Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
The fate of the Junos Galaxy hangs by a single thread! The evil Fourth Empire have managed to conquer a vast proportion of the galaxy, and nothing remains to stop them... almost!
You take control of the elite Galaxy Force fleet - a body of space flying aces dedicated to the downfall of the Fourth Empire (presumably they were also responsible for getting rid of the first three!). In order to carry out this almost impossible task, four of the Empire's command bases have to be destroyed.
But each base has its own contingent of space fighters, each armed with deadly phasers and even more lethal photon torpedoes! Other hazards come in the form of terrifying natural hazards - such as pillars of flame, meteor storms, tall trees and the like. Your Galaxy Force craft has a shield that can absorb up to 16 hits, and after that it's curtains to your heroic efforts.
Blasting the enemy couldn't be easier. Your ships carries its own form of phasers which kill most of your foes with one hit. For slightly deadlier enemies, your ship's infinite complement of death-dealing photon torpedoes come in handy.
Here's a quick run-down on all the targets your Galaxy Force ship has been assigned to destroy. They can all be tackled in any order whatsoever.
Galaxy Force has one of the most spectacular arcade cabinets yet seen. The cockpit of the craft spins around in up to 330 degrees, with extra up-and-down motion provided by the chair itself. Unfortunately, the hydraulics are juddery and unrealistic and the game itself is rather boring with only the cosmic graphics causing any form of excitement.
Each base is protected with two layers of defensive firepower. The first layer usually involves taking on a vast amount of alien craft along with any natural hazards you may come across. Then it's into the complex itself where you guide your ship through a fast, narrow and deadly corridor, destroying laser emplacements on the way.
I though the coin-op was about as entertaining as an episode of Neighbours, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this Master System conversion. The best thing about it is the sheer speed - even if the screen is teaming with sprites the action never lets up for a second - this is a essential for a great shoot em up. The graphics are excellent, and though the 3D is a little jerky, the attention to detail is great. All of the volcanic eruptions and storms make Solaria my favourite world. The sound is pretty flat and uninspiring, but the gameplay more than makes up for it. If there were a few more levels, Galaxy Force would be truly mega - but as it stands, it's still an excellent shoot 'em up and the best version of Galaxy Force you'll be likely to see.
Although the original coin-op was no great shakes (all graphics and no game), Galaxy Force has translated to the Sega well, with severely tweaked gameplay adding a new dimension of challenge and addiction to the original 3D blast em up concept. The end result is one of the most visually spectacular games available on the Sega - pretty amazing when you consider this classic Is nearly two years old! The 3D graphics are quite superb, with great backgrounds and spectacular effects in evidence as you fly your attack craft over four different planets destroying all and sundry. Although the lack of levels might put some people off, they're all tough to crack, and the sheer visual splendour keeps you coming back time and time again. If you missed this when it was first released, and are looking for a shoot 'em up with a difference, take a good look at this one and prepare to be impressed.