Destination Earthstar (NES)

Destination Earthstar Box Art

Destination Earthstar

System: NES

Release Date: January 1990

Developer: Imagineering

Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment

Genre: Shoot ‘em Up

Travel through the cosmos on a quest to Earth in Destination Earthstar! Many eons have passed since a ship full of Earthlings were kidnapped from the planet. From being zoo animals, then slaves, to equals, the Earthlings are finally accepted by their Kojan captors. Now it’s time to take the trek back to Earth through eight deadly star systems and the terrorists that rule them.

You begin on the Star System stage piloting your spaceship. You see out in front of you and see a grid based star map of the system. On the map you see numbers, which indicate enemies that you must destroy in order to move forward. You also see circles that represent planets. Here, you can enter orbit by slowing down to the appropriate speed, and refill weapons, repair damage, or get nothing. Guaranteed weapon refills are at the Armory, marked by an A. The B is your home base where you can refuel and repair damage. To get there, you can alter your speed by holding the B Button and pressing up or down to set your throttle. Getting to Sublight 8 and pressing up again jumps you into Hyperspace, which moves quickly, but eats up tons of energy.

There is a coordinate and heading system on your HUD, but neither make any sense and are best ignored. Who thought that a heading should be measured in 100 degrees? Was 360 too many numbers to have to remember? You have up to four different weapons to blast the terrorists to smithereens with. The Ruby Blaster and more powerful Argon Blaster overheat if you shoot them too rapidly. Neutron Torpedoes must be accurately launched to reach the intended target and do damage. The Heat Seeker will follow enemies until they are space dust once locked on. Clearing the Star System of enemies reveals the enemy base.

Landing on the enemy base takes you into the Base Station stage. This is a side scrolling shoot ‘em up, and it’s a poor one at that. The corridors of the base close in on you from the top and bottom and enemies may exist as turrets on the floor or as flying enemies that you have to worry about. The A Button fires your front weapons and the B Button fires your rear weapons. You can find triangle shaped powerups along your path that upgrade your weapons. Free lives are gained by collecting stars. Circles activate your shields and give you a couple extra hits.

My problem with the Base Station stages are the controls of the ship. If you want to go faster, you move farther to the right, but there’s a fixed movement as you go between speeds that feels… wrong. You also get stuck in the loop of die, resurrect, die, resurrect, die, a lot, which I hate. Once you run out of lives, it’s game over, but if you manage to make it to the end of the Base Station, you face off against a pair of pushover enemies. Then it’s off to the next system to fight a larger number of enemies to make it to the next base.

Graphics: 1.5

The Star System stages are about as bare as you expect from space. The Base Station Stages aren’t pleasing to the eye.

Sound: 1.0

The music and sound effects are poor and more annoying than I’d like.

Gameplay: 1.5

Flying through space works and the dogfights are probably the best part of the game.

Difficulty: 2.0

The Star System is pretty easy, the Base Station is a love letter to terrible design.

Fun Factor: 1.0

I didn’t much enjoy this ride through the stars.

Overall Grade: 1.4

Destination Earthstar earns a D+. I mean, at least it’s better than Star Voyager. Still not good, but better.

Destination Earthstar Video Review on YouTube