EbonStar is a shoot 'em up game, developed by Dreamers Guild and published by Microillusions, which was released in Europe in 1988.
In contrast to the complexities of their excellent Faery Tale Adventure, Microillusions have now come up with a game of surprising simplicity.
Ebonstar takes elements from a few ancient coin-ops and, with a neat vector graphic effect, results in a game rather like those oldies Space Wars and Stella Castle. A single static grid is the playfield throughout the game. Moving at random around the grid is a kind of black hole that swallows up everything in its range. The object is to destroy the void by shooting a bolt of energy straight down the maintenance beam projected by the constantly circling Arch. Up to four players can be on the grid at one time. The players’ aims are twofold: to destroy the hole and also to force each other into its lifeless depths.
Each player controls a ship armed with an energy bolt cannon. These repel other ships on impact, and so can be used to push other players around. From the Arch, drone ships and a few other aliens are launched, as well as a few extra weapons that can be caught by the players.
Simple games can often be some of the best games, but this is not really the case with Ebonstar. The void moves around with absolutely mesmerizing smoothness, appearing frighteningly how one would imagine a real black hole to be. The explosion has been very well done, too, but Ebonstar plays at far too slow a pace with too little action to create the level of excitement it attempts. Its music, sound effects and most of its graphics are incredibly simple, which coupled with the tedious gameplay and high asking price make this a bit of a non-starter.
Inside Ebonstar is a great and fascinating game dying to come out — unfortunately, the black hole seems to have sucked away Microillusions’ usual brilliance.