|After a few seconds, the name floods the screen in a dazzling array of colors
Sinistar had an interesting introduction. One of the games I had as FPS for 1987 seemed really questionable, so I decided to put it back in 1987, and instead went for some random 1982 game. Rejected a couple of titles, but then I got to Sinistar. Ah, cool, that's a beloved title, I think to myself. It has an Atari 5200 port I have down, but I'll play the arcade original too. I do my usual research, and discover that the 5200 port is actually from the year 2010. Which gives me some pause.
Now, I realize that I tend to not give credit to early games and their use of sound, since I deal more in home ports than fancy arcade machines. This tends to limit the impact of sound, since the impressive nature of such things tends to be more using limited amounts of space. Sinistar has some fancy voice samples, and apparently its the first to have them in stereo. The home ports being seemingly unlicensed homebrew stuff is significantly more interesting.
|A less chaotic scene
Playing it, it is frantic, utterly mad chaos. The controls are unusual. Turning doesn't quite work in the way you expect it to and you have momentum. I had to break out my joystick for this, playing it with a keyboard just wasn't ideal. Even so, this game doesn't feel precise. The ship you're flying is not precise, it is very loose. These physics seem universal, since if you look at the enemy ships, the workers and the warriors both move very awkwardly, even as they try to complete their own objectives.
|Sinistar, slowly getting built
|A relatively safe scene
There are two phases to each stage of this game, the first is when you are fighting these unending hordes of ships, trying to survive and maybe mine crystals, and the second stage, when Sinistar starts hunting you down. You need at least 13 crystals to take out Sinistar, as these create a special missile attack that homes in on Sinistar, but they can be intercepted by other ships. If you don't have enough, you better hope you get lucky and get some before you see Sinistar appear on your minimap.
|I am basically already dead here
|I am dead here, and my remaining lives are just jokes
|The screen goes all crazy whenever you kill Sinistar
Fairly standard weapons. 1/10
Sinistar is something special. 2/10
Perhaps there's something different in the remaining levels, but the two I played really felt like random rocks were placed upon it. I guess there was some logic to it, but it didn't seem that important. 1/10
Its not the smoothest thing I've played, but after some time with it, it works. It could be a lot worse. It didn't ever feel like I was turning my ship quite right, which I guess is up to par with my usual realistic spaceship experience. 4/10
I guess you shoot the asteroids, but that's a stretch. 1/10
The game conveys a hopeless fight very well. Sinistar will always return, his followers, assuming they are followers and not robots, will always rebuild him. You will eventually falter and lose in this fight, while Sinistar will come back. 6/10
High quality for the era. Its not that special now, but it still looks nice. 3/10
A token effort.
Typical stuff except for Sinistar's taunting. Even though its low quality there's something just more effective about the voice bytes. 2/10
That's 20. Interesting, that's now the highest rated game until 1986. While on his own, Sinistar isn't that impressive, the whole audio-visual package surrounding him is. Its something that we may miss living here in an era where there's no reason for a game not to have voice acting.
There is one sequel, made in 1999, so its entirely possible I'll never reach it. Considering how frantic this was in 2D, I shudder to think how crazy it would be in 3D.