Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Classic coin-op thrills in this spaced-out shoot 'em up!
Deep within a distant Galaxy, the villainous Forth Empire have invaded the once-beautiful Junos system and generally made a mess of the place. Junos itself has been reduced to ashes and is now a construction site for the Empire's huge battle fortress,.from which they intend to oversee their domination of the Galaxy. Gosh!
Faced with this impending doom, the rest of the Galaxy's inhabitants call upon the Space Federation to do something about it. The result of much scratching of heads and controlled panic is Galaxy Force - a one-man attack craft of alarming potency, with you in the driving seat. Taking your fate in both hands you select a starting planet from the four worlds of Junos, and blast off to face the enemy (cue stirring Star Wars-style music).
To defeat the might of this evil Empire you have to fly across the surface of each planet (well, except the first, where you have to blast through space), penetrate the Forthian defences and destroy each of the four outpost fortresses. Only once these have been wiped out can you take on the giant enemy fortress and rid the Galaxy of these evil doers once and for all. Ha!
The Galaxy Force ship fires two types of missiles: small red psychopathic seeker missiles come complete with a lock-on target and home in on the enemy automatically, while large, forward-firing laser bolts just hit anything that's in the way (basically, just fire like crazy).
Flying low over a sea of lava on the second scene. Try to steer clear of the huge arcs of fire which leap out!
The final fifth stage puts you back into deep space, as you battle the last Forthian forces. Check out the huge spaceship which shoots past!
Surviving the lava plumes, you then have to contend with Forthian formations who are trying their hardest to turn your ship into scrap metal.
Not only do these level four tornados look good, but they move really well, too. However, don't go in for a close look - they're killers!
The third scene features loads of weird floating lifeforms to blast!
Inside the twisting Forthian tunnel system at the end of scene four.
The stunning galaxy backdrop of the first level. Here your seeker missiles have locked onto a large Forthian spaceship, shown by the square cursor.
Enemy ships approach from in front and from the sides firing homing missiles of their own, and there's also danger in the shape of natural obstacles like asteroids, whirlwinds, meteors and huge plumes of fire. Contact with any of these reduces your shield strength, and your current level of impending doom is shown by a tastefully colour co-ordinated indicator. Starting from a pulsing cool blue, it gradually fades through the spectrum of colours, hitting glowing red as you're about to eat vacuum.
Surviving this initial onslaught sees you enter the planet's Forthian fortress where you have to fly along a twisting corridor, avoiding the walls and blasting the gun emplacements on floor and ceiling.
A direction indicator shows when the tunnel is about to make a vicious left or right-hander, so you can ready yourself for the turn.
After a time, the tunnel straightens out and your ship whizzes off into the distance. The screen then switches to an exterior view as the Forthian fortress explodes, taking the rest of the planet with it.
You then select another mission from those remaining, continuing until all four fortresses have been destroyed. Only then can you battle the remaining Forth baddies, and face their final brutal battle fortress.
Sega have taken quite a few liberties with this coin-op conversion, since the horizon doesn't move, you've no speed control and there are no power-ups. But rather than try to copy all the visuals of its mega coin-op parent, Sega have gone for playability - and Galaxy Force is one hell of a blast!
At first sight it does look like Sega have taken on too much in trying to convert the arcade version. Using the same character block graphics as Afterburner and Space Harrier the screen tends to looks a bit messy when things get heavy, but you soon start to get in tune with the images, and after a while you can follow the action, no problem.
Even the tunnel sequence - where the Master System is working overtime - provides a decent feeling of speed and movement, and really gets the adrenalin flowing.
The visuals are of a really high standard with smooth(ish) frame updates and plenty of gorgeous graphics - check out the mammoth spaceships, huge towers of flame and the giant whirlwinds!
It isn't too difficult to finish the first four stages using the continue option, but completing the final mission should keep you blasting away for some time. Even after the game has been completed, you should still find yourself coming back for a taste of this heavy duty action. Galaxy Force is a real belter - go for it!
▲ Loads of beautifully detailed enemy sprites and characters
▲ Great starfield backdrop Amazing flame effects on the second scene
▲ Nice level select screen
▼ Feeble planet explosions are a bit naff
▼ Launch sequences could be better
▲ Good renditions of the arcade soundtracks for each level
▼ Weak explosion and enemy gunshot effects
▲ Five fierce levels to keep you going
▼ Shallow shoot 'em up gameplay with few frills
▲ Frantic blasting guarantees that you'll keep coming back for more
▲ Tunnel sequence is a real test of the nerves and adds some variety
▲ Final tough mission provides a lasting challenge
▼ Blasting action does grow tiresome eventually
Pushes the Master System to its limits - and is one of the best zappers you can lay your hands on!