Fancy yourself as a Saviour of the Universe...?

Star Control logo

Publisher: Accolade Price: £24.99

Stand by all you would be 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 armoy 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 also big so it's for one meg Amigas only I'm afraid.
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. Boo... Hiss...

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 thick 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 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 a 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.

Star Control logo

Auch wenn es sich dabei nicht mehr um den neuesten Schrei handelt - die Idee eines strategischen Sternenkampfes mit kleinen Actioneinlagen ist so übel nicht. Was Accolade daraus gemacht hat, leider schon...

Eine Bande machthungriger Aliens nähert sich mit Lichtgeschwindigkeit unserem Sonnensystem; allen Bemühungen, die Eindringlinge zur Umkehr zu bewegen, scheitern. Unvermeidliche Folge: Der Sternenkrieg bricht aus! Als Kommandeur einer mächtigen Weltraumflotte darf man nun Festungen, Kolonien und Minen errichten, neue Raumschiffe mit unterschiedlichen Vorzügen bauen oder kaufen, Minen ausbeuten und Flotten bewegen. Sobald eins der eigenen Schiffe auf feindliche Einheiten trifft (was übrigens ziemlich häufig der Fall ist), wird eine Actionsequenz eingeschoben.

So gut sich das auch alles anhören mag, so schlecht wurde es in der Praxis umgesetzt: Was sich nämlich hier auf dem Screen tut, ist mehr als traurig, das ist einfach unterstes PD-Niveau! Die Menüs sind unsagbar trist, und die Raumschiffe werden als winzige Pünktchen dargestellt, die sich nur mit Mühe erkennen lassen (nur wenn sie sich einander annähern, kommen sie kurzfristig größer ins Bild).

Dazu ist die Steuerung per Joystick ziemlich träge, mit der Tastatur geradezu katastrophal. Dabei wäre das Spiel ansonsten eigentlich ganz gut ausgestattet, z.B. übernimmt der Computer auf Wunsch den Action- oder den Strategieteil, und man kann die Raumschiffduelle beliebig lange üben.

Aber was hilft's - bei derart erbärmlicher Grafik und nur ansatzweise vorhandener Spielbarkeit in den Actionszenen?!

Star Control logo

O nce again evil does battle with square jawed good, in a futuristic strategy. The prize? Earth. The game? Star Control. Is it playable? You bet...

The gameplay is centred around single ships in head-to-head-combat. Each side can have up to seven different craft in their fleet, and the object is to completely annihilate all opposing craft; simple, eh? By playing in the mele mode you only get to experience the arcade side, but select the strategy option and the game takes on a completely different style. The objective is still the same, only now you can colonise various planets, build new spacecraft, fortify and mine different areas of the space system, and make lots of money by exploiting various planets. All this takes place in a style very similar to Virgin's Supremacy, with an almost identical starfield. You even get little animations in the corner of the screen.

Each ship comes with a weapon and special ability unique to its class. They range from basic lasers, to flame throwing mega-guns. Special abilities cloaking devices, teleporters or homing missiles - one even has a squadron of interceptor fighters. The controls are simple. Left and right to rotate the ship, forward to accelerate, fire for the guns and back for the special.

You can play against a computer or a friend, or play as a cyborg or Psytron. In cyborg mode you work out the strategies while the computer fights. Psytron mode means you fight and the computer does the thinking.

Though very simple at times, the graphics are more than adequate for this game. Each ship is completely different, in armament and look. This helps make the game very playable.

Sadly this is a meg only game. It comes on two disks, but I found you only needed to swap once when the game had loaded. It uses Accolade's usual code wheel protection, although it's executed very humorously.

This game has lots of original and some bog standard ideas. But although it's very playable, I doubt if Star Control has much in the way of lasting appeal.

Star Control logo

The year is 2162, and the Earth has a treaty with the Alliance of Free Stars. It appears that the alliance is under threat from an evil empire, the Ur-Quan Hierarchy.

From the initial menu, you can choose two purely arcade selections: the practice and melee (both ship-to-ship combat), or you can dive into the Full Game where a semblance of strategic play comes into effect with mining, colonising and fortifying as options. This Full Game area comprises of nine different scenarios, the first choice being aimed towards the beginner. For those players who skip through all nine missions you have the option of editing and creating your own with a separate customisation utility.

For those readers looking for some serious strategic play within Star Control I have some bad news. There's not a lot here to get your teeth into. Yes, you will need to mine and colonise to form some sort of economic base before going for the alien's throat, but you tend to feel that serious thought is wasted as most of the strategy tends to become a pretty random affair.

The arcade ship-to-ship combat can be fun, for a few minutes, but then you shouldn't be buying Star Control for the pleasure of shooting aliens. There are far more superior arcade games out there which specialise in blasting and maiming. The good points of Star Control? Well, the graphics are nice and the sound is okay and the... erm... well that's it really.
The bottom line? Forget it.