Inspired by Jez San's affection for the 1983 Atari arcade Star Wars, Starglider was a real innovative game for its era, running in 3D. Like most games from Rainbird, Starglider was launched complete with an excellent novella in which the game relies heavily on its storyline. The game was released for the 16bit Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Apple IIGS, Apple Macintosh, PC (MS-DOS) and the 8bit Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 home computers.
STORY / GAMEPLAY
Your mission is to glide across the surface an imaginary planet called Novenia, destroying as many aliens and spacecrafts as possible. Each alien form has different value ranging from 50 points for a small drone, to 7.500 points for a Starglider. Each time you gain 10.000 points you are transferred to a new and more complicated level. You control AGAV (Airborne Ground Attack Vehicle) from a first person perspective. The panel allows monitoring critical particulars of your vehicle (such as the scanner, the energy level, the shield meter, the laser cells status, the altitude and the velocity indicator). The main difficulty encountered is refueling energy since this can be done by gliding between two energy towers, at a very low altitude. Repair Silos (represented by rotating wedge-like structures) are also available in order to restock your shields and guns. Your firepower is a set of laser guns and a limited number of missiles. Once you fire a missile your mouse controls this very missile(!), and you must therefore focus on pin-pointing the adversary. Targets vary from Stargliders to ground Walkers (taken from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi!) and Strompers.
GRAPHICS / SOUND The graphics on the Atari ST are good and the AGAC's cockpit is nicely designed with a variety of animated touches on the indicators, whilst enemies and other objects are simple 3D polygons vectors moving fast on screen. It is quite impressive for the time that enemies are blown into several pieces when shot. The game runs faster that the Amiga version, but there are a few frame-rate issues when too many polygons occupy the screen. The sound on the ST version is good and includes a short, sampled, introductory short tune singing the name of the game and the name of the publisher (Rainbird). On the other hand, the sound effects (laser/missile firing, explosions etc) are rather noisy since they are not sampled.
CPU: Motorola 68000 16/32bit at 8mhz. 16 bit data bus/32 bit internal/24-bit address bus. MEMORY: RAM 512KB (1MB for the 1040ST models) / ROM 192KB GRAPHICS: Digital-to-Analog Converter of 3-bits, eight levels per RGB channel, featuring a 9-bit RGB palette (512 colors), 320x200 (16 color), 640x200 (4 color), 640x400 (monochrome). With special programming techniques could display 512 colors on screen in static images. SOUND: Yamaha YM2149F PSG "Programmable Sound Generator" chip provided 3-voice sound synthesis, plus 1-voice white noise mono PSG. It also has two MIDI ports, and support mixed YM2149 sfx and MIDI music in gaming (there are several games supported this).