Star Castle

From Academic Kids

Star Castle
Screenshot from Star Castle
Developer: Cinematronics
Publisher: Cinematronics
Game designer: Tim Skelly
Release date: 1980
Genre: Fixed shooter
Game modes: Up to 2 players, alternating turns
Cabinet: Standard
Controls: 2 buttons
Orientation: Horizontal
Type: Vector, standard resolution
One of the first games to use an experimental artificial intelligence to try and thwart the player

Star Castle is a vector-based fixed shooter arcade game, made by Cinematronics in 1980.


The player pilots a small spaceship, which can rotate, thrust forward, and fire small projectiles.

In the centre of the screen is a stationary gun surrounded by three concentric, rotating, ring-shaped energy shields. The shields are composed of twelve sections each.

The objective of every level is the same; to destroy the gun inside the shield rings.

To do this, the player must blast through the shields. Shooting once at a shield section causes it to intensify in colour, and a second hit destroys it, creating a hole in the shield ring. This exposes the inner rings to fire.

Once the innermost ring has been breached, the gun is vulnerable. However, this also works against the player, for not only can the player fire in, but the gun can also fire out, with a strikingly more powerful armament. The gun tracks the player's movement at all times.

If the player manages to hit the gun, it explodes violently, collapsing the shield rings, and the player is awarded an extra ship. The next level then starts with a new gun and fully-restored shield rings, with the difficulty increased.

Apart from the gun's firepower, there are two other things that impede the player's progress. Firstly, if the player destroys the entire outer shield ring, the shields regenerate - the middle ring expands to replace the lost outer ring, the inner ring replaces the middle, and a new ring replaces the inner. Therefore the player must fire decisively.

Secondly, the gun has another defensive mechanism. Three blue sparks inhabit the ring and can detach and home in on the player's ship, destroying it on contact. The sparks can be destroyed, but they are very small and difficult to shoot. Destroyed sparks can regenerate from the shield rings.

As the player progresses through the levels, these sparks get faster and faster, forcing the player to keep moving to avoid them.


The game is vector-based and monochrome; the colour of the rings and screen is provided by a translucent plastic screen overlay.

The Killer List of Videogames lists this game as one of the "Top 100 Videogames" of all time.

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