Catalogue of Arcade Emulation Software - the Absolute Reference

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Star Castle (version 3)

Star Castle (c) 09/1980 Cinematronics.

The player flies a small spaceship, which can rotate, thrust forward, and fire small projectiles. In the center of the screen is a stationary gun surrounded by three concentric, rotating, ring-shaped energy shields. The shields are composed of twelve sections each. The objective of every level is the same; to destroy the gun inside the shield rings.

To do this, the player must blast through the shields. Shooting once at a shield section causes it to intensify in color, and a second hit destroys it, creating a hole in the shield ring. This exposes the inner rings to fire. Once the innermost ring has been breached, the gun is vulnerable. However, this also works against the player, for not only can the player fire in, but the gun can also fire out, with a strikingly more powerful armament.

The gun tracks the player's movement at all times. If the player manages to hit the gun, it explodes violently, collapsing the shield rings, and the player is awarded an extra ship. The next level then starts with a new gun and fully-restored shield rings, with the difficulty increased.

Apart from the gun's firepower, there are two other things that impede the player's progress. Firstly, if the player destroys the entire outer shield ring, the shields regenerate - the middle ring expands to replace the lost outer ring, the inner ring replaces the middle, and a new ring replaces the inner. Therefore, the player must fire decisively.

Secondly, the gun has another defensive mechanism. Three blue sparks inhabit the ring and can detach and home in on the player's ship, destroying it on contact. The sparks can be destroyed, but they are very small and difficult to shoot. Destroyed sparks can regenerate from the shield rings.

As the player progresses through the levels, these sparks get faster and faster, forcing the player to keep moving to avoid them.


Star Castle machines came in a white upright cabinet with a black front section. The side-art covered the top half of the machine, and showed a scene of two blue spaceships on a red background, along with the title. The marquee was black and included the scoring information, while the control panel and monitor bezel were decorated with geometric shapes that were supposed to represent the interior (or possible exterior), of a spacecraft. The control panel has no joystick. Play is instead controlled with four buttons, fire, thrust, rotate left, and rotate right (just like "Asteroids"). Although some bootleg units may have joysticks. This game uses a black and white vector open frame monitor, but it has several color overlays installed to make the rings different colors.

Main CPU : CCPU (@ 5 Mhz)

Sound Chips : Samples

Screen orientation : Horizontal

Video resolution : 224 x 256 pixels

Screen refresh : 38.00 Hz

Palette colors : 32768

Players : 2

Buttons : 4 (Left, Right, Thrust, Fire)


This was one of the first games to use an experimental artificial intelligence to harras the game player's ship. The star constellation in the background was actually the outline of a centerfold from a 1980 issue of OUI magazine. When management found out after shipping about 5,000 units, they flipped out and almost stopped production. They eventually came to their senses and nothing was changed.

About 14,000 units were produced.

The original inspiration for the game reportedly came from an early version of Larry Rosenthal's never-released "Oops!" in which the player controlled a sperm trying to fertilize an egg in the center of the screen.

Licensed to Mottoeis for Spanish manufacture and distribution.

A bootleg of this game is known as "Stellar Castle".

A Star Castle unit appears in the 1982 movie 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High', in the 1982 movie 'Rocky III', in the 1983 movie 'Joysticks', in the 1986 movie 'Maximum Overdrive' and in the 1996 movie 'High School High'.

A Star Castle cabinet can be seen in the background of the 1984 movie Ghostbusters (in the scene when they're eating and suddenly they get a call to their first case at the Sedgewick Hotel).

A Star Castle unit appears (multiple times) in a 'Columbo' tv movie episode : (Murder, Smoke and Shadows) directed by James Frawley (in the same episode you can see beside this cabinet a "Joust" unit).

Two Star Castle machines (an upright and a cocktail) were shown at the 2003 classic arcade games show 'California Extreme' in San Jose, California.

The Atari 2600 game "Yar's Revenge" originated from a rough version of Star Castle for that system which never made it to production.


Outer Ring : 10 points

Middle Ring : 20 points

Inner Ring : 30 points

There are a total of 720 points possible for each set of three rings.

When you destroy the laser cannon, you get the points for rings remaining plus points for destroying the cannon plus an extra man as a bonus for destroying the cannon.

Sparks are worth no points.


A) Get used to using the edges of the screen. it will come in handy once you start using the patterns set forth below, and it's always a good habit in ASTEROIDS-type games.

B) After a certain point in the game, you must learn never to stay in one place for more than a second.

C) It's a shame that the game speeds up with time instead of with each cannon destroyed otherwise, you could play indefinitely simply by destroying the first castle's outer ring over and over. As it is, though, you must take as little time as possible to destroy each castle, ensuring a steady supply of bonus ships.

D) Except for shifting the slow ring to the middle later in the game (see Strategy I)) try not to let a castle grow new rings, it wastes time.

E) Similarly, shoot an approaching bomb only if it is alone and you do not wont to move. Otherwise, you are wasting your time, gaining no points, and taking the risk of missing.

F) When you have only the inner ring between you and the cannon and you are close enough, a triple burst will destroy it before it has a chance to retaliate.

G) When the game begins to speed up, try this simple pattern : go to the center of the left or right edge and face the edge of the screen. Your shots will cross behind and hit the other side of the castle.

As soon as the bombs get too close for comfort, simply thrust about an inch forward and you will be on the other side of the screen, still firing at the castle. As the bombs cross the screen towards you, turn around and repeat the procedure.

H) Once the game is at maximum speed, you will need a more sophisticated technique. Here it is : Spend all your time in two opposite corners. You should dart back and forth behind the screen developing a turn-thrust-shoot rhythm and synchronizing it with the outer ring so that you are always shooting at the same spot. Once you perfect this method, the cannon and bombs will never be fast enough to do more than almost destroy you.

I) For best effect, the corner pattern should be followed with the slow ring in the middle. You can shift it to this position by quickly destroying the outer wall twice before beginning your attack in earnest.


Designed by : Tim Skelly

Programmed by : Scott Boden


* Consoles :

GCE Vectrex (1983)

* Others :

Tiger LCD Handheld Game (1982)

Tiger LCD Tabletop Game (19??) : These games have a colored LCD and a backlight (which is accessible by a little cover on the back).


All In Color For a Quarter - Keith Smith

F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc