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One of the most innovative side-scrolling shooters ever made, Starquake was a big hit on the Commodore 64 and Atari ST but sadly not on the PC system. The plot is very cliché, but it's the cool action/adventure blend of gameplay that counts. You are a being called BLOB (Bio-Logically Operated Being), chosen to save a planet from destruction. You must find parts of the planet's core which are scattered all through the planet and fix it before it explodes. Many aliens who inhabit the planet will plague you and 'zappers', broken bottles and spikes threaten to blow you to pieces.
Although it looks similar to countless other shooters, Starquake has many innovations that set it apart. For starters, you are free to go wherever you want on the planet in your search for the missing pieces of the core. You can either explore on foot, or on a hovercraft. To move upward without the hovercraft, you can create your own platforms which last for a short period of time. To make exploration easier, there are a great number of hovercraft pads and 15 teleports, each with different codes, scattered strategically around the 512 screens of play. Finding these codes adds an interesting element of adventure game, not unlike Access' Echelon. Another nod to the adventure genre is the availability of an inventory: you can carry up to 4 items at a time before you have to drop something. There are also features such as security doors, which require the security card or matching numbered cards, doors which require keys, and special 'breakaway platforms'. Another interesting feature is the Cheops Pyramid, which lets you exchange a piece for the one that you think is more useful.
Gameplay is a lot of fun, and very easy to learn. Although the graphics are only 4-color CGA in this PC version, the animations are very smooth, and the controls are intuitive. The game is also highly replayable: both the identities and locations of pieces you need to rebuild the planet's core are randomized, so the game never gets monotonous. If you enjoy shooters with a difference, Starquake more than fits the bill.
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