Written by John Hollis and first published by Quicksilva for the 48K ZX Spectrum in 1983, Time-Gate was the first Spectrum game I ever played and is a simple first-person space shooter – basically a Star Raiders clone with a few differences.
Programmed by Doug Anderson and published by A&F Software in 1983, Cylon Attack is an early cockpit-based space shooter for the BBC Micro that still plays quite well today.
Vortex is a 3D shoot ’em up developed by Argonaut Software and published by Electro Brain in North America, Sony in Europe, and Pack-In-Video in Japan in 1994. It is one of the few games (other than Star Fox, Stunt Race FX, Yoshi’s Island, Doom, Dirt Trax FX, Winter Gold, and Star Fox 2) to use the Super FX co-processor chip to allow for faster 3D graphics than the vanilla SNES is capable of.
The 1991 sequel to the promising Wing Commander takes the space opera theme even further, with more cockpit-based space combat, dramatic cut scenes, and glorious 320×200 VGA graphics.
Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, as the title hints, is the “Empire Strikes Back” of the Wing Commander series. The second game in the series had to be much better than the first to keep it going. And it was much better, although the mission structures are more linear in this sequel.
Wing Commander was developed by Chris Roberts and his team at Origin Systems and first released for PC MS-DOS in 1990. It’s a classic cockpit-based space combat game with cinematic cut scenes, and it developed into a long-running series. The Wing Commander series.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is the sequel to the timeless Atari, Inc. shooter, Star Wars, and it was first released into arcades in 1985. It is, of course, based on the classic 1980 film of the same name.
Looking at Death Star Interceptor now you might be surprised to discover that it was a “number one” game when it first came out in 1985.
And – while it did make it to the top of the games charts back then – the charts were not very reliable, and the game actually wasn’t that good, even though it does officially license use of the Star Wars theme, for a warbly Speccy interpretation of John Williams‘ classic music.
Death Star Interceptor was a case of style over content, and also maybe a touch of Star Wars fever as well. These are thoughts I had about the game when I first played it back in 1985.
The PC MS-DOS version of Tau Ceti was coded by Derek Baker at Comtec and published by CRL Group (Thunder Mountain in North America) in 1987.
It features gaudy, four-colour, CGA graphics, but is otherwise the Tau Ceti we know and love.