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Star Fighter 3000 Review

By Peter Naulls. Published: 5th Jan 2004, 23:12:29 | Permalink | Printable

RISC OS gaming classic better than ever

Review There are some RISC OS games that are worth revisiting, and plenty more that are probably best left unplayed, lest you break that fragile sense of nostalgia you hold about them, and see that they no longer live up to your treasured expectations.

Star Fighter 3000 is certainly not in the latter category, and indeed, many of the improvements, nearly 10 years on from its original release, make it even more playable.

Ok, time to own up - drobe.co.uk asked for a review of this game around a year ago, and even around the middle of last year when its maintainer, Chris Bazley, was able to oblige, we still sat on it for some months, for reasons we'll try and attribute (with suitable hand waving) to the steady flow of other RISC OS news. So, with apologies to Chris (and APDL) we'll proceed.


RISC OS Gaming?
It's true (as if you hadn't noticed), the RISC OS gaming scene has all but dried up, with almost the entirety of original RISC OS games coming from a certain Neil White, and most of the remainder being ports from other platforms, inspired by the SDL port carried out by Alan Buckley, and a few other items mentioned on Acorn Arcade.

In any case, SF3000 brings a well needed boost, even though it's not a new game as such.


Same but better
In essence, it's the same old game - you fly a ship around a toroidal map (meaning it's rectangular and it wraps at the edges), shoot and collect items to complete various missions and purchase upgrades to enhance the performance and firepower of your ship.

If you're not familiar with the original, Star Fighter 3000 is a 3D shoot 'em up. You have to proceed through a series of missions of increasing difficulty, collecting credits which enable you to upgrade your ship, purchase extra lives, etc. Most of the levels are played on a map with many obstacles such as hills, buildings, industrial complexes, defence outposts and many more items, and almost everything, with enough effort, can be blown up, with dramatic explosions. On some levels there are wing men who aid you in shooting everything in anything, and on others are there are large cargo ships which require destruction. On most levels, there's also (for some) a tricky docking with the mothership to complete the mission.

As for this new version, the most obvious improvements are that it's 32-bit, can run in the Desktop and has a large number of bug fixes. The Desktop feature is perhaps the nicest addition, allowing scaling (by how much before things start slowing down depends upon your machine), as well as extensive Wimp-based configuration of options, including your favourite non-default keys (which always had to be changed in the old version, because they would clash on a RiscPC).

The extensive list of bug fixes and improvements can be see in the version history of the game, the original having an unfortunate number of bugs.


Playability
The game has lost none of its original addictive qualities, as I found when I spent a number of hours "reviewing" it. Many of the levels are quite easy for a seasoned gamer, but others are tricky indeed. Some levels can get a little tedious to complete, as you need to take some time to ensure you don't destroy yourself with repeated kamikaze flyovers or death-defying (or not, as the case may be) aerobatics whilst being shot at by dozens of defence emplacements.

Still, if you're looking to spend a little money on a RISC OS game, this would be a good choice.


Gallery


Configuring in the desktop

Mission selection screen

Upgrade your ship
with a little shopping trip

Play the game in a window on the desktop
- the ultimate desktop diversion



Star Fighter 3000 on the web
If you hadn't noticed already, SF3000 also has a rather extensive range of information on its home page. The pages include pretty much everything you'd ever want to know about the game, including the history mentioned above. Not only that, but there's an impressive array of utilities for use with the game, for when you decided that playing the game just isn't enough.


Purchasing SF3000
It takes a bit of working through the APDL/iSV website to find this, but it's all listed on this page. StarFighter 3000 Other Worlds is available for 19.90 UKP, and is bundled with classics Elite, SunBurst and Air Supremacy, although it's noted that these will not work on Iyonix. You can also upgrade from the previous CD version for 11.50 UKP. Not a bad price, and you can reward Chris for his considerable work on this project.


Finally
It's great to see these old games pulled out and given a new lease on life. What we'd love to see is a remake of the classic Stunt Racer 2000.


Links


Star Fighter 3000 home
iSV Purchasing information

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Discussion

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Couple of errors in the text:

'big fixes' - probably should say 'bug fixes'

'The game has none of its original addictive qualities' - erm, shouldn't that be 'The game has *lost* none of its original addictive qualities?'

I'd *love* to play this again!

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 6/1/04 1:11AM
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Yeh, yeh, yeh. My sub-editing sucks. Errors corrected.

Chris. Just me.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 6/1/04 1:26AM
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essense?!? That's 'essence', I presume...

 is a RISC OS Userhutchies on 6/1/04 10:03AM
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"an unfortuate number of bugs"

This is great fun.

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 6/1/04 10:06AM
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Interesting definition of "fun". Errors fixed, I even tortured myself to use Word97 (the nearest spell checker to hand right now) to double check it.

Chris. Just me. I think we need a holiday.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 6/1/04 10:14AM
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What a fantastic game! It's not often that I find myself wishing I had a RISC OS machine - when playing Star Fighter 3000 on a friend's RiscPC was just one of those times. It's fantasticly fun, and is one of those games where it's just as much fun to fly around randomly as it is to play the game.

That and Chocks Away :)

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 6/1/04 10:20AM
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A big part of the reason the "RISC OS Gaming scene dried up" is because punters showed clearly (ie with their wallets) that there was no interest in home-grown games -- all they want is ports from other platforms. "Big" games like Quake took the market. Typical of the reason the rest of the "scene" is drying up. Good on Chris for lumbering on with SF3000, but personally I'd prefer to see effort put in to something more original after all that time and effort. I'll still buy this I reckon ... but how does it fair on an A6 or with ViewFinder?

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 6/1/04 10:44AM
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SF3000 is surely one of the few remaining killer applications for RISC OS. ;-) As for the drying up of the game scene, it happened long before Quake with all those Bitmap BS conversions, where BS may or may not be a foreshortening of the word "brothers". Asylum rained on Magic Pockets' parade, certainly.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 6/1/04 10:57AM
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Inj - you seem to forget a major reason there's not many, if any, home grown titles with graphics, sound or music that can even compare with old 16-bit titles. That reason is development software. Unless one is prepared or able to develop things like high-quality animation software for sprites and new music packages then there's not going to be much progress. Artex recruited a TopModel expert but he also supplemented his toolkit with PC software. Most of the rest of the recent major games releases have been conversions since the graphics development has been largely done beforehand. Software is the missing factor in my reckoning.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 6/1/04 12:49PM
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The development (for graphics) software shouldn't be too much of a barrier, since that can be done on a PC. It's the time and effort required to produce them, and the fact that they are inevitably going to lack the eye candy of current PC offerings.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 6/1/04 1:17PM
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Of course it 'shouldn't be but it just isn't really there for RISC OS users to buy or use. Composition is a possibility but it's not dedicated software.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 6/1/04 3:20PM
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imj - SF3000 works well on my SA Risc PC with ViewFinder.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 6/1/04 5:21PM
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Who currently 'owns' Stunt Racer and Chocks Away? I mean, if someone had the source code to both of those and the means to update it, who would want to know?

 is a RISC OS Userkrisa on 6/1/04 7:44PM
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AW> You're talking pure rubbish. Development software has NOTHING to do with it. Moreover, I know commercial PSX and GBA games developers who choose to use RISC OS applications for their graphics. Norcroft (Acorn) C is also one of the best available C compilers for ARM, so there's no issue there. No. The issue really /is/ that original games just aren't wanted -- just line up the headline-grabbing big-budget ports, that's all punters want IME.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 6/1/04 10:02PM
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When are we going to get a 32 bit Elite then? It still holds its own IMO. Looking at so called modern games, like the one my son has just obtained for his Playstation, I am not impressed. This game is horribly violent and shows the results of the violence in graphic detail. My son says that it is probably going to be banned. OK my son has always been into martial arts, judo, karate, kick boxing and now his current main sport is boxing, but that doesn't excuse games like that. It isn't one that I would want to play for sure. If that is the way modern gaming is going, more and more sex and violence to try to keep the punters interested, then I'd rather stick with the old stuff thank you. Sex and violence are things that are resorted to when the ideas are running out. Just shows that the old ideas (like Elite and SF3000) are still as good a s ever and that the old games are still worth playing.

Martin.

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 6/1/04 11:01PM
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Why thanks IMJ. I speak from personal experience and from experience of others. There's no advanced 2D or 3D animation software publicly availably to allow development of games which can even approach most of the titles available 5 years ago let alone now. There may be 1 or 2 art or layering packages and certainly there's programming utensils galore but nothing of the sort above.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 7/1/04 1:26PM
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mrtd: But SF3000 and Elite :elite: are both very violent games indeed. For example look at this quote from the Star Fighter 3000 manual: "Destroy their buildings, Exterminate their armies, Grind them into the dust, all for points and prizes."

 is a RISC OS UserJimbo on 7/1/04 8:28PM
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IMJ: I think you may find that the RISC OS games market is simply so small that /no/ games sell well. I'm guessing that your later games, Overload and the excellent Inferno didn't sell very well. But I think you'll find that the ports of Quake and Descent have sold very poorly as well.

Any games produced for RISC OS now probably have to be done for the love of the platform rather than for any money I think.

Personally I've never beena fan of the first person shooters. Give me a good scrolling shoot-em-up up or platform game anyday! Cheers!

 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 7/1/04 10:00PM
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If we had an up to date Flash and Shockwave, we'd have access to all manner of games online, such as the 3d isometric Osbournes game on MTV.

Yeah, yeah, I'm dreaming!

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 8/1/04 1:48AM
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SF3000 isn't graphically violent though. Mrtd this does seem to be the way things are going but there should always be exceptions which are something special.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 8/1/04 12:11PM
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The Doctor: Inferno sold well, Overload less so. The point was, we got utterly flooded with people saying they "enjoyed the demo" but an unrepresentatively lower number actually *bought* the thing. That's why it's now supplied free with VirtualAcorn... enjoy it for free. The point is, original games take a lot of time to develop, which rather has to be represented by the sales. We held a survey form on our website for several years ... over 75% said they would prefer ports of the big titles to smaller, original titles. I personally have no interest in porting, so stopped bothering doing games on RISC OS altogether.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 8/1/04 6:55PM
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Thanks for the positive review guys! I must admit I had assumed you had forgotten all about the idea by now.

The preview copy of the game that I sent you in mid-2003 does differ in a few minor respects from the final public release version. This is why the screenshot of the 'Configure' dialogue box in this article differs slightly from that at [link]

Trivia: It is solely down to Chocky (Peter Naulls) that I ever bothered doing SF3000-in-a-window, since it was he that badgered me on IRC to do it. If only I'd known what I was letting myself in for...

 is a RISC OS Userthesnark on 9/1/04 1:06PM
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imj: I think possibly the reason that people who enjoyed the Inferno demo didn't buy the game was that the demo was so difficult to complete. Ditto the Botkiller 2 and Ankh demos. If you can't even complete a demo then there is little incentive to buy the full game! Also, it is not always whether multi-level demos are designed to be representative of the game hardness overall or are just the first few levels.

 is a RISC OS Userthesnark on 9/1/04 1:12PM
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Grrr - what I meant to type was "...it is not always CLEAR whether multi-level demos are designed to be representative of the game hardness overall or are just the first few levels."

 is a RISC OS Userthesnark on 9/1/04 1:23PM
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Thinking back on it, you could be right there Chris. I played the demo long before I actually bought the game. Overload on the other hand, I bought only shortly after trying the demo yet as it turns out, I like Inferno more. Cheers!

 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 9/1/04 8:54PM
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