The Game for Today!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Star Castle - Another 1980's Classic!

The game for today is Star Castle, the 1980 arcade game designed by Tim Skelly for Cinematronics. The game is your classic vector based monochrome game, ala Asteroids and Tank Hunter. Like many of the Cinematronics titles, the game was ported to the Vectrex video game console in 1980.

Star Castle was not the most popular game, however, it was the basis for the Atari 2600’s Yars’ Revenge, which became a huge success.

The object of Star Castle is to destroy an enemy cannon which sits in the center of three concentric, rotating energy shield rings while avoiding or destroying 'mines' (enemies that generate from the core, pass through the energy rings, and then home in on the player's ship).

The player-controlled spaceship can rotate, thrust forward, and fire small projectiles. The cannon's shields are composed of twelve sections, and each section takes two hits to destroy. Once a section is breached, rings beneath it are exposed to fire. Once the innermost ring has been breached, the central weapon is vulnerable to attack from the player. However, the player is also more vulnerable at this point, as with the shield rings eliminated, the gun can fire out a large projectile. Moreover, the central core tracks player movement at all times. If the player manages to hit the cannon, it explodes violently, collapsing the remnants of the shield rings, and the player is awarded with an extra ship. The next level then starts with a new gun and fully restored shield rings, with the difficulty increased (the mines move faster, the rings rotate more quickly, and the core tracks the player faster).

If the player completely destroys the outermost shield ring, the cannon will create a new one. The middle ring expands to replace the lost outer ring, the inner ring replaces the middle, and a new ring emerges from the core to become the inner ring. In order to penetrate the cannon's defenses, one must be careful not to completely obliterate the outer ring.

The three homing mines will destroy the player's ship on contact. The mines can be destroyed, but they are very small and difficult to hit, and the player does not receive points for destroying them. Mines are revived when shield rings regenerate (some variants keep three mines churning constantly so that a new mine regenerates from the core as soon as one is destroyed). As the player progresses through the levels, the mines get faster and faster, forcing the player to keep moving to avoid them.

At approximately every 182,000 points, game play slows down.
As opposed to some games, the points will not roll over at 1 million (approximately four hours of game play). It is unknown if the score might roll over at 10 million.

Trivia: Star Castle was featured in the 1986 cult movie “Maximum Overdrive” which stared Emilio Estevez and was written and directed by Steven King.


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