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S Blastar hoot em ups, eh? We have certainly had them. We have had horizontally scrolling, vertically scrolling, four way scrolling, into the screen, viewed from above, side on, from behind, first person, third person perspectives. We have had the lot! If anyone ever writes another shoot em up they will have to have an extra special trick up their sleeves. Super incredible playability, extra smooth parallax scrolling, unprecedentedly powerful power-ups, ore something else. Do not ask me what – if i knew I would have sold the idea to Sensible Software and I would be designing my own shoot-em-up now instead of telling you about this one.

A second superstar?
If the Bitmap Brothers had followed up their 1989 shoot em up superstar Xenon 2 - Megablast, they would have written something a lot like this. It is the logical next step in the Xenon saga. Xenon was a slow, but involving vertical scroller that allowed you to change between a land-borne craft, which looks a lot like your ship in Blastar, and a flying ship. The landscape was a futuristic metal planet. Xenon 2 went one step further. The land craft was discarded for a spaceship that could be rigged with so many power-ups it really deserved the Megablast part of the title. The scenery was now organic, flailing tentacles ensnaring your ship. If, in Xenon 2, you took a wrong turn, you could pull back on the joystick and scroll backwards down the route you had taken. A kind of two-way scrolling shoot em up.

Blastar If the Bitmaps had not gone on to produce Gods, Magic Pockets and The Chaos Engine, but had produced Xenon 3 instead, do you not think they might have had a viewed from above four-way scrolling shoot em up? Especially one where you fly over a fetid organic landscape?

Enter Core Design. Enter Blastar, with the same dark and moody look, the same organic landscape, the same ‘Entering Shop’ section for buying power-ups. There is nothing I love more than a good shoot em up. But there is nothing I hate more than an average one. And sadly, that is what Blastar is. The gameplay is average, the control method is unwieldy, the music is average, the sound effects are uninspiring, the aliens are unintelligent and difficult to see, the missions are dull, the intro animation is awful. But Blastar does have one original twist, as part of some of the missions you have to ‘enter the tunnels and destroy the guardians’. And the perspective shifts to a horizontally scrolling, Scramble-type shoot em up. This section is not average... it is awful. The worst parallax scrolling we have ever seen combine with pretty poor graphics to produce something which is crap!

Sadly, nowhere near it!
Does Blastar have anything going for it? The box illustration and logo are nice, and the instructions are printed on the back of a rather fine A2 poster of said artwork.
If you really need to play a viewed-from-above space shoot em up, turn to page 54 and see if Uridium 2 is any cop.

Marcus Dyson

Amiga Format, Issue 53, December 1993, p.68

Tim Swann
Core Design 0332 297797
Out now


06 out of 10
Some bad – others... worse.

05 out of 10
Pretty poor rave soundtrack.

01 out of 10
I never want to see it again.

0 out of 10
Not much to be found here.

"A pathetically poor attempt to produce Xenon 3. This game fails on very single level. This is not the worst shoot-em-up ever, but it comes pretty close."

In der Zukunft nichts Neues

Blastar logo

Wer an Core Design denkt, der denkt an Action-Knaller wie etwa "Chuck Rock I" und "II" – nur an dieses herzlich hausbackene Ballerspiel sollte er tunlichst nicht denken!

Blastar Bereits die Vorgeschichte trieft vor Einfallsreichtum, erzählt sie doch das alte Märchen von den bösen Aliens, die sich auf sechs Inselplaneten eingenistet haben, um von dort aus die Erde zu erobern. Ihr denkt, das sei langweilig? Dann laßt Euch mal das Gameplay auf der Zunge zergehen: Mit einem Raumer grast man die Fraufsicht-Gestirne (jedes besteht aus zwei Levels) ab, sammelt Power Ups, Extraleben, Bonuspunkte und Zusatzenergie ein, erledigt bei multidirektionalem Scrolling große und kleine Gegner, geht zwischen den Stages im Waffenshop einkaufen und... nix, und, das war es auch schon.

Okay, die diversen Techno- und Lavalandschaften sehen geheimnisvoll aus, und auch das Kanonenfutter für die insgesamt zehn verschiedenen Laser kann sich sehen lassen. Es gilt, pro Level eine bestimmte Anzahl von Bodenzielen zu zerstören, von allen Seiten greifen phantasievoll gestaltete Aliens an, und die Endmonster sind wahrhaft gewaltig. Doch kann die hübsche Präsentation mit den teilweise animierten Hintergründen und der fetzigen Soundbegleitung halt nicht einen Moment darüber hinwegtäuschen, daß Blastar zu einer aussterbenden Gattung gehört – wer hat heute noch ernsthaft Interesse an einem "Cosmic Pirate"-Klon?

Wir jedenfalls nicht, schon gar nicht, wenn er mit einre mißratenen Rotationssteuerung und reichlich unfairen Angriffsformationen gekoppelt ist. Da auch das weiter hinten getestete "Blob" nicht gerade ein Hammer ist, sei Core Design hiermit doch dringend die Rückbesinning auf alter Tugenden ans Herz gelegt! (C. Borgmeier)

Amiga Joker, October 1993, p.80

Amiga Joker
PREIS noch offen
1 MB

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Blastar First up in this unique head-to-head challenge is Blastar from Core Design. It's a multi-directional shoot 'em up mixing in three different viewpoints for crucial parts of the game. At the start, there's a top-down view with your ship at the centre of a screen which rotates around you.
Then, there's a standard top-down non-scrolling view for some end-of-level guardians. Finally, there's the usual side-on scrolling view for the remaining bosses. It's an odd mix which does confuse you initially. I've no idea why they chose to do it this way but it seems like an artificial means of extending gameplay. The primary rotational view leaves you little time to spot enemies as you've only got half a screen's worth of space to see them before they smash into your ship. Fortunately, there's a scanner which helps, but only just.

The coders have gone for a very alien backdrop which is similar to Xenon II. Although the background is well drawn, it ends up masking the ships attacking you making the ship's placement centre screen even more taxing. A bit more contrast between the background and enemies would have helped considerably. After you've blown up the requisite number of alien generators the ship is immediately whisked off to face the mother alien. Again, it's hard to spot the difference between background and enemy sprite. Once the mother alien is beaten it's onto more of the same before blowing off the covers to tunnel sections. It's here that you get the side-on view. I enjoyed this bit more than the main game so it's a shame that these sections are so short.

When you've progressed three levels and killed more aliens than a violent xenophobe would manage in a week, you get to visit the shop. No, there's no Mars bars or cool drinks on offer here. Instead, you get to choose from the latest snap-on alien megadeath weapons or ship power ups, providing you've got the money to pay. Basically, the more aliens you kill the more cash you have to spend on better weapons to kill even more aliens. What can I tell you, it's a vicious circle. All in all, there's five levels of super violent alien blasting to keep you occupied (and that's not counting the sub-levels). Enough for even the most jaded sadistic killer.

Blastar's not a bad game, it's just that it's not that good either. There's little to be gained zooming around the screen blasting everything in sight. For one thing you won't last very long, for another you'll never see the ground-based installations that you're supposed to be blowing up. Caution is the name of the game here. Personally, I prefer the action to be a bit more frantic. I got to grips with the rotational thing but I still prefer a more traditional scroller. Which is why Overkill gets my vote.
Jon Sloan


CU Amiga, November 1993, p.80 (Blastar vs. Overkill)