"After decades of war one company, who had gained powerful supplying both sides with weaponary, steps forwards and crushes both warring factions in one swift movement. Using far superior weaponary and AI craft, the company was completely unstoppable and now no one can stand in their way. Thousands began to perish under the iron fist of the company. The people cried out for a saviour, for someone to light this dark hour... and someone did."
Well that's basically the story of Starfighter. It's an old school space shooter with a modern twist. When I started playing the game I was expecting something in the way of R-type or Gradius. The game is neither, instead Parallel Realities have created a game that borrows some elements from the above mentioned games, but other than that tries to make something of their own. It's not an original game nor is it a complete clone (not that I know of). The best way to sum it up is that it's a nice little space shooter with an anime (Macross/Robotech) touch. It also has of the most nostalgic music I've heard in years. My thoughts are instantly on the golden age of the Amiga. I can't put my finger on a certain game, but I'm sure that Parallel Realities have a history with the Amiga in one way or another...
About the game itself. It takes place 500 years in the future where a corporation has grown too powerful and is controlling the entire universe. You play the role of a lone starfighter pilot who gets to rescue the day. On your way to galactic liberation you'll meet fellow pilots who will join your cause and help you during battle. This wingman touch is what saved the game for me. Without the radio chatter between the pilots and the somewhat varying mission; this would have been just an advanced version of Galaga. But due to these elements the game gets a little depth which was enough to motivate me to finish the game's 26 missions.
The missions are spread out over different solar systems and consists of primary and secondary objectives, the primary objectives are mandatory for moving on to the next mission, while the secondary are mostly just for collecting extra money. In each solar system you can take your pick of the current missions and play them in whatever order you wish. During the missions you collect money and powerups from you vanquished foes. Money is used between the missions to buy upgrades for you starfighter. Some upgrades are almost essential when taking on the so called "bosses". Not so in that they're extremely hard to beat without them, but because the bosses can take a substantial pounding before they're destroyed and you might lose interest before that ;-). I also found the lack of varying backgrounds somewhat of a bore. I used to like it when old school shooters had missions where you flew inside som gigantic base or similar. In starfighter every mission takes place in outer space, which means a black background with stars, stars and more stars.
The game is short, too short. You can easily finish this game in one sitting. On the other hand this game would've been boring had it been longer. There isn't enough depth to keep one interested for a long time, but it being short somehow hides that. This is the kind of game you download when you're bored and need something to do for the next couple of hours. It's a great game to kill some time with on the train (if you have a laptop) or maybe in the car. If you're good you can probably finish it before the laptop runs out of batteries.
The bottom line is I would've preferred a "remake" of R-type or Gradius, but this isn't half bad. It's just that I think I was somewhat disappointed when I didn't get what I expected. Don't let my semi-pessimistic review stop you from trying out this unpolished diamond since I did, after all have a good time playing it.
Review by: MdaG
Safe for all ages
SDL Library, SDL Image Library and SDL Mixer Library
Platforms: BeOS, Amiga, Solaris, Linux, Mac OS X, Windows and some more