StarRay logo

LOGOTRON is not the first name Amiga users associate with super-fast Arcade shoot-'em ups, but that could all change in the not too distant future following its first Amiga release, Star Ray.
The game was programmed and developed in Germany under the working title of Sting Ray, and after nearly 12 months of constant programming, testing and debugging has arrived sporting a new, more, appropriate name to match its non-stop arcade action.

The scenario is similar to the legendary coin-op, Defender, released in the arcades some seven years ago. The objective of that game was to defend the planet's population from invading aliens who practised strange methods of mutation on the humanoid population.
Star Ray is much the same, with you taking on the role of an intergalactic fighter pilot who must defend the ground installations. Where Star Ray reeks to differ from its arcade peer is the scrolling.
Defender had smooth and fast horizontal scrolling but it chugged compared with Star Ray's super fast, super colourful "quadralax" scrolling. This uses four scroll fields and on later levels produces a quite exhilarating effect.

The game is divided into seven levels, each representing a change in scenery and new waves of progressively more hostile aliens.
The first level is a beautifully illustrated marshland set in prehistoric times. The gory explosion effect when you shoot one of the aliens is totally cool.
Further into the game there are the brilliant cave network and the crypt-like ice world. Other screens pall by comparison. Your fighter, equipped with a standard laser, can collect other weapons and raw materials which allocate strange but effective enhancements.

It's not quite in the Nemesis style of increasing the ship's firepower, but improvements which can be made include vaporisers which destroy everything on the screen, energy re-boosters and immortality capsules.

As well as being able to improve the performance of your intergalactic fighter you can take advantage of certain features that contribute to the game's overall presentation. One such example is on the final level where by shooting randomly can result in radar jammers blocking the scanner.

The more you play Star Ray the more you appreciate the class and quality of the most exciting shoot-'em-up to be made available for the Amiga. The audio and visual effects are truly superlative. In short, Star Ray is quite simply exhilarating and addictive. This is a great title with which to kick-off Logotron games.


StarRay logo

HIDDEN TREASURES/LOGOTRON

Logotron's pioneer Amiga shoot-em-up StarRay, is the first game we've come across to feature a last game option to prevent you from playing it all day. Invoke this and you have to reboot to play again - essential when there are other, less enjoyable, things to do. Also a sure sign that the programmers know they're on to a winner.

GAMEPLAY

StarRay has seven levels of multi-plane parallax scrolling screens through which you fly your fighter armed with lasers and smart-bomb vaporisers. The action is thick and fast and requires the kind of aerobatic skills you may have acquired in Defender and its clones. Your mission is to protect energy, robot and anti-gravity installations against alien hordes. The most common aliens are Landers which not only return fire but attempt to land on installations in order to transfer them into gun emplacements. Other opponents consist of green spheres which explode to shower several pursuit UFOs in your direction, triads of meandering bombs, molecular flies and wasps, silicon worms, kamikaze bouncing springs and atomic-blue hunter-killers. Yep you guessed it, the action is feverish and somewhat bizarre.

Luckily, some Landers leave initialled bonus balls behind when you've terminated them. These produce a variety of effects if you can collect them by running through them - you can improve your acceleration and speed, gain rapid fire, greater laser penetration, limited invulnerability, continuous fire and bonus points. If you are especially good at dealing efficiently with the large alien carnage merchants you may come across an Airbus which you have to make no mistake in shooting down. (Is this an American import?- Ed). On exploding, an Airbus releases a capsule which boosts your energy to max if you catch it. There is no other means of increasing energy and the game ends when you've run out. Fortunately, an option has been included which allows you to restart a game at any level from 1 to 4; though only in the first level will you possess maximum energy.


GRAPHICS AND SOUND

Each landscape is ingeniously coded to present fast moving foregrounds against slower moving horizons. This multi-plane screen grading has the optical effect of speeding up action considerably. Alien vehicles move quickly and with flicker-free solidity irrespective of the number on screen. Along with visual spot-effect such as explosions, the laser fire and vaporisation effects are sharp and clear.

Sound effects are also particularly impressive - vaporising an entire screen of aliens is greeted by what sounds like deep digitised groans. Loading and inter-screen music helps complete the overall sense of atmosphere.


CONCLUSION

A great first for Logotron's 16-bit market plans, StarRay provides state of the art multi-plane scrolling cut with frantic action. Although the game bears more than a passing resemblance to Defender this should be considered a positive feature since the original concept has been enhanced with a great deal of class and style. Steve Bak is working on the ST version so expect an equally comprehensive adrenalin assault on that machine too.


StarRay logo CU Screen Star

Logotron
£24.95

If I was to tell you that the first Defender clone had appeared on the Amiga some of you might groan. But think back to the early days of the 64. Two of the best shoot 'em ups ever have to be Guardian and Dropzone, both homages to the coin-op classic. StarRay is as good as either given that it runs on a far superior machine.

The plot is complicated but the gameplay, as you'd expect, is straightforward, uncomplicated blasting. You control a nifty little star fighter through a number of different assignments which take you from one planet to another in your star system. The purpose of each mission is simply to clear three waves of unpleasantness which clutter up each particular level.

Each planet is effectively a new, pretty backdrop. For example Level 1, or Gorbaxa is a lunar-type landscape, Sirion is a dense jungle which is growing at an incredible rate and has to be kept in check by sort of timber-bots. Level 3 is Sharlon, replete with Arctic scenery and a fragile ozone layer.

The nasties that populate the various planets are equally as pretty as the backdrops. The jungle has dancing flies and quavering bees, whilst the Arctic conditions of Sharlon are populated by unpleasant whirling hexagons and aerial stations, which if hit will spin wildly on their axis disturbing your crucial radar screen.

Naturally you're not expected to wade through the lot without a bit of extra weaponry. This comes in the form of italicised letters left behind when you take out the alien landers, metal eggs which are slow but have an unpleasant habit of landing on your ground installations and cacking on them until they're useless. A nasty fizzing accompanies the hideous process.

Extra shield power (essential) can be found by shooting air buses which come along carrying shield and bonus pods. These look the same on the radar though they behave somewhat less erratically than the Blue Hunters which ram you and drain a large chunk of your shield power. Save your vaporisers (smart bombs) for them, accessed by a rather fiddly dive for the right mouse button.

Although control of your ship isn't truly inertial StarRay feels very nice to play. Its scrolling is as smooth as a baby's bum and the action unrelenting. Sound and graphics are consistently entertaining.
This all goes to make StarRay one of the few good blasts available on the Amiga after nearly two years. A sad state of affairs, and one in desperate need of resolution. This is definitely a start.



Fast and graphically impressive Defender variant.

StarRay logo Zzap! Sizzler

Logotron, £24.95 disk

All young people have dreams of fame and adventure and you, of course, are no exception. Ever since you saw Captain Muscle battling against the Spon-Thrigg mutants in his fighter, you've wanted to join the space academy. Then, one day, your dream comes true - you're accepted into the StarRay cadet school.

After several months of intensive training, including IQ and agility tests, you take the final flight examination over the barren surface of the ice planet Charon - named after the ferryman of the river Styx due to the barren appearance of this soul-destroying world. The interim period of waiting for the test results is one of the tensest periods of your life. Eventually the marks arrive and... you've made it! You have become a fully fledged StarRay pilot!

Your designated ship is a state-of-the-start gull-wing fighter craft, fitted with bog-standard military lasers and vaporiser bombs. Additional features can be autowelded onto this ship by collection alien munition pods.

Your first tour of duty is on the planet Gorbaxa, a storage facility on the outer reaches of the Forces Network. The planet is used for holding the Kryptium Energy Cells, the major source of fuel for the huge Star Cruisers. The Cells must be constantly guarded, not just because of the rarity and value, also because of their hazardous properties. They are linked to a series of energy towers, which the alien lander craft plugs into, turning them into dead spires of metal.

Next, you're posted to Sirion, a holiday planet where the dense jungle vegetation is getting just a little too dense for the inhabitants' liking, as it threatens to spread over the transport rails within a few hours. The Forces' Network have placed Exterminator Robots (intergalactic trademark) on the planet in order to hold back the creeping undergrowth, but the jungle wildlife decides to attack. Your task is to protect the robots by blasting the alien aggressors.

After the statutory home leave for family visits ('Hi, Aunty Gladys, I've brought this bit of alien spaceship for a souvenir'), you're off to Sharlon, where the gradually freezing ozone layer is being poluted by young extra-terrestrial joyriders.

Now that you've got used to the easy patrol sectors(!) you can fly out to the outer unknown regions for a spot of vagabond blasting! Vroooom!


Maff Evans I first played Defender in our local leisure centre about eight years ago and still remember being impressed by the new way of displaying the action. The only significant games at the time were Scramble, Asteroids and Space Invaders (how many readers out there actually have played the original?), so naturally Eugene Jarvis' game caused a shift in the direction of video games. Lots of games since have been remoulded versions of Defender, and StarRay follows suit. Not that this is in any way a bad thing, in fact it's great! I loved Defender, I love Dropzone and now I love StarRay! The graphics are impressively varied, with colourful multi-layer parallax scrolling and the sound - well... the tape containing the main tune has been blasting from my Walkman almost non-stop! Actually, a couple of records in my collection sound like this. My only reservation is the price. If it were under 20 quid it would be bordering on a Gold Medal - but, at 25 quid, I'm not sure. Buy it anyway!
Kati Hamza If it weren't for the fact that Maff, Paul and Gordo have been hogging the Amiga for the last five hours, I wouldn't be seen dead writing about StarRay - I'd be playing it. like Defender in the arcades and Dropzone on the 64, it's one of those games that you just can't put down - not even for a bacon sandwich with a double helping of tomato sauce. Even without the gorgeous graphics , the incredibly smooth parallax scrolling, the cool and froody soundtrack, the atmospheric effects and the astonishing array of screaming, snorting, soaring, sighing aliens, StarRay would be astoundingly addictive - with them its practically perfect. My only gripe concerns the price: as a jazzed-up version of Defender it's not exactly original so the most is should sell for is £20... RIGHT, move over Gordo, I want a go!
Paul Glancey Anyone who dismisses StarRay as nothing more than a tarted-up Defender obviously doesn't realise that any competently-programmed reproduction of the Williams classic is bound to be a very playable game. By adding gorgeous parallax-scrolling backdrops, marvellous sound effects and ship enhancement icons, the programmers of StarRay have come up with a game that's even better to play than the original! The essential fine joystick control is there too, it's just a pity that the vaporisers are detonated using the mouse button - a section of the keyboard would have been easier to find in frantic moments (though instructions are included for building a more convenient vaporiser trigger). However, minor gripes like that shouldn't put off anyone looking for a fast and addictive shoot 'em up, as this is almost certainly the best game of its type that I've ever seen.