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6  |  You Can Find A Better Sci-Fi Shooter In This Galaxy...
Darryl B. , 8/9/2009 1:39:16 AM

Stellar Fire box, cd - fatmanstellarfire.jpg

Stellar-Fire is a bit of a different game, albeit not a great one. It's origins can be traced back to an old DOS game called Stellar 7, having the wire-framed vector graphics look. The game has been through many incarnations since as well, which you can check out an interesting read of it's history at the  Hardcore Gaming 101 website.

As different as this game may be, it sure does have it's share of cliches though; lets have a look:

*due to it's newfangled CD technology from back then, it had a great cinematic intro...that ended up being way better than the game itself!

*as it's explained in the intro (by Michael Dorn, who played Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation), you pilot an experimental (of course) ship, flanked by

*a female friend, who's a total babe, of course, along with

*an older, nowhere near as attractive older guy,

*both of them get killed by an enemy ambush, but

*you end up escaping, of you're

*everyone's "only hope" too...along with the whole plan being a "suicide mission" (of course).

*plus this sci-fi premise has a mix of ridiculous bosses that take on human and animal characteristics (something that I hate in games), which I'll get to later.

*also, the game has a brief, only ok ending...not as bad an ending as some games, but it could have been better.

So, with that out of the way, what the deal is in this game, you have to infiltrate the system of Sol by skimming along the surface of each of it's moons, defeating them one by one, then attempt to destroy the final planet of Arctura. This is accomplished by gathering these gigantic crystals on the moons (for some reason), until you reach the moon's boss at the end. The bosses are totally ridiculous, one being what appears to be a giant guy wearing one of those Chinese hats (I don't know what they're called; they're like an upside-down funnel on a person's head), another one a giant tornado, another one a giant snake, etc.; what-freakin'-ever.

Unfortunately on the way to the bosses, you encounter all kinds of stuff on the surface of the moons and in the air that you have to either destroy or avoid. Avoiding everything means you have to constantly move, and constantly running isn't very fun, but destroying them means that it allows other denizens to ram you and chip away at your shields in the meantime when you slow down to destroy them (makes me wish I could roll down my window and throw something at them, it'd probably be more effective than my puny weapons anyway!). Shooting them doesn't work really well either, since you have two weak weapons that you have to shoot very rapidly, which doesn't really make any sense either, since, during the intro, you're told that your ship has enough power to destroy "a star system" (whatever that's supposed to mean), yet how come you have problems destroying these tiny crafts on the moons? (Actually, I guess that's another thing to add to my "cliches" list: what's a sci-fi story line without a big hole in the plot?)

So unfortunately that leaves you running away from everything for the most part, which isn't very fun. At least you get power-ups to help build up your cannons' strength though, although that's a bit confusing, since most of the power-ups look the same, and you get some "fat boys" too, which are smart bombs that destroy everything on the screen.

At least the graphics are great though (due to the power of the cd), especially whenever you make it to a new moon, you're treated to a really neat shot of your ship entering the new moon's atmosphere to enjoy while you wait for that part of the cd to load. (You're also given an introduction to each new moon and enemy crafts on there too, which you can cycle through by pressing buttons on your controller, or you can just skip these altogether.) The controls work really smoothly, and the soundtrack's really good, ranging from hard rock to heavy metal to classical to ambient music. It's just that the game itself isn't a whole lot of fun though, it could have been better. I'd still pick this up though if you find it somewhere, paying only like $10 for it (which is what I did back in the day when the Sega CD days were waning), maybe $15 or $20 at the most, I wouldn't spend any more than that.

It just makes me wonder how Stellar-Fire stacked up with it's other incarnations though, as I ran across a copy of the 3D0 version (Stellar 7: Draxon's Revenge, which that's the name of the enemy, by the way) several years ago at a resale shop and skimmed through the instructions, finding a few differences between that game and this one. Hell, I wouldn't mind playing the original actually, since I'm a vector graphics nut (or anything that emulates those).

Although the ending might not have been any better though. 6/10

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