemy fire is coming from. 'Everywhere' would be a fair guess.

I'm in space!

I've found myself in one of those Hollywood asteroid fields where they're all huddled together for warmth (space is pretty cold). My radar has helpfully isolated them for me so I can carefully drive around them. Thankfully I don't have to destroy every single one of them to win the level.

Those ships marked with red circles are the objective. I think it'd be pretty funny to hide somewhere and let the maniac enemy AI smash into everything, but the game won't let park my ship and turn the engines off.

Noooo! Not Kelly Forester!

It's made less (or perhaps more) tragic as I think this is the third or fourth Kelly Forester I've lost in the line of duty so far.

Well that was StarFighter. Want to read some words?


StarFighter 3000 is a wonderful game. It's bold and colourful, and full of explosions and mayhem and all the other good things an arcadey flight sim needs. It's lots of fun... right up until the point you try to deliberately accomplish anything. When you have to attack a moving target or there's things shooting back at you, the fun disappears instantly and completely.

The first few tutorial levels are good: gliding about, getting used to the controls, and marvelling at the crystal upgrade mechanic. I keep thinking back to my happy memories playing StarFighter 3000, and they're all from when I was very young, playing the demo on the PC and 3DO and not taking the game very seriously. Playing the game again with the intent to get somewhere in it reveals an ugly, unfair and unrewarding game that's really no fun at all. Every level is the same damn thing, except bigger and more frustrating. And there's a heck of a lot of it. Four pyramids of fifteen levels, ten hours where only the mounting frustration will keep you awake.

I'd have loved to break up the gameplay for you with some cool or funny pictures of the antagonists doing their thing. But... there aren't any. Beyond the rendered intro, the setting only exists in indistinct pieces in the mission briefings. There's no cutscenes in the game at all. You never know who it is you're fighting against, what they look like, what they want, or why. In the briefings, causes don't lead to effects - victories in one tier of missions don't lead to advantages or opportunities in the next. Everything is just episodic 'stuff'. If you take StarFighter 3000's intro at face value, the whole game is a virtual reality shakedown run for a ship they've yet to even build. It's not Wing Commander. It's not even Desert Strike.

In TIE Fighter, the missions are little stories: circumstances can change and the events feel spontaneous. StarFighter 3000 isn't set up for that. Nothing develops spontaneously. The missions are abstract to the extreme. You blow up boxes and Xs, and that's all you ever do. Sometimes the game will throw in a timed mission, or an escort mission where the mini-mothership starts off surrounded by enemy structures for no good reason and you have to boost over to it immediately and help it out before it gets destroyed and you lose.

Other, better games pit you against different classes of enemy: the fast one, the slow one, the missile one, the laser one, the blue one, the red one. StarFighter 3000 doesn't have any of that because you have no idea what you're fighting against. There's no targeting, no radar; absolutely no peripheral awareness whatsoever. Enemy craft are just dots to you, if you're able to detect them at all.

The controls are way too twitchy to use comfortably with keys or a gamepad. You're stuck flying with the cursor keys, but everything else is remappable, as long as you want to use a combination of Return, Space, Left Shift, Right Shift, Alt, Left Ctrl and the letter B. The map is stodgy and the menus suck. I haven't got a clue what all the indicators along the bottom of the screen mean, or how to order the wingmen about.

The powerup system is a cute gimmick for the first few levels, but having to rely on it to progress through the game is a huge problem. Incoming fire can damage your weapons and permanently downgrade your stats, and you will be fired upon constantly. The simplest thing to do is to hang around Level 1 until you're fully upgraded, since it's perfectly safe and there are tons of varied buildings clustered together to grind from. You may as well - you can't return to the level when you've completed it. It's not as if these are low-level basic items either, you can get full everything and max lasers with just a few minutes of patience. You never get to earn a cool new different type of ship later on.

Regardless of how well you prepare, since your stats and weapons carry over between levels, a dozen missions in you'll find yourself in the absurd scenario of Fednet sending you out on bombing missions without any Air-To-Ground missiles, or into dogfights without any Air-To-Air missiles, despite you returning to the mothership between missions, the missions being set on different planets months apart, and the scenarios not even being real.

The engine was pretty nice for the time, but I can't see anyone going back and trying to win it and enjoying the experience. The game's biggest champion, 3DO Magazine, loved the game to bits but even then they described it 'ramshackle'. There were no improvements at all in the two years between the 3DO and PC releases - no replays or multiplayer or anything like that. Because StarFighter 3000 gives you all the fun it has to offer in the first few stages, you might as well just play a coverdisk demo. Take your pick based on whichever controller you like the most. If you really want to play the full game, you should know the PlayStation port misses out a quarter of the levels, but I think you'll survive.

Hang on, wasn't FedNet the computer network in Starship Troopers?

Anyway, thanks for reading mecha-neko's words! If you want to leave a comment about Star Fighter 3000, there's a box underneath for that. You could also use it to make a guess at what the next game is. I've given you an easy clue for a change, but I'll wish you luck anyway.


  1. The next game is Sonic Generations. Happy 30th birthday Sonic!

  2. or show off the new console you got for Christmas with a series of back-to-back dynamic fly-bys. (Making the game completely unplayable because you still have to pilot the thing.)

    Which was such a good idea it survives to this day in Grand Theft Auto V.

    Here's something weird. I have played the Acorn version of this quite a lot, but I've never owned an Acorn Archimedes, nor have I ever known anyone who has. I can't imagine I would have gone to the effort of emulating it either.

    I have also played the PlayStation one, but that's less of a mystery as I did own a PlayStation.

    1. The Acorn Archimedes was the successor to the BBC Micro in British schools, so maybe you played it there. I almost remember seeing one in my own school once.

    2. I may be a touch too old for that. Our primary school had one BBC Model B, and at secondary there was a room of floppy-driven 286s, except in the music room, which of course had an Atari ST.

      I remember discovering a subterranean room at university (2002) that was full of Amiga 3000s. That was weird, but irrelevant to the current discussion.

  3. For some reason I can't see the screenshots 😕
    Can they be broken?

    1. Hmm, I can't see any reason why they'd be down. Try pressing Ctrl-F5 to reload the page.

      What do you see if you click this link to one of the images?

    2. All the images now are back haha.
      While it was down, I was reading other reviews, and until yesterday it was still down.
      Now everything is working and fine, it could have been something here, even if it was just in this review.

    3. The change in the history from the original game to the ports make me remember of what happened in the localization of the Ace Combat 3 game, from japonese to international version. Literally 2/3(missions, cutscenes and all the history) from the game was cut out.
      Star Fighter seems like a painfully game to play, but not because of the history change or port differences. I hope that you have more fun with the next game. At least it made you do a great review from it (like always) haha

    4. I've never played Ace Combat before! I think that somebody who likes Ace Combat might like Star Fighter 3000, but Ace Combat has much more interesting music and a story with proper friendly/enemy characters, lots of different (real) planes and weapons to pick from and so on. I believe Ace Combat lets you evade missiles with a warning, but Star Fighter 3000 is just too fast and crazy.

    5. Ace Combat and the H.A.W.X. games are some of the few air-shooter games that I can play haha.
      There are some games of helicopter style that I loved to play too, like Comanche 3, and the futuristic G-Police.
      The Ace Combat 3, in certain moment, have some crazy futuristic planes and (almost) spaceships. I played the fan translation (that was a fantastic work that took years and years until your completion) via emulation. Could you guys take a look in it? The name of the translation was Project Nemo.

  4. The "death by stereo" sample haunts me, and I've never actually played the game, only seen clips on Youtube. The Archimedes version does look like one of those tech-demo games, where the coder game up with a neat 3D routine and then built a game around it.

    In fact it reminds me a lot of Zarch, the *other* famous Archimedes game. They both have smooth 3D, although Starfighter's draw distance is much greater, and they're both unentertaining to actually play.

    The sensation of big wide open space and being high-up comes across well and I wish they had playtested it, or asked someone who wasn't the developer to have a go and make some suggestions. Starglider 2 had a similar problem.

    1. Yeah, I've not played the original Zarch but I have played Zeewolf on the Amiga. It just wasn't quite -there- yet, the limited region of 3D space making everything seem really awkward and claustrophobic. Plus, the Amiga's worst crutch - the single button digital joystick - wouldn't help a flying game either.

      I'd love to see SF3K played by a pro, with all the game's awkwardness hidden by their skill. A game that moves this nicely has to be good -somehow-.


Semi-Random Game Box