Game of the Week (1/21/18) – Star Control II

I was not expecting this. Star Control II does not appear on many mainstream “Best of 3DO” lists that I’ve seen but damn is this game unique, deep and most importantly, fun. Star Control II is a port of a 1992 MS-DOS PC game which was a sequel to the PC & Genesis original. Star Control II is a nutshell, is a space themed strategy, RPG, adventure, action, SIM title originally developed by Accolade, then ported to the 3DO by Crystal Dynamics in 1994. At its heart, the game is more of a adventure/strategy & story driven science fiction game but I included the other genres in the overall list that this epic and ambitious title touches on, if only briefly.

You’re the human commander of the Precursor starship, wandering the solar system trying to determine what has become of the universe after an alien war, during which your people went into hiding. You return to Earth to find its remaining human inhabitants enslaved by the Ur-Quan species. You soon learn that the Ur-Quan are embattled in a new war with an Ur-Quan subspecies, the Kohr-Ah, who intend to wipe out all other species instead of simply enslaving them. With the Ur-Quan preoccupied with this battle, you intend to take advantage and recruit other alien species around the universe to join you and the human rebels in destroying the Ur-Quan as well as the Kohr-Ah. To accomplish this lofty mission, you’ll have to strengthen your space ship’s weapons, reserves and speed, determine your method of alien recruitment (diplomacy vs. violence) and travel to distant galaxies. The game has a star map that you use to determine where to go in the vast Star Control II universe which can appear intimidating in it’s sheer size early in the game. In the context of a 1990s title, the sight of this map is nothing short of impressive. There is so much to do and so many different ways to accomplish the goals of the game but certainly there are techniques and strategies that work better than others. My recommendation is to save often and if things go south due to a poorly worded choice or you get into a violent tiff with an alien species that is stronger than you, you can always learn from that mistake and re-try without losing too much gameplay.

The 3DO port has more cut scenes with aliens you meet complete with audio and not just simply text, which is a nice bonus for a CD based title. Otherwise, the 3DO port is quite faithful to the PC version (from what I can gather). Star Control II may appear on the surface as requiring a steep learning curve, which isn’t totally untrue, but the game’s interface is easy to figure out with a little practice. There’s also a fair amount of busy work, especially in the early going, where you must go mining for minerals, radioactive material and the like which can be exchanged for upgrades and fuel. Consider this the “grinding” aspect of the game which is common to RPGs. Some of the dialogue scenes with other aliens is important to advancing the game and learning what to do next, but they can certainly go on longer than you may want. These are minor gripes for an otherwise superlative title for the 3DO. Star Control II may not appeal to everyone due to it’s requirement of time, patience and desire to play a plot, and not action, driven game but I certainly think everyone should give it a try. If you stick with it and get through the slower early going is one of the best titles not just for the 3DO, but possibly the 32-bit console generation. I love Star Control II and was floored that I had never heard of this game until very recently adding it to my 3DO collection.

Star Control II gets bonus points for also including a two player battle mode (melee) in which you use one of many alien space ships to take on a friend. This is a nice alternative to the super deep but not overly accessible story mode.

Rating: A

Currently in my collection: game, manual, star map, long box

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