24
Sep
13

Stellar Defence II for DOS

It’s starting to get quite warm in my part of Oz, so I’m running a bit late on today’s post as my brain requires a bit of cool to function properly. In the warmer weather here I often find it difficult to do anything that requires too much thought or fast reflexes, so I often favour either slower games with some strategy elements or games that require little thinking. Because I grew up in a place that got to 40 degrees even in the shade, I find that summer is often time for lazy afternoons in front of a computer playing a good game. On the DOS machine I often revisited favourites such as Civilization, Silent Service, F117a or Hocus Pocus.

Company Logo

Company Logo

Today’s game is not one of my favourites, but is one I played back in the day on our DOS machine. It is called Stellar Defence II and was released by Locatha Industries back in 1993. We got the shareware version on a cover disk from a magazine my older brother used to buy.

The game is a shoot ’em up style game with a asteroids style control scheme and a 360 degree scrolling background. Apparently you are a Lagarian fighter pilot trying to save the galaxies from the Yarien invasion force. As with pretty much every other shooter it’s up to you to defeat the ravening hordes.

Orange lady speaks!

Orange lady speaks!

The games graphics are at first very impressive in some ways, especially the logo screens for the companies responsible. The rest of the VGA graphics look a bit amateurish in places. The main sprites look fine for what they are, but the ones that were created using a ray-tracer look very shiny and toy like. This is especially evident in the star base animation. Also, it appears that the graphics code is poorly optimized as the game slows down badly when many objects are on screen. It seems worse with larger objects.

One small red rock

One small red rock

There is support for many different types of sound hardware of which I was able to test PC speaker and Sound Blaster. The sound blaster would be a much better device if not for the annoying high pitch sound that seems to come from the device. This could be because I was running under Dosbox instead of my native hardware, but that seems unlikely. The PC speaker sound is again ok, but certainly not the best I’ve ever heard.

The game play is sort of asteroids like in the way you move your ship, and that there are waves of asteroids to destroy. Some levels are instead filled with a number of enemy ships that are intent on killing you. The enemies are quick and like to charge directly at you firing a hail of bullets in the process. Unfortunately because of the controls it is very difficult to maneuver out of the way and shoot back. I found it nearly impossible to beat the waves of ships without losing a life.

Inevitable death

Inevitable death

If you manage to fight your way far enough you will arrive at a star base where you can buy upgrades to your weapons and extra lives. It is important to make sure you have enough bombs and lives as these are what you’ll go through the most.

The game speed unfortunately seems to vary depending on whats happening on screen which can make things very frustrating. When the game is incredibly slow it is difficult to play as it becomes more slide show like, and when it runs quickly I find I often overshoot turning and moving as the controls become too sensitive. You can try and avoid this by changing the delay setting before playing.

Visiting the spinning top

Visiting the spinning top

I remember enjoying this game much more when I was a youngster playing this on the old 386, but unfortunately I don’t think it has stood the test of time like many other DOS games have. Looking at it now it seems like the game may have been the first for the company, and from what I see online perhaps the only one they released. Perhaps everyone involved was simply inexperienced, with time and polish it could have been quite good.

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