Star Control

Experiencing SC2 for the first time, from an SC1 Veteran

Published on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 By Ronin1325 In Star Control II

It seems there are all too few who have experienced what kind of a revolutionary game Star Control 2 is, even with the free Ur-Quan Masters having been out for years now. Even fewer, seem to be those who experienced the first game, and how good it was for its time. 

Shortly after SC1 was released, a friend of mine had it on the IBM PC & we both regarded it as a stunning combination of action & strategy. When I heard it was going to be released on the Sega Genesis by 1990, I looked forward to it eagerly. Though the framerate sometimes suffered a bit during intense melee battles, it was everything I hoped it would be & more. 

Having it on the Genesis made playing with two-players vastly easier & was where the strategy portion of the game *really* took off. Each strategy story was carefully crafted to bring specific advantages to each side, but each side could win if they had the right combination of strategic know-how & fast reflexes. Even someone who didn't have the Fastest Joystick in Space, could pummel their more action-oriented opponent, if they were clever about what they built & where. 

I delighted in playing the Alliance, in forcing my Hierarchy opponent to constantly take their big-massive Ur-Quan Dreadnaughts into battle against my poor-pitiful Earthling Cruisers. By the time my rival realized what I was doing, it was usually too late. See, the Earth Cruiser could be built for less than 1/3rd the cost of 1 Dreadnaught, but clearly was designed to do massive damage to those bruisers. With any luck I could destroy 2 Dreadnaughts before my Cruiser got taken out, but that meant I had only spent 9 credits, while my opponent had spent *60*. 

So the first Star Control was so much more than just a 'Shoot 'em Up'. It was a well-crafted Strategy game, told within the engaging story of a Galactic Conflict. There was nothing else like it at the time. Not even the Great-Granddaddy of all RTS games, Herzog Zwei, could match its flawless combination of so many gaming skills. My friends & I played it constantly for a long time. 

When the 2nd game came out, I was too busy living life to look into it immediately. (No Internet, Remember.) However, when the way-too-far-ahead-of-its-time 3DO player came out & I learned this would be adapted for it, I splurged. I never regretted it. (It's amusing to me to hear so many people complain these days about 'how expensive' VR systems are. Translated into 2017 dollars, the $870.00 I spent on the 3DO & SC2 would be about $1500.00 today. But I digress...)

So, I fired up the game & was treated to a pretty decent CGI intro telling me who I was playing & how I had gotten there. 20 years had passed since the first game? Oooh-kaay...  Then I get to Earth and... well, you who have played it know the rest. 

Already being so well-versed in the Star Control Mythology, I was floored with what the creators had done, where they had taken it. Venturing out into the Galaxy, to find out what had happened to my comrades in the Alliance, was simultaneously wondrous, terrifying, bittersweet & mournful. I applauded what the Shofixti had done, though swore I would make the Ur-Quan pay beyond their imagination. When I was forced to give some of my crew to the Druuge, I quietly reloaded my closest save, went to their homeworld again and spent the next 3hrs or so (I don't remember exactly, it's kind of a blur) destroying their ships. When I felt I had exacted enough revenge, mentally at least, knowing that each homeworld was protected by an infinite amount of ships, I reloaded again & made the deal. 

I never hesitated to destroy any Druuge ship I met in space though. Sometimes going way out of my way to make the kill. 

The point I was most deeply involved in the game, indeed, the point at which I have been most deeply involved in *any* game, was by the time I met the Utwig. By then, I well understood what was at stake & what I needed to do. So it was extremely boring to listen to the Utwig leader drone on and on and on... I took a look at the playback bar for how much more dialogue there was. Cripes! The thing had barely moved! I wasn't about to fast-forward, in the fear that I might miss something important, but it was almost impossible to pay attention to this whining drivel! I spaced out. I might have even dozed off, but then-


My eyes jumped open, my neck whipped around fast enough to give me whiplash. I almost said, "Yes! Yes! Right here!" in instinctive response. You bet sir! Paying attention sir! I've never had verisimilitude like that before, or since. 

As an analogy, going from SC1 to SC2, was like living all your life up to this point, inside a house. It's a big, well made, comfortable house, but it is, after all, only a house. You don't feel like you're in prison, but there is still something missing... Then, one day, the door opens. You look outside the door with a bit of trepidation, but then realize this is what you've been looking for all along. It's the World, bigger than you could have imagined, now accessible to you & waiting. 

I've often heard it said that, "It's the journey, not the destination." I couldn't disagree more. It matters far *more* where you end up, than where you started. A story that starts out well & with promise, but ends on a flat note is nothing compared to one that may start out badly, but end well. Rarest & most precious of all, are those that both start well and end even better. Which one is the Star Control Saga? Well, we don't know. It's not over yet...