Star Voyager

Atari 2600

Review by Dan Mahlendorf



Graphics: 5

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 6

Outer space and video games: a match that goes together like chocolate and peanut butter. We got our Space Invaders, our Asteroids, our Defender but what about being able to fight aliens from INSIDE the super powerful hyper-starship the games give us? 1982 seemed to be the year for the through-the-cockpit view with releases like Starmaster, Star Raiders and the game I'm review today: Star Voyager.

In this game, you are in control of the Astro-Cruiser Star Voyager which has just returned from a diplomatic mission (which probably involved "laser cannon diplomacy"). Just when you thought shore leave was just around the corner, you receive a transmission stating that the Zakorans have broken the new treaty are attacking your home base of Capitol Starport. You must fight your way past waves of Zakoran ships to the seven star portals which lead you back home.

Upon start up we are treated to two horizontal hash marks that represent your targeting sights along with the Imagic logo. Upon starting the game the heads up display appears, showing (from left to right) number of enemies killed, the radar and the amount of energy your ship has (maximum is 99 units). Stars lazily whiz by as you search for the enemy. At first they appear as small red dots that eventually grow in size and every so often they will drop white bombs that, if too close to your gun sights, will cause a varying degree of damage. To wipe out your foes you have the choice to use either lasers (twin red beams that have a better chance of hitting but use more energy) or photon torpedoes (balls of white energy that use way less energy but have less of a chance to blast a foe) which is switchable with the right difficulty switch. After you blast so many Zakorans in a wave you hear a musical tune that announces the arrival of the star portal. Find it on your radar, center your sights in the middle of the growing flashing square and then be treated to a changing screen background light show as your power fills back up. Miss the star portal and you must fight the Zakorans again. Hit it accidentally and its game over. The next wave yields more bad guys and you repeat. When you die you are given shown your "Field promotion" which ranges from AWOL (bad) to Admiral (best).

Beyond the shiny foil-like label and the different cartridge design Imagic is known for, this thru-the-window space blaster is the weakest of the class of '82. Finding the bad guys is typically no problem as in moments they are upon you. It's lining them up into your sights that can be a bear as the Zakorans flit about with some serious speed all while dropping bombs on the screen. Thankfully Imagic didn't totally adhere to a pseudo realism approach with this game like Activision and Atari did with Starmaster and Star Raiders. In other cockpit-shooters when you have a target in your sights and you fire, the weapons fire flies out towards the center of your sights and only destroys the foe you have targeted. Logical. Star Voyager seems to have more in common with games like Air Sea Battle or Atlantis as your weapons fire will destroy anything in its path on their way to the targeting sights rather than what's actually targeted. So in essence if you fire your lasers and move around you can lead the target into the weapon stream. Not sure if this is an oversight, a glitch or a "feature". I'm also assuming the radar is supposed to be a help but it's never stated in the manual where on that scanner is "true center of view". When trying to find a star portal I lined my craft up with the blip on the radar so that it was dead center, yet I couldn't see the portal. It took a bit of flying around to the sides but I finally found it...just as it blew past me.

General game play was functional but didn't offer more than just an ever increasing speed and enemy blast-a-thon. The only objective was to get to the portals so the game felt more like a shooting gallery than a space flight shooter. With other titles released you had star bases to defend, debris to avoid, debilitating damage to deal with and more to make those games almost feel as though you are flying through space. One redeeming feature of Star Voyager is that you can do two player simultaneous play. In one game mode one could fly while the other shoots and the second game mode puts the other player in control of the alien enemies. It's a nice touch that can make for some interesting fights.

Visually this game is average compared to Star Voyager but does have the edge compared to the flicker-fest that is Star Raiders (though in Raider's defense there are more enemies, more screens and more stuff going on so that could be just hardware limitations at the time). The alien enemies gradually grow in size from a speck to a truly alien vessel of destruction. The stars do an OK job of conveying travel but there isn't enough noticeable motion to depict climbs and banks.

Aurally Star Voyager serves up your standard fair of sound effects that classify this game as a space shooter. There is a constant white noise representing your engines, the lasers make a recognizable "zap" sound and the torpedoes you shoot make a "whoosh" sound when you fire them. The enemy's weapon explosions will grow louder the closer they are to your sights and softer the closer they are to the edge of the screens.

Overall, I'd say this game is very average. Definitely not one of Imagic's best titles but a game that give an ample amount of difficulty that's worthy of a replay ever once in a great while. Even if you don't like the game the label and box are neat to look at thanks to Imagic's flair for the flashy.


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Last updated: Saturday, September 25, 2004 09:10 AM