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Space Pirates (DOS, 3DO, Windows)

The reviews on this site are the text versions of the videos on my YouTube channel. The text based reviews use (if at all) very little pictures. Please follow the link to the corresponding video in order to see in game graphics.

Space Pirates was made by American Laser Games in 1992 for the Arcades and was ported in 1994 to the 3DO and MS-DOS. In 2003 Digital Leisure ported the game to Windows and later to DVD. While the arcade game used a light gun which resembled the Mauser C96 pistol, the other two versions were supposed to be used with the so called Gamegun. The rerelease was advertised as being compatible with the Act-Labs USB gun, which I was using while recording the majority of this footage. I decided to mainly show the Windows version, as it has the best video quality amongst the home light gun versions.

In the game's story the player is a Star Ranger and receives an emergency call from the commander of a space colony. They were attacked and then taken hostage on board of a pirate ship. The pirates try to force out information on the location of three crystals which will fuel a weapon they stole in order to conquer the galaxy. After the player succeeds freeing the colonists the commander suggests stealing back the weapon and finding the crystals to use it against the pirates.

The used gun is semi automatic and has a limited capacity. The capacity and the way to reload is dependent on the played version. In the first part of the game the player has to free the commander. Then four levels can be played in any order to obtain the tree crystals and the weapon. One level is a desert. Another level takes place at a factory. A whole level consists of barricades. One level is located in a steppe. Next the enemy space craft is shot and finally the leader of the pirates is fought.

At some points the game randomly throws information at the player, which has to be followed accordingly in later portions of the game in order to progress. The enemy placement is randomized. Some enemies will survive getting shot, and shoot back if they are not hit a second time. If the player makes a wrong choice, shoots a civilian or gets hit, the game can be continued a few times from a position which lies at the beginning of the portion the player failed at. Eventually the game will start over from the beginning.

It's easy to tell that the MS-DOS version is the most compressed. The 3DO version looks far superior but clearly shows compression artifacts too. The Windows port has easily the best video quality amongst these versions.

The MS-DOS version is so grainy, that it's sometimes difficult to see the enemies and therefore the player has to rely on memorization in order to progress. The 3DO version is notable for not having a permanent on screen reticle. Instead impact holes are briefly shown upon shooting. In the options the flashing of the screen can either be set to white or light blue. The Windows version has an on screen reticle. It is a .cur file which can be altered by the player, but personally in this particular game I didn't do so, because I wasn't annoyed by the default one. The amount of randomization seems to be turned down in the Windows version.

Personally I like the game. I enjoy the enemy design with the stylized jockstraps and the funky fashion. I like that women are fighting within the enemy rows, which is seldom seen in light gun games. I strongly appreciate that American Laser Games chose to use a more unusual setting for a light gun game this time.

The lovely cover shows the leader of the Space Pirates. It strongly appeals to me and I think the image was a great choice.