The bin is too good for it

S.T.A.G. logo

APPARENTLY in the year 2567 Earth gets destroyed. A big shame. Some survivors, who presumably had been out walking the dog at the time, decide to set up a trading company. They plan to exploit the alien worlds, all of which have less sense of economics than Nigel Lawson.

With a small cargo ship they ply the spaceways trying to con anything they meet.

This is the plot to Stag. It seems a little familiar, right? It sounds a little like Elite, doesn't it? There is a subtle difference though. Elite was good. It had animation. It had gameplay. Above all, it was fun. Stag, on the other hand, is pathetic.

It has been semi-converted from a German game. I say semi-converted because it is only partly translated into English. A few things have been left out. Like grammar. And sense. It does not really matter - you do not have to understand it to realise how terrible it all is.

Another stunning concept is that the game is completely mouse driven. In itself not very original, but the underlying philosophy of making it completely impossible to do anything without having to make 67 factorial presses and generally work the ball of your mouse is.

I expect EAS will be bringing out a mouse-only text adventure next. Or perhaps a word processor where you choose your phrase from one of 8,000 icons.

Trading means haggling with strange creatures over a limited range of goods. When I say haggle I mean it in a strange new sense of word where you tell the other bloke his price is way out and he tells you to go away. Not much scope for Thatcherite entrepreneurial acumen there.

You are not given information about any of the other planets, so it is pot luck whether they actually want the stuff when you get there. Oddly, the entire galaxy lives on a diet of milk and alcohol. Perhaps they listen to too much late 70's rock music.

The space flight sequence is the best part. This does not mean it is good, it is just better than the rest. Does the ship glide silently and majestically through stardust panoramas? No, it flies through squares. Or space-streets as EAS would have it. It is very reminiscent of Mastertronic's Chase, which can only be had news. If the ship hits the sides it loses shields and eventually disintegrates. Amazing.

Sometimes pirates attack your ship. You will know when this happens because you will suddenly stop flying through squares and some text will appear telling you that some pirates are attacking your ship. Just as well. You would never work it out otherwise. Some small blobs appear on the screen. They get bigger. You die.

Amazingly EAS has password protected this offering. Perhaps the company reckon software pirates are as stupid as the ones in the game. If anyone is doing a bit of shady dealing here it is EAS trying to offload this lack-lustre effort for twice the price of the original Elite.

S.T.A.G. logo

EAS Software

"This is not to being any good yes?". The German to English translation in the manual is awful. Funny ha ha high level translation for all the family. Being serious, S.T.A.G. is a very poor "conversion" of the all-time classic Elite, only it is lacking something. It has all the trading facilities; you can buy and sell objects, equip and better your ship. There are galactic and intergalactic maps, so that you can plot your course through the universe. There is even the facility to leave the space station, so what exactly is missing?

I remember now, the flight simulation. That is it. No long can you zip around space, shooting up all and sundry. Now what you have to do is fly along a series of boxes. Fly outside the 'tunnel' of boxes and you destroy your ship. Very dull.