MEANWHILE in a galaxy far away, the story continues. You are an honest space faring merchant-
But disaster strikes! Just as you board, 10 fighter craft of the evil Manchi insect race appear out of hyperspace. Before your very eyes, your vessel is mercilessly vapourised with all hands.
Then as quickly as they appeared, the fighters vanish, leaving you alone in a cruel universe with a strange ship and no idea of what to do next. So you rummage around in the glove compartment and look for the Owner's Guide. This explains exactly how you can go about flying your new command, The Jolly Roger, with either keyboard, joystick or mouse.
The previous owner - whoever or whatever it was - was a mucky devil and has left fingerprints, coffee mug rings and even little notes in the margins.
He, she or it has also left a colourful poster sized star chart, a short novella and two cardboard cut-out model spaceships. Nice touch.
By reading the guide and playing with the controls you can eventually reach the nearest space station. After docking, the display switches from the simple three dimensional solid view to a two dimensional overhead one.
You wander around the station, bumping into people and generally trying to find out as much information as you can. Amusement presents itself in the form of the latest arcade sensation to sweep the galaxy.
Playing a game within a game is not a new idea by a long way, but it's fun. Makes a welcome break. Plus, Hive will award a prize if you make it past the last screen, so it can't be bad.
Non-gamers may be better off visiting the bar for a quickie. If you knock back one too many you may find manoeuvring between the walls a bit on the tricky side. It seems strangely familiar...
Once you have found out as much as you can, or have been evicted for trying to do something you shouldn't, you can leave the station and enter one of hyperspace gates with the inevitable "flying through coloured circles" stage. Then you start exploring all over again.
The overall aim is to discover why the Manchi destroyed your original vessel and perhaps save the universe in the process. And why not?
From the packaging and advertising blurb surrounding Space Rogue, I was unsure what sort of game it would eventually turn out to be. The end result is a 3D shoot 'em-up, 2D role-playing, strategic arcade game.
A bit like the last budget; not very taxing. Well, a good deal more enjoyable.