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Stellar Fire is one of several games in a line that debuted in the early 1980s, starting with Stellar 7, which originally mimicked a vector look, as it did resemble Battlezone somewhat, as it was a simulation/first person shooter. The games have had various style and gameplay changes throughout the series, and this one in particular fits the themes of a simulation/first person shooter with a bit of a run and gun strategy, as, for the most part, the player's ship does not have heavy enough artillery to deal with most of the ground forces that is presented to them.
By the year 2206, the Draxon, a cybernetic-linked race, has consumed life of all kinds, conquering over ten thousand worlds and has incorporated them into their own system. An attack squadron composed of Earth's top pilots have been dispatched to attack the Draxon's forces, which you command the Raven, an experimental, top secret hovermorph that you must use to disable the Draxon, moon by moon, until you can take out the forces on their home planet Arctura.
The player's Raven lands on one of Arctura's moons, each of which has Moon Crystals that must be gathered in order to take battle against that moon's boss. Once a moon boss is defeated, the Raven will land on the next Arcturan moon; once all five moons have been defeated, the player then faces Arctura itself.
With each new moon the Raven arrives on, a mission briefing will be given orally, along with all of the moon's enemy inhabitants presented, which the player can cycle through them, view the attack vessels, hear tips given from the briefing, or can just skip out on the briefing altogether.
The regular game screen display shows the player's weapons' strength, score, lives remaining, Crystal Compass, shield status, has an impact detector (from what direction the Raven was attacked from/what side was hit) and a Guardian Meter for the Raven's end boss battle (which only appears when the battle is about to start, at the end of a moon run).
Once a moon's assault has begun, it is in the player's best interest to travel in the direction of Moon Crystals by keeping the arrow of the Crystal Compass pointing upwards for the most part, as that is usually the best path to take in order to pick up the next available Moon Crystal. However, there are some shortcuts in some of the moons where a Crystal or a power-up can be reached quicker, even if the Crystal Compass is not pointed upwards for the duration of the journey.
Meanwhile during a moon run, the Raven gets swarmed by the moon's defenses which, after the player is rammed or shot too many times by the enemy, the player will lose that ship and the game will end if there are no more reserve lives. However, there are various power-ups scattered around the moons, as well as some enemy craft can also leave behind shield recharges as well when they are destroyed, and the player can also accumulate Fat Boys along the way, which destroy everything onscreen when used.
It is also a good idea for the player, for the majority of the time in general, to go full speed (100 m. p. h.) in order to outrun the ground enemies, as for the most part the Raven's weapons either aren't strong enough to defeat many of the enemies instantly and/or the player will be swarmed whenever they have to slow down to destroy something, enabling other nearby craft or creatures to shoot or ram the Raven from another angle.
- Move Raven left and right--D-pad or joystick left and right
- Increase or decrease speed--D-pad or joystick forward to increase, back to decrease
- Fire cannon--button A
- Fire lasers--button B
- Fire Fat Boy--button C
- Pause--start button
- Cycle through moons' or Arctura's enemies--buttons A and B
- Reverse enemy display rotation--button C
- Skip/exit briefing--Start button
Moons and Arctura
Xarz Voor--this is the first Arcturan moon the player encounters.
- Ground forces the player will encounter include Miners (which are slow and have heavy armor), Centipedes, Rock Blasters, Rock Skippers (which are small and fairly quick), Vooron Walkers (which usually travel in groups), and Spore Plants (which attack when you are nearby), and flying forces include Cyberdactyls and Slatewings (which skim the moon's surface).
- Boss--a giant wearing what looks to be a traditional Chinese hat; this picks up and throws projectiles at the Raven, then throws itself on the ground and quickly slides across the surface like a snake at the player.
- Ground forces include Death Spires (which close up when attacked, and are only vulnerable when they are open), Spike Tanks, Tricannons (which shoot in bursts of three), Zoreqon Carriers (which will block a player's path), Buzz Gliders and Zoreqon Hunters (which moves quickly along the ground), while air forces include Buzz Bombers (which drops Buzz Gliders), Gyro Skates (which land to attack), and Zip Flyers (which come in low to the ground).
- Boss: a tornado-like being that can only be damaged when it's funnel is full, which dissipates, disappears, then reforms.
Nibor-Fren--this is an ice planet which is hazardous to navigate, as the player tends to skid around on its slick terrain.
- Ground forces include Laser Batteries (which shoot in only one direction), Laser Stations, Skimmers (which are fast moving), and Storm Skis (which are slow but have heavy armor), while air forces include Crystal Bombers (which drops bombs and can only be hit with heat-seeking cannons or a Fat Boy), Hover Spiders (which take to the air), and Ice Birds (which dive bomb).
- Boss: giant ice horse-like being that stands still to hurl ice spikes, then gallops towards the player.
Ta Eliab Vee--this is the most difficult moon to get through, although it does have a weapons cache on its surface somewhere.
- This moon has ground forces only, which include Plant Walkers, Blaster Traps (which will go off when they sense the Raven nearby), and Fire Tops are decoys, closely resembling a power-up.
- Moon boss--can only be damaged once it lets loose a bunch of bat-like creatures, then closes back up in between those attacks and is invulnerable to the Raven's fire then.
Mok Zoh--this is the largest of all the moons.
- Ground forces include Desert Tractors, Laser Pyramids (which track you), Rocket Mines (explode on impact and are proximity-sensitive), Rotolasers, Scorpions (which fires cannons and lasers), and the cybernetic Sand Vipers and Sand Worms (the latter of which pop out of the ground), and air forces include Desert Wasps (which luckily only attack once) and Star Flyers (which are some of Arctura's most advanced craft).
- Moon boss: a giant snake that moves quicker with the fewer segments it has as the player destroys them.
Arctura--all previous moons' crafts/enemies are present on this one.
- End of game boss: a giant who's head and hands comes out of the ground and attacks the Raven.
- Strength--permanently increases your weapon's strength (unless the player loses a ship)
- Stacked Shells--permanently gives your cannon twice the firepower (which is stacked vertically)
- Double--permanently doubles your weapon's shots (which fires side by side)
- Seeking--for the duration of 25 shots, they will seek out the closest enemy and explode upon contact
- Zig-Zag--permanently causes laser shots to take a zig-zag travel path
- Fat Boy--extra Fat Boy
- Damage Repair--completely restores Raven's shields
- Extra life
- In other games of this series, a head villain was named as Gir Draxon. With Stellar-Fire though, there is no lead bad guy, as the enemy is just referred to as "the Draxon".
- As he has with the 3D0 release of Stellar 7: Draxon's Revenge, actor Michael Dorn, best known for his portrayal as Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation, narrated the dialog during the cinematic introduction.
- The name of the Star Trek series on the back of the Stellar-Fire box is incorrect, calling it the "New Generation".
- For those that can beat the game, members of the game team are shown, and with following the theme of the morphing Raven the player commands, the photos of the designers "morph" into each other.