Star Raiders: review

  • Format: XBLA (verison reviewed), Windows, PSN
  • Unleashed: Out Now (PSN version TBA)
  • Publisher: Atari, Inc.
  • Developer: Incinerator Studios
  • Players: 1
  • Site:

Now more than ever, gamers are faced with more quality games and forced to prioritize their ‘To Play’ lists or otherwise face an insurmountable backlog. Despite this common need to churn through our growing collections, we often find that reboots of classic games are still worthy of our precious time and money. We’ve seen this with recent hits like Donkey Kong Country Returns and Sonic 4: Episode 1. Unfortunately, Star Raiders, a downloadable reboot of the Atari 8-bit game, is not among those worthwhile titles. In fact, there is just about nothing this game does well.

Aside from a brief, verbal intro to the game’s bog-standard, unremarkable story, information is entirely text-based. Right off the bat, we were presented with font that is entirely too small to read without sitting uncomfortably close to the TV. This would be a minor gripe if its use of text weren’t liberal and constant—before, during, and after missions we were met with lines of itsy bitsy scribblings. The game isn’t easy on the eyes, from the bland ship designs right down to the menu’s ugly colour scheme. Even the music is little more than a boring, repetitive series of ‘beeps’ and ‘bloops.’

Contrary to popular belief, cyan does not increase readability.

The missions fail to be the epic space battles they set out to be, varying only in number and enemy types (Zylon Fighter, Zylon Frigate, Zylon Turret…). Each target feels more like a chore than a thrilling chase. And it’s hard to feel like the “best pilot in the galaxy” when your attacks do so little damage. Though players have six different guns at their disposal, we only ever found two of them to be useful. Navigating one’s ship is awkward and imprecise — negligible in huge, open asteroid fields but not when attempting to weave through tight spaces. There also seems to be little consequence for dying except that it’s a waste of three whole seconds while you wait to respawn. These problems cause Star Raiders to be occasionally frustrating – and consistently tedious – rather than an exhilarating challenge. And, much like this review, there simply isn’t much to it.

Star Raiders eventually becomes ‘fun’ in the same way grinding kills for Seriously 2.0 is—repetitive and menial but mildly entertaining once you get into a rhythm. But ugly visuals and sound, an uninteresting story, yawn inducing gameplay, and awkward controls make this game very much not worth your time. We do not recommend it to friends, family, acquaintances, or even hardcore fans of the genre; though we would recommend it to a mortal enemy or anyone else that you hate immensely.

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Written by Stephanie T

Having grown up on Star Fox 64, Ocarina of Time, and Pokémon Red, she's a Nintendo lover at heart but will play almost anything as long as it's stylish, innovative, rich in story, or any combination of the three. Just don't try to make her play modern military shooters.

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