Star Fighter or Star Fighter 3000 is a 3D shoot-em-up. The gameplay is mission based and involves elements of strategy and planning.
"The year is 3037, and peak-time TV has acquired its most successful audience participation show ever. A result of the intensified battle for advertising revenue and military hardware between the two rival broadcasting companies, Fednet and TrashTV, lucky viewers were selected from thousands of applicants to take part in the Star Fighter UEP (Ultimate Expansion Programme).
The idea was simple ... Assemble an enormous military attack force around progressively difficult strategic locations (mostly belonging to TrashTV), invite viewers to take part in the ensuing battle, and broadcast the results ...unfortunately, the battle soon escalated into a universal conflict. TrashTV quickly made a number of allies, (mainly on the promise of cheap advertising), each being a powerful military force in the galaxy.
It's your job to eliminate the opposition, and everybody else that stands in the way of Fednet's rightful position as the only purveyor of quality entertainment through the known universe. Destroy their buildings, Exterminate their armies, Grind them into the dust, all for points and prizes. "
This is the original RISC OS version of Starfighter 3000 that was launched at the Acorn World show in 1994. It was written by two well known RISC OS games writers, Tim Parry and Andrew Hutchings, who had been responsible for a number of previous RISC OS games, including Chocks Away and Stunt Racer 2000. These earlier games had been published by the Fourth Dimension, but for the release of StarFighter the two decided to set up their own company, called FedNet, to handle the duplication and distribution.
Star Fighter 3000 was first released on November 1, 1994 by Fednet Software. The current version of for RISC OS machines is 3.14 which 32-bit compatible and can be played, multitasking, in the desktop. There is a free upgrade available to any owner of a previous release.
The Acorn Archimedes (RISC OS) version is still under development by Christopher Bazley.
There is an additional, little known about, version that was in development for the Iyonix PC that featured all the enhancements of the 3DO version programmed by the authors of the original Acorn Archimedes machine for use with RISC-OS 6. It was to be bundled with every new Iyonix PC sold. However, the deal fell through and the game was never officially released. However, later it was made available through APDL (Acorn Public Domain Library) magazine, the full version bundled free with one of its issues.
The 3DO version of Star Fighter 3000 featured an improved graphics engine where the 3d objects were texture mapped in addition to the texture mapped ground that was in the Acorn Archimedes version.
The game was an instant hit and wowed punters at the Acorn show. The two Acorn programmers, Tim and Hutch, were approached by the 3DO company and asked if they would be able to port StarFighter to the 3DO games console. The 3DO was also powered by an ARM processor, just like RISC OS machines.
Tim and Hutch set about converting StarFighter to run on the 3DO. The extra power of the ARM 6 used in the machine, plus the huge storage capacity on a CD and the increased RAM available meant that they were able to improve on the RISC OS version and to add in a lot of features that had simply proved impossible on a RISC OS machine. The new version would include a lot of speech, full motion video computer rendered cut scenes, texture mapped graphics and a lot more. With the assistance of the 3DO company the new version was streets ahead of the RISC OS version.
The 3DO version of StarFighter went on sale in 1995. However, by this time the 3DO company was facing a lot of competition from both Sony and Sega and their days were numbered. StarFighter was one of the best games on the 3DO and as such was ported to a number of other consoles, including the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn. Unfortunately these ports were not produced by Tim and Hutch and the quality simply wasn't up to scratch. So the definitive version of StarFighter remained the 3DO version.
The gameplay for the 3DO version is slightly different from the Acorn. The map screen is in 3D not 2D as in the Acorn Archimedes version. Also to upgrade your ship you collect series of 3D shapes after blowing up certain objects. In the Acorn version you collected and spent money on ship upgrades. Another difference is that you can blast you way through mountain ranges with the laser. In the Acorn version you cannot, the mountains are simple polygons.
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Star Fighter 3000 was also released for PC, PlayStation and Sega Saturn. The PC, PlayStation and Saturn versions are similar in gameplay to the 3DO version and not the original Acorn Archimedes version. However, the only versions to be programmed by Tim and Hutch were the 3DO and Acorn Archimedies versions and are superior in every way to the other versions.
The 'other versions' can be described in one category since they were all done by Acclaim, not FedNet, not programmed by Tim and Hutch, were of inferior quality to the original Acorn version and 3DO version and ported from the same bad conversion of the 3DO version.
The most notable lack of quality was in the graphics. The far-clip distance was very short and made the game look like you were flying around in a constant fog. Also, the detail levels on the buildings, texture mapped ground and other objects was inferior to the 3DO version. The Acorn Archimedes version did not suffer from a short far-clip distance because it only had texture mapped ground and none of the objects such as the spaceships or buildings were texture mapped.
The Sega Saturn and PlayStation versions appear to have been badly and directly ported from the PC version which itself was a poor conversion of the 3DO version.
The game itself was clearly ahead of its time. When ported to the 386 or 486 PC, PlayStation or Sega Saturn the graphical elements that wowed people in the original and 3DO versions was simply not there. This is probably due to the fact that without the powerful RISC hardware these versions could not match that of the 3DO and Acorn Archimedes versions, both of which had ARM RISC processors.
- starfighter.acornarcade.com Christopher Bazley's site maintaining updated versions of the Acorn Archimedes version
- Gamespot Review of the 3DO version
- gamesarefun Release information for Sega Saturn version
- riscworld.volume8.issue6 RiscWorld article about Starfighter 3000: The Next Generation, the 3DO version ported back to the RiscPC