Astro Chase is such a pretty game to look at, it seems a shame that it isn't more exciting to play. And that's perplexing, because at first blush Astro Chase looks like a space game with everything. It's got shield depots, it's got energy generators and it's got pulsating enemy mines so powerful that just one of them can blow up the entire Earth. It's got a screen full of zillions of colorful asteroids, planets and stars, and a picture of Earth so good it looks like it came right off the schoolroom wall. And then there are eight different kinds of enemy spaceships, 34 difficulty levels and no less than seven different animation sequences.

In short, Astro Chase has everything but an animated, laser-equipped kitchen sink - and therein's the rub. First Star designer Fernando Herrera seems to have either run out of room for, or just forgotten about, that other component of a hit game: challenging and innovative game action.

Once the game begins, the lovely 3-D starfield is just another 2-D maze - with round obstructions instead of walls - through which you must carefully dodge in order to ray down the pulsating mines creeping inexorably toward the Earth. The enemy spaceships show up at odd intervals to harry and distract you from your main job of eliminating the mines and you can either shoot them or ram them.

Astro Chase's only notable variation from its predecessors is First Star's proprietary Single Thrust Propulsion movement system, which involves using a single tap of the joystick to lock your saucer on the course you want to go. After that, you hold down the trigger button and point the joystick in the direction you want to fire your lasers.

Is there really anything wrong with Astro Chase? No, not a thing. Just remember: the graphics are only screen deep.

It costs you energy to bump into planets or stars. Beware of wiping yourself out with too much maneuvering.