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Developed by Williams Electronics, Sinistar was released in 1983 to the arcades. For this review I played it from the Midway Arcade Origins collection on the Xbox 360. I have a love hate relationship with this game. For some reason I love it but after a while it gets on my fucking nerves.
You fly around space shooting Planetoids to mine crystals and turn the crystals into Sinibombs. At the same time these red ships called Workers are also mining crystals to build a spacecraft called Sinistar. And for some reason he has a demonic face which actually looks pretty cool. Sinistar is made up of thirteen pieces and you’ll want to collect thirteen or more crystals before he’s completed. The Workers can steal crystals on the screen but you can blow them up and get them back. You’ll use the Sinibombs to damage him but if you don’t have enough by the time he’s completed, it’s pretty much game over.
Sinistar will zip around the screen taunting you with some ridiculous lines and they were recorded by an old time radio personality, John Doremus. You’re going to hear these taunts a lot. They can be humorous at first but become grating quick. If you get too close he kind of sucks you in and tries to eat you or destroy you or something. Then you got these flying turret-looking ships called Warriors that fly around and shoot at you.
You fly from zone to zone and after about four zones it just repeats. Annoyingly, your Sinibombs can be intercepted by enemies and Planetoids. The Workers will begin to rebuild Sinistar so it can be a real pain in the ass trying to get enough Sinibombs because all your shots were intercepted. Sinistar himself flies around much faster than you so if he manages to appear you’ll just need to try and avoid him the best you can which can almost seem impossible. The crystals are so goddamn small and very easy to miss. Shooting a Planetoid too fast will blow it up not releasing any crystals. I found that shooting it in bursts and making it gyrate is the best way to get it to releases a bunch of crystals but then you’ll just need to hope you can grab them before getting killed. Many times you’ll respawn and die almost immediately because those Warriors just don’t let up. You can actually fly into other enemies and not get killed so things will be bouncing all over the place sometimes.
At the top of the screen is a little minimap so you can see where Planetoids, enemies, and Sinistar is on the map but take your eyes off what’s happening and I can almost guarantee an immediate death. Sometimes the screen feels way too small because Sinistar will just fly into view, suck you in and you’re done. It’s just an unfair game.
Thanks to Midway Arcade Origins I could adjust the difficulty, lives, and how many points it takes to obtain more lives but even then I had a difficult time getting past the second and third zones. Sinistar is a game that just requires an immense amount of patience that I don’t have. Yet, for some reason I just love it.