For decades the star system Chi Draconis has been held in slavery by the
Vorrakian fortress built into an orbiting asteroid. Capable of destroying
entire planets, the fortress has all but wiped out the Draconian Star Force
and extorts a vast wealth of transuranic ore from the enslaved system.
Recently, though, a ray of hope has been glimpsed: a fissure in the asteroid
was detected by long-range neutrino scans. It could lead to the core of the
fortress, to the emerald power crystal, to freedom for Chi Draconis!
Five brave pilots in tiny fighters are lined up to attempt navigation of the
fissure and destruction of the power emerald. First they must face the
patrolling Vorrakian squadron, then the mine field, and on through unknown
dangers and defenses. One at a time you will guide them; if the first fails,
then the second will start the approach. The one who succeeds, in the fine
Sisyphean tradition of 1980’s video games, gets to start all over again.
The game screen offers a cross-sectional view through the asteroid. If your
fighter impacts the cavern wall, a mine, or any of the myriad hazards
populating the fissure, the end is instantaneous; there is no flash of light,
no debris, just oblivion. Suddenly you are back on approach toward the
asteroid, guiding the next brave pilot, or on the score screen looking at your
rating, which begins with “Ground Gripper.” Forward movement is relentless.
Thrusters will speed up the ship temporarily, but there is no stopping and
surveying for the best route. Though the ships are each equipped with a laser,
its range is hardly greater than the length of the ship. All your offense is
point-blank, all your defense lies in dodging.
Two caves of increasing difficulty await those who conquer the first level,
and the adept who surpasses all three meets the first cave again, but with
sluggish controls. That’s if you have the easy data access of the game’s disk
version. The cassette version can only work with what is loaded in memory, so
defeating level one takes you back to level one.