Interstellar
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  • Action - Shooter - First Person (example - Quake)
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6  |  Warning: This Game Steals!
Darryl B. , 11/11/2006 9:31:00 PM
Wow, here's a game I had totally forgotten that I used to play back in the day! Even with several photos of it's screens being up on the www.klov.com, they didn't ring a bell, as I looked at them when I ran across this game's listing and said "wow, that looks neat, too bad I never saw that game!"

However, still photos can't always capture everything, so there you go, as I suddenly became reminded of actually playing Interstellar when I went to the H. A. A. G. expo (Houston Area Arcade Group) in 2005, and it was there. (Funny how just watching part of it's attract screen for only TWO SECONDS could trigger a memory...)

Of course, THE most interesting thing about it are the killer laserdisc backgrounds: here your spaceship flies through caves, a giant chessboard, swirling, colored backgrounds, and much more. This is a psychedelic drug trip without the drugs. "Far out, man!"Yeah, very far out...

Unfortunately, once you hear about the gameplay, you'll see WHY this didn't exactly make my Top 10 Most Killer Arcade Games of All Time list (or even 50, probably even 100), much less stay preserved in my memory for very long.

The amazing backgrounds, for one thing, are just filler; they don't serve any purpose for the game at all, rather than just getting you to exclaim "golly gosh mom, gimmie a couple of quarters for this thing!" (mom mumbles something about your college fund going down the toilet with playing these stupid games) So all that's left is this just being a 3-D rip-off of Galaxian and Xevious.

In this shell of a candy-coated game that's left, after a brief cinematic of a robot in the upper right hand corner of the screen drawing your spaceship (a la Tron, which the robot is also just filler, as it just reads "danger!" and all when you get yourself into deep space doo-doo, but doing very little else) when you start a new game, enemies appear in the distance, which all you do is shoot them. Shoot shoot shoot. Shoot shoot shoot. They start flying towards you, and if you can't shoot 'em all before they come close, you'd better get out of the way, or else the robot will (I assume) have to turn to janitorial duty by sweeping up the mess of what's left of your ship afterwards (might as well give him something to do...and on a side note, I'm surprised he's not trash can-shaped, like Star Wars' R2-D2, although he does look a bit like The Empire Strikes Back's Probe Droids, come to think of it).

Then, once things start getting hairy, a second button is needed to drop bombs on ships that also appear on the ground, which a crosshair appears a couple of inches in front of your ship, just like with Xevious. Oh well, if this game's going to rip other games off, it might as well rip off from the best from back then.

And that's pretty much it. Supposedly, at first the laserdisc backgrounds had to do with the gameplay, as certain parts of the ground were death to run into, but that made the game too hard, so the backgrounds were made harmless and into just plain ol' eye candy instead. It seems to me the manufacturer could have compromised, maybe making only certain parts having a bridge or something for the player's ship to cross over with to a safe, non-spaceship destroying part of the screen, and then go back to battling ships from there, but no such luck.

So, after being reunited with this game for the first time in 20 years (gads...has it been that long?) at the expo, I only played one game of it, took a couple of photos of it's screens -- one for Stage Select, the other for The Atari Times for my report of the day spent there (http://www.ataritimes.com/article.php?showarticle=478) -- and that was it for me. As it was only a minor hit in the arcades in the day, it also received a fair amount of play at the expo, but it didn't even come anywhere close to how much of a crowd a game like Lethal Enforcers did on that day.

Still, if you're into buying arcade games, this unique, brief 15 minute fad of the laserdisc genre still might be worthwhile in picking up if you can find it, just as long as it's not too much, as laserdisc players need care and repairing over the years, so either have knowledge of how to do it yourself, find schematics on the net, or find someone who can fix them.

After all, you might still play it for a while as it is...this took a fair amount of money from myself back in the day, it's mondo cool due to it's backgrounds (hence the main reason why it got as much as a 6, although that's not exactly a high rating), and not all rip-offs are a bad thing anyway: after all, the severe classic of Gyruss was pretty much a combination of Tempest and Galaga, was it not? Yet it was still a pretty big hit, and deservedly so, it was a great game, even if it didn't have that terrific music.

Ah, if only I could say the same thing about Interstellar, though. (And no, I don't have a top 10 list of arcade games, either.) 6/10

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