Sunday, 27 December 2015

Star Castle (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1983
 

Star Castle is a shoot-em-up that was first released in the Arcades in 1980 by Cinematronics.

 
You control a Star Cruiser and your mission is to break down three rotating castle walls and destroy the Cannon in the middle. It supports 1-2 players (simultaneous or alternating) and the joystick rotates your ship, 3 thrusts forward while 4 fires missiles. Each wall is split into eight sections which need to be shot twice; as you fire away Bombs are launched and if they collide with your Cruiser you lose one of your five lives. The longer it takes you to destroy the walls the more aggressive the Bombs become and the more accurate the Cannon gets. The risk element comes in the form of how close you're willing to get to the walls; shooting from a distance is safer but only four missiles can be on screen at a time meaning it takes longer. In contrast, closing the distance speeds up your firing rate but leaves you with little time to react to incoming projectiles! There's also a strategic element as when a wall is completely destroyed the inner walls quickly expand and form a new wall around the Energy Cannon; therefore, you need to be selective with your shots and try to open a clear path where the gaps in all three walls are lined up together. When this happens you need to pay attention to the Cannon as it will launch deadly fireballs at you. Weirdly, the skill levels you select before starting a game are reversed meaning option one is the most difficult! Unfortunately the gameplay is unengaging and quite frankly boring as there's nothing different to see after the first round. It's also hard to line up your shots as the Bombs are microscopic and your Cruiser pivots too fast to be completely accurate. Throughout you'll feel like you're fighting against the controls which is horrendous in a fast-paced shooter. The Cannon also fires too quickly leaving you with barely any time to dodge.
 
Star Castle isn't the worst shooter in the world but I just didn't find the overall concept to be particularly interesting. On top of this the gameplay isn't really much fun and in my opinion there's much better shooters available on the Vectrex such as Cosmic Chasm (1982) and Mine Storm (1982).
 
 
 
Random trivia: The Arcade version is said to have been the inspiration for the Atari 2600 smash hit Yars' Revenge (1982).

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