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STARGUNNER / Apogee / PC
PC sh'mups have something of a reputation of being easier than their console and arcade counterparts. Welp. Not Stargunner. Unless you're a super hardcore twitch shooter, swallow your pride and start the game on the lowest difficulty level, or you'll be blowed up before you know it.
Even on the lowest difficulty, it's still kind of a handful. Largely because it's one of those shooters where there's just tons of shit flying around all the time and kind of poor delineation between what's a power-up, what's harmless and what's damaging. The difficulty may also be higher than usual to compensate for an unusual save/restore system that allows you to save at any time like it's an adventure game. I found it of questionable use if you're playing with a gamepad or joystick, however, as there's rarely a good opportunity to take your hands off the controls and tap the keyboard to save.
Hey ... I've seen this font somewhere
The game was released in 1996 and uses those early plasticy 3D rendered models, so the animated characters have aged kind of badly, but some of the backgrounds look pretty good. The game also features a classic wailing MIDI butt-rock mid-90s soundtrack.
There's four different campaigns to play. Between levels in each, you can purchase ship upgrades. The layout could be a little better, as if there is some organization I can't discern it. Stuff just seems to be scattered haphazardly.
I found the game a little too tediously difficult to be engaging, but I've also never been a real big space shooter fan. It's fairly solid on the whole. And it's freeware now.
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