Super Stardust logo AGA Amiga Computing Gold Award

The return of the deadly, drop-dead gorgeous shoot-'em-up from hell! Jonathan Maddock primes his trigger-finger and prepares to take on the might of Professor Shamund once more.

INTRODUCTION

During the run up to Christmas 1993, a game created by Bloodhouse, a then unknown software developer from Finland, arrived on the Amiga games scene. It was a shoot-'em-up of epic proportions and its name was Stardust. Bloodhouse had taken the good old classic theme of Asteroids and tweaked it beyond belief in the graphic and sound departments. Stardust, although hard, soon became a firm favourite with Amiga games-players everywhere and slowly climbed to the top of the software charts.

When System previewed Stardust back in late 1993, we mentioned that Bloodhouse was the only, potential, contender to beat Team 17 for sheer quality. Now in 1994, Bloodhouse has returned with an enhanced version of its classic shoot-'em-up for A1200 and CD32 owners. The odd thing now is the fact that Bloodhouse has switched publishers. The latest incarnation of Stardust is being handled by Team 17, which when you look at it, is one of the licence deals of the year. Bloodhouse really tested the A500 to the limits with Stardust and gamers were genuinely shocked at just how good it was. Some people wouldn't or couldn't believe that the infamous "Warp Tunnel" sequence was created on the Amiga.
The A1200, launched after Stardust, is ten times better than its A500 counterpart, so no-one was more interested in how Super Stardust was going to turn out than myself.

FLASHBACK

If you were to go back through time to about 1979, you'd find Stardust in an arcade somewhere. This was, roughly, when a game called Asteroids was released and it literally left gamers gob-smacked.

Now almost 16 years later and you can still find its influence in the majority of shoot-'em-ups. Technology having progressed immensely, you now get 256 colour graphics, stereophonic sound, but the gameplay still remains the same.

Stardust, when released in late 1993, was an immense success and although Super Stardust is merely an enhanced version, it is the only game to come close to beating the original Asteroids for sheer addiction and playability.


 

STORYLINE

One year has passed since Stardusters defeated the evil Professor Shamund. Little did anyone know that the mad professor had only departed on a temporary basis and was busy patching up his wounds.

As expected, Professor Shamund has returned, but this time he's being backed up by an even more evil army of destruction. He is making another attempt to re-capture Princess Voi Levi, but with one major difference this time around. The evil one is intent on getting revenge and getting even with you, as you spoiled his plans for galaxy domination last time. Thus, it is time for you to jump into your space-craft and get back to business. The business of some serious shoot-'em-up action.


 

SOUND

I do whinge rather a lot about everything, but when it comes to games nothing gets my goat more than the low standards of music contained within them.

Super Stardust is a fast frenetic blaster, so it needed an apt soundtrack to accompany the action. Cue the most outrageous rave/dance tunes ever to appear on the Amiga.

A plethora of hardcore breakbeats and some of the hardest and nastiest noises pound at your ear-drums while you maniacally bash away at your fire-button. The tunes are diverse and range from the soft (played between levels) to the seriously harsh (belted out while you fight the end-of-level guardian). It's hard to put into words what the actual tunes sound like, but imagine a dangerous concoction of the Prodigy, Underworld and Orbital and you're getting close.

A handy tip for the sound is to put your Amiga through Hi-Fi and then pump up the volume as loud as you like. If you haven't got a decent stereo, then plug a pair of headphones into your monitor and once more whack the volume up. The various tunes and effects are simply not done any justice if you let them play through ordinary TV or monitor speakers.

88%

 

GRAPHICS

Do I really even need to write anything in this box?
Sit back in a comfy chair and admire all those magic graphics. Beautiful just doesn't seem an adequate enough word to describe them.

Show me a shoot-'em-up game that looks better than this one and I'll laugh in your face because nothing looks as good as Super Stardust. Utilizing the new AGA technology, Bloodhouse has rendered all the ray-traced sprites to perfection.

The backdrops are also a sight to behold and although they're immensely detailed, they don't interfere with the game, meaning all the asteroids and enemies are easy to pick out.

While the main graphics are amazing, you will go seriously nuts when you see the new and improved warp tunnel sequence. It's hard to put into words just how good this looks when it's moving along at a rapid pace, but you can't fail to be impressed by it.

The warp tunnel sequence could be made into a game on its own rather than just a sub-section that likes the five levels together. Super Stardust is the best looking shoot-'em-up ever created on the Amiga, what more do you need to know than that?

90%

 

OPINION87%

When a game has got graphics, sound and playability as good as this, shouldn't Super Stardust get 100%? Yes, it should, but there is a fatal flaw in Team 17's plan.

Firstly, the game is virtually identical to the original. Admittedly, the presentation is far, far better, but that's because the game is utilising the power of the AGA chipset.

Secondly, the game costs £30. This means that if you've got an A1200 and haven't got Stardust, then Bloodhouse's shoot-'em-up is an essential purchase. For those people who have already got Stardust, then I suspect you might only splash out £30 if you're a Stardust fan.

Apart from that minor indiscretion, Super Stardust is, in my book, the shoot-'em-up of 1994. Some people complained that Stardust's difficulty level was far too high. Super Stardust isn't any easier than the original, but if you spend lots of time playing the actual game I guarantee that you will get a lot of long-term satisfaction and enjoyment out of it. Me? I'm off for another serious bout of blasting with the volume turned full up.


Super Stardust logo AGA Amiga Format Gold

The original Stardust was a thing of joy and beauty, but is this new AGA version really super?

Richard Jones, AF's esteemed production editor, has a novel way of tackling the solid rocks that menace the skies in Super Stardust. He careers wildly across the screen unloading bullets with complete abandon.

"It's what I used to do in Asteroids", he suggests. "And if you just keep going around in circles in the middle, that does the trick, too." Just a minute, deadline is always the time of the month when everybody has to really buckle down, not least the production editor for 'tis he who must ensure the magazine becomes an er, magazine. So why is Richard constantly disappearing into the back room to play Super Stardust? I've got to do the screenshots and he should be subbing pages. Oh, damn. Sorry Rich, I've just remembered that publishers read magazines. Richard is disappearing into the back room to check film, OK? That's where it's always checked. Honest.

Super Stardust is posh Stardust was posh Asteroids. Super Stardust is the game that toffee-nosed aliens who might happen to inhabit asteroids would play, if they had an Amiga. And it's a game that everyone in the AF office is playing, some, it must be said, considerably more successfully than others.

Our friends in Amiga Power think Super Stardust is rather smart, though perhaps a tad easy over the first three levels. I feel inadequate. I'm having trouble on the second level - not that it's ridiculously difficult, but I can't sail through the first level without losing lives, which becomes a terrible handicap after the first tunnel sequence.

Handsome beast
I know that there are power-ups for extra lives, increased firepower, better engines and shield reinforcers; I just can't seem to get them at the right time, or indeed, enough of them. I've tried using a joystick, keyboard and joypad - I like the joypad - But I can't do the business to a degree I find satisfactory.

Super Stardust is possibly the most handsome-looking Amiga game ever. The 256-colour graphics; the rendered visuals; the stunning tunnel sequences; the amazing ray-traced alien craft. And the rest of it - it's all very beautiful. The explosions are a sight to behold and the tunnel sequences (of which there are four) are breathtaking, if occasionally swearword-inducing.

After six levels, you get to zoom through an extraordinary-looking tunnel at a speed Luke Skywalker would baulk at, while attempting to shoot asteroids, avoid death bolts and collect pick-ups. Pick-ups indeed. They're way past even before you've had a chance to register their existence, let alone pick them up.

Space - it's big
Not only is this game a visual feast, it can play a bit too. Whether you prefer the gung-ho tactics of flying at pace, bullets spraying haphazardly, or the more measured approach of floating carefully around centre screen, edging left and right, back and forth, letting go the odd round at the correct juncture, Super Stardust takes the Asteroids gameplay and shoots it firmly into the mid-nineties.

I guess the question must be: "If I've already got Stardust, is it worth getting Super Stardust?" The answer, most emphatically, is Yes. Most folk ignored the original for some unfathomable reason (Stardust reviewed AF55, 88%) and that was priced at only 17 quid. Why, you fools? ("Don't call all readers fools, Steve" - S Carey, Publisher, Bath). All the levels (there are 30, in all) have been redesigned and the guardians and enemies were re-rendered. In fact, it looks far better than the devilishly-pretty original.

Of course, if you haven't got an AGA machine, you won't be able to play Super Stardust, but it's a game every Amiga owner ought to take a look at, even if they think computer games are Satan's business.


Super Stardust logo AGA A1200 Speziell

Ziemlich genau ein Jahr mußte verstreichen, bis aus dem normalen "Stardust" für normale Amigas die super(be) AGA-Version wurde. Und, oh Wunder, das teil trägt seinen vielverspechenden Namen zu Recht!

Bereits das Original kassierte ja traumhafte Grafiknoten, doch nun hat die Bloodhouse-Crew gemeinsam mit Team 17 die optisch wohl spektakulärste Amiga-Knallerei der letzten 2000 Jahre vorgelegt. Die Gegnerformationen, Sprites und Hintergründe wurden teilweise ganz neu entworfen und im Raytracing-Verfahren mit 256 Farben komplett neu animiert - das Ergebnis ist ein irrwitziges Grafik-Feuerwerk: Stellt Euch fein schattierte Gegner vor detailverliebten Backgrounds vor, und addiert bildschirmfüllenden Meteoriten, die nach Beschuß in einem riesigen Feuerball explodieren, um sich dann in kleinere Bruchstücke aufzuspalten...

Inmitten dieses Chaos rotiert des Spielers Raumschiff und schießt auf alles was sicht bewegt, und zwar so lange, bis es sich nicht mehr bewegt. Das ist gar nicht so einfach, denn man muß sein Vehikel in "Asteroids"-Manier mit einer gewöhnungsbedürftigen Rotationssteuerung über den Screen lenken. Und dabei darf man sich dann auch noch meist um mindestens ein Dutzend Space-Felsen und Angreifer gleichzeitig kümmern, die bei einer Kollision den Schutzschild abknabbern und sich nach Ablauf eines knapp bemessenen Zeitlimits in lauter lästige kleine Kamikaze-Gegner aufspalten.

Gesteigerte Aufmerksamkeit verlangen zudem die Zwischengegner verschiedenster Bauart - das gilt nicht minder für die Beschaffung der von manchen Feinden hinterlassenen Sammelicons für frische Schildpower, mehr Beschleunigung, Zusatzleben, Plasmalaser, Bouncebomben, Flammenwerfer oder Zielsuchraketen, die anschließend auf einem separaten Screen einzeln zuschaltbar sind. Nach jeweils sechs der insgesamt 30 Spielstufen versperren besonders aggressive Aggressivlinge den Weg, danach findet man sich in einem rasant zoomenden 3D-Warptunnel voller Hindernisse und einem weiteren Obermotz wieder. Echte Könner am Stick nehmen darüber hinaus an den beiden Freiwilligen-Missionen teil und suchen im "Thrust"-Stil scrollende Unterwasser-Labyrinthe nach Power-Ups ab. An Abwechslung fehlt es also nicht, dagegen läßt die Fairneß doch etwas zu wünschen übrig. So wird trotz des herben Schwierigkeitsgrads mit dem Levelcode lediglich die Anzahl der Leben, aber nicht die sauer erarbeitete Ausstattung gespeichert. Erfreulicher ist die nun mögliche HD-Installation, selbst wenn zum Zocker immer noch die Keydisk verlangt wird. Und die Präsentation setzt sowieso neue Maßstäbe: Nie hat der A1200 bunter und bewegter ausgesehen oder sich lauter angehört - die (abschaltbaren) Techno-Nummern und FX erschallen aus acht Soundkanalen, obwohl der Amiga eigentlich bloß besitzt!

Trotzdem kann Super Stardust aber eigentlich nur den Actionprofis empfohlen werden, bei der angekündigten CD-Version sollten die Entwickler den Schwierigkeitsgrad also besser ein wenig zurückschrauben. (rl)


Super Stardust logo AGA

It's just Asteroids with knobs on really, isn't it? (Or is it?) (Well, yes it is. Emphatically so, in fact.)

Soft. That's the word for Super Stardust. Not only has the astoundingly highly difficult level of the famously non-selling A500 version been wound down a crank or two, but the graphics have been given a plumper, smoother look and the music (and even the explosions) a warmer, rounder sound to create an altogether 'softer' feel.
No, it's no good.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? WE TOLD YOU D/GENERATION WAS TERRIFIC, WE TOLD YOU IT WAS ASTONISHINGLY CHEAP, AND YOU IGNORED US. THEN WE TOLD YOU THAT STARDUST WAS TERRIFIC, AND IT WAS EVEN MORE SHOCKINGLY INEXPENSIVE, AND THAT IF YOU DIDN'T BUY IT FOR BEING FABULOUS AND NOT-AT-ALL PRICEY AFTER COMPLAINING ABOUT ROCKETING GAME COSTS THEN YOU WERE ALL OIKISH HYPOCRITES AND DESERVED THE INEVITABLE PRICE HIKES WHEN THE PROGRAMMERS QUITE SENSIBLE LICENSED THEIR GAME TO A SOFTWARE HOUSE RATHER THAN RELYING ON YOUR GOODWILL AND SELLIT IT MAIL ORDER, AND AGAIN YOU IGNORED US, AND NOW BLOODHOUSE HAVE DONE JUST THAT AND IT'S GOING TO COST YOU MORE TO BUY SUPER STARDUST AND, INDEED, STARDUST WHICH IS BEING RE-RELEASED, AND YOU KNOW WHAT?
YOU'RE ALL GOING TO BUY IT NOW, BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT SOME STUPID PRECONCEPTIONS THAT BECAUSE A GAME IS CHEAP IT HAS TO BE POOR AND THAT HAVING IT TAKEN UP BY AN ESTABLISHED COMPANY AND GIVEN A BIG BOX AND ADVERTISING SOMEHOW MAKES IT BETER, AND YOU'RE GOING TO FEEL SO MUCH HAPPIER ABOUT PAYING MORE FOR IT IN SOME HIGH STREET SHOP RATHER THAN BUYING IT DIRECTLY FROM THE PEOPLE WHO DID ALL THE WORK AND MAY YOU SOON BE AS FINANCIALLY BANKRUPT AS YOU ARE MORALLY, YOU UNBELIEVABLY STUPID WHINGERS.
That's better.


I suppose... I suppose I could talk

FINISHED
Well, um, here I am with four pages to write about what is, essentially, Asteroids with a 3D section. Looking back at the review of the original game, (("Cam"... this joke is really getting tired. - Uncle Joe Stalin) cunningly exhausted all possible topics (describing the aim of the game and its merits and drawbacks (Fiendishly cunning, yes. - Ed), outlining the ingenious power-up system, er, shouting about people not buying the game) leaving me in a right old pickle. Crumbs. And you're probably just interested in looking at the pictures anyway.

Actually, there's one thing I could say. In the review, Stuart (Rejoice! Our comrade has been cleared of the terrible crimes trumped up by the diabolical head of the oppressive regime overthrown by our glorious counter-revolution. - Comrade Nicky Kruschev) complained about the lack of keyboard control. It was, he said, a fatal error considering the amount of pixel-perfect manoeuvring required. Well, such is the influence that AMIGA POWER commands. Bloodhouse have fixed things for Super Stardust. There are, in fact, two keyboard options, to do with the positioning of the thrust and fire keys or something (I'm unswayably inclined towards the office fire-buttons-replacing-up-and-down joypad actually) so all hail to AMIGA POWER! Um.

I suppose... I suppose I could talk about the basics of the game, because, technically, it's not quite Asteroids. That venerable game, as you will no doubt recall, being fans of old coin-ops and not, for example, young people living for the here and now, had you shooting at big rocks, which split into smaller rocks, then tiny rocks which finally exploded. In Super Stardust, there are different strengths of rock. The ordinary grey rocks (except they're more ruggedly silver. Look at that raytracing! But that's talking about the graphics, which has been done. Jiminy) for example take but a few hits to demolish, whereas the mauve boulders are substantially harder than the intermediate blue ones. (Gold boulders are very bad news.) In fact, not only do the rocks vary in resilience, the different chapters move at different speeds, so rather than have a predictable Asteroids screen where you know that the titchy boulders will zoom around faster than the big ones, the game litters the playing area with tricky blighters that tend to take you by surprise.


Screaming in empathic fear

Actually, taking you by surprise Super Stardust is a speciality of Super Stardust. Quite apart from the difficulties of playing a game where using the screen wraparound is of tremendous importance (and it's a breakthrough moment when you stop frantically trying to stay in the centre of the screen where, fairly obviously, the concentration of boulders is at its highest and work with the wrap to speed out of danger and pounce on something from behind) the introduction of monsters with the second level causes near-panic. These monsters - unlike the feeble bleep of the original game, heralded with a piercing, jangling alarm klaxon - try their damnedest to do away with you in so many nasty ways, the very least of which is following you doggedly around the screen. (The very most involves something remarkably unpleasant to do with the overwhelming odds, spinning spiked arms that overlap the screen edges so you're in danger from three directions at once, and leisurely bombers spilling proximity mines). It makes each new screen an adventure, with you whittling away at the rocks then being expertly frightened by the klaxons, flitting around the screen nervously trying to anticipate where the monsters will appear, and then getting taken by surprise. I do like that in a game. (But so did Stuart. Ooogh.).

SIXTY
The tunnels then. The bits where you get from one level to another after defeating the big monster, except that's like calling ('Standing atop the Blackpool Tower in a high wind with a big flappy coat' and not, for example, anything to do with the Big One. - Legal Ed) reasonably invigorating. You really can't appreciate the devastating majesty of these sections until you're there, bobbing in your seat to the jinks of your ship and screaming in empathic fear as it detonates against a razor-edged wheel the size of Peru. Again, the programmers have shamelessly looted an old coin-op (the sticking your head out of a car going 60mpgh-rushingly 3D Space Harrier, to be exact) but have trampled all over it in terms of speed, impact and nerve-zapping gameplay. The rogues.

PERCENT
There is, however, one thing wrong with Super Stardust. One quite big thing, actually. It really is 'soft'. After the terrifying challenge of Stardust, you'd expect Team 17 to impose a 'friendlier' level of difficulty on the game (as they did with the re-release of Project-X). But, oddly, they've gone almost to the other extreme. You can be blasting away, marvelling at the presentation, goggling at the horrendous destructive power of your guns as rocks splinter around, sweeping around to catch out the monsters, tackling the power-up-laden sub-levels early on to charge up your guns even more and endangering your thumb in the tunnels, when suddenly you realise you've just completed level three and there are only five altogether. And there are passwords.

It's not necessarily a bad thing (Stardust just tended to make you angry on the later levels with its absurd over-aggressiveness) but the almost supernatural ease with which everybody who played the game sailed through it smacks slightly of compromise. And compromise is, of course, a tool of the devil.

ONLY
But you'll probably not be interested in our reactionary mumbling. You'll be justifiably excited about the game's engulfing playability, constant variety, truly cinematic moments (the bit where this gigantic rock - and we're talking ship-dwarfing - rolls in from one corner, and you speed off to avoid it, and another gargantuan boulder tumbles out from the opposite corner and the two squash you in between demands to be shown on a big screen to a breathless audience), bizarre percentages (such as shot-to-hit ratios and, er, power-up icons missed) and frankly astonishing presentation. Good for you.


Super Stardust logo AGA CU Amiga Screen Star

Bloodhouse have been promising this for quite some time, and Tony Dillon never lets anyone break a promise.

Stardust was nothing more than Asteroids for the Nineties. This is something that was accepted from the start, but nobody seemed to mind at all. There were no cries for more up-to-date gameplay, more originality or anything else that could be deemed to be negative. The magazines lapped it up, and so did the public: Bloodhouse found themselves with a major hit on their hands. So, changing publishers from Daze Marketing to Team 17, work began on Super Stardust, an AGA expanded version of the original game, and we've been waiting hungrily ever since.

THE ORIGINAL
By way of explanation here's a quick recap: the original game had you flying a solo spaceship, armed with a rudimentary shield and laser cannon, flying through an asteroid belt chock-a-block with huge rocks, which you then have to blast into smaller and smaller fragments until they disappear. This is done against the clock, and bearing in mind that every time you shoot a rock it splits into two, you end up with a hell of a lot of small rocks floating around, all of which need to be avoided if you want to stay in one piece.

So far it sounds nothing more than Asteroids, but then that's because I haven't told you about any of the bonus parts of the game. For a start, there are barrel loads of enemy craft that visit you on various levels, such as the flame thrower - a round disc-like craft that follows you around the screen blowing streams of fire in your directions, or the Predator, an unusual cloaked ship, that causes a ripple in the backdrop as it moves around before it appears and starts firing homing missiles at you. Hardest of all, though, are the end of world enemy ships that appear when you have completed all six levels of the current world. These are larger than any other ships in the game and as you might expect, are far harder to kill.

Another new addition to the Asteroids format are the bonus objects that appear when you destroy certain rocks. These can be anything from an extra life or a shield bonus up to smart bombs and a strange spiralling explosion that takes out everything within a quarter of a screen radius.

THE BUSINESS
The best part of all, however, and the one thing that most A1200 owners (including Tony Horgan) have been waiting for is the tunnel section. This takes the part of a warp gate between worlds, and looks like a large bitmap tunnel with your craft viewed from behind (third person) flying forward at an incredible speed while trying to avoid other asteroids and attacking ships. In the original Stardust this effect was incredible, on the AGA update it's one of the most impressive pieces of game programming ever. You can see from the screenshots on this page just how impressive it looks when it's still, and you really can't imagine how amazing it looks when it's moving at a speed of knots.

The biggest selling point of the whole game has to be the graphics. The original Stardust impressed everyone from the point of view that all the asteroids had been rendered with full light sourcing, but that can't prepare anyone for the sight of Lightwave-rendered asteroids the size of half the screen rolling around. It all looks fabulous, to say the least.

Thankfully, the gameplay matches up. Somewhat faster and smoother than the original Stardust, this is the kind of game you can pick up in a moment, and then get hooked in the next. A solid game from start to finish, Super Stardust has the kind of sheen that not many games ever get close to, and if you're an AGA machine owner, you'd be insane to miss it.


Super Stardust CD32 logo CD32 Amiga Format Gold

Team 17 * 01924 201846 * £29.99

So shouteth the Super Stardust box. "Fear is for the weak. Mercy is for the foolish. Power, strength and victory are the only words which can mean anything to you... Have you got what it takes?" Erm, can I go to the toilet, please?

You may be too young. You may be too old. But if you're the right age, then you will have played Asteroids in sports centres, or perhaps arcades at some point in the early Eighties. Super Stardust is Asteroids, albeit an extremely posh version but, of course, if you've played Asteroids then you will know that this is no bad thing. Gameplay extraordinaire, if you will. You have a ship. The ship is placed in the centre of the screen and a variety of unfriendly objects head towards you. You can shoot the unfriendly objects, and if you wish, move your ship to other areas of the screen, thus avoiding the attentions of the unfriendly objects. It's a simple idea, but by jove it's fun.

So, Super Stardust, are you worth purchasing, or should we just get a copy of the PD version of Asteroids, a version which remains faithful to the original arcade affair? Of course, computer games cannot speak for themselves, apart from Valhalla which might suggest that, "it doesn't fit", or "it doesn't work".

But Super Stardust has much to offer. For starters, it looks quite fabulous. The ray-traced alien craft are quite possibly the finest you'll ever see on the CD32 while the end-of-level tunnel sequence perfectly complement the main attraction. Yes, complete a few screen's worth of flying boulders and you get to shoot through a splendid tunnel, 'a toute vitesse' as they say abroad somewhere, And in these end-of-level delights are an unfeasible amount of objects to avoid and power-ups to collect. The whole tunnel shebang happens rather quickly so one's wits must be present.

Yes, 30 knicker for an Asteroids clone is a bit pricey, but this is one of the best games available for the CD32. And you get an intro sequence involving spaceships in this version too.


Asteroids hoch 32

Super Stardust CD32 logo CD32

Das actiongeladene Gemeinschaftswerk von Bloodhouse und Team 17 ist hier so geworden, wie die CD-Konvertierung von Flopy-Soft eigentlich immer sein sollte: Hübscher, melodischer und vor allem besser spielbar!

Man hat sich also unseren Ratschlag aus dem Test zur erst kürzlich erschienenen Version für den A1200 zu Herzen genommen und den extrem hohen Schwierigkeitsgrad so weit entschärft, daß der Weltraum nun auch weniger begnadeten Baller-Fans zugänglich ist. Nicht minder erfreulich sind die neuen Zwischensequenzen und das irre Raytracing-Intro - mag der Inhalt noch so belanglos sein, die gezeigten Animationen sind eine Wucht!

Zudem kommen die mal dramatischen, mal technolastigen Musikstücke nun direkt von CD und gewinnen dadurch an Qualität; der so eingesparte RAM-Speicher wurde teils in saftigere Sound-FX, teils in zusätzliche Optik-Finessen (z.B. bei den Triebwerksabgasen) investiert. Last not least erlaubt die konfigurierbare Pad-Steuerung schon deshalb genauere Manöver also anno Stick, weil man sein Vehikel nun auch abbremsen kann und es so nicht mehr hilflos in die Gegnerschaft knallt.

Das grundlegende Gameplay blieb indessen unangetastet: Der Spieler lenkt sein rotierende Raumgefährt in "Asteroids"-Manier durch ein Chaos aus dahintaumelnden Meteoriten, die nach Beschuß in einem Feuerball explodieren, in kleinere Teile zerbrechen und bei weiteren Treffern schließlich ganz den stellaren Löffel abgeben. Dazu stürmen feuer-spuckende oder mit einer Tarnkappe à la "Predator" versehene Raumer, Techno-Schlangen und andere Klein- und Groß-gegner den Screen - bei Kontakt nagen sie am Schutzschild und spalten sich nach Ablauf des Zeitlimits in kleine Kamikazeflieger auf. Nach jeweils sechs der insgesamt 30 Levels findet man sich in einem rasant zoomenden 3D-Tunnel wieder, an dessen Ende ein Obermotz auf seine Abreibung wartet.

Damit er und seine Kollegen nicht bloß mit dem etwas schwächlichen Standard-Laser beharkt werden können, sollte man fleißig die von etlichen Angreifern hinterlassenen Extra-Icons sammeln: Sie sind für firsche Schutzschild-Power, Smartbombs, Zusatzleben, mehr Beschleunigung sowie Flammenwerfer, Plasmakanonen und andere Waffen gut, die dann einem separaten Screen einzeln zugeschaltet werden. Bisweilen ist auch die Teilnahme an freiwilligen Bonus-Missionen möglich, wo man im "Thrust"-Stil die in alle Himmelsrichtungen scrollenden Unterwasser-Welten nach Power-Ups abgrast.

Das alles spielt sich dank des nunmehr recht zivilen Schwierigkeitsgrades deutlich besser als von der Disk, während die AGA-Präsentation ja schon seit jeher ganz große Klasse war - die gerenderten Sprites vor den hübschen Futuro-Kulissen sehen hier nun mal um einiges besser aus als jede vergleichbare Ballerei! Um so trauriger, daß der Action-Überflieger auf CD-tauglichen AGA-Amigas nur schnöde Abstürze produziert... (r.)


Super Stardust CD32 logo CD32

Team 17/£30
AP42 89%

Great game, this. Loads of top shooting action 'inspired' by the classic Asteroids. But then you already knew that, didn't you? Still, this CD version has (yet) another rendered sequence for you to sit down and watch. But if you're expecting a monumental example of a CD intro akin to the sure-to-become-legendary Tower Assault one, you're going to be disappointed. It's a bit of a mess.

The images are nice and the animation is great, if a bit robotic, but there seems to be some sort of problem with the editing between scenes. Instead of holding the image and the loading in the next scene, there's an awful black gap between each scene, destroying the film-like atmosphere that intros like this are supposed to create.

Still, you've got the whole game on one compact disc, so there's no need for any of those tedious disk changes we dislike so much. And there's a brief and pleasant animation between each level showing the boss blowing up or whatever, including arguably the best explosion scene in a computer game - to date.


Super Stardust CD32 logo CD32 CU Amiga Super Star

Price: £19.99 Publisher: Team 17 0928 201 846

Back in the mists of time, Asteroids swallowed up kids' money in the arcades like no other game of its day, and it annoyed the hell out of my mother every time she walked into the corner shop near our home. Being greeted by the sound of bleeps and explosions was not top of her daily mirth agenda, but that's the older generation for you... no concept of fun. "It'll ruin your eyes" she used to say, "staring at those TV screens all afternoon". And her with a pair of glasses for the last 30 years! Every generation has something that'll "ruin your eyesight", and it's always fun to do. Ours just happens to be arcade games.

Thankfully, good games never go away. And Stardust, the product of Bloodhouse, a programming team that lives so close to the north pole they can see the stars 24 hours a day, was really little more than a massively overhauled asteroids on the Amiga. The plot was simple: if you can see it, shoot it before it blows you up.

Super Stardust is more of the same but with nicer graphics. Your spaceship starts off armed with a pitiful little peashooter, a set of rocket thrusters and a limited amount of shield power. Your rendezvous with faith begins in an asteroid belt where you've got to shoot rocks to pieces, then even smaller pieces and finally destroy them altogether while avoiding being hit yourself.

Things get more complicated when spaceships start to appear, especially the really neat Bird Of Prey which ripples in and out of the background, uncloaking itself to release a homing missile from time to time. There's also a time limit on each screen and when this runs out lots of little spacecraft appear and make life more difficult - this does help your score though. There are also various power pickups including extra lives, shield energy, gun and energy power ups and extra points, and a helpful young lady who tells you what you've just done.

Our Assistant Technical Editor Tony Horgan loves swirly tunnels, in fact I think he probably invented the term, and when you're finished each level of Super Stardust that's what you get for your trouble. Yes, in order to get to the next level your craft must go through a star gate, avoiding spikey mines, other spaceships and of course asteroids. Anyone with an Amiga 1200 or an SX1 will have seen the superb tunnel level demo on our December issue, and this really is an example of how state of the art AGA graphics can be used to their full extent.

There is no difference whatsoever in either gameplay or sound between the CD32 version and the A1200 one, except for Bloodhouse's rendered intro. This is very nicely done, viewed on an individual frame basis, but as a whole it is cut very badly and suddenly which completely ruins the impact.

In the final analysis something extra would have been welcome for the CD32 version but Super Stardust is still one of the best AGA specific games around. You should add it to your collection, now.