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Sega released Astro Warrior for the Sega Master System in 1986. The space shooter is one of the first games I ever played, so I thought it was time to show it some love and review it for today’s article. How does it hold up from my childhood? Let’s hop into the ship and blast away at tennis balls and macaroni and cheese in this Astro Warrior review!
Astro Warrior Plot:
Until officially reviewing this game, I didn’t think Astro Warrior had a story. Reading from the manual there’s a small plot.
“An assortment of nasties called the Devil Star Imperial Forces are set to invade the galaxy. There’s only one hope – you, the ASTRO WARRIOR. You’ve got to lead the Allied Forces from the deck of your flagship Astro Raider on a daring mission. Breakthrough a triple-zone defense, destroy the enemy and ultimately take out the mother ship.
Remember, between you and “Mission Accomplished” there are some brutal creatures out there. On their ships, in the fortress, on the mother ship. So be careful, and good hunting!”
So there you have it, the Devil Star Imperial Forces are coming, better pony up and blow them into space. That’s at least what I did for this Astro Warrior review.
Astro Warrior Gameplay:
Most space shooters that I can recall are horizontal shooters with a screen that scrolls. Astro Warrior is a vertical shooter where the screen will scroll up as the enemies come down on you. There are three stages in Astro Warrior, once you beat that cycle they will repeat with slighter tougher enemies who fire at you.
The graphics are fine for 1986, nothing that will make you write home but sufficient for a space shooter. In the background, distant stars will glow and glisten which I thought was a nice touch. You’ll face many different kinds of enemies on your quest to defeat the mothership. Most of them are easy to avoid, but a few can be tough.
Enemies come in many different forms and colors. There are purple balls that I’ve nicknamed “seizure circles” go ahead and try and say that fast. These purple balls flash intensely as they fly toward you. Green jumping jacks, red arrow tips, yellow pinwheels, and bat zoomers populate the other ships that you’ll face on level one.
The second level is the “red” area where the enemies take a jump in difficulty. Most enemies now shoot at you and have unpredictable patterns. Level three is what I like to refer to as the “geometry zone”. It’s a green level that has multiply triangles that flutter in every direction. In my opinion, those are the toughest opponents of the game. There’s pogo sticks, spiders, and blooming flowers. If there was an enemy on screen, I had a name for it as a kid. You’ll read more on that soon.
Each level has a boss that you must defeat in order to progress. They are all pretty easy, but my favorite is the second boss as he is the only enemy in the game to shoot lasers instead of balls. A fun little touch to the game is after you defeat the boss your ship will jump into hyperspace as the stars zoom past. You’ll find yourself in an asteroid field before advancing to the next stage.
The final boss is nicknamed “Belzebul” which may be a reference to Bezelbulb which is another name for devil or demon. After defeating the mother ship, the game will go on a loop as you return to stage one. The enemies now shoot balls at you making the second run a little tougher.
During your mission, you’ll collect power-ups in the forms of ships. It’s very important to collect these as they add speed, firepower and two assistant ships that tag along providing massive support. I’ll give a warning though about collecting too much speed as this Astro Warrior review almost didn’t happen. I usually only collect one or two of the speed boosts because as the saying goes “speed kills” is very much true in Astro Warrior. If you have maxed out speed, I start to lose control of the ship and crash into enemies if I move the ship too quickly. I like to have medium speed so I can still fly around comfortably instead of zooming into the nearest enemy.
Astro Warrior perhaps is the first game I ever beat in my life, that goes to show you that with enough repetitions, a six-year-old can defeat the Devil Star Imperial Forces. It was also when I discovered that not every game had “endings” which was disappointing to a boy who loved cut scenes.
I have two older sisters and occasionally they’d play the Master System with me. Astro Warrior was one of the games that we’d pop in and play for an hour. It was easy enough for everyone and didn’t require them to read to me or explain sophisticated plot points. We were all the same skill level as we’d breeze through the first stage, struggle on the second level and rarely ever reach the third stage. It was exciting whenever one of us did it. We used to nickname some of the enemies that appeared on the screen. My favorite was the yellow wheels that shot yellow balls at your ship, we nicknamed the macaroni because they look just like the cheesy wheels found in the pasta boxes. Sometimes we’d make a box and play, that was the simple life back then.
The music will forever be stuck in my head from my youth. If you just hold up the menu image I can hum the tune note-for-note. The Astro Warrior review might surprise you with the final score, but at least it had killer music.
Astro Warrior Review Score:
Astro Warrior is an easy game but a fun one. The music is catchy and it’s fun to blow up the enemy bases and ships. It’d be a great “beginner” space shooter for anyone who is being introduced to the genre. It doesn’t offer much after you beat the game and unfortunately you can beat it in less than eight minutes. That knocks the score down.
Astro Warrior scores a 6.3 out of 10.
What would you write in your Astro Warrior review? What did you think of Astro Warrior when it first came out? What was the toughest level or enemy in the game? Did you collect all the power-ups? Let me know your thoughts and memories of Astro Warrior, I’d love to read them!
If you’d like to own a copy of Astro Warrior, you can purchase a preowned edition on eBay for the Sega Master System between $5-$20.