There always seems to be a market for a left-right shoot-'em-up, which is just as well because software houses keep producing them. They've been relegated to the ranks of the budget games and rightly so, but still provide cheap enjoyment. This one from Firebird is a five-stage battle against various types of alien ships.
The first attack wave is made up of identical alien fighters which fly down and across the screen doing an occasional turn. They shoot bullets as well. Avoid them: colliding with them or the ships will lose one of your three lives. Hang around blasting ships for long enough on this stage, and it will clear, letting you progress to the next stage.
Here you have to avoid asteroids whizzing down the screen at different speeds. Dodging in between them takes good timing and some study of the asteroid patterns. You can't shoot them; a collision is fatal.
Stages three and four put up a static group of gun turrets which shoot at various angles. You have to hit each one a number of times to destroy it, without getting hit yourself.
Stage five is a simple docking manoeuvre with a mothership to refuel. You then go off and do the whole thing again. All this doesn't make for a very exciting game, just a bog-standard shoot-'em-up. The graphics are colourful, but the gameplay is repetitive and somewhat frustrating.
The graphics are excellent and sound-effects bearable. Unfortunately, Gunstar is let down by one major design flaw: say you reach stage 3 and die, you go back to stage 1. So frustrating. Still, at £2 who's complaining?
Aliens on several levels are hard to spot.
P. Colourful ships and explosions.
N. Difficult-to-see alien bullets.
P. Zapping effects and explosions.
Grab Factor 56%
P. Stages are initially quite tough.
N. Return to stage one when you die.
Staying Power 48%
N. Five stages doesn't provide enough variety.
N. No points for originality.