Some great games invent new genres, and others, like Paul Reiche III's Star Control, compile sparkling new versions of old ones. Star Control pays homage to all those rotate-and-thrust games like Space War, Asteroids, and Gravitar. Its unique sense of humor and terrific two-player mode made it a runaway hit in a time when home computers weren't known for arcade thrills -- at least not in America.
Each of 14 different spacecraft with wildly varying abilities go up against each other as the Ur-Quan Hierarchy and the Alliance of Free Stars fight for the fate of the galaxy. The good guys fly such vessels as the tiny Shofixti Scout, the highly maneuverable Arilou Skiff, the transformable Mmrnmhrm X-Form, and the shard-throwing Chenjesu Broodhome. Then there's the Syreen Penetrator, manned by sexy vixens that can lure enemy cosmonauts into jumping out of their ships. The bad guys enter the galactic grudge-match with seven ships of their own, equipped with dirty tricks -- from the cloaking device on the Ilwrath Avenger, to the unholy might of the Ur-Quan Dreadnought.
The graphics and sound are top-notch, especially on this Amiga version. An optional strategy mode allows all this to happen in the context of interstellar war. On a rotating, 3D map of stars, players fight for planets that produce people and mineral resources. An equally good sequel, Star Control II, uses the setting for an epic, Starflight-esque role-playing game.
Stand by all you would bo Captain Kirks, there's Klingons on the starboard bow. Do not fret, it isn't another Star Trek game - which is good because 'I dunna think I could take any more captain.' No. This is Star Control - the continuing struggle against good and evil In a futuristic battle where all is at stake and only you with your army of various space vehicles can save the known universe from a cruel, evil empire. Wait a minute... haven't I heard that story somewhere before? Never mind. Strap your plasma bolt shooter to your waist, put your genuine imitation leather hover boots on and tilt your space helmets 'cos this is gonna be one helluva duel.
Star Control is the latest offering from those old reliable Accolade boys and it's good... very good. It's set in the distant future with two legions of seven space ships locked in deadly combat. The Alliance - fighters for truth, justice and liberty for all - and the evil Hierarchy, the scourge of the universe.
Gameplay-wise, Star Control reminds me of an old arcade game I used to play in my wild and reckless youth, called Space Battle. In that game, two space ships flew around the screen blasting each other and avoiding a planet slap bang in the centre. Sounds pretty simple I know, but Accolade's offering goes a lot further than this archaic game -there's a certain amount of strategy in there too.
The game offers a few different scenarios just to stop it getting boring. For starters, you can practice at a one-to-one level with any of the ships on offer. This is highly recommended as each ship has different characteristics including speed, weaponry and shields plus - as an added bonus - each of the ships has a special move or trick up its sleeve.
Once you think that you'll be more than just laser fodder for some slime dribbling alien, then it's time to move on to Meele. This option cuts out all that technical strategy stuff (that comes later) and puts you head to head with your opposing fleet as you fight to the death across a space field. Oh, and be careful not to crash into the planets which have a gravitational pull - this could leave you a sitting duck. If the tactical side of your nature is lusting for more, you can move on to the full game options. There are nine different scenarios in all, and even an option to create your own, but they all work around the same principle.
A moving star map with you at the bottom and your opponent at the top is laid out and each of the armies' ships move from planet to planet, colonising and fortifying them as they go. Movement is limited to the planets immediately surrounding the one you are on and not all planets lead where you think. It's a bit like trying to read a British Rail timetable at first, but you'll soon get the hang of it!
Once you've sussed out all the different options, you'll find Star Control to be a source of many hours of computer entertainment. It's obvious that a lot of thought has gone into Star Control, making this a game worth checking out.
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