Stellar 7

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Stellar 7
Stellar7 BoxArt.jpg
Developer(s) Dynamix
Platform(s) PC/MS-Dos, Apple ][
Release date(s) 1990
Genre(s) Tank simulation
Mode(s) Single-player
Media/distribution CD-ROM, Floppy, Diskette
System requirements
  • 286 PC/MS-DOS or better, Apple ][
  • 640K RAM
  • 256 color VGA, 256 color MCGA, 16 color EGA, Tandy 16 color, 4 color CGA
  • Sound BlasterX compatible sound card
  • mouse, keyboard, joystick
"Stellar 7" title screen.

Stellar 7 is a futuristic tank simulation computer game based on the arcade game Battlezone in which the player assumes the role of a tank pilot. The enemies include anything from other tanks to mechanical birds. Several years later a sequel game, Nova 9 was released. The game's creator, Damon Slye, created similar tank games, including Arcticfox.

Stellar 7 was developed by Dynamix, which is now defunct.

Contents

Game Description

The original game was written by Damon Slye in the 1980s for a variety of home computer platforms. It has minimalistic, 3-dimensional wireframe graphics. The player's tank (the Raven) has a front-facing cannon with an unlimited supply of bullets. The cannon can fire up to two shots at a time. The tank also has a cloaking device that, when triggered, would render it invisible to enemies for about a minute. Gauges on the left side of the screen indicate the amount of shields and power remaining. The tank starts with enough power to cloak twice, and power slowly trickles away as the time passes. The game ends when either shields or power runs out.

Screenshot from the Apple II version of Stellar 7 level #1 Sol. Units in view are a Sandsled (foreground) and a Skimmer.
Screenshot from Stellar 7 level #2 Antares. Notice left an Arcturan "Prowler" tank.

Each of the seven levels represents a different solar system, hence the title. The player's objective is to get to the last level and defeat the enemy boss, Gir Draxon. Each level is depicted as a nearly featureless plain dotted by geometric obstacles, some indestructible and most not, and various enemies. After the player destroys a certain number of enemies, a warplink will appear that provides a gateway to the next level. The levels are (note: the original version did not have guardians):

  1. Sol: Its regular grid of "indestructible" obstacles provides plenty of cover. The relatively weak set of enemies includes sandsleds, skimmers, and hovercrafts. The guardian here is easy to defeat. Just keep moving backwards while shooting and stay clear of the obstacles.
  2. Antares: The laser batteries make their first appearance here, along with seekers and prowler tanks. Obstacles are fewer and farther between than the previous level. The easiest way to destroy the guardian is to employ the exact opposite tactic used to defeat the first guardian: move forward and engage it up close (before the spider eggs hatch to deal serious damage).
  3. Rigel: Rigel is most notable for its fuel bay, which restores the player's shields and power. This level introduces the laser tanks, pulsars, and stingers. To defeat the guardian, move backwards, firing at it while it descends. Watch out for the attack robots.
  4. Deneb: Deneb is the first level that features destructible obstacles. Assault tanks are seen for the first time as well as the cannon batteries. The guardian here is similar to the one on Sol, but moves much quicker, making it almost impossible to defeat without the yellow cannon.
  5. Sirius: Sirius consists mostly of flying enemies that circle the player, landing only briefly to fire. Circling backwards most of the time seems to be the best tactic here. Watch out for the three seekers that home in from the left at the start of the level. The guardian on this level can be defeated by attacking it from the backside to avoid its cannon.
  6. Regulus: This level has another fuel bay and introduces the dreaded inviso-cloaked stalker tanks. The guardian is similar to the one on Antares, but does a lot more damage. Special Power-Ups may prove useful.
  7. Arcturus: Arcturus features the confrontation with Gir Draxon. Avoid bumping his annihilator, which has a super eel shield.

Special Power-Ups

The special power-ups can be accessed by pressing the tab key to toggle between the different icons at the bottom left of the screen and then pushing enter, or simply by pushing the letter key corresponding to the desired icon. The icon for the chosen item will turn purple while activated. Each power-up is represented by a certain symbol (see screenshot above) and can be used up to three times throughout the game, depending on the difficulty setting. The items consist of the following:

  • Inviso-cloak (Large Bird-I button) – Makes the player invisible for a short time. When activated, the screen will turn red.
  • EEL shield (Bird with dotted circle-E button) – Shields the player from enemy projectiles while simultaneously destroying anything that comes in physical contact with the player's tank for a duration of time.
  • Yellow cannon (Cannon-S button) – Does more damage than the standard cannon; particularly useful against guardians.
  • Jump thruster (Arrow-J button) – Launches the player into the air to jump over obstacles and other tanks.
  • Mine (Spike ball-B button) – Drops a land mine, which destroys an enemy that runs it over.
  • Inviso-sight (Eye-C button) – Allows Inviso cloaked Stalker tanks to be seen as wire outlines on the screen.
  • Thruster (Rocket booster-T button) – Gives player a forward speed boost for a few seconds.

Reception

The PC/MS-DOS version of the game was reviewed in 1991 in Dragon #167 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.

Guide for Playing Stellar 7 in DOSBox

A guide for setting up DOSBox and playing Stellar 7 can be found here:

Running Stellar 7 on DOSBox

References

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