3D Starstrike impressed me enough to want to go straight on to the sequel. And if that game got the programmers noticed for programming a great arcade game, the sequel is a different entity altogether.
It's a different game. An original game. It's an arcade game with depth. And for me, that's where it goes a little bit wrong.
Starstrike II is a very ambitious game. Rather than just give you the same levels in a set order, you must choose which planet/system you'll visit. Each area has a variety of installations to be taken out: military, agricultural and industrial. The challenges you face in each area will be slightly different, as you would expect.
Die, filled-3D alien scum!
The first problem I had was that, despite reading the instructions, I had no idea what to do. On the second stage, there's a grid with a hole in the middle. In this hole you'll find various shapes, some of which will shoot at you. It's the only way through, but no matter how much I shot stuff, I couldn't get through. Impasse!
Luckily (and I mean that literally!), after many games, for some reason I did eventually find myself past that stage, which meant I could play more of the game. And it's a pot-pourri of spacey shooting. Shoot spaceships in dogfights. Shoot installations in trenches. Don't shoot installations in trenches. Destroy the end-level installation.
It all sounds a lot like Star Wars, or even 3D Starstrike, but it really isn't. It's a more serious game. It's not as much fun. It's probably a better game than its forerunner, by virtue of its originality and ambition. But it's not as pacey... the much-vaunted filled 3D graphics are quite a bit slower than the wireframe originals, and although the Spectrum was lauded at the time for its ability to push this stuff around, the fact that it's slower takes the edge of the gameplay. I'd rather just stick with the original.