Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Matter of Import 53: Space Seeker [Taito 1981]


Today we're covering Taito's 1981 release Space Seeker. It's a very different sort of game, almost an arcade war game – each of your ships is dispatched from a central base to fly over a planetary landscape holding three types of objects – planetoids that stun you, squadrons of ships appearing as red dots, and these mobile bases.

To engage with any of them you need to move your ship's icon into them. From here it transitions to one of two types of gameplay depending on what you've encountered.

Ship squadrons are engaged with in a first person dogfight – you control the ships guns, firing towards the enemies coming your way... while they don't fire back, they will destroy you if they come in contact with your canons. Despite the overlay the rest of your ship doesn't exist as a game object, the enemy fighters will scroll to the top of the screen harmlessly if they exit from the bottom.

While you can move your guns horizontally left to right, you can also move your firing patterns up and down the screen, though it lacks any kind of targeting UI – you'll definitely need to lead your shots.  

Wipe out all the ships and you'll be returned to the campaign map.

The bases are another matter – first, they can fire at you on the map, and will destroy you if they hit, so be careful. Once you reach them you'll be sent into a side-scrolling shooter level where you have both forward cannons and bombs to target the waves of ships or missiles defending the base. This is a much harder sort of stage because they do come at you very fast.

Take them all out and you'll get a short tunnel sequence through the base, and if you make it through that, the base itself will be removed from your map.

So, that's Space Seeker. A difficult game, though not impossible – with some unique and innovative mechanics that actually seems to work as an arcade title. If the graphics and sound were up to par with 1981's other releases and the gameplay a little more smooth, it might be worth an A ranking, but as it is I'll give it a B.

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