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Starflight - The Atari Times


A Journey Into Space
by Matthias Jaap

June 18, 2002
Arth, in the year 4619. Arth is the new home world of humankind since Earth was destroyed in an extensive war ages ago. Because of this catastrophe, the humans were thrown back in their technological development. Things changed quickly when scientists succeeded building spaceships powered by Endurium. These spaceships were able to fly faster than light speed and were therefore able to reach stars and galaxies far away. Some research ships were built in order to find new planets for colonisation and alien races to trade with.

Of course you control one of these ships together with six specialists. You fly through space and land on planets to explore the resources of the planet. Unfortunately, your ship is not limited very well. Before you can even think about provoking a space fight you will need better shields and weapons. Everything you find and carry on other planets can be sold on Arth. The money can be invested back into the ship which is necessary because you will surely meet aliens later.

The aliens obviously do not speak the same language as humans do. Your communication officer knows at least a couple of alien languages but he does not know them all. Communication problems are the cause for most fights but are not the solution for most problems in Starflight. If you talk with aliens you may get some important hints. There is something more about this game as just discovering new worlds... If a space fight is unavoidable and you win, you can take the remaining enemy.

Starflight was PC exclusive for more than three years and for these three years the only reason for gamers to buy a PC. In1990 Electronic Arts ported this game to Atari ST, Amiga and C64. Mouse support was added to the 16 bit version thus making them easier to use. The gameplay sounds like Elite but Starflight roots are in the role-playing genre. 

The graphics of Starflight are clear, good and of course much better than the CGA ones of the PC versions. However, they do not take advantage of the full power of the ST. The sound is nearly non-existent and it is a good idea to put an audio CD into your CD player to have some quality music.

What is most fascinating about Starflight is the gameplay. Each planet is different and the alien races behave differently, too. There are planets with vegetation and some of them are unfriendly. While other role-playing games draw a clear line between enemies and friends, Starflight is in most cases different. If you have a highly equipped ship you can of course blast almost every other ship into space but you will surely miss important information.

In conclusion I would say that Starflight is one of the best role-playing games for the ST. Although not everyone who likes Elite will like Starflight, the game's complexity and story guarantee hours of fun.

Nice title sequence!
You start out in the docking port. You must buy your ship and find crew to man it.
The galactic map will help you figure out where to go.
Getting ready to leave orbit!
System: Atari-ST
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: RPG
Graphics Score: 50%
Sound & Music Score: 20%
Gameplay Score: 89%
Control Score: %

Final Score: 89%

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What is the greatest video game company of all time? (Hint: Atari.)