Stargate
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-11-18 Game Gear Puzzle E (Everyone) Acclaim / Probe Software

I'm a nut for Stargate, ever since the original movie. Around the same time the movie came out, a game of the same name was released. The one I played was on the Game Gear, and recently I felt nostalgic enough to write about it.

The premise of Stargate - for those who aren't familiar with the phenomenon that it has become - revolves around an ancient circular device that allows passage to different worlds and galaxies. The game mechanics are incorporated into the story of the original movie. As it turns out, the pyramids in Egypt are of alien origin, and the gods were none other than the Goa'uld, the aliens responsible for Egyptian mythology and culture. The stargate is discovered in Giza in the late 1920's, but it's not until the 90's that its function is accidentally revealed.

Ra, the Egyptian Sun God, returns to try to take over the galaxy, but is hindered by Daniel Jackson, the scientist who discovered that the symbols on the Stargate were actually coordinates. Logically, you play as Daniel, in an effort to drive off the Goa'uld and save the galaxy, by playing through a series of puzzle stages.

The main grid represents the galaxy, with the number of stars relating to the difficulty of the puzzle on the square. When you or Ra pick a square, you are taken to the puzzle field. This is a circular grid with space for six pieces around and seven vertically, so basically, we have 2D sprites simulating a 3D environment.

At the top there is a row of seven symbols. These are the symbols you need make combos out of to win the stage, in any order. You create combos by placing three or more pieces with the same symbol together, either on the same level (horizontally, so to speak), vertically and even more tricky, diagonally.

At the bottom, there is a small statistics screen. The meters on each side of the puzzle field represent your progress and the Jaffa's (Ra's soldier) playing against you. The next piece for each player is also shown. The point is to create the seven combos three times, in order to clear the board before your opponent does, or to survive long enough until he reaches the top of his board.

When you win, that square on the galaxy grid will be yours, and you can pick another square to play another puzzle in. If you lose, your opponent will pick a square, and you must watch out for this strategy too, since things on this grid work a bit like Reversi. If Ra occupies a square that is touching yours, you will lose those as well.

So this all seems very weird and boring, but I must admit, it's one of my favorite puzzles ever. You have to get used to an unusual play field and think somewhat in 3D, which isn't easy, if you want to attempt thed iagonal combos. Unfortunately, it's too easy to forget what pieces are under the ones you can see...

Visually, there isn't much to talk about here, but the illusion of depth works even if all is presented in 2D. The pieces are plain white with what look like hieroglyphs on them, the interface resembles something Egyptian as well, and the background is pretty bland with only a few sparkling stars to bring it to life. However, the character representations look pretty good (considering it was 1994) and Daniel Jackson does resemble James Spader, who played the respective part in the movie.

I personally love the music in the game, since it does have the Egyptian feel to it. Although there's only a small number of tunes, they never became annoying or repetitive. They fit well with the theme as well as the puzzle and rush-to-complete-it-before-your-enemy aspects of the game.

One thing that the Game Gear did so well back then was allow two players to connect to each other and battle against each other in Stargate. Maybe it's because at the time I didn't play that many games, but I thought this was a very cool feature to have.

I have to say that after so many years, this is one of the games worth going back to, and after watching the entire SG-1 series, most of Stargate Atlantis and the most recent movies, it's even more enjoyable to savor a victory and watch the pyramid take off and explode at the end of the game, just like in the movie.