Platform: Classic MacOS
Release Date: 1994
Media: Floppy Disk
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I played Astro Chase 3D for the first time at the ’95 Macworld Expo and was hooked instantly. The game is a sequel to the hit Atari/C64 game, Astro Chase. The plot is simple; Mysterious aliens from parts unknown decide to attack Earth for no good reason. Since when does evil need a reason? They send a hoard of their ultra destructive Mega Mines (pat. pend.) on a collision course toward Earth. This leaves you, in your super secret experimental Ultra Ship as Earth’s lone defender. AstroChase 3D is a beautiful game that combines fast action, simple controls and a difficult goal making it a perfect time killer.Astro Chase 3D owes it’s amazing speed to a very efficient and, from what I can gather, unique rendering engine. The technology is called Software Accelerated Graphics Engine or SAGE. As best i can tell, SAGE was developed purely for this title, on the Macintosh. SAGE produced sprite based 3D like the technique used in Wolfenstein 3D or Doom I & II. SAGE is vastly more efficient then the engines developed for the fore mentioned games. The reason I know this is because at the time I had a IIci with a 20″ monitor. The system was greatly underpowered for 3D games and everything had to be played in a little 640×480 window on that huge screen. Even at 640×480 Doom II was choppy and slow. Astro Chase 3D was the only game that not only played at the native 1280×1024 resolution, but played flawlessly fast.
The game controls are equally stunning. I really love creative control schemes that work well. Especially computer games that take advantage of the mouse. In Astro Chase 3D you move the mouse in the direction you want to go, up, down, left and right. Your ship follows your motions accordingly. The ship is always moving forward, or backward, which adds an extra layer of challenge. The weapons control is where things really work well with the mouse. Holding down the mouse button will lock your ship on course and engage your rapid fire pulse cannon. Drag the mouse around in a circle to aim in any direction horizontal to the ship. The tricky part is lining up your shot vertically. Fortunately, the pesky Mega Mines tend to hang together and you can usually take out a few at a time.
Your ship takes damage in the form of energy loss. There are a few energy rings you can fly through to recharge a bit. If you line up just right, you can flip between forward and reverse in and out of the ring until fully charged. This skill is good to master because later levels require constant recharging. If you loose all your energy, your ship explodes. In addition to the Mega Mines there are hoards of enemy ships and random asteroids to get in your way. Planets are scattered about and tend to block your path. Your ship will bounce off their atmospheres so there is no need to avoid them. However, Earth does have a Moon. The Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere, which means a collision is instant death. It’s generally a good idea to stay outside the Moon’s orbit; especially since it moves abnormally fast.
No matter how you look at it, Astro Chase 3D is a great game. Graphics are good for the time and performance is incredible on some pretty old hardware. As with any game, the key to Astro Chase’s success was not graphics but game play. It’s a simple game with a challenging goal. The problem with too many modern games is that they have more functions than I have fingers. That’s not fun, that’s work. Astro Chase 3D is the perfect example of a game that’s pure fun. Just pick it up and play, you’ll find yourself lost in it for hours.