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FAQ/Walkthrough by BHodges

Version: 1.0 | Updated: 10/30/03

*******************************************************************************
Star Raiders for Atari 8-bit Computers FAQ

by BHodges

Version  1.0
Created  10/29/03

This document Copyright 2003 by Brian Hodges.  This FAQ is not to be posted
without explicit permission by me.

All trademarks and copyrights contained in this document are owned by their
respective trademark and copyright holders.

*******************************************************************************
Table of Contents

I.     Introduction
II.    Background Story
III.   Getting Started
         A.  Starting the game
         B.  Skill Levels
           1.  Novice Mission
           2.  Pilot Mission
           3.  Warrior Mission
           4.  Commander Mission
IV.    Starship Equipment and Controls
         A.  Engines and Movement
         B.  Photon Torpedoes
         C.  Shields
         D.  Attack Computer and Views
         E.  Control Panel Display
         F.  Galactic Chart
         G.  Hyperwarp Engines
         H.  Long-Range Sector Scan
         I.  Subspace Radio
         J.  Manual Target Selector
         K.  Tracking Computer 
         L.  Energy
V.     Basic Gameplay
         A.  Mission Objective
         B.  What to do first
         C.  Engaging the Enemy
         D.  Docking with Starbases
         E.  Ending the Mission
           1.  Mission Completed
           2.  Mission Aborted
           3.  Starship Destroyed
VI.    Enemy and Friendly Guide
         A.  Enemies
           1.  Zylon Fighter
           2.  Zylon Cruiser
           3.  Zylon Basestar
           4.  Meteor
         B.  Friendlies
           1.  Starbase
           2.  Transfer Vessel
           3.  Fleet
VII.   Advanced Strategies
         A.  Tips
         B.  Compensating for Damage
         C.  Conserving Energy
VIII.  Mission Rankings Explanation
IX.    My Best Rankings
X.     Game Review
XI.    Version History
XII.   Contact Information

*******************************************************************************
I.  Introduction

This is a FAQ for the Atari 8-bit computer game Star Raiders.  It contains
everything you need to know to play this complex (by 1979 standards) game as
well as a list of my best rankings and a mini-review.

*******************************************************************************
II.  Background Story

This is the background story from the instruction book:

A WORD FROM COMMANDER CHAMPION

Welcome, cadets, to Federation Field. I'm Commander Champion, your space flight
instructor. You'll be stationed here for some intensive starship flight
simulation and computer training. When you've successfully completed your
training mission, you'll win your Novice star and a commission in the Earth
Federation's most elite fighting unit... the Star Raiders.

We Star Raiders have a long, distinguished tradition of service to the Earth
Federation and the Galaxy. Since the year 2010 we've policed the space routes,
enforcing freedom of space and peaceful coexistence of the solar systems.
Thanks to the Star Raiders, there hasn't been a major space war since then.
Space trade flourishes and the Earth Federation prospers.

Now, just as we're beginning to think peace will put the Star Raiders out of
business, the Zylons... that rabble of half-life barbarians from Alpha Solar...
turn to space piracy and terrorism. Their object is to break up the
Federation's space trade and weaken its influence in the Galaxy. Space
Security has issued "cease and desist" orders to no avail. Zylon responds by
hijacking our spacecraft and terrorizing starbases that harbor them. They've
pushed us to the limit. Let's rid the Galaxy of this pest once and for all!

Your mission is to SEEK OUT Zylon combat ships in every sector of the Galaxy
and DESTROY THEM ON SIGHT. For this job we've given you the ultimate in
sophisticated fighter craft. Your starship is equipped with high-power photon
torpedoes, twin ion engines, and dual hyperwarp engines that transport you
instantly to the furthest reaches of the Galaxy.

Your computer instrumentation surpasses state-of-the-art.  It includes a 
Galactic Chart with real-time updating, Long-Range Sector Scan for pinpoint 
targeting, and the most advanced Attack Computer ever devised for locking on 
the target and homing in for the kill.

...

Code name for this operation is WIPEOUT. You'll be launched on your first
WIPEOUT mission as soon as you win your Novice star. To complete your mission,
you must destroy all Zylon targets.

In a pinch, you can dock at a friendly starbase to energize and repair your
starship, but be prepared for trouble. Once WIPEOUT gets underway, we expect
Zylon to surround and attempt to destroy all starbases that harbor our
starships. Prevent this at all costs! Remember, with every starbase destroyed,
our position in the Galaxy grows weaker and the Zylon menace grows stronger.

...

Promotions are based solely on ratings... there are no shortcuts to success in
the Star Raiders. You start as ROOKIES, but in no time at all you'll make
ENSIGN and then PILOT. After that the going gets rough. Don't be surprised if
your first Pilot mission ends with a demotion to GALACTIC COOK or GARBAGE SCOW
CAPTAIN. This is a tough service! But you've got the stuff to make it. Some of
you may even be WARRIOR material. We'll tell you if you are. As for STAR
COMMANDER, few ever make it, but who knows? The next one might be you.

Go to it and good luck! Or as we say in the Star Raiders, "Shields up and lock
on target."

*******************************************************************************
III.  Getting Started

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A.  Starting the game

After plugging in the cartridge and turning on the power, you should see
stars moving by you and the words STAR RAIDERS COPYRIGHT ATARI 1979 at the top
of the screen.  You can change the skill level by pressing SELECT on the 
keyboard.  When you are ready to begin, press START.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B.  Skill Levels

...............................................................................
1.  Novice Mission

Num Enemies:    27  (9 groups)
Num Starbases:   3

This mission is actually a training simulation.  You cannot take any damage
when your shields are raised and you do not have to steer during hyperwarp.

...............................................................................
2.  Pilot Mission

Num Enemies:   36 (12 groups)
Num Starbases:  4

This is a real mission.  At this level you may take some damage when you are
hit, even though your shields are raised.  You also now must steer your ship
during hyperwarp.  The enemies are also more aggressive.

...............................................................................
3.  Warrior Mission

Num Enemies:     45 (15 groups)
Num Starbases:    5 

Enemies are faster and do more damage.  You must steer your ship during 
hyperwarp.

...............................................................................
4.  Commander Mission

Num Enemies:     54 (18 groups)
Num Starbases:    6

You must steer your ship during hyperwarp.  Enemies are even faster and do
massive damage to your ship with their attacks.  They also go after starbases
very quickly.

*******************************************************************************
IV.  Starship Equipment and Controls

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A.  Engines and Movement

Your engine speed is controlled by the 0 - 9 keys on the keyboard, where 0 is
a complete stop and 9 is a velocity of 43.

You steer your ship with the joystick.  Pushing up makes you go down, pushing
down makes you go up, and pushing left or right will turn you in those 
directions.  Be sure to note that steering is reversed when you are looking
out through the aft view.

If your engines are damaged, you will go much slower than you normally would
at a particular speed level.  If your engines are destroyed, you will barely
crawl along, even at thrust level 9.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B.  Photon Torpedoes

You fire your photon torpedoes by pressing the button on the controller.  
Torpedoes fire one at a time, alternating from left to right.  If you are
locked on to a target, both cannons will fire simultaneously.  

In addition to damaging enemies, you can use your torpedoes to block the 
enemy's incoming torpedoes.

If your photon torpedoes are damaged, only one side will be able to fire.  If
your photon torpedoes are destroyed, you will be unable to fire.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
C.  Shields

Shields are activated by pressing the 'S' key on the keyboard.  Notice that the
screen now has a blue tint.  You can lower your shields by pressing 'S' again.  
Your shields provide protection from meteors and enemy torpedoes.  On the 
Novice skill level, your shields will protect you from all damage.  On the
other three levels, you may take some damage even with your shields raised.

If your shields are damaged, the blue tint will flicker on and off.  While the
tint is off, your shields are lowered and one hit from anything will kill you.

If your shields are destroyed, the blue tint will disappear and you will be 
unable to raise your shields.  One hit and your ship will be destroyed.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
D.  Attack Computer and Views

Attack Computer

Press 'C' to turn on the attack computer, press it again to turn it off.  This
activates the heads up display (HUD), consisting of crosshairs and the display
box.  The cross hairs are used for aiming your shots and to help steer during
hyperwarp.  The display box helps you line up with targets.

If your attack computer is damaged, you lose the range and coordinates at
the bottom of the display.  If the attack computer is destroyed, you lose
the manual target selector and tracking computer.  You also lose the 
crosshairs, making steering during hyperwarp very difficult.

Views

Press 'F' to bring up the fore view.  In this view you are looking out the
window in the front of the ship.  Press 'A' to bring up the aft view, this
is the view at the back of the ship.  Notice that while in aft view, steering
is reversed and you only have the two horizontal crosshairs showing.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
E.  Control Panel Display

This always appears at the bottom of the screen in the fore, aft and long range
views.  Here is an explanation of the data (starting from the top left going
to the right):

V:      Your current velocity.
K:      The number of Zylons you have killed.
T:      The number of the target you are currently tracking.
E:      The amount of energy remaining.
Theta:  Measures how far to the left or right you need to turn to face target.
Phi:    Measures how far up or down to the target.
R:      Distance to target (+ is in front of you, - behind you).

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
F.  Galactic Chart

Press 'G' to bring up the galactic chart.  The chart is an 8 x 16 grid that
divides your part of the galaxy into sectors.  Your ship is the little flashing
rectangle.  A starbases look like an asterisk.  A group of one or two enemies
(a patrol) looks like a ship.  A group of three Zylons (a task force) looks
like three rectangles, and a group of four Zylons (a fleet) looks like four
rectangles.

At the bottom of the screen, you will find additional data.  Warp Energy shows
how much energy the current hyperwarp would take.  Targets tells you how many
Zylons are in the selected sector.  DC is damage control, the letters P-E-S-C
-L-R represent the photon torpedoes, engines, shields, attack computer, long
range scan and subspace radio respectively.  If a letter is green, then that
piece of equipment is functioning normally, if it is yellow then it is
damaged, if it is red, then it is destroyed.  Star Date is the game clock, it 
tells you how much time has elapsed.

On the galactic chart, you can use the joystick to move the cursor around.
Move it over a sector and that sector will be automatically selected.  This
is the sector that you will go to on the next hyperwarp.

The galactic chart itself cannot be damaged, but it is regularly updated by
the subspace radio.  If the radio is damaged, it will no longer be updated.

To exit the galactic chart, press 'F', 'A', or 'L' to change to a different
view.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
G.  Hyperwarp Engines

After you have chosen a sector on the galactic chart, switch to the fore view
and press 'H' to activate the hyperwarp engines.  On Novice level, you just
have to sit back and wait to arrive at your destination.  On the other three
skill levels, you must steer during hyperwarp or you will end up in the wrong
sector.  To steer, you move the joystick to keep the cursor in the middle of
the crosshairs (crosshairs only appear when attack computer is on).  Once you
arrive at a new sector, you can use the display box to help you steer in the
direction of a target.

If you enter a sector where there are Zylons present, the screen will flash
red, an alarm will sound, and you will get a RED ALERT message at the top of
the screen.

If you want to abort hyperwarp, just press an engine key(0 - 9).

The hyperwarp engines will never become damaged or destroyed.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
H.  Long-Range Sector Scan

Press 'L' to bring up the Long-Range Sector Scan (LLRS).  This lets you see 
targets that are out of visual range.  On the LLRS screen, your ship is at the 
center, meteors are solid dots, enemies are flashing dots, and starbases look 
like a tiny starbase.  While you are on this screen, the joystick still flies 
the ship.  After you see a target you want, press left or right until it is in 
front of your ship.  Next keep pushing up or down until the object is at its 
farthest point from you.  You can also use the theta and phi coordinates at the 
bottom to help, be sure that you use the Manual Target Selector 'M' to chose 
the right target.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I.  Subspace Radio

The Subspace Radio updates the enemy positions on the Galactic Chart and also
lets you know when a starbase has been surrounded.

If the radio is damaged, the enemy locations will not be updated.  If it is
destroyed, you will also not be alerted when a starbase is surrounded.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
J.  Manual Target Selector

Press 'M' to switch to another target on the Attack Computer.  Since usually
there will be no more than two enemies attacking at once, you will either have
target 0 or 1(shown next to T: at the lower right of the screen).  T:3 
indicates that you are currently in hyperwarp.

Pressing 'M' again switches back to automatic targeting (usually the one that
is shooting at you).

You lose this ability if your Attack Computer is destroyed.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
K.  Tracking Computer 

Press 'T' to activate the Tracking Computer, press 'T' again to deactivate it.
When your tracking computer is active, then the view will automatically change
from fore to aft and vice versa to "follow" the current target.

I strongly recommend NOT using this function because if there is one Zylon in
front of you and one behind, the view will constantly switch between fore and
aft.  This can be fixed by using Manual Target Selection ('M'), but you are
really better off just switching between fore and aft yourself.

If your Attack Computer is destroyed, you lose this function.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
L.  Energy

You start off with 9999 units of energy.  Listed below is the amount of energy
drained by each action.

Once per Action Drain

Fire a photon torpedo              10 units
Torpedo intercepts enemy torpedo  100 units
Abort hyperwarp                   100 units

Continuos Drain

Shields On                        2.00 units per second
Attack Computer On                0.50 units per second
Life Support (always active)      0.25 units per second

Engine Drain

Thrust Level|  0  |  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |
------------|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
Drain/sec   | 0.00| 1.00| 1.50| 2.00| 2.50| 3.00| 3.50| 7.50|11.25|15.00|


Hyperwarp Drain

Distance  |   1|   2|   3|   4|   5|   6|   7|   8|   9|  10|  11|  12|  13|  
----------|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|
Drain/jump| 130| 160| 200| 230| 500| 700| 800| 900|1200|1250|1300|1350|1400|

Distance  |  14|  15|  16|  17|  18|  19|  20|  21|  22|  23|  
----------|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|
Drain/jump|1550|1700|1840|2000|2080|2160|2230|2320|2410|2500|

If your energy level drops below 1000, the Control Panel Display will flash
red to warn you about your low energy.  If your energy level reaches 0, your
mission will automatically be aborted.  You can restore your energy by docking
with a starbase.

*******************************************************************************
V.  Basic Gameplay

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A.  Mission Objective

Your objective is to destroy all Zylon forces while keeping your ship and
starbases from being destroyed.

The Zylons will try to surround your starbases by placing ships in the four
sectors adjacent to the starbase.  Once a starbase is surrounded, you have one
minute to rescue it by destroying one of the enemy groups surrounding it.  If
you don't rescue it in one minute, it will be destroyed and the Zylons will
use the wreckage to build two new fighters.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B.  What to do first

The very first thing you should always do at the start of a new game is to 
raise your shields by pressing 'S'.  You should then turn on your Attack 
Computer by pressing 'C'.

Now you need to seek out and destroy those Zylons.  Hit 'G' to bring up the
Galactic Chart.  Move the cursor to a sector currently occupied by Zylons and
then press 'F' to return to the fore view.  Now press 'H' to hyperwarp to
that sector.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
C.  Engaging the Enemy

When you arrive in a sector occupied by Zylons an alarm will sound, the screen
will flash red, and you will get a RED ALERT message at the top of the screen.
While you are arriving use the display box on the right side of the screen and
try and steer towards the enemy.

I recommend setting your engines to a low thrust level (about 4 or 5).  That
way you are not just sitting still waiting to be hit.  Any thing higher than
6 and the Zylons won't be able to keep up with you.

Dogfighting is pretty straightforward.  Maneuver the crosshairs over a Zylon 
and fire.  You can use your shots to block their incoming torpedoes.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
D.  Docking with Starbases

If your ship has taken damage or you are low on energy, you can dock with a
starbase.

First you need to locate a starbase on your Galactic Chart.  Starbases are
always in the center of a sector so try to position the cursor in the center of
the square as best you can.

Next activate your hyperdrives.  When you are arriving, try to line up with
the starbase using the display box.  If you don't see the starbase, use your
Long-Range Sector Scan to find it.

As you approach the starbase, decrease your speed.  When you get to range 000,
hit '0' to stop.  Center your crosshairs over the starbase.  You should see
a message that says ORBIT ESTABLISHED followed by STANDBY.  You will then see
the Transfer Vessel leave the starbase and head towards you.  If you move the
joystick or press a button, docking will be aborted and you will have to try 
again.  Once you see the message TRANSFER COMPLETE, you can go to the Galactic
Chart and continue hunting Zylons.

CAUTION!  If you shoot a starbase it will be destroyed and you will be docked
points from your mission ranking.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
E.  Ending the Mission

The following describes the three ways that a mission can end.

...............................................................................
1.  Mission Completed

You complete the mission when you destroy every single Zylon.  You will get
a message telling you that your mission is complete and you will be given a
new rank based on your performance.

...............................................................................
2.  Mission Aborted

The mission will be aborted when you run out of energy.  You can also abort
the mission yourself if you press the 'Atari' key.  You will get a message
saying the mission has been aborted and you will be given a new rank.

...............................................................................
3.  Starship Destroyed

If your starship is hit by a torpedo or meteor while your shields are down,
your ship will be destroyed.  The fleet will send a message to all other units
notifying them of your death and will give you a posthumous ranking.

*******************************************************************************
VI.  Enemy and Friendly Guide

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A.  Enemies

...............................................................................
1.  Zylon Fighter

These look like Tie Fighters.  They are general purpose fighters that have
decent weapons and agility.

...............................................................................
2.  Zylon Cruiser

These look like horseshoes.  They are patrol ships and are less aggressive than
Zylon Fighters.  They are more maneuverable than the fighters but have weaker
weapons.

...............................................................................
3.  Zylon Basestar

These look like blinking diamonds.  They are equipped with shields.  In order
to destroy them, you must hit them at close range.

...............................................................................
4.  Meteor

These look sort of like white bowling balls.  They are very slow moving and
easily destroyed.  If you collide with a meteor while your shields are down, 
your ship will be destroyed.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B.  Friendlies

...............................................................................
1.  Starbase

These sort of look like UFOs.  You can dock with these to restore your energy
and repair damage to your ship.  You can destroy starbases with one shot.

...............................................................................
2.  Transfer Vessel

These are the tiny vessels that transfer energy and repair damage while you
are docked at starbases.  I have never been able to destroy one of these, but
if you destroy the starbase while one is out, it will disappear.

...............................................................................
3.  Fleet

You never see the Federation Fleet.  You will receive a radio transmission from
them at the end of each mission.

*******************************************************************************
VII.  Advanced Strategies

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A.  Tips

-  The second your shields are damaged, hit 'H' to hyperwarp out of there.  
   When you arrive at the new sector, plot a new course to the nearest 
   starbase.

-  When a starbase is surrounded, take out the smallest group first.

-  Destroying a starbase yourself instead of allowing the Zylons to destroy
   it will keep them from building the two new fighters and also results in 
   less of a mission score penalty.

-  If you need more practice using the targeting computer try this:
   Go to a starbase sector and destroy the starbase.  Your attack computer will
   now begin tracking meteors.  Use these to practice finding and attacking
   enemies.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B.  Compensating for Damage

-  If your photon torpedoes are damaged, try to keep enemies on the side of the
   cannon that still works, this increases the chances you have of hitting them
   and blocking their shots.

-  If your engines are damaged, you can use a higher thrust level than you
   normally would.  Keep in mind that even though you are going slower, you
   still burn the same amount of energy.

-  If your engines are destroyed, you can hit 'H' then '0' to hyperwarp for a
   bit then abort to move around inside a sector.

-  If your Long-Range Sector Scan is damaged, you can use the theta and phi
   coordinates to tell if an object is a reflection or real.  If when you try
   to line up with the target and they increase, you are lining up with the 
   reflection.

-  If your Subspace Radio is damaged you can still find enemy groups by going
   to the Galactic Chart and moving the cursor over a sector and seeing if it
   has T > 0.  You should start by looking in sectors adjacent to an enemy
   group's last known location.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
C.  Conserving Energy

-  Instead of making a single long hyperjump, make several smaller ones (e.g.
   a single jump of 12 sectors uses 1350 units of energy while three jumps of 
   four sectors will burn only 690 units).

-  Engine thrust level 6 is the most efficient in terms of speed per energy
   drain.

-  If your energy is dangerously low, you can turn off your shields to buy you
   some more time to dock with a starbase.

-  Wait until your energy is below 1000 before docking with a starbase.  The
   less times you dock, the less energy you will waste traveling to and from
   starbases.

*******************************************************************************
VIII.  Mission Rankings Explanation

After the end of each mission, you will receive a rating based on your
performance.  Your rating is based on the mission skill level, the number of
enemies you destroyed, the amount of time and energy used, and the number of
starbases that were destroyed.

Here is the formula (from instruction book) :

M + (6 * K) - (E / 100) - (T / 100) - (18 * Z) - (3 * Y)

K = Number of Zylons you killed
E = Amount of energy used
T = Amount time in seconds
Z = Number of starbases destroyed by Zylons
Y = Number of starbases destroyed by you
M = Mission Result (see chart below)

Mission Result Chart
            
                                Result of Mission

                         |Success|Aborted|Destroyed|
               ----------|-------|-------|---------|
               Novice    |     80|     60|       40|
  Skill        Pilot     |     76|     60|       50|
  Level        Warrior   |     60|     50|       40|
               Commander |    111|    100|       90|



Ranking Chart
 
Rank                      Score
 
GALACTIC COOK            0 -  47
GARBAGE SCOW CAPTAIN     0 -  47
ROOKIE                  48 -  79
NOVICE                  80 - 111
ENSIGN                 112 - 143
PILOT                  144 - 175
ACE                    176 - 191
LIEUTENANT             192 - 207
WARRIOR                208 - 223
CAPTAIN                224 - 239
COMMANDER              240 - 270
STAR COMMANDER         272 - 303

You will also be given a Class for your rank.  Classes are 1 - 5 with 5 being
the lowest and 1 being the highest.


*******************************************************************************
IX.  My Best Rankings

|---------------------------------------------------|
|Skill      |Rank        |Class      |Mission       |
|Level      |            |           |Outcome       |
|-----------|------------|-----------|--------------|
|Novice     |            |           |              |
|           |Ace         |Five       |Completed     |
|-----------|------------|-----------|--------------|
|Pilot      |            |           |              |
|           |Pilot       |Five       |Completed     |
|-----------|------------|-----------|--------------|
|Warrior    |            |           |              |
|           |Pilot       |Four       |Completed     |
|-----------|------------|-----------|--------------|
|Commander  |            |           |              |
|           |Novice      |Two        |Aborted       |
|---------------------------------------------------|

*******************************************************************************
X.  Game Review

This is my favorite 8-bit Atari game of all time.  If you took Tie Fighter and
stripped away the fancy graphics, music, and voices you would end up with Star
Raiders.  If you own an Atari 400/800/XE or other Atari 8-bit computer, this is
definitely a must own game.

Pros
-  This game is a ton of fun, I have been playing it since the mid-80s and I
   still enjoy it.
-  This game is surprisingly deep and complex, especially for one made in 1979.
-  Adjustable skill levels, anybody should be able to finish the Novice level,
   while Commander will give even the best Atari gamers a run for their money.

Cons
-  Can't think of any ...

*******************************************************************************
XI.  Version History

1.0   10/29/03  Created FAQ.

*******************************************************************************
XII.  Contact Information

You can contact me at Bhodges080@aol.com

I would appreciate hearing what you thought of this guide and any thoughts
you have for improving it.  Be sure to let me know if I have missed 
anything.

*******************************************************************************



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