It's that time of the month where I play an old favourite of mine. This time, it's Tecmo's arcade game from 1984, Star Force.
I've loved this game right from when I first played it in Whitley Bay as a teenager. It's one of those inexplicable things that just happens in life. I remember walking around the arcade, looking for some of the big names like Nemesis or Ghosts 'N' Goblins, but finding them all occupied. Star Force was sitting there a bit forlornly, right in front of the arcade entrance with no customers in sight. And so, to pass the time, I whacked in a ten pee.
It turned out that Star Force was the game I enjoyed most that day. I liked the fact that it was relatively simple, and also the Greek-lettered stages were a draw, as I was heavily into Greek mythology at the time!
Star Force is a vertically-scrolling shoot 'em up. It hit the arcades just before extra weapons became popular, which means that the only help you get comes from a bolt-on autofire unit you can occasionally pick up. To be honest, you're a little bit under-equipped for the task at hand, because there's a hell of a lot of stuff to shoot over 20-odd levels. Good luck seeing them all... it's a pretty difficult game for the mere mortal.
I've heard talk of huge bonuses in the game for achieving certain things... I've been playing this for 25 years, on and off (I really can't believe I'm saying that... 25 years!), and I've never achieved a solitary bonus. And do you know what? I don't care. Because I have as much fun playing this now as I always have.
Yeah, it's simple, but that's part of the appeal. It looks pretty nice, even now. It's got some lovely sound... effective explosion sounds and an understated bassline which becomes a jaunty little number upon collection of your autofire unit. And it's got classic "you versus the massive enemy forces" gameplay. And it's harsh but fair... most of the time you die because you weren't good enough. Just how I like my arcade games.
Star Force is a lesser-known classic, but well worth a shot for anyone with an itchy trigger finger. And in this, its 25th year, it's available on the Wii for 500 points. You'll need a classic controller to play, at the very least, but if you're an arcade fan, your Wii just got a bit more appealing.