The Retro Critic

Starship Hector

Long before space was synonymous with Matthew McConaughey.

It was all about Hector.

Starship Hector, to be precise.

Now I’m no space shooter guy, maybe I need more of a story or characters at least to truly get into a game, maybe I find it tough to shoot non-stop at incoming bogeys for hours.

OR, I just suck at them.

I’m perfectly content just playing through those two Batwing levels in that Game Boy Batman game just so I can desperately try to recreate the bit in the film where the Batwing makes a bat logo on the Moon. That or going back and playing Space Harrier.

Because Space Harrier is awesomeness.

Starship Hector is an NES game which was released in 1990 and developed by Hudson Soft. It’s a space-themed shoot ’em up  about shooting things that are not you in the eye and, though it is fun, its genre doesn’t exactly make for fascinating reviews so this should be a challenge.

I say we all pretend Matthew McConaughey is in the starship and that his name is Hector, unless the ship itself is called Hector in which case McConaughey IS literally the ship.

See? This is totally working: I’m entertained!

The aim is, of course, to not get hit and destroy as many things as you can whether they’re on the ground or in the air, which is why you’re given two types of attack. It’s a top-down deal but every so often the game lands you in a side-scroller view and you play through a level going from left to right.

Your ship sort of looks like The Enterprise, something I approve of very much:

Shooting Starship Hector

But only in the top-down view, sadly.

Most of the enemies you face are instantly forgettable: other nameless ships, spinning indescribable things, spiky statues coming out of the ground. The only ones I kind of like are the blue blobs:

Blobs Starship Hector

Because they remind me of those annoying death clouds from Gauntlet II.

Those ships are also pretty great:

Blue Lobster Starship Hector

But that’s only because they look like blue lobsters.

Delicious blue lobsters.

The level design is decent enough, nothing too mind-blowing, though the side-scrolling levels somehow look much better than the top-down ones that can be either too empty:

Water Ship Starship Hector

Or too full of projectiles to truly make out anything.

Oh yeah, some are also much too full of poo:

Poo Level Starship Hector

Just sayin’.

Clean it up.

It’s a short game but a story with entertaining or simply comical cut-scenes could have definitely made this a fuller experience. All it takes, really, is a funny little script and gamers will want to keep playing your repetitive game on the off-chance that something humorous might pop up again eventually.

That’s why games like Earthworm Jim are a delight: sure it’s a typical side-scroller but once in a while  you do get to travel through someone’s colon, carry pigs or throw cows around so you stick around because that’s frankly hilarious. If only more space-shooters actually delivered some kind of charisma.

The bosses are definitely challenging and make the most of the adventure’s setting which is essentially old temples and Ancient Egypt. Hence this guy:

Egyptian God Starship Hector

And the sphinxes on the ground which shoot laser beams out of their butts:

Sphinx Starship HEctor

Just kidding, that laser beam’s landing on the sphinx’s butt, not the other way around.

That McConaughey’s a cheeky little bugger.

The action in the game is relentless so if you enjoy blinking, you might want to play something else because there’s just no time for that here.

No real complaints about the controls, the music is actually quite cool and should be turned way up but that’s also a bad idea since the shooting sound effects are rather annoying, like an old phone ringing or something. So on second thoughts, just put on some Judas Priest and go nuts.

The game seems to have a thing for big heads spitting things at you:

Snake Boss Starship Hector

Spit Fire Starship Hector

Laser Head Starship Hector

It’s like a bizarre fetish or something.

The king of all of ’em has to be this guy, though:

Evil Dude Starship Hector

How evil does this boss look?

That smile, those eyes (incidentally his Achilles’ heel), he is clearly the incarnation of all things evil and he is loving every minute of it.

The game ends in a bit of an anti-climax but that’s only after defeating a bubbled brain with an eyeball and tentacles:

Eye Brain Boss Starship Hector

Which is all kinds of great.

All in all, I do recommend giving this game a try if space shooters are your speed as it’s honestly not bad but otherwise it’s unlikely it’ll sway you and make you a fan of the genre. It’s entertaining and a decent NES game but there are at least a thousand games I’d rather be playing right now.

One of them is Catlateral Damage.

Catlateral DamageYou’re a cat.