The original Star Raiders was released in 1979 for the Atari 400 \ 800 8-bit computers. It was a ground breaking game in terms of graphics and game-play, showing just what the Atari computers were capable of. The game featured a grid based “Galactic Chart” showing the enemy and friendly controlled sectors. To complete missions in enemy sectors the game would switch to a 3D in-cockpit view of a space ship which could be flown about and used to shoot bad guys.
As far as core game-play goes, nothing much has changed in this re-imagining of the 1979 classic. The grid is made up of hexagonal tiles and the graphics are much better but unlike the original it is not pushing any boundaries. The game is published by Atari and developed by Incinerator Studios who are probably best know for their line of Disney PIXAR “Cars” games for the Wii.
The introduction is an incredibly cheesy monologue by the main character Ruiz the self proclaimed “Whiz Kid”. It is hard to tell if this intro is giving a nod to a previous generation of games or if it is just a terribly bad attempt at humour. The tutorial is short and to the point, there is one tutorial for each of the three modes of flight: Attack, Assault and Turret.
Attack mode is used for dog fighting, the ship moves forwards without any input from the player and its direction is controlled with the thumbstick. In Assault mode the ship goes slower than attack mode, gains a bit more shields and does more damage but is easier to hit. Finally, in Turret mode the ship moves very slowly, gains a great deal more shielding and does much more damage to targets up close. Switching between modes can take some time to get used to as the controls vary but that is part of the challenge.
To progress through the game missions need to be completed in enemy sectors. Mostly these missions consist of destroying a set number of enemy fighters and\or turrets. Some missions require completing objectives in a set time or picking up specific items drifting in space. After each mission the Galactic Chart is displayed showing new enemy and friendly positions, there are some tactics required to keep pushing the enemy back and stop them reclaiming sectors.
Whenever and enemy ship is destroyed they drop Salvage Credits. These credits allow upgrades to be purchased for the ship from more powerful missiles and cannons to a new computer AI which might boost damage or shields.
Star Raiders is a completely single player game but it does offer a bit of competition with the leaderboards which are based on the time it takes to complete a mission. This gives some incentive to replay missions.
For £7.99, in the PlayStation Store, Star Raiders is a decent update of an Atari classic. It keeps close to the mechanics of the original while adding enough content to make it good value for money.
6 space dog fights out of 10