You are a Star Strider, the best of Rogue Tracers, elite bounty hunters classes responsible for hunting criminals and performing covert, clandestine operations.
The Gromulans have kidnapped President Xerin of the Galaxy One Federation and have hidden him on Planet Earth. You are the best agent available for this rescue mission, and it is up to you, to retrieve the President before the Gromulans succeed in extracting vital, top-secret contents from the President's mind. You have forty-eight hours to retrieve the President; should you choose to accept this quest, you will face deadly Gromulaan droids, sinister, fear-inducing Gromulan illusions, and other potential hazards native to planet Earth. Succeed, and your criminal records will be expunged and you will be very rich.
Thank you. Good luck, Star Strider, the fate of President Xerin - and the entire galaxy - is on your hands!
Star Strider is the 27th entry of the Fighting Fantasy series of Gamebooks, written by Luke Sharp in 1987, and is among the slightly rarer sci-fi themed Gamebooks in the franchise.
The sci-fi based sub-installments of Fighting Fantasy is clearly testing the waters here at this point; you play as a bounty hunter rather than members of the Space Police or The Captain of a space vessel. Given the story and circumstances, a bigger emphasis on exploration is given here, and upon landing on Earth early in the game you get to explore the remains of the planet rather than beaming back to space and constantly skipping between planets.
Opting to expand the player's range of choices, Star Strider comes with an added stat of TIME - 48 units, representing the two-day deadline for you to rescue the President. Also, the FEAR stat from House of Hell returns, but thankfully it doesn't change throughout the duration of your adventure; you won't get scared to death, but instead the FEAR stat reflects your ability to withstand the fearful projections of Gromulan illusions. There are also special encounter boxes, for confrontations that doesn't lead to physical injuries, therefore without the need of deducting STAMINA, and an OXYGEN stat required for a compulsory escape sequence halfway through this adventure.
Sci-fi based adventures of Fighting Fantasy will continue for a short while until Sky Lord eventually puts an end to the genre.
Star Strider provides examples of:
- Abnormal Ammo: Your basic firearm, called a Catchman, shoots fine liquid plastic which ensnares opponents and incapacitates them.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: You can end up in one of these, where it is occupied by gangs of Earth thugs.
- Ambiguously Human: Although not stated directly, its implied that your character is a human, and that is the reason why you're selected for this mission to earth.
- Bounty Hunter: Your occupation is this.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: If you choose to drink a cocktail right at the beginning of your adventure, you lose 1 SKILL point PERMANENTLY. There isn't any opportunity for you to regain that SKILL point even after an entire day, which the effects of any alcoholic drink should've worn off...
- Cat Folk: The inhabitants of planet Wistas-4.
- Chase Scene: One on foot with you being pursued by androids, one on hover-boards, and one more on futuristic airborne vehicles against earth bandits.
- Covers Always Lie: See that fierce green alien on the front cover? That's not your character, nor is it a Gromulan — rather it's a Horned Dog-Faced guard, an artificial alien humanoid-dog hybrid you encounter while searching through some tunnels.
- Deadly Dodging: While confronting two androids wielding laser blades, you immediately leaps between the just as they swing ... causing one android to kill the other while getting its arm sliced off in the process. You then fight the weakened, one-armed android yourself (which is easy since its stats have been greatly decreased because of its disability).
- Destruction Equals Off-Switch: Should you roll a double 6 while battling an android, you would've hit its OFF switch and disabled in instantly.
- Earth That Was: Being set in the future, the Earth you're sent to is evidently nothing like the Earth we're living in.
- Elite Mooks: Excel Class Gromulan Droids are stated to be exceptionally dangerous.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: Unlike Starship Traveller or The Rings of Kether where your hero has a deadly laser/phaser gun, in this book your standard sidearm is the non-lethal Catchman.
- Food Pills: Instead of Provisions, the only form of nourishment you can get in the future are food pills.
- Horned Humanoid: The Horned Dog-Faced guards. One of them is depicted on the front cover.
- Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: As you attempt to escape with the President in the end of the story, the Gromulans, in a last-ditch move, somehow summons a dragon to pursue your escape craft. It turns out this is just one of their many illusions, the "dragon" is just a missile that you can destroy before leaving.
- Laser Hallway: One scene involves you trying to cross a series of chambers where androids are being welded. If the randomly firing laser gets you (determined by dice roll, as per usual Fighting Fantasy style) then your goose is cooked...
- Left for Dead: Getting mugged by bandits or punks on Earth will lead to all your equipment and gadgets stolen, with you unable to contact your superiors or find any ways to continue the mission, leading to a Non Standard Game Over.
- Master of Illusion: The Gromulans have technologies which can generate extremely realistic holograms, which are realistic enough to pass for illusions. Even a little Gromulan girl you encounter can access this ability!
- Mecha-Mooks: The Gromulans relies mostly on their android mooks for personal combat most of the time.
- Mind Probe: What the Gromulans intends to do to the President; and what your mission entails to prevent.
- Net Gun: A failed escape sequence ends with the Gromulans using this to capture you alive.
- Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: At one point you challenge an alien to a boxing match. The alien merely opens his mouth and vaporize you on the spot with a death ray.
- Noun Verber
- Percussive Maintenance: At one point during an aerial chase with bandits, your airborne vehicle starts lagging, and you're given the option to kick the controls to make it faster.
- Product Placement: An insert illustration shows an ad for Coke on the side of a bus.
- Pun: Punk gangs on Earth are referred as Houlgans. No, not hooligans, that's not a typo...
- Shattering the Illusion: With a FEAR tolerance high enough, you can break free from illusions projected by the Gromulans.
- Space Nomads: The Gromulans are described to be these, although the backstory states that they've been living on planet Earth for the past hundred years.
- Timed Mission: A typical Luke Sharp trademark, in this book you have 48 hours to complete your mission - tallied in 48 time units.
- Zerg Rush: There's a scene where you get chased down by a horde of androids and have to decide which direction to run into an alleyway.