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Spacewar! Legacy

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Page 1:
Spacewar!
Galaxy Game
Computer Space
Space Wars

Page 2:
Orbit
Asteroids
Rip Off
Star Castle

Page 3:
Omega Race
Space Fury
Solar Quest
Eliminator
Space Fortress
Moon War
Space Duel

Page 4:
Zektor
Gravitar
Dark Planet
Mine Storm
Star Trek
Cosmic Chasm
Star Maze

Page 5:
Cerberus
Blasteroids
Afteroids
Ebonstar
Stardust
Super Stardust
Asteroids (1998)

Page 6:
Star Control series
Starflight
Star Trek TNG
Big Sky Trooper

Page 7:
Fire Fight
Subspace/Continuum
Armada
Battlestar Galactica
Shred Nebula

Page 8:
What's up, Japan?
Gravity Games
Homebrew

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Fire Fight - Windows (1996)

Cover

In the early 1990s, the sandbox exploration & trade simulations had demoted the basic concept of SpaceWar! to a partial mechanic in a much more complex and expansive whole, while pure dogfight action games had dried up. The remedy came from Poland, where the Chaos Works team was already somewhat of a developer legend (one of the designers, Maciej Miąsik, later became head of production for The Witcher), mostly known for the platformer Electro Man (Electro Body in Europe). While most of their games were published as shareware by Epic MegaGames, Fire Fight got picked up by big time publisher Electronic Arts, although it didn't receive much of a marketing budget, regardless.

Despite the futuristic setting, Fire Fight doesn't take place in space, but exclusively in ground missions on various planets. In each stage the player is given different objectives, but it mostly boils down to either eliminating enemies, or beaming up some kind of cargo or personage. There are some deviations from the formula, like a labyrinth in a mechanical city or a single escort mission, but the majority of the missions are roughly the same, only with modified parameters. The ship steers extremely swiftly, finally introducing a reverse drive. The repercussions of inertia and friction are hardly felt, almost to the degree of disqualifying it for this article, but they're there. Like in an FPS, you're equipped with up to a half-dozen different weapons, and hidden areas hold single-use equipment like a stronger shield, shield repair or EM-Shocks, which substitute for smart bombs.

Fire Fight

The loneliness during missions is broken up by lots of radio chatter between the pilot and his superiors, dubbed with really amateurish voice-over. There is a lot of questioning of the atrocoties of war and the higher motives of your faction, constantly hinting at some kind of plot twist that would leave the protagonist at the other end of the conflict, but it never happens. Actually, nothing ever happens in the story, the pilot just executes what he's being told, despite all his snarky bitching.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Chaos Works

Publisher:

Designer:

  • Janusz Pelc
    Maciej Miąsik
    Marek Soból

Genre:

Themes:


Fire Fight

Fire Fight

Fire Fight)


Sniper / SubSpace / Continuum - Windows (1995 [open beta]; 1997)

Subspace Cover

Although it is mostly forgotten now, Virgin's SubSpace was once a very popular online game; its extended beta phase started under the title Sniper in 1995, before online games became widely recognized as commercially viable. (There had previously been networked versions of Spacewar!, though, like Orbitwar in 1974.) The game became quite popular, until its commercialization on November 30, 1997 alienated most of the user base, which didn't understand why now it should pay for something that had been free before. Virgin abandoned the game soon after, but fans picked the game up, rebuilt the client and keep the game running as Continuum even today.

After connecting to a game, which may take several minutes if you haven't downloaded that particular level before, you find yourself in the middle of an arena. With lots of custom zones, there are tons of possible modes and settings, like one-hit kills, safety zones, flag-capturing matches and even two kinds of ball games. But since the community appears rather small now, you usually have to take that one or two games that have enough players to be enjoyable.

Although the backdrop is always outer space, all the stages have walls and borders, sometimes borderline mazes. The latter are extremely annoying because of the very sluggish controls (once again no friction), which might have either been a callback to the genre roots or meant to account for lagging with the ancient web technology in the mid-90s. At any rate, maneuvering requires a lot of patience. It's possible to switch between eight different types of ships at any time, which have greatly differing weaponry and abilities. The menus are as unintuitive as they'd have been in 1997, though; everything is handled by hotkeys (although there is a menu that lists them all).

Continuum

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Genre:

Themes:


Continuum

Continuum

Continuum)


Armada - Dreamcast (1999)

Cover

The concept for Armada must have been Asteroids meets Diablo. Up to four players start on a "home" planet, where they can gather information from NPCs, receive missions and refill their shields and bombs, before they enter a vast open space field. The missions usually involve killing a particularly huge specimen of the colorful Armada forces, which had reduced humanity to one single outpost. Some of them are holed up on especially dangerous planets, and usually require a lot of grinding before they can be taken on.

Armada (Dreamcast)

Besides the usual EXP gathering and level-ups, pilots can install several upgrades to their ships, starting with one of eight base models, which represent the formerly secluded human tribes, drawn together again by the Armada threat. The differences are less pronounced than in comparable games, though, and usually only affect the starting weapon or a minor stat difference. The upgrade options are also quite limited - a far cry from the countless variations of loot in Diablo. So when new missions eventually just stop coming in, without an ending or any other form of conclusion, there's not much else to do. Except exploring the seemingly endless play area, which is certainly Armada's most distinctive feature, but once one gets far enough from the homeworld, the space gets more and more empty, only with ever stronger enemies crossing your path.

It seems logical to assume that Armada was what's left over of a much more ambitious online game project, which eventually lost the online features during development, leaving four players cramped onto one single screen, making maneuvering with a full party quite bothersome. Metro3D soon announced a sequel for PS2, Xbox and Game Cube, which would have featured the desperately needed online mode, but it was cancelled eventually. Instead the developers went on to produce a new online game for PCs, which is playable in a seemingly perpetual open alpha testing stage.

Armada 2 Online

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Metro3D

Publisher:

  • Metro3D

Genre:

Themes:


Armada (Dreamcast)

Armada (Dreamcast)

Armada (Dreamcast)

Armada (Dreamcast)


Battlestar Galactica - Windows, Xbox Live Arcade (2007)

Windows Cover

XBLA Splash Image

Sierra's Battlestar Galactica game held some unpleasant surprises for fans of the never TV series. Nothing of the human drama and the story was to be found here. Instead, an arena shooter awaitet them, the ties to the series ended with the visual design and one or two lines of description for each of the ten missions of the single player campaign, that are losely tied into battles fought during the series, without any plot or continuity between them.

On first gaze, the game might look like it takes place in an actual free 3D space because of its angled over-the-shoulder type view, but everything takes place on one single plane. There are four different ship types available on each side, but the Cylon models are only available in the team modes, except for a captured Raider steered in one of the campaign missions. In addition to the standard guns and rockets, every ship got its own special weapon, but it has to be charged by collecting powerups that hover around the arena. There are also a couple of fancy maneuvers, like barrel rolls used to avoid enemy fire, or an 180 degree turn, but they draw from a fuel bar and can only be used after it slowly recharges itself. The action is fast-paced and there's always something going on, even in the gorgeous backgrounds of planets, Cylon baseships or the Galactica in its desperate fight for survival. With the fuel bar depleting as fast as it does, though, it can sometimes be a pain just to turn the ship around, or get from one end to the map to the other, since standard flight speed isn't too high.

Battlestar Galactica (Windows)

The campaign missions try their best to maintain a level of variety, as each of them has a very different goal, from just gunning down Cylon raiders, to protect the Galactica from bombers that try to nuke it, or take seat in a Raptor to rescue pilots whose ships were destroyed. Nonetheless it's easy to finish the entire campaign in less than an hour, and the true focus of the game lies on multiplayer matches, which support deathmatch, team deathmatch and domination modes.

Battlestar Galactica was released on Xbox Live Arcade and Windows PCs, but it has been delisted from the XBLA marketplace, meaning only people who've already bought the game can redownload it. The PC version is also hard to find nowadays, and servers for online gameplay have long been shut down, leaving local area network matches as the only option.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Auran Games

Publisher:

Producer:

  • Lionel Thomas

Genre:

Themes:


Battlestar Galactica (Windows)

Battlestar Galactica (Windows)

Battlestar Galactica (Windows)

Battlestar Galactica (Windows)


Shred Nebula - Xbox Live Arcade (2008)

XBLA Splash Image

Shred Nebula was developed by CrunchTime Games, a team of upstart indie developers under the guidance of Super Street Fighter II- and Weaponlord-veteran David James Goddard, and these guys really did their homework. Shred Nebula felt like a culmination of all that has hitherto been learned in the genre, while modernizing the mechanics to contemporary standards. The left analog stick now points immediately towards the desired direction. Thrust is controlled by the right trigger and bumper, the latter for evasing backwards. Aside from the standard cannon, the standard ship for the single player campaign also throws a destructive double energy ball, the Rip Saber, which flies in a half-cycle and is perfect for stopping attackers while retreating, but needs some time to charge up again.

The single player campaign, though fairly short and soured by an indefinite ending, offers a variety of tasks, from the simple destroying of certain amounts of enemies or turrets, to maneuvering through mazes and exploring asteroid fields in search for intelligence, gathered by scanning sattelites and other objects with an attachment on top of the ship, also controlled in 360 degrees with the other analog stick. During the adventure more martialistic replacements are unlocked, like a turret gun and a flamethrower. Limited shield and turbo drive capabilities round up your tactical options.

This piece of the game, however, was meant as little more than a preparation for the actual focus: The multiplayer modes. Here a total of eight different ships are available for heated deathmatch sessions, all with their particular special attacks known from enemies in the single player campaign. The only problem: Right from the beginning, a self-sustaining community never formed around the game. For a while, Crunchtime Games organized fixed dates for players to meet, but nowadays it's quite impossible to even get a match going, completely wasting the potentially best multiplayer experience on XBLA. There is a split-screen co-op mode for two players, but it's just fighting against ever stronger enemy waves.

Soon after release CrunchTime Games tried to redeem the game with a planned DLC expansion, which added a new play mode, three new playable ships and fully customizable controls (the fixed button mappings in the game was a often-criticized flaw), but as the ingenious game quickly vanished in the flood of boring twin-stick shooters, the project seemed to just peter out, and was never released. One of the developers keeps a video of the expansion on his homepage.

Interestingly, a chunk of the design documents for Shred Nebula is available for download on the official site.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • CrunchTime Games

Publisher:

  • CrunchTime Games

Director:

  • James Goddard

Genre:

Themes:


Shred Nebula

Shred Nebula

Shred Nebula

Shred Nebula



<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Spacewar!
Galaxy Game
Computer Space
Space Wars

Page 2:
Orbit
Asteroids
Rip Off
Star Castle

Page 3:
Omega Race
Space Fury
Solar Quest
Eliminator
Space Fortress
Moon War
Space Duel

Page 4:
Zektor
Gravitar
Dark Planet
Mine Storm
Star Trek
Cosmic Chasm
Star Maze

Page 5:
Cerberus
Blasteroids
Afteroids
Ebonstar
Stardust
Super Stardust
Asteroids (1998)

Page 6:
Star Control series
Starflight
Star Trek TNG
Big Sky Trooper

Page 7:
Fire Fight
Subspace/Continuum
Armada
Battlestar Galactica
Shred Nebula

Page 8:
What's up, Japan?
Gravity Games
Homebrew

Back to the Index