Star Citadel is a free online homage to Cinematronics' classic 1980 arcade game, Star Castle. The aim of the game is to destroy the cannon protected by the shield rings in the centre of the screen. To do this you have control of a small, but manoeuvreable ship, with which you can attack the cannon.
To destroy the cannon you first need to blast your way through its shields but, be warned, when you do it can start to fire back. It also has a number of homing mines, sometimes called sparks, that can chase you down and wipe you out.
Keyboard controls for desktop and laptop
|Left arrow / Z||-||Rotate ship left/anticlockwise|
|Right arrow / X||-||Rotate ship right/clockwise|
|Up arrow / M||-||Thrust|
|Space / N||-||Fire (hold to shoot continuously)|
Tilt and touch controls for mobile and tablet
With mobile and tablet you need to rotate your device into landscape orientation in order to play (i.e., so it's like you're watching a TV show on it).
You TILT your device in order to steer the ship - Star Citadel takes readings from your device's accelerometer in order to figure out where to point the ship.
To thrust and fire you TOUCH your device's screen. Rather than having buttons rendered on the screen you can touch anywhere on the LEFTHAND SIDE of the screen to THRUST, and anywhere on the RIGHTHAND SIDE of the screen to FIRE.
The following diagram illustrates these controls:
Friends and foes
This is your ship. When you start the game you only have two spare lives, so use them wisely. If you opt for the classic mode it's even worse: only one life to start with. Whichever way you play, you're awarded an extra ship every time you destroy the cannon.
You can fly the ship using the keyboard on desktop or laptop, or with a combination of tilt to steer and touch to fly/fire on mobile or tablet. Have a look above for a full description of the controls - you'll find they're very similar to those for Asteroids, minus the hyperspace ability.
This rotating gun turret is your main enemy. It's well protected by three rotating walls of shields. As you move through the levels the shields move faster, and get harder to destroy.
You need to blast your way through the shields to stand a chance of hitting the cannon. That cuts both ways though: once you've punched a hole through the shields the cannon can also fire back at you. As you move to higher levels it fires a larger, faster moving energy projectile.
If you need to make a quick escape just dive off the nearest edge of the screen and you'll reappear on the opposite. Your shots will also wrap in the same way, but the cannon's won't, so it can be a handy way to get out of trouble.
The cannon will also regenerate shield rings if you ever destroy all the segments in a single ring, so try and drill deep with your shots, rather than blasting away at each shield ring in turn.
Periodically the cannon will release mines that can home in on you and will chase you round the screen.
Generally there can be up to three of them. You'll notice that, rather like the ghosts in Pac-Man, they each have their own behaviour - even though they all look alike - and if you're not careful they'll herd you until they can take you down in a kind of pincer movement.
Despite all that, they start out as no more than a minor inconvenience but, as the levels progress, they quickly become a serious menace. They get faster and they also regenerate faster. Be particularly wary of them at the edges of the screen because they can wrap around, just like you can.
Scoring in Star Citadel isn't super-straighforward because you get more points for destroying enemies on higher levels. Here's how it works:
On level 1 you get 20, 40, or 60 points for destroying shield segments in the outer, middle, and inner rings, respectively.
At the end of the level you get 50, 100, or 150 points for any intact segments left in the outer, middle, and inner rings, respectively.
After level 1 you get an extra 1, 2, or 3 points per level for destroying shield segments, and an extra 10, 20, or 30 points per level for any left intact at the end of the level. Again, for inner, middle, and outer rings, respectively.
The point being that you get more points for shooting fewer shield segments. I.e., you'll generally do better if you're more efficient.
On level 1 you score 200 points for destroying the cannon. Thereafter you get an extra 100 points per level.
For rapid kills, within 3 seconds of the cannon appearing, you get an extra bonus of 1000 points per level.
So, if you kill the cannon on level 5 within 3 seconds of it appearing you get 600 standard points, plus 5000 bonus points, for a total of 5600.
In the classic mode game you score NO POINTS for killing mines. That's right: nada.
In the more modern interpretation you score 1 point for every hit it took to destroy the mine. So, if you had to shoot the mine 3 times to kill it, you get 3 points.
I don't know, but the minimal number of points you get for killing mines in the modern version might almost be more galling than getting no points at all in the classic version. You decide.
- Take a look at our Star Citadel Tips & Tricks page to gain handy insights into playing, and improving at, the game.
- Find out why I built this homage to Star Castle by reading the From Star Castle to Star Citadel story.
I really hope you like the game.
Welcome to Star Citadel - a free Star Castle arcade game homage
Congratulations! You scored