Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Game of the Week: Star Castle

Star Castle Arcade Game Service & Repair ManualIn the annals of classic arcade game history, there are plenty of games still remembered. Pac-Man comes to mind, as does the likes of Donkey Kong. But then there are tons of games long forgotten, such as Gladiator or Pleiades. Among this lengthy list of games nearly forgotten is Star Castle.

Star Castle was, quite simply, one of the most fun games to play during its times. Basic gameplay was somewhat like the popular Asteroids arcade game in which the player controlled a spaceship that flies or floats around the screen while shooting at targets. In Star Castle, those targets included shields encircling a central enemy spaceship and mines launched by that enemy at the player's ship.

It sounds simple. It wasn't. Especially as gameplay rolled on. Each time the player's ship blasted away one of the layers of shields around the enemy mothership, another shield level would grow. This could continue indefinitely. The trick was to blast away nearly all parts of a shield, but to leave behind one small piece of a shield so that a new shield wouldn't generate. Oh, yeah, the player also has to avoid those mines shot out by the enemy ship at the center of the screen, which was no easy thing to accomplish.

Star Castle was originally released to the arcades in 1980 by the Cinematronics company. One thing nearly unique about Star Castle is it was one of the earlier vector video games to hit the arcades, in laymen's terms meaning the graphics for the game did not utilize pixels to draw images on the video screen.

Also, sometimes color overlays could be found on some Star Castle games to add to the experience, but often enough the games could be found without those overlays.

Star Castle only made it onto one home video gaming system, the Vectrex back in 1983, but it was a major inspiration for the famous Atari 2600 game Yars' Revenge. While Yars' Revenge and Star Castle at first glance seem nothing alike in gameplay, there are obvious similarities in the two games.

Thirty years after its initial release, Star Castle can hardly ever be found, but it was fun to play back in the day and is still fondly remembered by many retro and classic gamers.

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