Ad Astra ZX Spectrum
To The Stars!
That was the motto of this classic 3D game from Gargoyle Games which was their first ZX Spectrum release.
This game was released around April 1984 and was quite amazing at the time due it's 3D graphics and fast paced gameplay.
Unfortunately this game has dated more than many other games for our favourite 8-bit machine, but let's have a look at it anyway...
Set against the blackness of space, this 3D arcade game was one of those games that amazed you back in early 1984.
As usual for these classic games there was a back story to set the scene...
There is little to occupy a pilot as he doggedly coasts from station to station...
That is, unless you count the deadly phasers of the formations of Pirate battle-cruisers and their robot Scout ships, the multidirectional scatter bombs, the gigantic mine-layers of the Capellan Anti-Terran League (what a great name!), the almost impenetrable curtain of lethal mines and the fragmentation bombs, not to mention, of course, the ever-present interstellar debris that litters areas of space...
So, basically you had to blast away at incoming enemy ships and avoid crashing into planetoids.
The 3D effect of the planetoids coming towards you and the bad guys as they swooped 'out of' the screen was, at the time, pretty damn amazing.
With six lives to play with and seven stages to play through, the game offered some variety and also a pretty tough challenge.
Five different types of aliens attacked in eight different formations, firing two types of lasers at you.
This was followed by a minefield stage where you had to destroy streams of rotating mines before they moved to close to your craft.
Then come those pesky spinning saucers firing at you as they span across the gameplay area. These had to be hit several times to ensure destruction.
The last phase was a 'Way Station'. A security code appeared for the next Way Station, and as the station appeared the player had remember this code and then input it correctly.
An incorrect code resulted in loss of a life. A correct code rewarded you an extra life and a nice 'Welcome' message. Infinity welcomes careful drivers...
And that is pretty much it. It's a real retro arcade game that has very little depth but plenty of charm.
When this game was released it was praised for it's amazing 3D graphics and perspective. Crash Magazine awarded it a very respectable score of 80% commenting on the rotating shaded planetoids, fast moving graphics and addictive gameplay. It ended up being a reasonable hit and a good first game from Gargoyle.
The Test Of Time:
Well the years have not been kind to this one. Of course the 3D effect is no longer amazing and the playability is pretty shallow, but there is something utterly charming about this classic game. Despite the sometimes seemingly 'random' deaths that befall you the game can make you smile a little. This is one from the early days before developers really began pushing the hardware, and to be fair it has dated a lot - but it is definately worth a look for pure nostalgia.
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Steel Eagle. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Arcade Game (Shoot em up)
RELEASE DATE: 1984
RELEASED BY: Gargoyle Games
DEVELOPER(S): Roy Carter, Greg Follis
PRICE: £5.95 - UK
Classic Arcade Gaming:
Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games
8 Apr 2011
Ad Astra ZX Spectrum
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