A long time ago, a great empire comprised of Humans, Velox, Thrynn and Elowan ruled the stars. The Empire's currency was an energy source called Endurium. But something happened and this empire is no more. Furthermore, the small colony world named Arth has forgotten this heritage and technology. 1000 years have since passed and the people of Arth have rediscovered archaeological evidence of their empire. Using these discoveries, they create spaceships and form the Interstel corporation to govern the fleet. It's time to take the first steps back into space... but could it be the same enemy that destroyed the Empire still exists?
Starflight is a space exploration game. The player must first form a crew, assign their positions and customize the spaceship before blasting off from spacedock. Once out into space, the standard interface allows access to different crew members and navigation. The entire galaxy is unknown and it's up to the player to travel to distant planets to explore and land on them. Using a top-down interface, a planetary lander will venture out with the task of finding minerals and biological data to transport back to Starport. These resources can then be used to train crew members and improve the ship. Different alien races control the galaxy and it will be up to the player to engage them diplomatically or engage them in combat. Successful exploration of the galaxy and alien cultures will yield clues and new leads as to the fate of the Empire.
I originally played Starflight on my friend's Sega Genesis when it was first released in that format in 1991, I would go over to his house as much as possible to get a chance to play the game since he refused to lend it to me. This ultimately resulted in me having to hunt down the IBM version and beg my parents to buy it for me. Even today I still go back and play it every year or so.
Starflight begins with leaving you mostly in the dark on events currently unfolding in the galaxy. You find yourself on Arth, an underground colony of humans that survived the fall of Earth and the Old Empire after the Great Interstellar War recently after the rediscovery of interstellar space flight and endurium fuel. You are given a ship, some money, some fuel, and told to hire and train a crew then go out and gather information.
The game has an open universe that allows the player to ultimately do as they want... (with some consequences for taking riskier chances such as running out of fuel, pissing off alien cultures, or exploding death) plumbing the depths of the game through interspecies interaction, mining, and exploration; reveals an interweaving layer of plot that links the past to present events. With two hundred and seventy star systems and a bunch of strange alien races it offers lengthly play and good replayability.
In the beginning of Starflight you are ultimately trying to make the money and get the fuel to simply keep exploring, through mining, finding potential worlds to colonize, trading with other species, capturing life form samples and dragging back ancient artifacts to base. But as you continue to upgrade your vessel and understand the galaxy around you, an emergency in your home system forces you to walk in the shoes of your long dead ancestors from Earth in order to learn their history, in order to make sure Arth isn't doomed to repeat it.
The EGA graphics and sound (IBM speaker only) are great for the time the game was released by Electronic Arts in 1989. Control is through an easy keyboard interface. As for the rest, plot, gameplay, and the "Star Trek feel" hold up to the test of time in entertainment value. It is one of my favorite games of all time, and thus I am forced to give it a rating of five.
Final note, never use the quit without saving option, as it will mess up your game files making you reinstall to start over.
Starflight is surely one of the alltime classics of the computer-gaming-history. It set standards, without any doubt! Mankind left the Earth long ago and it's home is now Arth. You set out with your crew on a mission similar to the legendary 5-year-mission the Enterprise (yes... the one from TV ;) ) set out for - search for life, make contact, go where no man has gone before. Mankind just now rediscovered the necessary technology for hyperspace-travelling that got lost during a big war. You are one of the pioneers setting out like some others commanding an Explorer-Ship. Training your crew RPG-like, meeting aliens and trying to get new informations from them - it's important to have a good communications-officer! - you will find many elements that make you feel just like Captain Kirk himself. I played this game on my Amiga for hours and hours. There's always something new to find. You can even visit the long forgotten Earth. But beware to do only sightseeing - there's something going on in the universe. Some starsystems are exploding without any visible reason. This can also happen just when you enter the system, so always keep a backup-copy of your saved game (Starflight has the weird behaviour of screwing saved games up when you don't end the game on a way it offers you - reset is NO good!).
Starflight is an almost perfect mix of space adventure, strategy and RPG. In this game you play the crew (yes the WHOLE crew) of a starship on voyage of discovery - in fact the game is a big rip off of the whole "Boldly go where no man has gone before" thing from Star Trek, except that in this game much of your exploring involves finding the funds needed to upgrade your ship and train your crew. These are acquired by landing on a planets surface and collecting as many precious metals/materials as you can find, then selling them on at the starbase trade depot. Later you get caught up in an incredibly interesting storyline (more interesting than mining planets anyway), but I don't want to mention too much about that. One of the joys of this game is discovering things for yourself, and i want you to get as much out of it as I have.
The other thing in this games favour is the wide variety of Alien races you will meet - some friendly, some wanting to blast your ship into a million different sparkly bits. When you encounter aliens you will be taken to the ships communication screen. What happens next is dependent on how well trained your comms officer is. A highly trained officer will be able to translate alien speech into perfect English - if you have a poorly trained officer then you could be left with nothing more than a series of grunts and clicks. Depending on how well you do when communicating with aliens you may receive useful information or better, or you could end up having to fight for your life.
This is as close to a perfect game as I have ever found, and if you like your games deep and long lasting then I HIGHLY recommend you download it.
One of a handful of games that spawned a whole new genre, Starflight is arguably THE best space adventure game ever made.
Despite the (initially) lackluster plot (gather a crew and equip a ship to explore the unknown galaxy-- in true Star Trek fashion), Starflight introduces numerous features that set new standards for subsequent space epics (such as the better known and better sold Star Control 2): real-time play, awe-inspiring hundreds of galaxies (each with several planets), and many alien races (each with its unique language and culture). Although the game has an overarching plot (involving a sinister scheme you must expose), the sheer number of things you can do and star systems you can explore makes it incredibly open-ended. You can barter with alien races, mine planets for artifacts, improve skills of your crew, survive frantic space combats, and marvel at fractal surfaces that make each planet seem unique (watching your craft land gently on a planet is one of the most memorable moments of my entire gaming career). The scope of the game, and the elegance with which it is conveyed, makes Starflight the closest computer games ever come to what an actual space exploration must feel like.
Every facet of the game, from the great gameplay, user interface, and graphics, is so polished that what little flaws there are (such as the fact that artifacts are a bit difficult to figure out) aren't even worth mentioning. Last but not least, the ending sequence is one of the most impressive and appropriate I've ever seen in a game. From the start to finish, Starflight is one very well designed, well polished, and incredibly addictive game you'll play over and over again just to appreciate the amount of man-hours and love Binary Systems had put into the game. Starflight is that rare game that truly stands the test of time, and still attracts a large following more than a decade after its initial release. If you want to play only ONE space adventure ever, this is it.
Note: True Spaceflight fans should check out its sequel, as well as Protostar -- the true Starflight 3 that wasn't allowed to use the name. The download below contains the game, as well as various fan-made utilities (such as VGA patch) that will greatly enhance your Starflight experience. The manual download contains both PDF manual and starmap. Enjoy :)
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