Following on the wings of my last review, Strategic Assault, I had the opportunity to try my hand as the pilot of a nifty game by the same creator of Strategic Assault: Xen Games. Interstellar Flames is one of the most popular games for the PocketPC, but how good is it really?
Dell Axim X5 Advanced 400MHz / ROM Version A02
Programs Running: Pelmar Wisbar
Program Installed and Ran from: Main Memory
Program Memory: Allocated-38.71MB Free-33.69MB
Graphics: What can be said about Interstellar Flames’ graphics? I’m at a loss for words. This game is absolutely beautiful in color and detail. Although I would say those Xen people really love the color blue, the other colors are a great compliment to it. I must say that this game reminds me a lot of Star Fox for Super Nintendo, minus the hardcore polygon usage and characters. Clean graphics for menus add to the exceptional in-game graphics.
Sound: The music for Interstellar Flames is nothing to write home about, bringing a synthesizer-esque ambiance to the game. The sound effects are not terribly exciting either, but honestly, if you were actually there fighting those things, would you be able (let alone want) to hear your laser/gun fire every few seconds? Neither would I. It’s sort of annoying, but thanks to the smart thinking of Xen’s programmers, you can turn off the sound, turn off the music, or turn them both off all via the Options link on the main menu.
Gameplay: As I said before, Interstellar Flames reminds me a lot of Star Fox, and the gameplay is also similar. The game features a multitude of primary and secondary weapons, including (but not limited to) lasers, missiles, bombs, heat-seeking missiles, and more. Each primary and secondary weapon can be upgraded a maximum of 7 times (by shooting other planes, random power-ups show up for you to collect).
When Interstellar Flames is launched, there is a short intro showing the front of the flying space center thingy and then you are taken to the main menu. From there you can either start a new game, change options, view the tutorial, view the highscores, see the credits and quit the game.
If you start a new game, and you exited in the middle of a game last time you played, it will ask you if you want to continue or not. I found this to be a very nice feature, as Interstellar Flames saves your game when you exit whether you want it to or not.
As far as options go, Interstellar Flames has got you covered! Difficulty can be adjusted (easy, normal, or hard), Particle FX can be turned on or off (having Particle FXs on makes the game look quite pretty, although there is a slight performance loss), Up/Down can be normal or reverse (pressing up makes the ship go down), Autofire can be set to on, off, or toggle (toggle will allow you to use Autofire by not pressing the fire button, or not use it by pressing the fire button once more; however, toggle will turn off Autofire after completing a level), Weapon HUD (turn this off if you find the heads-up-display annoying), toggle sound/music/both (as mentioned above), and decide if you want to watch the (lacking) introduction.
I think these options are all pretty self explanatory, and I can honestly say that I don’t think those guys left out any options except for one: customizing controls.
If there is one thing that I hate the most it is not being able to change the controls of a game. Being as how more people are right-handed, I would think that the fire button would default to the right side of the handheld (standard on most (if not all) platform controllers). Unfortunately for Interstellar Flames, it defaults to the far left. Using Autofire is now really my only option, although with Autofire off, all you do is hold down the fire button anyway. So, luckily, not being able to customize controls isn t too bad in this instance.
After Options comes the Tutorial, which isn’t really a tutorial at all, simply a graphical help. This was rather disappointing, and simply tells you that you need to shoot the shield generators to beat the levels, shoot the radar to lower deck-gun accuracy, shoot or avoid the deck guns, and shoot the planes so you can get power-ups. At least they included a picture of each on the appropriate pages.
Next you can view the Highscores, view the Credits, or Exit the game, all of which you should be familiar with by now.
In game, you fly a spacecraft and shoot the various enemies as mentioned in the tutorial. Fly around, shoot enemies, dodge bullets, repeat. Simple and fun.
Low Price ($6.99)
A very thought-out and quality game
No customizing controls
Overall, Interstellar Flames provides gamers with an experience they are not likely to forget anytime soon, as they will be too busy playing! So hit the eject button the game you are playing now, and shell out a few bucks to pick up this best-seller now!