STAR CASTLE Game

By Mark Nobes, chief editor

This is an old, but classic 80s game which used vector graphics. Although not as well-known as some of the other games on this site, it was both simple to play and very addictive, although also hard to master.

The arcade version of the multi-directional game was originally released in 1980 by Cinematronics. The main object of the game is to obliterate a series of defences (three rotating rings (shields) surrounding a stationary turret in the centre of the screen.

The controls for the player's ship reminded me very much of Atari Asteroids, allowing you to rotate and thrust. There was no joystick, and the game was controlled entirely using buttons, these being "left", "right", "thrust" and "fire". I remember that continuously stabbing at the buttons really did start to hurt your fingers after a while, but us 80s kids could live with the pain!

The sound effects sounded pretty amazing at the time with cool laser shooting sounds and loud explosions, the kind that only the 80s could produce! The cabinet art had a very inviting design, although I never liked the font used for the Star Castle title, but, I guess, it was supposed to have a kind of medieval feel.

This was a game that I could spend an entire afternoon playing with my friends, it was that addictive, although, I never quite mastered it like they did. Nonetheless, it is most definitely one of my favourite arcade games from the 1980s.

The game featured in the 1986 movie Maximum Overdrive. The player was electrocuted by the arcade game, which didn't happen in real life, thankfully!

Star Castle's designer, Tim Skelly, also created the 1982 monochrome vector arcade games War Of The Worlds and Armor Attack. He worked for Cinematronics from 1978 to 1981. The game was programmed by Scott Boden.

The only port of the game was for the Vectrex home console. Only 29 official games were released for the system, which was a commercial flop.
Like Space Invaders, the arcade game was actually black and white, and the colours were provided by transparent plastic sheets.
Atari became very interested in developing a clone of the game, and one of their programmer's, Howard Scott Warshaw, looked into whether it would be possible to create a version for the VCS/2600 system. However, he decided that the limitations of the machine would make it technically very challenging. So instead, he developed Yars Revenge, which was based on the concept of Star Castle. Little did he know that the game would become the all-time best-selling game for the 2600 system.
Star Castle Arcade Game