Starways logo

Prince: £19.95

With all the Amigas and STs we're told exist in Germany you'd expect a plethora of quality releases from programmers who have had some time to perfect and advance their techniques on 16 bit machines. Not so.
For every good game you see there are another half a dozen which are totally derivative and uninspired. Starways definitely falls into the latter category, being to all intent and purposes a complete rip-off of Gremlin's Trailblazer and Cosmic Causeway series.

I'll say one thing for the Germans though - they don't bother trying to hide it. Starways comes to you with screenshots and an almost apologetic bit of blurb on the packaging. The basic implication is "here's a Trailblazer clone, you know how to play it so get on with it."

A typically nice bit of loading screen and sampled music follow your booting the disk but the game is a flat and uninspired version of the original which I must admit didn't grab me like it did others when it appeared. The implications seem to be that Starways, who are credited on the loading screen, are a demo crew. It shows.

The basics of the game are clear. You have a fat baby figure who ploughs up the screen and has to make it through the various zones within a time limit. Holes and tiles help and hinder you by causing you to fall through or jump over gaps. Put simply you have seven jumps and 99 seconds to complete each level.

After three levels I found myself wondering where the other elements were, so I consulted the pack again. No hints. So I carried on but soon found my interest waning. The road is long and sorry and there's little comfort to be had by way of new features. The jumps are the same, the colours the same, the game the same.

If Diamond were happy to do a clone they should have at least tarted it up a bit. 16-bit versions of old 8-bit games just won't do when they're hacked over like this. Not any more.