After being routed in Starglider the Egrons retired to lick their wounds and prepare for a second onslaught against Novenia. The second attack involves them building bases on the seven moons of Midway, a gas giant in the solar system of Solice. The bases are a staging post for a huge space station, built in orbit around Q-Beta, the moon of the outermost planet in the Solice system - Aldos. Your mission is to destroy the space station along with its cannon, a weapon which is capable of firing through the vacuum of space and penetrating the ionosphere of Novenia to wreak havoc on your home planet.
Jaysan, Katra and Agro have the task of defeating the Egrons. You again take on the role of the space samurai. It is a feat which requires skill, courage, dexterity and Jaysan to get out of the bath. The AGAV from Starglider was an old ship when you used it years ago. For this mission Draggon Industries - designers of fine spacecraft - have prepared the prototype of their Interplanetary Combat And Reconnaissance Universal Scout, Icarus for short.
For this mission "prepared" means that the engine, designed by specialists on the planet Cosworth, has been tuned and the craft stripped of all armaments save a simple gas plasma laser. With its PicoChannel expansion bus the Icarus is capable of taking more advanced weapons, but Solice is a long way from Novenia and the fuel load precludes the fitment of more advanced weaponry.
There are four bigger and better types of whizzbang which can be mounted on the Icarus. Time-warp cuboids take twice the power of a standard laser, but pack a much more significant punch. They flip parts of the target into a different time. Fire and Flee missiles are the Icarus' answer to heat-seekers. They rely on a sophisticated Target Identify Mode (TIM), because relying on heat would be fickle when you have to cope with the temperature extremes on the hot planet of Dante and the ice wastes of Aldos.
TIM relies on determination as much as intelligence. The missiles are often led a merry dance before they destroy the target, something which can be quite amusing to watch and makes you trigger happy. Barnes Wallis wouldn't recognise the Humbug as his sort of bouncing bomb - for a start they spin the wrong way. They are humbug coloured and can destroy virtually all armour. The most powerful weapon is the neutron bomb, which hangs Dark Star-like below the Icarus. As the mission briefing tells you: "This is the only weapon in existence with enough force to destroy the Egron space station and safeguard the Future of Novenia".
Before you can mount your assault on the space station you need to build the bomb. This is where your flying skills are called into play. The Icarus' initial planetfall is on the geosphere of Apogee. This planet is the place where the neutron bomb will be built. Dive into a tunnel entrance - the planet has holes drilled through it to speed journeys from place to place - as the tunnels are the safest place to be. The Egrons have not invaded them and they are the hiding place of the rebel forces. You have to enlist the help of the rebels to build the bomb. They will be expecting you. The tunnels are twisty. You will learn your way around after a while, but getting lost can be really frustrating. Black panels on what for the sake of convenience we shall call the floor, indicate a depot nearby.
TO get to the first depot go left at the first two forks in the tunnel. Then when a tunnel merges from the right turn around and fly to the left down the merging tunnel. This will bring you to the depot. The manager, Trem, will give you a shopping list - things to get from other planets to help make the bomb. This consists of a case of Vistan wine, a crate of nuclear fuel, a crate of castrobars, a lump of mineral rock, an Egron mini-rocket, an asteroid, a cluster of nodules, a fiat diamond and Professor Taymar, who will build the bomb. Finding out where to get the parts of the bomb is the strategic element of the game, and a good reason for reading all the documentation. Some things seem obvious. A case of Vistan wine comes from the planet Vista, asteroids can be found in the asteroid belt between Millway and Apogee.
Castrobars come from Castron - the sugar moon around Apogee. They are Professor Taymar's favourite nosh and the reason he is prepared to build the bomb. But you will run into trouble if you have the Castrobars on board when you pick him up. Castron will not give you the food, you need to trade a petrified tree. This is a good place to start. Castron's twin -Enos - is a dark place, famed for its petrified forests. When the game starts lift the nose of your Icarus and apply full thrust. This will take you out of Apogee's atmosphere and into space. Watch out for space pirates; assuming the coast is clear reduce thrust to zero -there is no point in wasting fuel cruising around.
Use the identification computer to find Enos - it is the dark grey moon. You will learn your way around with some practice. Point your nose at Enos and engage stardrive. When the moon fills the screen pop out of stardrive for planetfall. Hitting the surface too hard will damage your shields. Enos is a violent place, so find a tree as soon as possible. Grab it with your tractor beam and suck it into the craft. The hold is large enough to take three objects, so a bit of juggling may be needed to decide what to take and when. With the tree inside leave the planet and head for Castron -home of the dentists.
Back in space you are likely to find marauding pirates. Depending on the state of your energy reserves you might choose to tangle with them. Their catamaran craft are agile but fall to your laser fire. The blue spaceships weave, and are the hardest thing in the game to hold in your sights. A missile works, but is a waste of ammo. Kidding the spacelanes of pirates not only performs a judiciary function, the wrecked bounty hunters might drop some cargo, providing a short-cut to your goal. Retrieve the goodies by flying towards and capturing them in your tractor beam.
Dicing with death like this is bound to have brought your defences down a notch or two. Time to refuel. By far the easiest way to do this is by sucking energy out of the asteroids. Fly between Millway and Apogee and look for the lumps of blue rock. Bring the Icarus to a halt close by and grab with the tractor beam. As you watch the control panel the readings will rise. Asteroids are unstable, as anyone who has played SiniStar in the arcades will know, and after a while the rock starts to shimmer and will explode. You may have to find several asteroids before you are fully re-fueled. Refuelling is an important part of the game. There are powerlines, similar to those in Starglider, held aloft by pylons. Fly along them to suck in the power. You can refuel Elite-style by scooping energy from the sun - but beware, remember what happened to the original Icarus. You too will melt - quite spectacularly -if you fly too close to the sun.
Dante - the hot planet, is a good source of power. Volcanic activity means you can suck energy by hovering over the mountain of fire, or look out for geoplasmic emissions from the planet surface. Catch one just right to refuel. Take thrust up to maximum and leave Dante. E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle (Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.) Find a tunnel entrance as soon as possible - you don't really want to do battle with the Egron might. Flying through the maze of tunnels can be frustrating, but when you find the right depot you may well come across a supply of Humbug bouncing bombs. Great for taking out planet-bound Egron hardware.
Leaving Castron you may well decide to investigate the Space Whales in the gas atmosphere of Millway, or look for Professor Taymar who is driving an Emma 2 on Broadway. You might decide to take on a space train or dice with pirates, but whatever you do be careful. The Icarus' computer can "listen" to alien noises and identify craft - so if you hear a strange noise the computer will determine for you whether it is friend or foe. Novenia will send messages which appear on your microscreen telling you what is going on in the rest of the system. Messages like "Egron station constructed on Apex" are useful - take a humbug and see to it.
Whatever you do, be careful out there. If your Valium Dynamics fuel cells deplete to zero the Icarus will explode, leaving the pilot's chair to bounce on through space. The chair is the same shape as the one Alister Perrot programs in at Argonaut Software, and was designed to check out the graphic routines. What we want to know is, if the chair can withstand Egron rockets and the destruction of the Icarus -why don't they make the spacecraft out of the same stuff as the chair?
Starglider 2 mixes plot with the gameplay in a way no one else has yet achieved. Interceptor and Carrier Command have come close, Starglider 2 excels. You really feel as though you are on a mission from Novenia. Argonaut has produced astonishingly fast graphics, with a checkerboard planet surface. Your craft casts a shadow on the alien soil. The colours are bold and the action furious. When a spaceship explodes it does so spectacularly.
You can select Interceptor style external views of your craft - only really useful in tunnels - and look at the ship from any angle. You can view the outside world from any angle and lock the axis through which you tilt. All this can get confusing, but hitting 8 on the numeric keypad restores normality. Richard Clucas is justifiably proud of his work which has produced the Argonaut Disc Loading Scheme (ADLS). This allows the same disc to be used in both an Amiga and Atari ST. The program does not have to be cut clown in size, because much of the information is shared by both machines.
The save game option works in ADLS, specially formatting a disc to hold up to five games. If you have a particularly good saved position you can give the save-game disc to a friend who can load it into his ST. While the Amiga version is a mite slower than the ST it sounds a million times better - the Atari does not have the sound facilities to compete, although both machines have Dave Lowe's stunning soundtrack. The monochrome ST version looks good, and a PC version is under development with C64 and Macintosh versions planned. In addition to the game, Starglider 2 offers a futuristic painting package. Arcade addicts who saw the I Robot machine will rememl>er it offered a painting option. Starglider 2's option 8 - Paint with Rolf -allows you to use any of the 3D shapes from the game as a paint brush. It was incorporated after a bug caused the shapes to freeze on the screen. While it is fun no one would accuse "Painting with Rolf" of being art.
Whether you are painting or shooting Starglider 2 is the kind of game the Amiga deserves. You deserve to play it.
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