The Last Starfighter
|The Last Starfighter
|Gary Stark & Bruce Poehlman
(Programmers), and Robert Vieira (Sound)
If you were like me, the first thing you did after seeing The
Last Starfighter in theaters was run to your local arcade and
see if they had that really cool game that Alex was playing
throughout the movie. Well I hate to be the bearer of bad
news, but Atari never made such a game. The one you see in
the movie is all special effects, as such a game would have been
impossible to make back in 1984. Atari was planning on
releasing a TLSF arcade machine which would have been similar to
Star Wars, but it never got far beyond the Alpha stage (only one
prototype was made, but it's long gone). However Atari
also planned to release a home version of TLSF for the Atari
5200, 400/800, and 2600. While none of them made it out
under the original The Last Starighter name (due to the movie
license expiring), they did eventually see release under
different names during the Tramiel era. The 2600 version
was eventually released as Solaris
with only a few small changes, while the 5200/400/800 version
was more heavily modified and released as Star Raiders II.
"Greetings Starfighter. You have been recruited
by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Xur and the
It's not just a tag line, it's also the instructions! Yes,
you've been recruited to help the Star League destroy Xur and his
forces once and for all. To accomplish this, you'll have to
travel to the Procyon system and destroy the Ko-Dan in their own
galaxy. However, while you're off playing cowboy in a
distant galaxy, the Ko-Dan armada are planning their own attack on
your home system of Celos IV. So not only must you defeat
the whole Ko-Dan empire single handed, you must also defend your
galaxy at the same time. Accomplishing both tasks at once is
all about strategy, sharp shooting, and a little luck.
"One Gunstar? Against the whole armada?
It'll be a slaughter!"
Thankfully this isn't just any old Gunstar, its
been upgraded and modified with the latest weapons and
armor. Not only is your Gunstar a weapons powerhouse, but it
can take several hits before being destroyed. Your Gunstar
comes equipped with lasers, Ion Cannons, and Surface Star Bursts
(SSB); each of these weapons is used against a specific type of
enemy. Lasers are used against Ko-Dan Deckfighters, Ion
Cannons are used against Ko-Dan Destroyers and Command Ships, and
SSB are used to destroy Ko-Dan cities on the planets. The
weapons that are currently activated are shown by three lights in
the lower left corner (top: lasers, middle: Ion Cannons, bottom:
SSB). While your lasers and Ion Cannons have unlimited
ammunition, you only have a limited amount of Surface Star Bursts
which are shown in a gauge next to the weapon lights.
Unfortunately unlike the movie, there's no "Death Blossom"
option to single handedly wipe out the entire armada.
Instead you need to use strategy to outwit the hordes of
Your Gunstar also comes equipped with a computer
readout (at the top of the screen), which will tell you when you
have a systems malfunction. If your Scanners are out, you
won't see a map of the planet surface when you bomb Ko-Dan cities.
If your Communications system is out, the galaxy map won't
be updated. If your Weapons system goes out, you won't be
able to shoot one or more of your weapons until you get them
fixed. To fix your systems, simply plot a course for the
center of the sun and wait a few seconds (be sure not to melt
though). Also, make sure to give your lasers a rest every
now and then or they'll overheat and fire very slowly until they
"Terrific. I'm about to get killed a million
miles from nowhere with a gung-ho iguana who tells me to relax."
By pressing the "1" key you can bring up the Galaxy
Map. The Galaxy Map show you where all the Ko-Dan squadrons
are currently located (and the number of fighters in that
squadron), where your ship is currently parked, and stats about
each planet. Using the map you can plot a course anywhere in
the galaxy by making a line between your ship and your target
destination. Once the course has been plotted you can
activate your warp engines by pressing the fire button and your
ship will move to the new location. You can also use the map
to check up on your planets. By highlighting each planet it
will show if any enemies are currently in orbit attacking the
cities. You can also plot a course to the sun to recharge
your energy and repair systems, but be careful not to stay in the
sun too long or you'll melt!
Once you've engaged a Ko-Dan squadron your weapons
system will arm and you'll have access to your lasers and Ion
Cannons. Use your lasers to take out the red Deckfighters by
leading them ever so slightly and then quickly cutting back (it
takes some practice). Once you've wiped out all the
Deckfighters your targeting system will switch to Ion Cannon mode
and you'll encounter up to three Destroyers. When taking out
the Destroyers you'll need to carefully aim your Ion Cannons since
they're not nearly as fast as your lasers.
While we're on the subject of enemy ships, let's
see what you'll be up against:
|| These are your average Ko-Dan ships, and
you'll be running into them a lot. These small red
fighters attack in groups of three and follow a very
predictable pattern. Use your lasers to wipe them
out before they cause too much trouble.
||These flying saucer shaped ships are
encountered after destroying all the Deckfighters in a
Ko-Dan squadron. To take out a Destroyer you'll need
to switch to Ion Cannons (using the bottom button), and
hit it until its shields go down. Destroyers come in
three different colors (Blue, Green, and Red), each one
nastier than the next. Blue Destroyers take two
direct hits to destroy, Green Destroyers take three hits,
while Red Destroyers take four. Watch out for enemy
Ion Cannons, they do major damage to your Gunstar.
||The Command Ship is large yellow ship which
you may encounter after destroying a Ko-Dan Squadron or
attempting to cut a hole in the Frontier. Command
Ships behave very similarly to Destroyers except they're
twice as fast, shoot twice as often, and will cause MAJOR
damage to your Gunstar. You're best is to take them
on when they're cutting a hole as they won't fire back,
otherwise you must wait shoot the glowing dot in the
center of the ship before it blows you away.
"I've always wanted to fight a desperate battle
against incredible odds."
Once you think you've got your system under
control, you can attempt to go take out a few Ko-Dan bases in
their own territory. To get to the Procyon System, bring up
your map screen and target the tiny cluster of planets in the
upper left hand corner. Be aware that you're in enemy
territory now, so you'll be under constant attack. To take
out the bases, warp to one of the three Ko-Dan planets and start
destroying the tiny little cities with your SSB. You can use
the scanner to help locate the cities on the planet surface, and
to help you target them more efficiently. While bombing the
Ko-Dan planets it's best to ignore the endless waves of
Deckfighters that attack you, as they're only purpose is to
distract you. Take out a few cities and then warp back to
the safety of your own solar system.
"I'll have everything figured out by the time we
reach the Frontier"
Every now and then you'll receive a warning that
the enemy is attacking the Frontier. If you leave one of
these ships alone too long they'll sneak through the Frontier and
start attacking your planets. Stopping them at the Frontier
is an easy way to take out a whole squadron without all the work.
When you see a Frontier Cutter, bring up the Galaxy Map and
look for an enemy squadron on the edge of the solar system.
Warp to the enemy's location and you'll see what appears to
be a little Command Ship attempting to cut a hole through the
Frontier. A single Ion Cannon shot will take out this little
nuisance, and then you can be on your way.
"Death is a primitive concept; I prefer to think
of them as battling evil - in another dimension!"
As in the movie, you are the Star League's last
hope. Since it's just you against the armada you only have
one life to save the galaxy, make it count! Make sure that
you don't take any chances, and recharge in the sun whenever you
think necessary. Although the game will move along while
your recharging, it takes several minutes for squadrons to destroy
planets so you usually have time to recharge and attack.
Keeping your systems in working order is vital to surviving the
waves of Ko-Dan fighters, losing a planet because you let your
Communications system break down won't cut it in the Star League.
"May the luck of the Seven Pillars of Gulu be
with you at all times."
While the arcade game may never have made it to
fruition, the home version of The Last Starfighter is very
impressive. Although TLSF is clearly in the same vein as
Star Raiders, it is different enough to stand on its own legs
without being called an outright clone. It's a shame that
TLSF never was released in this form, because it makes an
impressive adaptation of the movie and one heck of a 5200 game.
Although Star Raiders II is mostly the same, I think it's
the Last Starfighter theme that makes this game so special, and
without it this title falls a little flat. The introduction
alone makes this version superior and worth the price of
||Last Star 5-8
||The Last Starfighter
to 5200 Software