I wasn’t too sure what to make of Star Raiders, it was something not particularly heard of much before since it was originally around in 1979 and a little while before my gaming time (although, I had started playing some arcade games then).
As you can imagine, it’s had quite the graphical upgrade, but if there’s something that could be better is the size of the text which is miniscule. Growing up with gaming where your face was two feet away from the screen due to it being desktop or floor gaming has meant you evolve into current generation that requires you to be around three times the distance away from the television, that’s where Atari have forgotten that we no longer sit so close to a twenty inch fuzzy CRT screen.
There wasn’t a lot of text back then either and what text featured in games were big, bold, blocky letters or 12pt and mostly upper-case to make it easy to read. I play on an HD Ready 32 inch television capable of 1080p, the text is so small that it’s pretty hard to read from sitting six feet away on the sofa.
Controls can seem a little tricky at first when you’re playing through the few tutorial levels and to be fair, movement is somewhat a strange process of moving left or right and then up or down in some cases, other times will have you using the good old move with the left stick while aiming with the right combination.
Atari sure like to make use of pretty much every button on the controller by assigning both triggers as fire buttons as well as the shoulder buttons for transforming.. what? No, not in the same way as Transformers, as you blast enemies, you acquire Salvage Credits which can be used to buy upgrades in the usual fashion of weapons, there are different weapons for Attack Mode, Assault Mode and Turret Mode, each mode is a form of transformation.
The menu is different to your average space shooter by having to scroll across and select sections by moving up or down, obviously. A nice touch to your progress is in the styling of a galactic chart which shows each sector as a hexagon that you click on to be taken to a briefing with, once again, very small text which gets tiresome to read due to needing to move closer to the TV every time. There’s nothing wrong with my eyesight, I have 20/20 vision and have no problems reading stuff when its normal size.
Another thing I have to admit, upgrading is never a strong suit of mine, there’s always better equipment ready for when you need it/have enough credits/reach a certain level, but it always eludes me. There’s a good choice of upgrades and even if you don’t know what each upgrade does, you know it’s better because it costs more and a little tip; when in sectors, there are small asteroid type rocks with glowing bits on them, shoot them to get extra salvage credits to spend.
A couple of frustrations arise when you’re chasing a Zylon fighter around in circles trying to shoot it and then realize it’s quicker to take it out with a missile or just change to another fighter which leads to the second part of the frustration, the controls which, when in attack mode, can get a little annoying since you’re always accelerating, making you remember that you need to transform in order to take out the Zylon turrets and destroy ships.
It’s after you get further into the game when the gameplay gets a bit better, it can be a little sluggish at first and then it starts to pick up. The style of the game feels like an arcade game rather than full retail, while not a totally bad thing, feels a bit non plus at how sharp and yet bland it is.
The sound doesn’t scream excitement either, it’s not like you expect full orchestral Star Wars style bom-pa-bom action pumping through your TV (or sound system if you prefer to have full stereophonic surround), just something that gives you a nice sense of space-blasting, dogfighting thrilltastic adventure.
While it’s something quite different to other games out there, I feel it doesn’t really have much reason to go back to it once finished, maybe if you’re really bored in a couple of years or something you might have some inkling to play some co-op if you have a friend that hasn’t played it before.