Star Maze

by Russel Sipe

Sir-Tech’s New Hi-Res Space Arcade Game

AUTHOR:Gordon Eastman and
Robert Woodhead
PUBLISHER:Sir-tech Software
6 Main Street
Ogdensburg, NY 13669
(315) 393-6633

Sir-tech’s WIZARDRY fantasy gaming system is so well designed and had been so popular that it has been with anticipation that many gamers have awaited the release of Sir-tech’s first hi-res arcade game, STAR MAZE (SM). Programmed by Gordon Eastman from an original game design by Robert Woodhead, SM takes elements and images from time-honored computer games and puts them together in a well-designed and challenging package. Basically, SM is an Asteroids type game. The player pilots his “A” shaped ship around, firing at enemy units and recovering “jewels” which inhabit the maze. The game also has elements of the old Pong game in that the ship can bounce off the walls of the maze (complete with familiar “pong” sound). Friendly and enemy fire also bounce off walls thus allowing “bank shots”.


Get to the 16th level of STAR MAZE and you can win big! Sir-tech Software. in conjunction with Computer Gaming World, is offering prizes to three lucky people who can reach the 16th level of their new space arcade game, STAR MAZE. The first place prize is $100.00 worth of Sir-tech products. Second prize and third prize are $75.00 and $50.00 respectively in Sir-tech products.


1. Each contestant will submit a map of the 16th level of Sir-tech’s STAR MAZE game. The map should be of sufficient detail so it is clear to the judges that the contestant has indeed gotten to and mapped the 16th level.

2. Tie-breaker: Some shapes closely associated with the two authors appear on a certain level or levels. What are the shapes and on what level(s) do they appear?

3. Each entry should include your name, address, and phone number.

4. Entries must be postmarked no later than December 31, 1982.

5. First, second and third prizes will be determined by random selection from among the correct entries (i.e., correct map and correct answers to tie-breaker). If less than three correct entries are received. places will be determined on the basis of closeness to fulfillment of the contest’s requirements.

6. All correct entries will receive a one year subscription to Computer Gaming World. To this end, please indicate if you are a current subscriber or not.

7. Winners will be announced in the January-February 1983 issue of CGW.

SM, as the name suggests, is played in a maze. While this is a common playing ground for many games, the SM maze more resembles an open field of blocks than a tight sequence of narrow corridors. The effect of this is that the concept of a maze exists alongside the elements of open space warfare. Each level has a different maze and the smart player will take the necessary time to map the various levels. Mapping in SM will not be like that done for an adventure type game. The maze is small enough and action is quick enough that much of the mapping can be done mentally. The player should start with the block nearest his home base and fly around it noting its shape. Then, branch out noting the shapes of other blocks and their relationships to one another. As the mazes are fairly small, and wrap around in both the horizontal and vertical directions, it should not take long to “map” a level. The colors of the blocks are an aid in identification of the block only during that particular playing of the game on that level. The colors will be different with each playing of the game, although the shapes remain the same for each particular level.

The enemy units are, for the most part, drawn from well-known computer game images and foes. Asteroids and flying saucers similar to those in Asteroids are present, as well as a Centipede-like bug train. When elements of the bug train are hit, they transform into Phoenix-like “birds” which can be deadly if not dispatched with haste. The space station is interesting. Four pods are joined by a cross. The various actions of the parts of the station when hit make the space station one of my favorite targets in SM.

There are 16 levels in the game. Each level contains nine “jewels” which must be picked up by your space ship and returned to your home base. Upon delivering the last of the jewels, a bonus of 500-2500 points is awarded for completing the level. The amount of bonus is based on the amount of time you take getting the “jewels”. After the bonus is added to your score, you are transferred to the next level to begin the search for jewels all over again. One unfortunate oversight in the game is the lack of a level indicator. You will have to keep mental or handwritten notes as to which level you are on. This oversight is regrettable since the addition of a level indicator would have been a minor programming task. One wonders if outside playtesters were used to test pre-productions copies and, if so, why this obvious oversight was not caught.

There are a number of techniques for making your way around the maze in search of the jewels. Beyond the obvious use of thrusters to change direction, there is the technique of bouncing your ship off the blocks as in a game of pool. This conserves fuel. and with a judicious thrust at appropriate points, you can intentionally hit or miss certain blocks so as to change or not change your flight trajectory. Sometimes it is helpful to get the ship going at a high rate of speed, allowing it to bounce randomly around the maze, looking for jewels. A finger can be kept poised over the hyperspace key or the antimatter bomb key. When you pass a jewel you can either mentally note its location or stop and pick it up. When you find yourself hurling at high speed at an enemy unit you can avoid a ship-destroying collision by either hitting the hyperspace key (which transports you to another part of the maze) or you can hit the antimatter bomb key (which destroys all enemy units on the screen, ala Defender).

The high scores are saved on disk and the visual display for the “Highest Score To Date” and “Great Score” (for a score in the top six) is pleasing. Unfortunately SM has been known to erase the high scores from time to time for no reason. The disk this review is based on has erased the high scores three times. CGW has heard of other SM disks that have done the same thing.

SM can be played using a regular joystick, an Atari joystick (in conjunction with Sirius Software’s joyport), paddles, or keyboard. The game is easiest to play with the Atari joystick, but regular joysticks are also quite good. Previously mentioned problems aside, STAR MAZE is a well-designed game that should provide you with many hours of enjoyable game playing.

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