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Spacewar! Legacy

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Spacewar!
Galaxy Game
Computer Space
Space Wars

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Orbit
Asteroids
Rip Off
Star Castle

Page 3:
Omega Race
Space Fury
Solar Quest
Eliminator
Space Fortress
Moon War
Space Duel

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Zektor
Gravitar
Dark Planet
Mine Storm
Star Trek
Cosmic Chasm
Star Maze

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Cerberus
Blasteroids
Afteroids
Ebonstar
Stardust
Super Stardust
Asteroids (1998)

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Star Control series
Starflight
Star Trek TNG
Big Sky Trooper

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Fire Fight
Subspace/Continuum
Armada
Battlestar Galactica
Shred Nebula

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What's up, Japan?
Gravity Games
Homebrew

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Star Control Series - IBM PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Amiga, Genesis, 3DO, Macintosh (1990-1996)

Star Control Cover

Star Control 2 Cover

Star Control 3 Cover

The Star Control series, conceived and designed by Dunjonquest alumnus Paul Reiche III, set out to a major departure from previous games. It takes the dogfight mechanics of Spacewar! only as a small sequence in a much greater whole. The first game is still comparatively simple: Either in a pure melee mode, or a full scenario that starts on a tactical starmap, the fleets of the Alliance of Free Stars and the ugly, warmongering Ur-Quans clash against each other in a battle for the galaxy. The playing field is fairly large, with three levels of zoom that flip closer and farther as the ships approach and retreat. Planets are also around for ships to crash into, though they gravity can be used as an accelerating factor.

Each faction has approximately a dozen unique ships, one associated with every race, all with various abilities. The Uq-Quan Dreadnaught, for example, has a powerful forward firing laser, along with the ability to launch minature fighters that home in and track down their opponent. Meanwhile, the Earthling Cruiser, which looks a bit like the Starship Enterprise, launches homing missiles and has a short range laser. The ship's "health" is denoted by the number of crew members, which obviously go down with each hit, while the ship's recharging autobattery regulates attacks. The ship roster isn't balanced, but it isn't supposed to be - in the strategy portion of the game, better ships cost more resources. In addition to computer platforms, Star Control was also released on the Genesis, which is actually superior to its PC counterparts due to its digitized sound effects.

Only with the seminal second game, the struggle turned into a complex campaign where the player has to build up his fleet, search planets for ressources, trade with colonies, converse with strange alien life forms and fulfill tasks for them. Although the general game is much more in-depth, the combat (dubbed "Super Melee" in the game modes) is ultimately the same as the original game, though this more technologically advanced sequel uses the sound effects introduced in the Genesis version. It plays practically idential to the first game, but adds several new ships for all of the races introduced in the storyline. It also features ships for all of the races that do not appear in the main game. The 3DO port adds in smoother scrolling, so the movement between zoom levels isn't quite as jarring. In 2003, Star Control II was ported as freeware to various platforms under the name The Ur-Quan Masters, integrating elements from the 3DO version.

The third game, done by an entirely different team at Legend Entertainming, continues in the same vein, though not as classy. The graphics are entirely redone, lacking in the color that made the first two games so appealing. The space combat in particular suffers from faulty AI and some questionable spaceship construction. By default it uses a strange isometric perspective that's basically impossible to control, but thankfully you can switch to the standard overhead mode. Unfortunately, it is missing a good chunk of ships from the first two games.

A fourth game, dubbed StarCon, was planned, and would've moved the series entirely into the third dimension. However, it was cancelled partway through development, but there exists a prototype for the PSX version.

So why does this important series get no more than a compressed run-down? Well, because it is important enough to deserve its own, full-fledged article on Hardcore Gaming 101, which it will get. Eventually.

Star Control 3

Star Control

Star Control 2

StarCon (beta))


Starflight - Genesis (1991)

Cover

People who played the original computer game (and/or its sequel) might wonder at seeing Starflight here. Cause in those versions the starship was maneuvered strictly strategically in a turn-based manner. Only when the game was ported to the Sega Genesis, direct controls and action combat like in Star Control were introduced. The premise remains the same, though: As an interstellar pilot from Arth, a planet threatened by the unnaturally rapid deterioration of the star system's sun, the player is sent out to "boldly go where no man has gone before" (exact quote from the intro; they didn't even care about possible litigations), find alternative worlds to inhabit and gather resources for building colonization ships.

Basically, Starflight consists of three phases: First you explore the star systems in the vicinity, grinding minerals to get the funds to fully upgrade your ship and its "VT," the ground vehicle used to explore and exploit planets. This is a process which is incidentally more fun and rewarding than anything a certain space opera trilogy by a renowned WRPG developer has ever come up with for its planet exploration/mining. An assigned team of specialists also needs to be trained (with money), lest the navigator only translates gibberish, the science officer's planet scans only show garbage or the doc loses more patients than McCoy can declare dead.

Starflight (Genesis)

Then it's time to head out and interrogate random alien pilots for clues to the origin of your sun's grave condition, where you get to chose between three stances: Obsequious, friendly and hostile. Eventually those lead to the whereabouts of ancient artifacts and ultimately to the root of the evil, which has then to be eradicated as the third and final task. Afterwards, however, the game remains open for free exploration and messing around with aliens.

While Starflight lacks both the genius and the depths of Star Control 2, and its economic system (if you can even call it that; you basically just mine stuff an bring it back to your home planet to sell) is extremely simple, but it certainly has its charms. There are some really interesting alien species, searching planets for minerals is fun, the acoustic background music is positively eerie, and the flight mechanics are solid. A smart player won't see much combat, though. While it's possible to loot the rubble after the fight, raising the shields and charging up the weapons should usually only be used as a last resort, since information is really more valuable by the point the ship is strong enough to face most enemies, and those who attack without reason will probably kick your ass, anyway. But the worst flaw of Starflight is the way the ship gets caught in the gravitational field of every single planet it passes, forcing you to wait till it semi-automatically establishes an orbit before the trek can go on. Very aggravating.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Blue Sky Software

Publisher:

Designer:

  • Greg Johnson

Genre:

Themes:


Starflight (Genesis)

Starflight (Genesis)

Starflight (Genesis)



Star Trek The Next Generation: Echoes from the Past / Star Trek The Next Generation: Future's Past - SNES, Genesis (1994)

Genesis Cover

Super Famicom Cover

For being the major hard space flight science fiction franchise in the world, Star Trek has never been that much about space flight, but focused mostly on planetary exploration and communication with aliens. Combat with other ships in the series was usually limited to "turn up the shields, you fire your torpedos, I fire my torpedos, maybe figure out some science-y trick to get the advantage, someone wins". That's not very exciting, and thus the majority of Star Trek games ranges from point & click adventures to first person shooters and RTS games, with only the odd space flight simulation tossed in for good measure.

Echoes from the Past (or Future's Past on the SNES) is actually no exception. The game starts in the seat of Jean-Luc Picard on the bridge of the Enterprise-D, where the player answers distress calls, punches in adresses into the navigation computer or leafs through the ship database for tons of information about the universe. The meat of the game, however, are the ground missions. Here a team of four - 19 crew members are selectable, but the known command officers, especially Data, are vastly superior - explores underground mazes, guns down robots and romulans in phaser fights and solves simple puzzles.

Yet the space combat component pops up more frequently than in most other Star Trek games. During the flight to target planets, the Enterprise is frequently halted by hostile ships (mostly Romulans) and engaged into combat. The structure of the battle screen is surprisingly similar to Sega's 1983 Star Trek game, with the pseudo 3D view and top-down overview. The combat, however, is predominantly based on photon torpedo use, with phasers taking a merely supporting role to help wear down the enemy's shields. Front and rear torpedos have separate, slowly refilling stocks, so skillfully alternating between front and rear attacks is imperial to victory. Both ships can also try and hail the other to negotiate a truce, but if the Enterprise does so while the enemy is still confident, it means immediate capture and defeat.

The system also has underlying a complex damage model, which not only impacts performance in combat, but also such functions as traveling capabilities and the quality of video communications. On the bridge ressources can be assigned to the repair of each individual system, which adds a nice management aspect to the game, but also makes it possible to get into unwinnable states.

The SNES and Genesis versions differ not only in name - the game partially underwent huge changes on each platform. Although the USS Enterprise looks the same, some planet missions aren't very much alike at all, with different starmap locations, different NPCs and different graphics. Space combat is more fast-paced on the Genesis, as the Enterprise can fire more torpedos, which also recharge faster. The oddest changes involve the set of redshirts for composing away teams - all characters of color (safe for Geordi and Worf, of course) have suspicously either been added to the SNES version or removed from the Genesis one.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Spectrum Holobyte

Publisher:

  • Spectrum Holobyte (SNES)
  • Sega (Genesis)

Lead Designer:

  • Randy Angle

Genre:

Themes:


Star Trek TNG: Future's Past (SNES)

Star Trek TNG: Future's Past (SNES)

Star Trek TNG: Future's Past (SNES)

Star Trek TNG: Future's Past (SNES)

Star Trek TNG: Future's Past (SNES)


Comparison Screenshots


Big Sky Trooper - SNES (1995)

American Cover

European Cover

Designed by Hal Barwood, most famous for co-writing and directing Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Big Sky Trooper is a top-down action adventure first and foremost, just as Star Trek TNG: Echoes of the Past. The tone is much more whimsical, though: As either a boy or a girl you go through the entrance examinations for the space fleet, and after some ludicrous tests are instantly promoted to a 24-star general and get your own space ship, which looks like a huge interstellar dog. The planet levels play a lot like The Legend of Zelda, and many upgrades found for the silly green space suit fill in as the equivalent for Link's items.

But you also find star map modules that allow to further uncover the galaxy. Traveling takes place on a large grid map, which is explored in a semi-nonlinear fashion. When arriving at a new planet, one first has to secure the orbit by defeating the forces of the Blobs, who are the main nemesis of the game. Combat takes place on a single screen as it did in the classics, but the dog ship is unproportionally large. The dogfights are also not nearly as deep as in Echoes of the Past and usually fairly short. They're clearly just meant as a fun mini game rather than a major part of the whole.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

  • JVC

Designer:

  • Hal Barwood

Genre:

Themes:


Big Sky Trooper

Big Sky Trooper



<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Spacewar!
Galaxy Game
Computer Space
Space Wars

Page 2:
Orbit
Asteroids
Rip Off
Star Castle

Page 3:
Omega Race
Space Fury
Solar Quest
Eliminator
Space Fortress
Moon War
Space Duel

Page 4:
Zektor
Gravitar
Dark Planet
Mine Storm
Star Trek
Cosmic Chasm
Star Maze

Page 5:
Cerberus
Blasteroids
Afteroids
Ebonstar
Stardust
Super Stardust
Asteroids (1998)

Page 6:
Star Control series
Starflight
Star Trek TNG
Big Sky Trooper

Page 7:
Fire Fight
Subspace/Continuum
Armada
Battlestar Galactica
Shred Nebula

Page 8:
What's up, Japan?
Gravity Games
Homebrew

Back to the Index