Lies, lies, and more lies.
PLAYERS: 1-2 alternating
RELEASE DATE: June 1990
The Last Starfighter isn’t based on “The Last Starfighter” film, ‘fraid to say. According to Adam Lamontagne over at GameFAQs, The Last Starfighter is, much like The Last Ninja, a gussied-up port of an old Commodore 64 game, Uridium. Mr. Lamontagne says that Mindscape, the developers, should have just released the game as Uridium, as the title was widely respected in Commodore circles. Personally, I don’t care what moniker Mindscape decided to give the game, nor do I care that, apparently, Commodore players settle for lower quality standards in their games. The Last Starfighter is an abhorrent shooter, and quite possibly, the worst shooter I have ever played.
Allow me to repeat and explain myself: this might be the worst shooter I’ve ever played, but I would hardly call it a shooter at all. When you first start, the game, by all intents and purposes, seems to be your typical horizontal shmup. But as you begin, you realize that your ship can’t move properly. Instead of being able to dart around the screen, your ship, which is positioned in the direct center of the screen, is only able to move vertically up and down. Pushing the D-pad to the right will speed you up, while pushing the D-pad to the left will slow you down. Slow down too much and you’ll turn in the opposite direction. But, despite turning, your ship will always stay in the dead center of the screen. By doing this, the developers are constantly putting you in harm’s way. Multiple deaths are imminent and expected. To make matters worse, in level 1, you’re flying over a large ship in the background, colored completely white, and containing turrets. What color are the projectiles the turrets shoot at you? Why, white, of course! Better still, you can crash into barriers on the ship, even though the barriers appear just like any other structure on the ship that you can destroy or fly through. Enemies are sparse, but the ones that do appear will come and go. Sometimes your bullets will have an effect on them, other times, they don’t. At the end of the stage, you have to land your ship to progress, but I couldn’t figure out how to land. I tried coming at the landing strip from every possible direction, slowing down as much as possible, and nothing. So yes, in my humble opinion, because of the lack of things to shoot, the wonky controls, the horrible placement of your ship in the center of the screen, and the huge amounts of luck that it would take to actually beat the game, let alone progress past the first level, The Last Starfighter is less a shmup, than a malevolent entity bent on causing human beings pain and suffering. And I’m not a man given to hyperbolic statements or long Faulknerian sentences.
Special thanks to Mr. Adam Lamontagne’s FAQ over at GameFAQs.com. You must have had the strength of a thousand men to have beaten this game.