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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Review - Sunburst

Review - Sunburst

Posted by Tim Fountain on 00:00, 30/10/2000 | , ,



Elite style space action from VOTI. Reviewed by Tim Fountain and Dave Sloan.


[Screenshot!]In SunBurst, I was expecting yet another Elite/Frontier clone, with slightly less than average graphics, and gameplay nowhere near as good as the original Elite. My first impressions of the game weren't too good. Nice filer icon, but when you actually click on it, the loading screen appears, you wait for a few seconds, the VOTI logo flashes up, and then you are returned to the desktop. Now I don't mind games having title/credits screens, but I don't want to be returned to the desktop after they have been displayed, so that I have to click on the icon bar icon again to actually play!
[Screenshot!]After that, things start to look up. Right at the start of the game you are given your first mission (which has a cash prize). So, no need for the hours of small-time trading to get your credit and kill ratings up as you had to get used to in Elite. You start off in a small, un-equipped ship with 100 credits to your name. There are 4 'levels' (read: 'types'), of ship that you can have, and if you want to get the good stuff like powerful lasers and shields, you need the higher level ships, which require a lot of money.

Money can be obtained either by completing missions (which usually have cash prizes), trading cargo (which can either be bought cheaply from neighbouring space stations or by blowing the hell out of some innocent trade ships that you happen to stumble across in space), or from games that you can play whilst docked in space stations. The games are a similar idea to the 'Star sheriff' game which you can play in Exodus, except these ones have cash prizes.

[Screenshot!]The fact that the game is in two dimensions (unlike Elite, which was in three), didn't put me off as much as I thought it would, as you soon get used to it. It certainly makes controlling the ship and scooping up cargo much easier.

There a few minor problems with the game, which annoyed me a little. For example, when you are given your instructions for the first mission, it also tells you how to travel to different galaxies. You have to bring up the 'System map', which you do by pressing F11. Fair enough, but when you actually press F11, nothing happens. This is because the System map isn't a separate screen, like it implies, but is actually in a box on the right of your screen, and it is displayed by default. There are a few aesthetic things as well, for example I don't like the way that when you are docked at a space station, the user interface is completely different, I'm also a bit fussy about my stars, I like them to be white, not multi-coloured, as this interferes with the radar.

[Screenshot!]But there are lots of good things to say about this game. A lot of work has been put into the equipment that you can buy, as you can purchase goodies such as an 'auto-pilot', which will fly you towards your selected target. This is very useful when trying to dock with a space station, collecting cargo, or blowing up an enemy ship! There are also 'attractors', which will pull selected target towards you - also useful for collecting cargo. Then you've got a cloaking device, and a few things put in for humour value.

While this game isn't full of FMV and full 3D graphics, it makes up for it with gameplay, and once you get into it, you'll enjoy it. With a few alterations, it could have been an absolute classic, but it's still a good game, and if you loved Elite, then SunBurst would certainly be £16.50 well spent.




[Screenshot!]SunBurst was produced by Owain Cole and VOTI (Visions Of The Impossible), and is available for £16.50. It is a two dimensional space ship based game, rather like a cross between Elite and Spheres Of Chaos (it works better than that sounds).

The game loads from any drive, and starts up with some very nice music. The game is playable from the iconbar, from which you can save games and check on your current status.

SunBurst will seem very familiar to those who have played Elite, as the idea of the game is to complete certain set missions and earn money to buy a better ship by trading between stations placed around certain areas of the galaxy.

[Screenshot!]The two dimensional aspect of the game does not detract as much from the gameplay as it would first appear to. The game runs at a nice 50fps on RiscPCs, and so is easily fast enough for some high action battles. However, the ships themselves move and fire slowly until you upgrade them, meaning that fights near the beginning of the game are long and drawn out instead of he fast and furious clashes that were famous in Elite.
[Screenshot!]Stations themselves offer various services: a bar which can be used to cheats, markets for trading goods, ship trading areas, ship equipment areas, casinos, games and money lenders which are the key to some secret missions. Some nice things can be found here, as there is a lot of equipment that can be bought for the ship, some serious like missiles and laser power, and others like Windows 2000 which is provided purely for entertainment value.
[Screenshot!]The game area itself is very small, as there are only about 14 stations to trade between, so there is little exploration to be done. The missions are all very easy apart from the last one, in which you have a choice of two endings, one of which does not appear to be catered for.

SunBurst gave me all the impressions of being a great engine on which to build a game, but lacks the missions, space and longevity to be a classic (which it could so easily have been), as I completed it in just 2 days, which is not very good value for £16.50.


To sum up

The good...
  • Gameplay
  • Originality in some areas
  • Compatibility (all Acorn machines ARM200-SA, needs only 2mb RAM)
...the bad
  • Lastability
  • Few space stations
  • Lack of missions


Rating: OKRating: OKRating: COOL


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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Review - Sunburst