Star Fortress


Review by John Dondzila



Graphics: 6

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

Yep, it's Star Castle for the ColecoVision!Mr. Dondzila is at it again.

This is the guy who has graced the long-dead Vectrex game systems with four new games in the past three years (Vector Vaders, Patriots, All Good Things, and Spike Hoppin’). You’ll find most of them reviewed in back issues of DP. Well, he’s at it again, and this time he’s taken on the system that destroyed my youth, the ColecoVision.

I’ll start the description with the designer’s own words (and plug): "Star Fortress is based on the early 80's style space shooter games,where you (or a second player) attempt to penetrate the shields of a heavily armored space ship. You can manuever your ship around thefortress and shoot at the 3 revolving energy shields. As you weaken pieces of the shields, these pieces will break off. Once having cleared a path to the center, you can attempt to land a shot at the mothership and destroy it. But watch out ! Also revolving around the shields are energy balls which will break loose and try to home in on your ship. You can attempt to out-manuever the energy balls or shoot them down. Once you break through the inner shields, the mother ship will fire huge energy balls which you can only outrun, but not destroy. When you destroy the mother ship, a new level will begin with an increase in the skill difficulty.

You can purchase a copy of Star Fortress from the author for $20.00 US. This includes shipping. Canadian orders please add $3.00 for postage, European orders add $4.00 for postage. For ordering info, contact Star Fortress comes packaged in its own plastic case with full color insert and instructions.It's a great addition to anyone's Colecovision game library and the game even comes programmed with a few extra surprises !"

If Mr. Dondzila’s description of the game sounds somewhat familiar, it should be. Star Fortress now represents the ColecoVision version of Star Castle. Up until now, Star Castle only existed on the Vectrex system.

I probably don’t have to tell you how I feel about Star Castle. It was a favorite of mine, a game that appeared for several months in the delicatessen near my home where I grew up. Frequent "sleepers" like this one appeared there, all of them with some great memories: Ladybug, Bosconian, Moon Cresta... and of those, Star Castle enjoyed the greatest attention back then. On the Vectrex, the game was simulated almost perfectly, although a few vectors were cut out here and there. Dondzila’s recreation of the game is in some respects CLOSER to the Cinematronics’ arcade game than the Vectrex version was. Star Fortress has better visuals (color, of course!), and its wider screen is much more accurate than the tiny cramped play area of the Vectrex game.

There are still some issues, however. Although a little practice will get you far, Star Fortress lacks the "feel" of the arcade game. The ship moves very suddenly, almost TOO responsively to the controls. Turning should always be quick, but the thrust is set too high. Even tapping on the button rockets you faster than I’d like. The center cannon also shoots TOO quickly, and the pursuing sparks move TOO fast. It’s supposed to be difficult to avoid, but it fires with hardly a moment to react. Unlike the coin-op, you can ill afford to spend even a moment standing still. I can appreciate the difficult skill level but would have liked a few easier levels (something a little slower!) to start out with.

Even with these nit-picks, veteran gamers will fawn over this one. It is perhaps the finest shooter available on the ColecoVision. Keep in mind that this is only a first effort on this console. Imagine what he may have up his sleeve in the future!

I urge you to support John Dondzila’s work. Email him, buy his games, or check out his site ( today!


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:32 PM