Games (ported to Linux by Eon
Reviewed August 2002
From Raiden to Starlancer, from Swarm to
Star Wars, I’m a slave of flight shooting games. I
still love ZIO’s Metalion, but one look at Interstellar
Flames and you won’t be able to put it down. Developed
by Xen Games, Interstellar Flames will take you to space
where you’ll fight alien ships and take out space battle
cruisers all by yourself! It’s tough to survive let
alone beat endless fighter ships and take out countless gunner
installations. Finish the first mission and you’re
only 11 more away from victory.
The story line is a simple one. “A
vast horde of alien battleships is approaching our solar
system. Due to maintenance problems only one fighter craft
is ready to defend the planet.” There isn’t really
a story advancing process as you go up levels; the story
only gives you a reason to fight. Then again, I didn’t
load up this game to read a story.
Without much of an argument, Interstellar
Flames has some of the best 3D graphics at a consistent high
frame rate. Compare to Metalion, IF has richer game graphics
as it mixed the background with a large number of elements.
The surface of an alien battle cruiser is your battlefield,
long enough for a decent length of flying. The on-ship gunners,
shield and radar look sharp with unique styles. Some of the
enemy fighters will remind you of the Wookie ship in Star
Wars, but they all have different weapons and flight patterns.
If you kill the enemy fighters, you get to collect the weapons
they left behind and see different weapon effects, such as
bombs, laser, short light-saber looking missiles and more.
Among other visuals, you will see explosions, smoke trail
behind your ship when you take damage, your own ship’s
shadow but enemy ships don’t have shadows.
There is plenty of game play to go with
the eye candy. You fly on top of a battle cruiser that makes
you feel like you’re flying over the death star in
Star Wars. There are radar on the high decks of the ship,
and shields, cannon guns, rocket launchers, laser beam guns
and fighter launch pads on the open deck of the ship. You
need to take everything out to complete the mission. The
higher missions have larger population of these weapon arrays
and deadlier weaponry. Of course what’s a flying game
without dogfights? You will face a fleet of fighter ships,
some shooting at you, some are on a suicide collision course.
Many of them carry some power ups that you need to grab to
survive. Look for the minefield these fighters treat you
to, and some really cool looking formations. In later levels,
the fighters and the mines will get smarter and follow you
You control the ship with your hardware
buttons and you can turn on the auto fire function. The control
of the ship allows you to fly vertically and horizontally
plus the banking effect and 360-degree flip, which add that
much more fun to the game. I’ve used two strategies
in the game, both working very well. One is just to keep
your ship flying as close to the battle cruiser’s surface
as you can. This will take out all the on-ship installations
fast and easy, but you will likely take more damage and unlikely
to get more power ups since many fighters fly above you.
Just keep moving left and right to avoid cannons and rockets.
Another strategy is to fly at the fighters’ level and
when you see the on-ship installations, dive down to shoot.
This way you get to keep many power ups but it’s harder
to control and aim at the on-ship targets. Regardless how
you play your levels, the game controls give you that flexibility.
The sound effects are plentiful and music
track is engaging. You will hear the explosion and gun firing
effects. The on-going background music is similar to many
fast-paced flight-shooting games and is nice addition to
the event-correlated sound effects. The game takes about
4MB memory and runs fast and smooth on an iPAQ 3900 device.
I have, however, experienced some slow downs on a Toshiba
e310. The performance will improve if you turn off the Particle
FX in the game. For your Z heads, look to Eon Games for the
Linux version, which is coming soon.
I can’t wait for the day when
flight games on the Pocket PC have 12 speed boosters or
swoop down at the ground to cause landslides. For now,
Interstellar Flames should be plenty good enough to keep
Playing Hints and Tips
Fly low to get the on-ship gunners.
If you see two of them, take out one immediately as their
crossfire will sure damage you badly if not kill you. The
fighters always carry some goodies; if you are running
low on life or need better weapons, kill the fighters to
collect them. Take out the launch pads when you see them,
watch out for the low flying fighters as you shoot at the
pads. When you see the low flying green suicide fighters,
keep away at all cost!