Category Archives: starmaster

The Secret History of Star Raiders

Back in the stone age days of the Atari 2600, when it was the videogame system, there was one game that stood out away from the rest, and not for any good reasons. That was Star Raiders.

Everyone had Star Raiders, but I don’t think anyone liked it, or even played it. Ninety-nine percent of all Atari games used either a joystick or a paddle controller, but not Star Raiders. It had a big number pad controller with a phone cord like cord. As an oddity it stood out, and as I said, I didn’t know anyone who played it, maybe because it was a bit difficult to play or to understand how to play. My Atari is long ago stored away, and I’m not digging it up any time soon to check it out – so forget that noise.

But the facts are of course that Star Raiders predates the Atari 2600, and goes back to the Atari 400 and 800, and the Atari 8-bit family of games. Yeah, this is one of the ancestors. Star Raiders may have been crippled by the limiting graphics of the 2600, or at least that’s what my computer geek friends tell me. I have also been told that it was the precursor to later games that I have enjoyed like Starmaster and the Star Trek arcade game, and even Wing Commander. The original SR even borrowed itself from Trek, Star Wars, and even Battlestar Galactica in its own designs. Man, I wish I remembered this game better, or at least played it.

Now imagine my surprise when I saw Star Raiders listed as a free download at the PlayStation Store. I downloaded it but only remembering it vaguely from childhood I didn’t play right away. After learning more about it, I was eager to play and jumped right to it.

Wow, the visuals are something else, but man, the controller directions are among the most complicated I have seen so far for the PS3. Steering was insane, but the format was eerily similar to favorite games like those mentioned above, Starmaster and Star Trek. It was very cool. I will have to learn more. I’m sure it will be worth it. And I actually feel a little bad I didn’t put more time in with the 2600 version.

The Non-Gamer

The non-gamer – that’s me. I’m old, horribly horribly old, almost fifty. Gosh, it hurts to even type that. Like I said, I’m old, and I’m not a gamer, at least not by today’s standards. So if I’m not a gamer, why am I writing this blog? Good question.

My background in videogames is being around for the birth of Atari, specifically Pong. Yeah, you remember Pong, and if you don’t, you probably saw pictures of it painted in animal blood on cave walls. Pong was the first of the Atari 2600 videogames, and the shot heard round the world that triggered an electronic revolution in the world of games and hobbies.

Pong was followed by fun stuff like Space Invaders and later personal favorites Starmaster, Adventure, and Yar’s Revenge and even Donkey Kong. That last one was a keeper. It triggered the jump to the next generation of videogame, and also the point where I got lost. I had an Atari 2600, but I didn’t get a Nintendo system until 1998, way beyond when it was cool or even cutting edge – and even then it wasn’t my idea to get the system. I was dragged kicking and screaming into the videogame age.

A Super Nintendo system followed later, but only so I could play geek favorites of mine – Justice League Task Force and Super Godzilla, notably the only two games ever purchased for the system. Up until a few weeks ago, that was as cutting edge as I got. Then the PS3 came into the house.

This was a surprise, but apparently something The Bride had been thinking about for a while. I had initially asked for a Roku or a Blu-Ray player for Christmas but Santa was not accommodating. The Bride thought a PS3 would service both functions and have games so she got one. And here we are.

There’s an old joke that the only thing that separates a full-time freelance writer from an unemployed bum is a videogame system. To keep that balance from claiming me, I’m starting this blog, recording my impressions as a decisive non-gamer into the gaming world of PlayStation. I’ll try not to be too stupid or naïve, and maybe we’ll all learn something. Welcome to my nightmare.