Star Force is a vertical scrolling shooter by Tehkan (Tecmo). Released in 1984, it's the first entry in the Star Force series. While the arcade original was a moderate success, the 1,000,000+ unit sales of the Hudson Soft Famicom port resulted in the game gaining a substantial audience and high praise in Japan.
Predating the likes of 1942 and Tiger-Heli, the game was among the first to feature many mechanics and gameplay elements that would become standard in the genre, including modern auto-fire, agile ship movement, hidden bonuses, and pre-planned enemy patterns. In addition the promotional "Caravan" high score competition hosted by Hudson for the Japanese Famicom port served as one of the earliest examples of a competitive shmup event.
Star Force is a single-button shooter. The game is comprised of 24 areas, each named after a letter of the Greek alphabet. At the end of each level is a Alpha Target, which acts as a end of level boss and is represented by the level's Greek letter. Failing to destroy it will force the player to replay the current stage. Upon completion the game loops infinitely.
- A: Fire
- A (Hold): Auto-fire
- Joystick: Movement
Characters / Ships / Styles
There is only one ship in Star Force: Final Star. Final Star is noticeably small and agile, being about the same size if not smaller than even basic enemies. This is in contrast to early shmups like Xevious, Super Xevious, or Scramble, and even later contemporaries like Tiger-Heli and 1942.
Final Star's only weapon is two different rates of basic fire. The default rate of fire is slow, but after obtaining the Purser the rate of auto-fire is significantly increased.
|Targets marked with either "B" or "b" that award bonus points.
|A very rare ground target found only in the Nu Area. Destroying it will earn the player a bonus of 1000000 points.
|Rectangular hidden ground targets. They are initially hidden on the ground, appearing when shot. Each is worth 2000 points.
|Small "?" ground targets. Once shot they are overturned, showing either a angry face or a happy face (Kera). Revealing a Kera will earn the player a extra life.
|A small external ship attachment that serves as Star Force's primary power-up, increasing fire-rate and the vertical size of the player's hit-box.
Majority of enemies and ground targets total between 200-500 points each.
Due to the school of shmup design prominent at the time still being rather basic, there's no complex shot patterns in Star Force. Instead, the primary threat comes from the sheer quantity of enemies and shots on screen. Nearly all shots fired by enemies are aimed rather than patterned and several enemies directly pursue the player, meaning evasion requires much more awareness and focus than modern STGs.
If you are playing the Hudson Soft Famicom version, there are a number of exploits that can be abused to make the game somewhat easier at the cost of score. Most famously, you can avoid more complex and difficult enemies spawning in by simply not firing at whatever wave is currently on screen. On larger displays it is also possible to see enemies spawn position a frame in advance through the vertical overscan.
In the year 2010 of Dimension Almanac, there was a mysterious planet named Gordess which was moving in the darkness of the cosmos for the purpose of mass murder and plunder. Everyone gave up fighting against Gordess because of its awesome power. One day a brave soldier riding a space patroller challenged Gordess to fight. People called this space patroller "Final Star", wishing to be saved. You must bring an end to the murders which have been committees for the past 2000 years.
- Some North American variants of the arcade cabinet published by Video Ware are titled "Mega Force". Later Tehkan published units use the original title.
- There are two different versions for the NES/Famicom: the Hudson Soft-developed Famicom version released in Japan in 1985, and a Tehkan developed NES version released in North America and Europe in 1987. Despite the obvious surface-level similarities, the Famicom and NES version were developed entirely separately, and feature totally unique assets and code from each other.
- Hudson released an MSX version in 1985
- Sega ported Star Force to the SG-1000
- Dempa Shimbunsha ported Star Force to the X68000
- Despite the commercial and critical success of Hudson's port of Star Force to the Famicom, a combination of desiring greater revenue share and dissatisfaction with Hudson Soft's work led to Tecmo developing an entirely new port of Star Force for the NES. While both are obviously the same game, graphics, music, and code are entirely unique from each other, with the NES version being much closer to the arcade original. In addition, the NES version has far fewer glitches and exploits than the Japanese release, making it noticeably harder yet also a far better port than the Famicom version.
- The success of the Hudson Soft Famicom port directly led to Hudson developing the Star Soldier series as a "spiritual successor" to Star Force, as well as hosting further yearly Caravan events.
- Despite the termination of their contract internationally, Hudson still retained the home console rights to Star Force in Japan. As such, a marginally updated version of the title was released on the Super Famicom as part of the Caravan Shooting Collection in 1995. It features a slightly different color palate (to match the crushed-blacks of the SFC), additional sound channels that allow for music and sound effects simultaneously, and a few minor fixes, though the poor rendering distance and most glitches still remain.
- There´s a Studio SiestA doujin shmup called Soldier Force, which was released in 2006 and directly took Final Star and made them playable in what were primarily remakes of stages from Hudson Soft's first Star Soldier title. Additionally, the music of Star Force is used in place of Star Soldier's themes when playing as Final Star. However, the companies Hudson and Tecmo sued Studio SiestA causing Soldier Force to be officially discontinued, though it can still be found online.