Starwinder

a game by Mindscape
Platforms: Playstation PSX
Genre: Adventure/RPG
Editor Rating: 6.1/10, based on 6 reviews
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Starwinder
Starwinder
Starwinder
Starwinder

Starwinder is an original game concept, which takes features from both role-playing and racing.

A race between different life forms will determine which is superior. As a newcomer from Earth, prove the worthiness of your race.

Five different ships and a cast of odd beings make this a race like no other.

All of the graphics in Starwinder are rendered. The perspectives are in both the third- and first-person perspective, along with several different camera views.

With over 40 different races, and a collection of the best racers in the galaxy, you're going to have your hands full if you are thinking of winning. Starwinder takes racing one step further with its inventive story.

Game Reviews

Starwinder is a mediocre, barely enjoyable racer. You fly around on a tunnel-enclosed track and blast away at enemies while trying to make the finish line in time. The explosions are well done, and the ship-select and cut screens are topnotch, but the boring driving action will make this a one-weekend rental trip to the stars.

People say:

5.5

I wasn't very impressed with Starwinder. It's the same old thing, over and over again with different backgrounds and a couple of extra obstacles with each new level. The whole space-racing genre Is getting kind of played out anyway. Starwinder fits the mold almost perfect-we have the cocky TV host of the future that introduces weird alien creatures from around the galaxy seen it before. The graphics are very sharp with great effects and the action can be fast, but really far too repetitive and easy. It wasn't until late in the second quadrant that I even felt a little challenged. It could've been something special,

6.5

The good: I like this game much better than WlpeOutl The bad: I didn't tike wipeout that much, I haven't found a futuristic racer that has proven to be as exciting as regular car racing games, but Starwinder is Die best one so far. It has great, smooth graphic. Having weapons Is a nice feature, but the weapons selection is limited. I like the strategy element: You have to keep your ship on the glowing track, or else you'll lose valuable power. This makes SW stand out as a racer. It's missing the thrill of two-player action, but makes up for It a little by having you face off against one primary opponent at a time. Funny cinemas, too.

5.0

This game reminds me a lot of Cyberspeed, the forgettable, ride-the-rall racer that was released last year. Starwlnder Is a bit better. It gives players more room to maneuver (they ran even leave the winding tracks and drill into space), but the vehicles slow to a crawl if they're flown loo tar from the energy bar that lines each track. This reliance on the energy bar adds some strategy to the game; players can make shortcuts by Jumping over portions of the track and hoping they don't slow too much. Although Star wonder has more than 35 tracks, they're short and repetitive. The difficulty curve's off, too. The first 25 tracks are too easy.

5.5

WipeOut In a tube is the best way to describe Starwlnder. The sound and the graphics of the tracks are dear, and the control Is precise. But these features are held back from making this title a hit by limited play and polygonal enemies. There Is also track obstacles that block your path and cause the player to struggle very little to shoot them. They are destroyed with one hit and your path is open. No challenge. All but the most sloth-like of players will be able to march all over the first couple of races, This Is one title where the looks of the stages and the control are excellent but the Ingenuity seems hindered.

There's something missing from Starwinder. Mindscape's new outer-space racing game. No, it's not a sizeable assortment of tracks; the game packs more than 40 winding race courses. And it's not a large selection of vehicles, either, since players can drive (or, rather, fly) one of five distinct racing craft. Simply put, the game lacks gravity. Starwinder's races take place in space, so there's no up or down-just fast or slow.

The game is set several decades in the future, after space travel has become commonplace to mankind. It turns out we're not alone in the galaxy. But even though the universe is teeming with bizarre life-forms, each alien species shares something in common: the rails. These narrow tracks are thousands of miles long, each one twisting and looping through its respective solar system like an interplanetary roller coaster.

Built more than 100 million years ago. the mysterious rails stretch only through those star systems populated with intelligent life. None of the intelligent species have ever determined why the rails were constructed or who built them. They figured, what the heck, why not race high-speed spacecraft on them?

Forty-three alien civilizations have raced on the rails for a millennia, and now Earth has joined the competition. Players control Conner Rhodes. Earth's first rails contestant. Conner will race on 40 different rails, which are divided among 10 far-flung quadrants. If he earns enough points to pass the first 40 races, Conner will earn the right to compete on the galaxy's most challenging track-the rail at Epsilon Indi. If he wins this race, he'll earn the priceless Starsphere mega-gem and prove that humans aren't some backwater species.

Riding the rails isn't as easy as flying through empty space. But then, the vehicles that speed along the tracks aren't your ordinary spacecraft-they derive their power from the rails themselves. Imbedded in each rail is one (sometimes two) power strips that run the length of the race tracks. As long as the space vehicles keep their bottom sides lined up with the power strip, they'll receive power. If players rotate their ships' bellies away from the strips or drift too far into space, the craft will lose thrust and slow to a crawl.

This reliance on the power strip adds a level of strategy to Starwinder that's found in few other racing games. Now. not only do players have to dodge obstacles and other craft, they also have to rotate their ships to keep them lined up with the power strips. Players can even get crafty and try to leave the track, hoping a brief but slow trip through empty space will serve as a shortcut to a section farther along the rail.

To make matters more complicated, players compete with other racers-from other planets-too. Each of the 10 quadrants is home to a different alien champion, and these cocky competitors are introduced by cinemas that play before each race.

Fortunately, Conner's craft is equipped with a small arsenal of weapons-some guided, some not. Shooting an alien's ship knocks it off the rail and slows it. But players better watch their behinds; aliens can shoot and slow their craft, as well.

The aliens aren't the only menace on the tracks. Drone ships ride the rails and serve as a traffic hazard for all the racers. Players also have to avoid mines and asteroids, which sap speed from careless drivers. Sometimes even the rail itself is an obstacle. It loops and spins around the racers, making the power strip especially difficult to follow.

The sheer amount of rails-and the twisting of these tracks-makes Starwinder a fairly difficult game. But players shouldn't give up just because they have a hard time keeping their vehicles on the power strips. After all. the eyes of the galaxy are on Conner Rhodes, and failure means mankind, becomes an intergalactic joke.

  • MANUFACTURER - Mindscape
  • DIFFICULTY - Moderate
  • THEME - Action
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1

An alien culture built thousands of miles of track through the universe, but no one knows why. As a racer from Earth, you know it could mean only one thing-all-out, full-blown, intergalactic drag racing! With more than 40 tracks, an hour of cinematic video, and complete movement on six axes (a first for racing games), Star, winder's aiming to wipe out the competition.

Overview

Starwinder is a futuristic, 3D space racing and shooting game. You fly through a real-time rendered 3D universe with 6-axis flight controls. The flying takes place on rails versus tracks. These rails were built 117 million years ago for unknown reasons. Thousands of miles of rails were scattered throughout the different reaches of the universe. Nobody knows for sure their initial purpose, but somewhere along the way, someone discovered that the closer a spaceship flies to the rail, the faster the ship will go. So a couple of thinking alien species decided that there is really only one practical use for the rails. Racing, of course.

This is where you step in. You play as Connor Rhodes, the first ever challenger from the newly discovered planet Earth. Now, this rail racing has been going on for years and there are some serious pilots racing for the ultimate goal—the final rail called Epsilon Indi. This is the 44th rail in the galaxy and no civilization is near. This is believed to be the ultimate rail in the galaxy. These other pilots don't take too kindly to unproven, hotshot pilots, (which, of course, describes you perfectly).

Now, there are a total of 44 rails that must be raced upon to win the ultimate prize of the Stratosphere. The Stratosphere is assembled from 44 interlocking gems embedded in the rails and is almost a perfect globe. The only flaw is that one piece is missing. Nobody really knows the purpose of the stratosphere but it is believed that something magical will happen if the final gem is ever located. Even in its incomplete form, the Stratosphere still makes a nice trophy.

Gameplay

The game places you behind the control of various spacecraft, each with different handling, speed and recovery abilities. The beginning of the game only allows you access to two of the five available ships. This is all you are armed with to start the tournament. Each of the 44 rails comprises one race in the tournament. The rails are divided into 10 quadrants, each quadrant containing four rails. The first three rails of the game are time trials. The tournament begins with the three time trials already completed. The first two quadrants are just races against the clock. Well, there are plenty of other ships getting in your way but you are not competing against them. You must finish all four races of the first quadrant under the allotted time to move on to the second quadrant. Same for the second. This is very easy and the tracks are fairly similar.

The third quadrant is where the real competition begins. You are no longer racing against the clock but now you have some live competition. The race is against other alien competitors. Some of the four races in quadrants only require you to finish in the top three of four racers. Others must be first place finishes. The racing action gets more difficult from this point on. The tracks change some but not enough. Once the novelty of the idea of the game wears off and you realize that there is not much too look forward to; the game takes a bit of a dip.

The various races are more than just all out drag races to the end. The rails do twist and bank at some different angles. The concept of the rail racing is pretty cool and I really like the way that the speed increases when you hug the rail. On the downside, once you get off of the rail, forget it. You slow down to a snail's pace. You are not much more than floating space dust. Also, if you get disoriented regarding your location because you over-banked a turn, you are sure to leave the track and start floating away. Your ship is fairly responsive but there are times when there is too much clutter on the screen and you find yourself continually running into asteroids or other objects. Now, I don't mind an obstacle or two thrown in the way but when you hit something every two seconds is makes it real difficult to get into the speed aspect of the game.

A cool element of the race is that you are armed with various types of weapons. These weapons are used to shoot your opponent to temporarily slow him or her down. Each weapon will usually completely disable the ship for a few seconds, which is more than enough time to sneak by. The only problem is that the guy you just shot is now behind you taking shots at your ship. The shooting element really saves this game from turning into too much of the same old thing.

All of the alien competitors have a little bio and story to go with them. One of the racers is believed to be an offspring of dinosaurs that roamed the earth. But, these guys wised up to the fact that staying on the earth was sure death so they jumped into their dino spaceship and moved into the distant galaxy. This makes him feel like anyone from Earth must be a moron, so he is less than friendly to you. There is also a shape-shifter that will take the form of anything and everything. Each of the competitors has specific strengths and weakness and will put up a good race.

Throughout the game, you are treated to newscasts by a very cliche news reporter. Frequent interviews with the losing aliens show off some serious graphics power, and there are over 50 minutes of videos like this that keep things interesting. Normally, I would skip over cheesy Full Motion Video (FMV) scenes, but these were actually comical and worth watching.

Graphics

The graphics in Starwinder are exceptional. The FMV sequences look almost as if you are watching TV. The in-flight explosions are also quite impressive. Since the background is space, it is limited to twinkling stars but is very realistic. The ships are also nicely done and unique in their design. In some of the latter tracks, there are asteroids littering the track and this makes for a very cluttered screen. This is very detrimental to the racing. The intro sequence follows the traditional "look at the cool FMV I can do" theory that is so popular with Playstation games. But hey, you have all of that room on the CD, so you may as well use it.

Bottom Line

Starwinder is an average racer that is saved by the ability to blast your opponents to gain the upper hand. You will actually feel the speed of your ship as you blow by one of your temporarily disabled opponents. The fairly repetitive tracks were a bit disappointing though. I was waiting for something really unique to happen in a track but it just never happened. The graphics are well done and there is some fun in this game. I have seen it in a couple of bargain bins, and for the $29.99 price tag you could do a lot worse. This is definitely a good first effort racing game by Mindscape. By the way, if motion sickness is a problem, you might consider watching a race or two before playing, or you may find yourself kneeling over the second most important item in your home (we all know that the Playstation is the first).

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