Star Paws

Attack of the Mutant Zombie Flesh Eating Chickens From Mars – Starring Zappo the Dog.

After releasing Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy, Matthew Smith went all quiet and then this game was announced and apparently completed but Smith wasn’t happy with the finished game and it never got released. A year later it reappeared as Star Paws – completely rewritten by a different coding team and released on various formats. Tim Follin did a great job adapting Rob Hubbards C64 music to the ZX Spectrum.

The Game

Out in the farthest reaches of our Galaxy there lives a rare creature known as the Tasty Space Griffin. Long ago this bird was acclaimed as a galactic delicacy, and acquired such value that it came to be used as an extremely valuable unit of inter-galactic currency, traded on the stock markets of the universe.

On the moon of a distant planet, a gang of unscrupulous mercenaries have been secretly breeding the Tasty Space Griffin and plan to flood the market with them, thus destabilising the monetary system of the entire universe, and allowing them to seize power.

Starfleet command intended to send Captain Neil Armstrong to destroy this evil plot, but due to an error on the notoriously unreliable series seven astro-telex, our hero, Captain Rover Pawstrong has been sent instead. Vastly inexperienced and totally unsuited for the task, Captain Pawtrong’s mission is to capture or destroy every one of the Tasty Space Griffins.

You control his movements as he scours the planet, above and below ground, aided only by the occasional visit of a scout craft, dropping off essential supplies…


Critical Reaction

Crash – 77/100 (ZX Spectrum)

As a budget game Star Paws is extremely good value for money. The cartoon humour of the canine Captain’s dilemma is very engagingly portrayed – especially the legendary Tasty Space Griffins. The surface and underground locations, the vast arsenal of helpful items and the bonus puzzles make for some exciting and varied gameplay. Defeating the dastardly birds with the appropriate weapons becomes an interesting test of dextral skill – there’s no way you can simply outrun them. There are a couple of minor drawbacks: the parallax scrolling is slightly jerky and manoeuvring Pawstrong into the appropriate position to collect equipment from the boxes is slightly more awkward than it needs to be. These certainly shouldn’t dissuade you from buying the game, though, which at £2.99 is one of the most attractive bargains around.

ZZap! – 90/100

It’s really nice to see something as refreshingly playable as Star Paws come into the office. I don’t what it is that sets it apart, the graphics and sound are competent but that’s not the point, there’s some indefinable quality about the gameplay that keeps you coming back for more. Like I said, I don’t know what it is – if i did I’d be raking in the dough designing games for software houses. Star Paws is Just great, and however simplistic that may sound it’s still the truth so tough luck. The greatest recommendation I can afford to this game is that it’s one of the few games we played because we wanted to and not because we had to.

My Thoughts

I was looking forward to playing Mutant Zombie Chickens as, like many games of the time, I was intrigued to see what Matthew Smith had come up with. What we got instead was Star Paws, a conversion of a year old Commodore C64 game. No matter as Star Paws is, initially at least, quite a good fun game. The controls are frustrating and make the game harder than it should be and the mini-games don’t really add anything to the game they just serve as a minor distraction.

While the gameplay is lacking the graphics are great – detailed and well animated sprites move along the screen at a decent rate. It also nice to see a good attempt at parallax scrolling even if it is slightly flawed.

It’s the soundtrack that really stands out. Originally composed by Rob Hubbard on the Commodore C64, Tim Follin did a superb job with the soundtrack on the ZX Spectrum and it really holds its own against the original.

The Music

ZX Spectrum 128k
Commodore C64

About Phendrena

Father, Retro Gamer, PC Gamer.

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