Star Castle Vectrex
Review by Joe Santulli GCE Arcade
Graphics: 7 Sound: 6 Gameplay: 10 Overall: 9

starcastle.gif (1408 bytes)I figure you'd have to be born around the same year as me (1965) or earlier to remember Star Castle from the arcades, and I'm STILL WAITING for someone to re-issue it on a newer platform, so I'll explain the game a little. It was a vector graphics game (like Asteroids or Space War) that pitted you - a tiny, bullet-firing spacecraft - against a mighty alien cannon perched within the spinning walls of an electrically charged castle. Your goal was to blast away at the walls while avoiding energy blasts from the cannon and the walls themselves with the intention of eliminating the cannon inside. The only problem was that the cannon was very smart, the blasts from the wall were able to track you down, and the wall could regenerate itself if you destroyed too much of it.

When GCE released this title, gamers rejoiced, because no system could reproduce this "sleeper" classic as accurately as the Vectrex. Once we got our hands on it, we were more than satisfied. Every detail from the arcade game was kept intact. The look, the sound, and especially the gameplay made it seem like the arcade experience.

It's difficult to equate Star Castle to a contemporary game. There really hasn't been any effort to reproduce or improve the game in ten years! I could imagine "Star Castle '92" for a 16-bit system, with a scrolling playfield containing different castles, cannons with unique abilities, and "boss" cannons that fill up the screen, but alas, the foreseeable future contains no such game.

There are really no shortcomings in Star Castle. The pace is perfect, starting with a relatively slow enemy. By the time you reach 20,000 points, you'll cheer whenever you blow away a cannon. Victories are hard-earned at the higher levels, and you really get the feeling you had to fight for it. The graphics and sound are adequate - remember we're talking about an early 80's game, but this is the one you gotta have if you're a Vectrex owner.

TIP: Everybody will have their own strategy, but I found that firing from the bottom of the screen, zooming around the castle and off the top lures the fireballs away so you can repeat the process by firing from the bottom again.