Saturday, August 22, 2015


Of course, this is the Atari ST conversion but I've also recorded the ZX Spectrum game too :)

Stepping back in time...

Today, I thought that I would descend deeper into the realms of retro gaming with an oldie that I've not played since I was 14 years old, Starquake by BubbleBus / Mandarin Software. Like most people, I did not own an expensive Atari ST in 1985 and was instead using a ZX Spectrum. Yup, I've not played Starquake since the mid-80s!

You're a BLOB (BioLogically Operated Being) who has crash-landed on a planet and it's your job to save it before it implodes! Each screen is basically a platformer in design and filled with cutesy (yet annoying) baddies that can zap away your energy or kill you outright. To me, it always felt like Atic Atac but, visually, reeks of Underwurld.

The intro is short but not without good humour which I love!

Run, Shoot, RUN!!

Starquake is such a big game and one which will instantly appeal whilst you get yourself completely lost wandering from screen to screen. There are tasks to complete, like collecting objects and computer codes, which is a lot harder than it sounds. Oddly, you cannot collect items when using a hover pad... so be prepared to think!

Thankfully we have a weapon but the nasties are relentless with a swarm-like attack that never ends. Curiously, we cannot jump but have the ability to build temporary platforms that help reach those higher places. It's kinda cool and makes climbing fun and different - also dotted about the map are hover-pads which you can make use of.

Starquake is a quirky little shooter/puzzler that never lets up and yes, it reminds me of Underwurld by Ultimate Play The Game with similar schematics, styles and mechanics. However, the puzzler and exploration elements are as tough as they are interesting and this is the part of it that makes you think - all whilst frantically shooting everything in sight. I've always liked Starquake and that Atari ST version doesn't disappoint one little bit.

As soon as you begin, cute critters appear from nowhere - constantly!

Colour clash and bleeps?

Visually, fans of the 8-bit original will adore the updated Atari ST version which looks the same but tarted up nicely with gorgeous 16-bit colours and lots more detail. Wow, I wish the old Speccy game looked this good back in the mid-80s. I mean, come on, check out those sprites - this must be one of the cutest games ever made!

Audio is superb with fantastic music by none other than Jason C. Brooke. I could listen to this all day long! All in-game effects are pretty neat but I'm going to shock myself here and say that the ZX Spectrum game is actually better. How can this be? It's true as I miss those zappy, buzzy Spectrum sounds which this ST conversion lacks.

Finally, an upgraded 8-Bit game that isn't bloated and ruined!!

The CryptO'pinion?

I found the Atari ST version to be harder than the Speccy original. That alone took some time to get used to and felt completely unnecessary if I'm being honest as it zapped some of the fun, especially for a casual gamer. However, Starquake isn't something for the casual gamer as it demands time and commitment to get the most from it.

Yes, it's tough. Yes, it's crazy. And yes, it's probably a little too difficult so you may need to cheat for infinite lives! You'll need a pen and paper to map it and make notes. However, it's definitely a brilliant conversion of the 8-bit classic and also an excellent game in its own right and offers a massive, long-term challenge. Highly recommend!!

Download Starquake via Old Games Finder.
Here is a map of the Speccy game!

1 comment:

  1. This is the codes for the atari st version.

    Hindi = code (start area)
    rokea = code (High brown)
    davro = code (green place)
    tsoin?= code (weird greeny k, place where I die)
    luang = code (green place)
    kaled = code
    cwore = code (core)
    flied = code (green place)
    borno = code (Red place)
    ching = code (Hard green place)
    kwang = code (cool place)
    tabet = code (Normal hidden place)
    sochi = code (green hexagon)
    solun = cool place