Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

cover art

Starlit Zone Fighter

(US: 7 Oct 2006)

I contend that I have not been corrupted.  Reviews that complain of “inadequate” graphics, short game length, and lack of extras and secrets gets every prudent, sensible bone in my body to ache.  Creature comforts are not rights.

But I’m frustrated with Starlit Zone Fighter, over little things that are ostensibly trivial.  In the game, the player is a disembodied head, flying just above the rooftop of the clouds.  The usual assortment of monsters block the head’s linear path, some bullet-armed, some in formations, and some just floating by though direct contact is nonetheless deadly.  On its own, the head has no means of offense or defense.  The player can steer it around danger and wait until he catches up to the boss.

Fruit and vegetables, however, continually shoot up from off-screen.  Touch a fruit and press C to eat it, fortifying the head with weapons that have cute monikers like Banana-Rang or Cruising Carrot.  The constant fusillade of food spices up the screen (as a “retro” game, what has stronger retro connotations than pixilated fruit?), and weapon juggling keeps the action varied.

The frustration comes from the fruits and vegetables bearing barely any ammunition: only three bullets per food item.  Every shot must now count.  The majority of Starlit Zone Fighter is spent trying to snatch the fast-flying fruits and veggies, with a head that has very loose controls.  It’s practically an anti-shooter—most of the time is spent dodging enemies, rather than shooting them.  Yes, all that means is that Starlit Zone Fighter is a different kind of shooter.  That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.  It’s just not as much fun as it ought to be.

Because what’s a horror move that doesn’t thrill?  What’s a political cartoon that promotes neutrality?  It’s something like a shooter that doesn’t let me slack my brain and zone out.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks

© 1999-2015 All rights reserved.™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.