Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Starflight II: Won!

Not much of a "winning screen," but the ones that preceded this are full of spoilers. Read at your own risk.
The rest of Starflight II was running around on missions and uncovering the plot. I spent all that time logging planets and trading goods and then never traded anything again.

When I closed last time, I had just found the "most valuable thing" prized by the Tandelou. I returned it to one of the factions and ended their war, although they apparently still had their factional differences.

According to the Gorzek, the source of their factional discord is "minute deviations in 7 of 800,543 religious ceremonies."

Ending the war unlocked the Gorzek, who was able to tell me a lot more about the history of the galaxy. He had been built by the Leghk and somehow ended up in the frozen surface of an asteroid, from which the kindly Lowar released him and reprogrammed him to keep the Tandelou Eshvay and Eshvara from killing each other.

It turns out the Umnau weren't the "children" of the Uhl but a species that arrived in this area of the galaxy some 800 years ago, at the same time as the Lowar. When the singularity appeared 450 years ago, the Umanu suddenly turned hostile and attacked the Lowar, much like the Leghk did to the Dweenle and their own people. The Lowar, seeking to defend themselves, established a Center for the Study of Leghk Technology and dispatched a ship through the singularity to the Halls of Memory, but it never returned. (It was the wreck of this ship that I encountered earlier.)

Gorzek chronicles the galaxy.

The Gorzek gave me the coordinates for the Center for the Study of Leghk Technology as well as the Umanu and Lowar homeworlds in the nebula. I managed to land on the Umanu homeworld without encountering any ships, but there was nothing to find there. The Lowar homeworld had a beacon warning me to stay away from a Shyneum planet where there was something horrible.

Well, jeez. Now I have to go.

The Center had an obscure clue as to the location of the Halls of Memory: "A green class A star in an equilateral triangle with the Hook and 6 yellow stones."

The key to this riddle came from the Dweenle, who told me that the Hook was an old Leghk name for a constellation in the upper-left quadrant and the stars that went nova, forming the cloud nebula, were 6 yellow stars. If I assumed they were at the center of the nebula and drew a line between that location and the Hook, that left two possibilities for the other point of the equilateral triangle. One was in open space where the map showed no stars, and one was in the middle of a small nebula. I tried the second location and hit upon the right planet.

Triangulating the Halls of Memory.

The Halls of Memory were just a ruin, though, so I figured it was time to go back in time.

The journey through the singularity wasn't any easier than the first time, but it occurred to me--after a couple of disastrous trips--to raise my shields before going through (duh), and that got me to the other side without a scratch. Upon arrival, I noted that the Cloud Nebula was gone; it was just regular space, with the 6 yellow stars still intact. This jived with my assumption that the portal would take me back to the time that the Leghk created it, during the war with the Uhl and just before their extinction.

The six stars that would eventually create the Cloud Nebula lie below me.

Dodging hostile Leghk in every sector, I headed for the Halls of Memory again but found the planet guarded by a mechanical sentinel I couldn't pass. I reasoned this must be the guardian for which the Dweenle had the key.

Since the Dweenle existed in the distant past, too, I headed off to find some. They were their usual depressed selves. (I thought the game might have some fun with it by making them a happy and carefree race before the Leghk disappeared and left them friendless, but alas.) They didn't offer up anything until I took the time to travel all the way to the bottom of the galaxy and find them some nid berries. After that, they happily gave me the riddle as to where to find the key: "Round a fallen star of four is a world of humming stones. Here, where nothing meets nothing, the transmitter awaits our return."

I'm getting a lot of use out of this "playback" feature.

I reasoned that the "Fallen Star" might be another Leghk constellation name, consulted a playback of my conversation with the Dweenle, and found that I was right. The constellation has four stars, one of which is slightly below the others, as if it was "fallen." I don't really know what the "humming stones" part was about, but the star system only had four planets, and I tried the 0,0 coordinates on each ("nothing meets nothing") and found the transmission beacon on the fourth.

Returning all the way to the top of the galaxy, I was able to get past the guardian and to the Halls of Memory. There, I encountered a group of living Leghk who hadn't been corrupted by the Uhl.

In a long bit of exposition--regrettably offered in summary form rather than dialogue--the Leghk told me that the Uhl is a single creature with molecules spread out over many parsecs of space, bound by faint electromagnetic energies. The creature regards other sentient races as viruses, and its modus operandi is to clear out a system by taking over one of the races, using them as an "antibody" to the others. When the Leghk created the singularity in a failed attempt to escape, the Uhl exploited it to send itself to the future and take over the Umanu.

The Leghk appear to be giant sperm.

The Leghk created a weapon to destroy the Uhl but it was in two halves, and one half was lost to a planet taken over by corrupted Leghk. They still had the other and happily gave it to me, along with a data crystal outlining various weapon and shield upgrades. With nothing else to do, I returned through the singularity to the present, wondering if now that I had the data crystal, the Spemin wouldn't be able to find it in the future, which means I never would have been on the quest in the first place, meaning I wouldn't have the data crystal, and so on. Fortunately, I remembered Questron II's insistence that doing things in the past can't change the past--only the present from the point you go back in time--so the paradox happily resolved itself.

At starport, I found that the upgrades afforded me Class 7 shields, plasma weapons in place of missiles and lasers, and something called a "battle jumper" that would allow me to teleport around the battlefield.

But lacking the last bit of the Leghk weapon, and not knowing where to find it, I was again adrift for a while. I traveled about, conversing with the various races, until at last I returned to Gorzek and found that he was the second piece of the Uhl weapon. He readily fused with the other half and told me to use him when I encountered the Uhl. (No word on whether the Tandelou factions will now annihilate each other without Gorzek's presence.)

I had a pretty good idea where to look, thanks to the beacon on the Lowar homeworld. I headed into the nebula towards the "Shyneum planet" where the "awful thing" resided.

I kept forgetting to mention this, but every time I entered the nebula, my two human characters--my pilot and science officer--started to act weird. This weirdness would progress to schizophrenia and finally put them in a catatonic state if I didn't leave the area reasonably quickly, thus necessitating a replacement or reload. This should have been a sign. This time around, I just kept pressing forward, and the two of them died before the end of the game. I guess one of the other characters assumed captains' duties, and by then the science officer was somewhat superfluous.

Approaching the Shyneum Planet, I was swarmed with a fleet of Umanu ships. I took me five tries to defeat them all. The key turned out to be watching for their special ray weapon and using the "battle jumper" to disappear before they could fire it. The rest was just avoiding missiles and firing my plasma weapon until they were all dead.

Once I had destroyed the Umanu ships, the Uhl appeared. I deployed the Leghk weapon against it, and it destroyed the Uhl's shields before the Uhl destroyed it. At that point, the Uhl hailed me and offered to depart for another part of the universe, but I told it to sod off, re-entered combat, and destroyed it.


The Umanu, now free, sent a transmission from the planet below, and lo and behold, they were human! I guess I should have figured that out from the name. More than that, it turns out that the Lowar were Elowan, and both they and the humans arrived in the area at the same time as part of the "Project Noah" expeditions from Earth, chronicled in the first Starflight.

My own "Umanu" are conveniently dead at this point. [Later edit: I just realized he's addressing this communication to the Dweenle member of my crew, Blahdodum. Great. After all that work, the humans I saved think that the Dweenle are their saviors.]

Scarcely had I digested this when the game gave me the screen at the top of the posting and dumped me to the DOS prompt.

But not before this bit of silliness.

In retrospect, the turn had been reasonably well-telegraphed: "Umanu" and "Lowar" sound reasonably like "Human" and "Elowan"; the Lowar were specifically described as plant-based species; their arrival in the galaxy matched up with the timeline of the Project Noah expeditions; and my two human crewmembers were clearly falling under the Uhl's influence. I was surprised by it anyway.

Later edit: As Amy points out below, I completely overlooked another obvious connection. The Uhl is clearly the same type of being as the Uhlek from the first Starflight, whose destruction I described in a posting on that game. Moreover, the name of that race, the Uhlek, sounds suspiciously like Uhl+Leghk. In the first game, though, the destruction of the Uhlek seemed to make all of its ships disappear, not free them from mental servitude. But perhaps they just freaked out and went somewhere to regroup and would have appeared in Starflight III.

The twist wasn't quite as good as the first game's, but it was still an entertaining storyline, and I enjoyed slowly uncovering the mystery towards the end. I like games like this, Morrowind, and precious few others, where you have to piece together the background from clues and messages, some of which are easy to miss. The puzzles were also well-done in this latter section, requiring a combination of lore, cartography, and logical inference.

My only big complaint is that I was really looking forward to extracting some serious vengeance on the Spemin. But they apparently ceased to be a problem the first time I defeated them, because I never heard about them or had any issue with them again.

GIMLET to come!


  1. Congrats!
    It seems I was very near the end myself, only missing the "fusing" and the final showdown, but being an idiot and firing at the Guardian I was stuck.

    All in all I thought the game was more streamlined, with better economy and artefacts, but more binary combat (either you die before you can react or the enemy is harmless) and fewer interesting places to explore.

    Now that Knights of Legend is coming up I repeat my earlier comments:
    Knights of Legends: part of me hated it, while another part found it stangely addictive.
    Read about my experience with the game at RPG Codex:

    Advice for Chet while I remember it:
    1. Get horses for all characters to avoid mind numblingly tedious random encounters.
    2. Avoid Dwarves, since they can't ride horse.
    3. If possible, use a DosBox version with Save States ability. I never could work out how to reliably save the game, and the save states function saved me a lot of grief.

    1. Thanks, Petrus. I'll read all the tips I've received about KoL in detail after I've had a couple hours to get used to the game.

  2. Very interesting and cool twist at the end. You may have missed out on one detail though: Just like Umanu sounds like Human, and Lowar sounds like Elowan... Uhl and Leghk sound like Uhlek. You may not remember this silent enemy from the first Starflight, but have a look in one of your old entries:

    "I haven't encountered the Uhlek yet, unless they are the species that keeps attacking my ships without even hailing me. The Spemin and Elowan claim that the Uhlek are actually a single creature (a "mind-ganglion" according to the Spemin) that lives deep in its planet and sends "parts" of itself into space. Sounds like a good place to drop my black egg bomb."

    Source: http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2010/09/starflight-races.html

    1. Wow. Yes, I did overlook that. I think at one point, I thought about how similar the Uhl seemed to one of the enemies in Starflight, but I obviously didn't remember the name.

      There was a bit of a difference in that when I destroyed the Uhlek in SF1, the ships completely disappeared. They didn't hail me and thank them for saving their lives or anything. But otherwise it's clearly supposed to be the same type of being. Thanks!

    2. No problem at all. The Uhlek was the new name for the Uhl-controlled Leghk. I love this stuff.

    3. It does raise some questions, though. Presumably I destroyed the one Uhl in SF1, so there were at least two of them. SF2 describes the history of how the Uhl took over the Leghk in their "home galaxy." So how did Leghk end up getting controlled by a SECOND Uhl in a different galaxy? And what happened to those Leghk once I destroyed that Uhl? Did they try to go home, only to fall under the control of the other Uhl?

    4. The Uhl in SF1 is the original, ancient one that you encounter in SF2 in the past. The Uhl in the present of SF2 is just an offshoot from this first one that takes advantage of the wormhole into its future and goes on to control the humans that it encounters there (the Umanu).

      The ancient Uhl which takes over the Leghk then goes on to move through the galaxy, taking its Uhlek with it, over the next million years. It moves from the SF2 area (the Leghk sector) outward through the galaxy into the Arth sector of SF1 in the Second Wave of attacks on the Old Empire as it flees the Ancients and the Crystal Planet.

  3. I have a feeling this is the kind of game I would NEVER be able to solve. Putting together obscure pieces of information and making leaps of intuition... I am basically functionally retarded when it comes to things like this. Actually, I am basically functionally retarded when it comes to a lot of things. Huh. I wonder what that says about me. Probably something I don't want to explore too closely.

    Anyway, good game! I did enjoy what little I played of Sf1... maybe I can actually play that one, then play this one. A crazy idea, but it just might work!

    1. I actually wondered pretty much the same, if I was able to advance very far in the game's plot. It does seem like you have to piece together a lot of things from various parts of the game world and game mechanics.

      I always relied on walkthroughs a lot when playing (western) RPGs and adventure games. They tended to have puzzles I didn't have the patience or early on, the English skills to get through by myself. It's been a while since I played any lately, apart from my Uukrul game, and that one so far was a lot of fun to figure out without outside sources.


    2. I originally got SF1 when I was probably only 8 years old, and it was far enough over my head that I never managed to get notably far into the overall plot. I eventually came back and finished it in the '90s as a teenager, but only with the help of a walkthrough.

      I just picked it back up again and was able to make it quite far on my own, just by keeping Notepad open next to the game window and writing down everything I learned as if I were advancing quests in a modern CRPG. The designers did a good job of leaving you enough breadcrumbs to discover quite a bit of things in the game (probably enough to win) by using this method.

    3. Even when they're not very hard, overcoming puzzles through a combination of logic and consulting notes is extremely satisfying to me. It's one of the few times in a CRPG when you, the player, are fully in the role, doing exactly what your character would be doing in an identical circumstance.

    4. I share the feeling, but a lot of the tames, if it's taking to long for me to figure it out, I start feeling like I'm wasting to much time. It's that sense "I could be playing something else right now and actually advancing". Of course, the best feeling is when I find that one game that finds a nice balance.

    5. William, I think you might be a touch surprised by what your brain will put together if given enough input. I struggled greatly with SC2/The Urquan Masters when I first attempted it... But that worry was soon alleviated when I started to document things as I played. Obviously, I didn't play with an open Excel document like Mr. Addict here, but the principle is still pretty much the same. Particularly with games that give lots of information to put together/forget, it's amazing how quickly you make logical leaps when similar numbers et al keep popping up. (Still, the ferocity with which Chet manages to tackle these games is downright frightening at times. Well done!)

  4. Congrats! I remember beating this game (With lots of help from a walkthrough). I did not understand most of the game, it seems. You have a very good way of summing up game contents.

    As for Knights of Legends:

    - there is only one weapon which can be trained to max
    - for me, it was kelder only with great swords and all the artefacts duplicated

    - always travel with your weapon sheathed, that way you can always flee combat, if you are drawn into one which turns out to be a bigger bite than you can chew.

    1. Thanks. After I've played for a few hours, I'll search all my past comments for tips like this. I appreciate it.

    2. Another thing: KoL was intended to be the first of a series of inter-connected games, and some of the weapons trainers were supposed to be in the second installment. The result is that some weapon skills are dead ends since you can only get basic training. You may want to consult a FAQ first to lessen this problem.

  5. I never thought about this before, but the Uhl are conceptually very similar to the Ancients: Species so different from ours that the conflict is based on a misunderstanding rather than malevolence. I wonder if that trend would've continued to a hypothetical Starflight 3? If that were the case, perhaps it's for the best that it never came to pass: I feel that would've been going back to the same well a few to many times, like M. Night Shyamalan's infamous 'twists'.

    1. Very true. And humanity in both games adopts a very "us or them" approach to dealing with them.

  6. I'm I the only one who finds that photo-realistic human picture at the end really jarring in tone compared to the rest of the game?

    1. He looks like Falconhoof from the adventure call sketches on Limmy's show.

    2. I bet he was on the development team.

    3. Am I the only one to find it really creepy looking?

    4. You're not the only one. He makes me sorry I saved them.

    5. It's a bit jarring, but not in a bad way, in my opinion. For me, for just a moment, it made me not immediately realize that's actually a human.

    6. Gotta love the tilted head and big grin and how it sets warnings off in the human psyche. Watch your back as you try to collect on the "anything you want from us", which in it self brings to mind a cultish vibe. If they only have new seekers and jumpsuits to give you run fast.

    7. I like to think that he/she (??) is just extremely happy to have been saved from complete mind domination. I certainly would be if I found that I could suddenly think and act for myself after so long.

      Unfortunately, after 950,000 years of domination, the same isn't the case for the Leghk - I think they disappear in SF1 after the death of the Uhl because they're too far gone and reliant on the control to survive without it.

    8. I was just writing about Paul Reiche III in relation to Star Control, and I found his picture somewhere online. I returned to this entry to verify, and I'm pretty sure that image is of him. Compare to here:


  7. I have to say, that was quite an amazing twist at the end, especially for someone who played neither of the two games. Makes me want to try both of them out.

    These days, it's hard to run into a twist in the plot that actually surprises you. I mean, I don't think a story is inherently bad just because it's predictable, but it would be nice to be surprised a bit more often.

    1. In this era, I'm reasonably happy for a decent plot at all. Of my past few dozen games, only a handful tell a coherent, interesting story along with the gameplay. The twist ending is gravy.

  8. Congratulations on winning the game!

    Just to comment on a few things in your post:
    - The two equilateral triangles: the bottom triangle points to the star where the Tarn are. I think that if you went there first you'd find a message (from the Lowar?) telling you you're in the wrong place.
    - The 'humming stones' were lifeforms on the planet you needed. If you drove around you'd see them everywhere. It just served to distinguish that planet from the others.
    - If you grill Gorzek enough in the early game, one of the things he says is that he has an unknown origin and a feeling that he is incomplete. This is supposed to be the hint that he might be half of the weapon, but it's damn easy to forget about by the time you get the other half off the Leghk.
    - Knowing that the Spemin are once again relegated to the lower rung of the cosmic lifeform ladder should be retribution enough, but it is always fun to blast them! They're not nefarious enough to deserve being dealt with in a permanent way. I was actually surprised you managed to kill them before you got the plasma bolts yourself - the Battle Jumpers make them a pain to fight and impossible to run from.

    1. Thanks for the additional context, especially on Gorzek. I do remember that dialogue bit now that you mention it. That would have saved some time.

      I was WAY over-thinking the "humming stones." I was studying each planet from orbit, noting the elements in the lithosphere, and trying to think if they had anything to do with humming or vibration. I was Googling what tuning forks are made of.

  9. Something about the game put me in mind to try a speed run. I think it could be completed in less than an hour once you know where all the stuff is. I tried it a little while ago, but I got killed by some Leghk while studying a chart of continuum fluxes and I don't know if I'll try again. If anyone else wants to try, I think the best sequence would be:

    1. Sell off the lasers and shields, name the ship
    2. Create crewmembers; train navigator as high as possible
    3. Launch. Head up from starport hitting all the planets between SP and the top of the map that are colonizable. Log them. Just flee from any encounters.
    4. Return to starport. Collect funds. Train everyone to 250 in primary skills. Buy Level 5 engines.
    5. Launch and head right from starport. Collect Most Valuable Thing, logging colonizable planets along the way.
    6. Return to starport, collect cash, buy Level 5 shields.
    7. Return MVT to Tandelou.
    8. Visit Tandelou planet, buy as much Shyneum as possible (at least 180)
    9. Head for Anomaly. Raise Shields, enter.
    10. Go to planet with Transmitter key
    11. Go to Halls of Memory
    12. Go back through Anomaly. Return to starport, get outfitted with weapons
    13. Collect Gorzek
    14. Go to Uhl

    Technically, returning the MVT might not be necessary to get Gorzek to join with the other half of the weapon. I don't know.

    All of this will be sped along with intelligent use of jump pods and continuum fluxes. The biggest danger is running out of Shyneum even with all of the cash you're collecting from planets. I was almost out once I went through the Anomaly (I forgot it consumes 75 units), and I was going to have to pick up nid berries to give to the Dweenle for more, so I'd have enough to return home.

    If someone wants to give it a try and upload it to YouTube, I'll link to it.

  10. Nice job!

    Beings with a unusual time scale in Starflight 1, being(s) with a unusual space scale in Starflight 2, what would have been the twist in Starflight 3 (cause there is no Starflight 3 right?)

    1. There is a sort-of Starflight III and an almost-Starflight III. Check out my review tomorrow.

      If I had written Starflight III, I would have opened with this scenario: The Leghk freed from the control of the Uhl at the end of Starflight have regrouped in a distant part of space. Slowly exploring the galaxy, they run into some Spemin equipped with Leghk weapons. As usual, the Spemin manage to screw up the encounter, and it ends in battle in which the Spemin are defeated after destroying several Leghk ships. Having become hard and untrusting over thousands of years of captivity, the Leghk decide enough is enough, and they destroy the Spemin homeworld.

      Interstel dispatches ships to intercept the Leghk and figure out their intentions. The Leghk, seeing yet ANOTHER species equipped with their weapons and technology, don't even bother to parlay this time. Assuming that the Arth alliance is hostile, they attack and destroy Arth, leaving the starport from Starflight II the last refuge of humanity.

      Facing yet another extinction, Interstel hits upon a desperate plan. The Leghk singularity is still out there, ready to transport any ship back nearly a million years into the past. This time, we won't just collect some special weapon; we'll destroy the Uhl in its own time, saving the Leghk and preventing the Uhl's offspring from going through the singularity to the future. But even more than that: we'll find a way to stop humanity from destroying the Ancients, to prevent the solar flare that destroyed Earth, to destroy the Numlox and Phlegmeck before they can begin their interstellar war--in short, to prevent everything bad from happening to humanity. We won't save "Arth"; we'll do better than that: We'll save EARTH.

      The Thrynn, Elowan, and Veloxi aren't down with this plan. A fight breaks out. But a small group of humans manages to flee the carnage, steal a ship, and head for the singularity, determined to change humanity's destiny...

    2. Inventing alternative or complementary storylines for games is interesting. It's fun to play with what stories I would like to tell in worlds created for books/film/games.

    3. The Doctor Who theme started playing in my head while I read this... though it's probably more similar to the Terminator franchise. Seriously, though, make a Kickstarter for this, so that you can quit your job and work on SF3 and this blog at the same time. I'm IN. There should definitely be some butterfly effect twist at the end. Maybe the Numlox destroyed some other evil race that would become even more powerful now without their involvement. Something like that, but much better. So get cracking. ;)

  11. This blog amazes me, because I have a similar project in the works for Adventure Games. My list is not nearly as comprehensive as yours, I limit myself to games sold through digital distribution and have decided to ignore text-based adventure games altogether.

    Recently, I have been toying around with the idea of doing an CRPG list, too, with the same limitations as above. Unfortunately, it means I would miss a lot from the 70's and 80's. And then I discovered your site.

    I was wondering if you had any tips or suggestions—like maybe if I should make a blog or something to document my adventures—for a fellow gamer who was bitten by the listing bug.

    1. Wow, as I look through the list of blogs that you follow I noticed someone else has already done the Adventure Game thing. It's a little bit sad that I'm the last to the party. :(

    2. There's no reason you can't join Trickster alongside him. If you're looking to strike on something new though, there are other genres to get into . I'm sure someone would look forward to strategy games if you can get into that. Then there's the thought of shifting towards text based IF style games.

    3. Well, my original plan was simply to see the evolution of the game genre(s?) I enjoyed the most throughout history. I will still do cRPGs and Adventure Games on my own, but having an audience to go through the experience with me is only something I just recently came up with before I discovered these blogs.

      The problem with IF for me is that as a genre I know literally next to nothing about it. I believe it is a different genre from graphical adventure games, just like cRPGs and jRPGs are different genres. I used to read some Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was little, but beyond that I wouldn't really know where to start. There's no definitive list on Wikipedia for IF like there is for RPGs or Adventure Games, either.

      As for pure strategy, I'm not too interested in those types of war games. However, tactical cRPGs (which would be covered by The Addict, I hope) and possibly managerial games (Caesar III, Zeus: Master of Olympus, Pharaoh) were always fun for me to mess around in and play. Though, I must confess I also know very little about the history of city-building simulation games...

      Luckily for me, there is what looks like the beginning of a list on Wikipedia for this genre, however I'm not 100% sure I would enjoy playing one game of this type after another all the time.

      The other option, I guess, would be to do a jRPG version. I'm a little hesitant on it, though, as I'm not so comfortable using emulators. My other lists are constructed based on the libraries of GOG and Steam to appease my conscience more than anything else. The fact that it makes them only half the side of The Addict's or Trickster's is simply an added bonus. :P

      And, there's always the chance I may not make my version a written blog at all, but a "Let's Play the History of [Insert Game Genre Here]." I was just kind of wondering how to go about it all.

      Wow, this post became long. I'll leave my thoughts for now, and hopefully get some other suggestions or tips from people. Especially if anyone wants to help me learn more about IF or Managerial games as a possible shift.

    4. Also, looking over your blog, I can see you've already got a good start on the jRPGs. Good luck! :)

    5. Whatever you decide to do, don't be discouraged just because other people are doing something. I would actually like to see more blogs like mine, against which I could compare my own reviews (after I've written them, of course) and get alternate perspectives.

      I'm not sure what you mean by JRPGs, though. I've only played a couple of games with their origins in Japan, and I don't think that necessarily makes them "JRPGs."

    6. I believe that jRPGs had their start with the RPGs originally released in Japan for consoles, but then got translated later for a North American release. A lot of the jRPGs for consoles focus on the development of the story of the game with characters generated for you to experience the story through, where cRPGs focus a lot more on you being able to generate your own character and express yourself throughout the story of the game.

      Today that definition doesn't hold all that much water because there are specific examples of games released in North America that feel like a jRPG (e.g., Septerra Core), and games released in Japan that feel like a cRPG (e.g., Dark Souls).

      If you want to hear it put more elegantly than I can, Extra Credits did a three-part series on Western & Japanese RPGs which you can find starting here: http://extra-credits.net/episodes/western-japanese-rpgs-part-1/

      Thanks for the encouragement, though, I think I might just join in doing cRPGs alongside you even if I don't go into the same depth during the early years like you are.

    7. You might try http://www.ifarchive.org/ if you do want to do Interactive Fiction. That and Wikipedia are probably pretty comprehensive.

  12. Finally caught up! Now I've got to *wait* for more posts. Gah! Very enjoyable blog, btw.

  13. Playback and conversation logs are a feature that really ought to have become standard in RPGs - arguably in all games.

    Just yesterday I was playing a Shin Megami Tensei game that casually hard-locked progress in the main quest behind knowledge of the name of a god that had been mentioned briefly in passing hours before. Without the internet I would have been sunk.

  14. Sorry to double post... I really liked the story in this one. It's great that the climax pays off a bunch of things set up in both the first game and this one. There's some fun sci-fi stuff like cosmic entities and time travel.

    Shame about the abruptness of the ending, but it's still the sort of storytelling sophistication I would never have expected from games of this era (being a total solipsist and also having grown up in the '90s).

  15. the Umanu twist took me *totally* by surprise when I played through this as a 12-year-old. also for some reason the "nothing meets nothing" confused the hell out of me -- i spent ages searching around that planet at places where two oceans met, etc, before i gave up and flew away in frustration. the next time i returned i landed accidentally at 0x0 and... there was the transmitter! both Starflights are amazing games -- the amount of storytelling they managed to squeeze onto two 360k disks (along with an entire galaxy to explore!) really is remarkable.

  16. Once I finished the game, I thought Umanu while sounding similar to human, was meant to be a nod to "You, man, you!"


I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters. I will delete comments containing profanity on a case-by-case basis.

3. NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. If you don't want to log in to Google to comment, either a) choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank, or b) sign your anonymous comment with a preferred user name in the text of the comment itself.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

5. Comments on my blog are not a place for slurs against any race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or mental or physical disability. I will delete these on a case-by-case basis depending on my interpretation of what constitutes a "slur."

Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

I will delete any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.