5/13 – Star Control 2

Hello and welcome. My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

Today’s game is the cult classic space adventure game, Star Control II. Developed by Toys for Bob, the developers behind the Skylanders series, Star Control II was released for the MS-DOS in 1992 and the 3DO in 1994.

While Star Control II is the sequel to Star Control, the first game contained very little in the way of story so playing it is not necessary to understand 2. Prior to the start of the game, humanity found itself at war. It’s own Alliance of Free Stars battled against the Hierarchy of Battle Thralls for dominance of the galaxy. During this war, a secret mission is sent to investigate a Precursor artifact but soon loses contact with the rest of humanity. Years pass and the colony has managed to use the Precursor artifact to build a functional space ship which they use to try and reconnect with Earth and find out what has happened in the war.

Players are put in command of this spaceship and start the game just on the outskirts of Earth’s solar system, ready to discover the fate of humanity. Star Control II is entirely non-linear and allows players to explore the galaxy in any way they like to uncover its mysteries. The galaxy also progresses in real-time, regardless of the player’s actions so if player’s do not discover a path forward, they may find the galaxy changing around them, not always for the better.

Star Control II has a number of races to interact with and ally with. Each race has its own quirky personality and their spaceships often reflect that personality. For example, the cowardly Spathi fear everyone and everything around them so their ships only fire backwards, aiding them in their retreats.

Gameplay consists of three main modes, exploration, resource collection and battle. Exploration allows players to control their spaceship on a solar system or galaxy-wide map and lets players choose where they want to go. Fuel must be managed so players must be careful how far they go from the nearest resupply point. Players can land on any planet they wish to search for resources. During this mode, the player controls a vehicle on the surface of the planet and must collect resources while avoiding various dangers the planet may contain. Some planets are more dangerous than others so players must be aware of their own skills before exploring blindly. Finally, battles occur when the player’s spaceship encounters another hostile spaceship. Battle controls are similar to the arcade game Asteroids, in that they occur on a single screen that wraps as players pass over the boundaries. Players can choose to fight as any of their allies they have available, each of which has their own speed, acceleration and weapon styles.

Star Control II was extremely well received upon release, winning a number of game of the year awards for 1992 and 1994, when it released on the 3DO. The sense of exploration and adventure was praised as it gave players a vague sense of direction but never held their hand during the experience. The dialogue in particular was well loved with the races proving to be memorable to many critics. To this day, the game remains in many gamers’ hearts, with IGN, Kotaku and Gamespot all listing it as one of the greatest games ever made. In 2002, the source code of the game was released by the original creators, Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford, and the game has been actively maintained ever since. The Ur-Quan Masters is still updated to this day and combines the best aspects of the DOS and 3DO versions of the game, and is fully playable on many different platforms, including Windows, Mac and Linux for free.

Thanks so much for listening to the show. If you want to hear more episodes, check out the archives on videogameoftheday.com and also follow me on Twitter @vg_oftheday for updates and polls and random thoughts about whatever I happen to be playing or watching. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day.

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