There are two reasons for my love of this game. Both of these are long enough ago that you could argue that rose tinted glasses are required to appreciate it fully. You’d be right up to a point but the second reason in particular is a long and never-ending road of love for all things gamey.
The first reason dates back to school when I was a spotty kid in the 4th Year. One of the luxuries of finally getting to the 4th Year was access to the School Youth Club at lunchtimes. This teenage haven really did mean you could have some fun at school; there was a tuck shop (lunch was 2 bags of Worcester Crisps and a double-decker), table tennis and pool, but the main lure for my friends and me were the Arcade machines.
School dinners in the 1980s.
Starforce was the first machine we ever had in there, I was useless at it! My excuse was that the fire button was on the wrong side and my left handed manoeuvrings hadn’t been honed on lots of trips to Arcades, I lived in a Northern village where skittles in the Pub was considered modern. None of this mattered though, as a fully paid up member of the ‘huddle round the machine and watch other better players’ I marvelled at the thing.
It’s not a complicated game, there’s only one power up, but it had lovely little features. The shooting of the B’s and b’s that you’d get rewarded at the end of a level, the Faces you could flip over to find an extra life and the always changing landscape. It was smooth, fast and much better than anything we could have at home, this was enough back then to make us lust for it. Eventually of course it got replaced by Wonderboy, I never got on with that at all, although I continued to watch other play it. Starforce was the first and that makes it special.
It doesn’t look much it’s damn addictive.
The second reason for loving this game came 10 years later, it involved a newly acquired net connection at work and a sudden urge to use these new web search engines to find out whether Starforce ever got released on a home platform. It had (for the NES in 1987) but that wasn’t the big revelation, no the big news was that I could play it on my PC via a programme called Sparcade.
Suddenly a whole new world had opened up and there I was a few days later with this game running on a 486 PC in my bedroom. Words haven’t been invented to describe how happy and bewildered this made me feel. I sat there for about 10mins giggling like a child before even attempting to play it. I understood that Sparcade was emulating the hardware but is was still incomprehensible that you could get a whole arcade machine running, never mind at full speed with sound at home.
Can it really be a whole arcade game on my PC?
It’s a moment I’ll never experience again, and that’s why I love it so much.