Star Force Arcade Game

Star Force Arcade Game

Star Force was a top down vertical scrolling shoot em up arcade game that was released in 1984 by Tehkan.

In Japan this game is considered to be a classic title in the arcade shoot em up genre, and there have even been caravan tournaments dedicated to the game in its home country.

Video games were evolving rapidly, and this offering when compared to the likes of Space Invaders shows just how far this type of game had come along in the space of only six years.

It's time to take a look at a true classic in the genre that never quite seems to receive the recognition it deserves.

Even though it is almost thirty years old this is a game that is one of my favourite shoot em up's of all time.

Game on...

Star Force Arcade Game Menu Screen

The menu screen to Tehkan's (now Tecmo) Star Force
The menu screen to Tehkan's (now Tecmo) Star Force

Tehkan became known as Tecmo

Star Force Gameplay

In the game the player piloted a space ship called the 'Final Star' around a space-based environment, which also included floating 'islands' adorned with features and buildings.

You had to evade and destroy various enemy ships and enemy structures to accumulate those all important points.

The Final Star was only equipped with two levels of weapon power, and there were no secondary weapons like missiles or bombs available to you.

There was no 'super' powerup or smart bombs to help you out of a sticky situation, you had to rely on your reflexes and skill throughout the game.

One small change for the year of release was the fact that each level in the game was named after a letter of the Greek alphabet.

Usually you were greeted with the likes of 'Level 1' or 'Stage 2' in games of this type, so having each level named this way was a neat touch.

In certain versions of the game, there was an additional level named 'Infinity' which you would reach after conquering 'Omega'.

Once you had beaten this level the game would cycle back to the beginning and repeat indefinitely.

Another level in the excellent Star Force arcade game

The Final Star prepares to unleash destruction in Star Force arcade game
The Final Star prepares to unleash destruction in Star Force arcade game

Star Force on the NES console

Star Force menu screen on the Nintendo Entertainment System
Star Force menu screen on the Nintendo Entertainment System

Star Force on the Nintendo Entertainment System

In the NES version once you had completed the Omega target, you would be greeted with a black screen complete with the Tecmo logo giving details about the future release of the sequel Super Star Force.

After that, the infinity target becomes available and the game repeats the same level and boss without increasing the difficulty.

Star Force Arcade Game In Action

Star Force Arcade Game In Action

The Final Star approaches an 'island in space' in Star Force by Tekhan
The Final Star approaches an 'island in space' in Star Force by Tekhan

Star Force Arcade Game Music Selection

Another level in StarForce by Tekhan

Nice bas-relief backgrounds adorned the levels in StarForce
Nice bas-relief backgrounds adorned the levels in StarForce

What made Star Force so playable?

For me this is an underrated classic in the vertical scrolling genre and it never quite received the recognition it deserved.

The game play was never a new concept, and vertical scrolling shoot em ups were commonplace by 1984, but the clever thing about it is the fact that every aspect of this game comes together almost perfectly.

The level design is excellent and the scrolling is nice and smooth.

Your ship responds exactly as it should and you can manouver yourself out of tight situation with quick thinking and a nifty trigger finger.

The background music is excellent and suits the tempo of the game, and the way the tune changes when you collect the weapon powerup is a stroke of genius.

Even the end of level ditty is brilliant as you conquer the current area before moving onto the next.

The developers managed to balance the gameplay perfectly and the whole experience is one of addiction, excitement and compulsive action.

Another vertical scrolling shoot em up on the Amiga called Hybris reminds me of this game in this way, it is another example of how to balance gameplay and difficulty to a tee.

Titles like this prove that you do not need fancy graphics and intricate cut-scenes to make a game great.

I cannot praise the developers enough here; they absolutely nailed the music, the pacing of the game, the graphics and backgrounds, which all together wrap the game in a cocoon of awesomeness which leaves you with a warm feeling of sugar-coated joy.

Star Force is old school shooting at it's best.

An arcade flyer for Star Force

The rather excellent arcade flyer to Tehkan's Star Force
The rather excellent arcade flyer to Tehkan's Star Force

Just about to complete Alpha area in Tekhan's Star Force...

The Final Star has almost cracked 'Alpha area' in Tekhan's Star Force
The Final Star has almost cracked 'Alpha area' in Tekhan's Star Force

Star Force arcade game popularity

As previously stated this game was very popular in it's country of origin, Japan.

It also ended up being a pretty big hit in Europe and was a mainstay in many amusement arcades during the mid 1980s.

It ended up being ported to the likes of the Famicon console and the MSX range of home computers, and a sequel called Super Star Force was released a couple of years later.

All in all the game was a pretty big hit in most countries and anyone who visited arcades during that time will remember it well.

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Any fans of shoot em ups care to comment? 1 comment

Jacobb9205 profile image

Jacobb9205 15 months ago from Gloucestershire

Looks like a fun game to play!

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