Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Star Control II: Won!

There's no one "congratulations" screen. This is the final screen of the game.

The final chapter commenced with a re-visit to the Syreen. After clearly being instructed to "LEAVE" in our last encounter, I had thought that the Syreen commander was going to do something without my participation, but it turns out she was just formulating a plan. When I returned--which I imagine I could have done right away--she asked for my help in punishing the Mycons.

This was a multi-part quest. It began with the recovery of the mothballed Syreen fleet. When they had surrendered to the Ur-Quan, the Syreen had to fly their fleet to an unknown planet. All she could tell me was that it was within 200 hyperspace units, and the sun was red or orange. Betelgeuse is at 412.5, 377.0, and 200 units constitutes a fairly large radius. However, I suspected the planet would be in Ur-Quan space. I got Irene's help with the colors, and she pointed out that the Camelopardalis constellation had quite a few orange and red stars. I started exploring them starting with the closest one to Betelgeuse, and I found the ships in the second system I explored. That was a bit of luck.

There were lots of Ur-Quan in the system, but I dodged them and delivered the Syreen pilots to their ships. I returned to the Syreen station and, largely because I was ensuring that I exhausted dialogue options, had sex with the Syreen commander.
The developers tactfully cut to black.
Afterwards, she explained her plan to lure the Mycon fleet to a carefully selected world and ambush them. I just had to tell them about it. I delivered the information to the Mycon and watched as the Syreen fleet left its world, engaged the Mycon fleet, and significantly reduced the latter. For the rest of the game, the Mycon territory bounced around the map, steadily shrinking. Later, in a visit to the Syreen commander, she reveled in the success of the mission but said there wasn't much else she could do until we brought down the slave shield.
Not quite shambled enough, as we'll soon see.
In the meantime, on the star map, the Ilwrath and the Thraddash were completely gone, the Pkunk were heading towards Yehat space again, and the Supox and Utwig had invaded Ur-Quan space. The Ur-Quan space, I should note, never got any smaller despite an internal civil war and an external war with me.
The state of the galaxy towards the end.
My next visit was to Umgah space, where I had forgotten to follow up on the Arilouleelay's request to look in on the injured Talking Pet they'd entrusted to the cosmic otyughs. When I arrived and met with an Umgah vessel, it was clear something was wrong. They were talking robotically, had lost their sense of humor, and attacked when I kept questioning them.
Not all is right with the Umgah.
I didn't mind. I don't find the Umgah ships very hard, and I wanted to practice with my new acquisitions. The Syreen ability to lure enemy crewmmembers to their deaths (they space themselves) is cool in a horrifying way, but it takes too long to significantly damage the enemy and the Syreen primary weapon isn't very good. I couldn't do anything useful with the Supox ship. The Utwig ship, on the other hand, was fantastically useful. Its secondary attack raises a shield that absorbs energy damage and recharges the battery with it. Its primary attack is a widespread blast, though somewhat weak. Against the Umgah, I just had to hover outside their short range and blast them with the primary weapon, activating the secondary weapon to recharge the battery when they got within range.
The Umgah ship isn't much of a match for the Utwig ship.
Eventually, I reached the Umgah homeworld, where I found myself speaking to the Talking Pet. Apparently, the Umgah experimentations had restored both its intelligence and psychic abilities, allowing him to dominate the Umgah. He tried to control us, but we had the Taalo Shield, protecting us against psychic interference. Enraged, he sent a fleet of 10 Umgah ships at us. Destroying them wasn't too hard, but 10 is still a lot of ships. When we were done, the cowed Talking Pet agreed to come with us to help defeat the Ur-Quan.
But only after trying to trick me first.
Meanwhile, the freed Umgah expressed gratitude and gave us 500 units of biological data. Then, they decided it would be funny to attack me, so I had to fight a bunch more Umgah ships.

With the 500 biological data units, I returned to the Melnorme and purchased the rest of the technological upgrades that they had to offer, including auto-tracking modules to improve the aim of weapons, protection for planetary landers, and "hellbore cannons" for the flagship, none of which I ever actually used.

I was out of clues at this point and had to search deep in my notes and screenshots for what to do next. Finally, among some shots of dialogue with the Shofixti, I found reference to the Mycon testing some powerful device on Beta Brahe. Since the Syreen attack, Beta Brahe was outside the core Mycon territory, although when I arrived I still had to defeat 5 Mycon ships in a row. Fighting them was no easier than the last time I tried. They spammed their homing spores faster than I could destroy them, and I lost several ships while fighting them.
The Utwig ship absorbs the Mycon bombs, but I had a tough time getting it close enough to the Mycon ship to blast them.
When it was over, I recovered a "Sun Device" from the surface of Beta Brahe. This turned out to be the artifact necessary to give extra power to the Chenjesu and Mmrnmhrm unification ritual.

When I returned to Procyon, I didn't get any additional dialogue options, so I just used the device. After a blinding flash, I was contacted by a grateful Chmmr, the name for the combined race. They did something to finish "installing" the Precursor bomb on the flagship and also gave me plans for a new fighter called an Avatar. I thought they were going to give me a way to pierce the slave shields, but there was no dialogue to that point.
I'm having flashbacks to my honeymoon.
Returning to starbase, I found that the Chmmr alliance had made us so rich, I no longer had any limit to the resource units I could spend. I restocked my fleet with Chmmr Avatars and some other ships, then tried to figure out what to do with my flagship. The bomb took up more than half the available module slots, so I had to greatly reduce crew and fuel capacity in order to keep any weapons at all. It turns out that I probably should have just ignored weapons entirely (since I never fought with the flagship again) and maximized crew and fuel. Either way, it worked out.
The Precursor ship is basically just a flying bomb at this point.
It was time to take on the Ur-Quan Sa-Matra platform, I guessed. I had no idea where it was, but I had a few hours to kill and several episodes of Dead to Me to watch in the background. I headed for the center of Ur-Quan space and started probing stars in the Crucis and Crateris constellations.

This brought me into battle with a lot of dreadnoughts, and I found the Avatars suitably powerful against them. The Avatars' primary laser attack is cataclysmic--if you can aim it. I was less enamored of the secondary attack, which seems to hit the enemy ship with a tractor beam--although once I managed to get the timing just right and use the tractor beam to sling a dreadnought into a planet. Mostly, though, it was the same story: My clumsy fingers couldn't evade the Kor-Ah throwing stars nor aim worth a damn, and I generally lost one Avatar to each Kor-Ah ship. (And here's something else: I am thoroughly sick of bonking into planets while trying to maneuver around enemy ships. I don't care if it's "realistic." The way the screen wraps is not "realistic," nor intuitive, and both had me hating combat by the end of the game.) After the first one, I generally evaded the dreadnoughts and reloaded when I couldn't.
The Avatar destroys a dreadnought just before its hit points run out.
Eventually, I found the Sa-Matra orbiting one of the planets of Delta Crateris, immediately noticeable because it had a ring of Ur-Quan dreadnoughts around it. At my word, the Talking Pet confused them and they wandered off, allowing me to approach the battle platform.
Without the Talking Pet, I would have had a heck of a fight--but can you even get here without the Talking Pet?
The final battle consisted of two stages. The first required me to defeat six Ur-Quan dreadnoughts, three regular and three Kor-Ah. If they'd let me fight all three of each kind in a row, it would have been a lot easier. The regular dreadnoughts are easily defeated by the Utwig ships: you just absorb their energy attacks until they run out of battery power, then hit them with your cannons. But since the Kor-Ah use a physical attack, the Utwig ship is no good against them. And you can't alternate your own ships; once a ship warps out of combat, you can't employ it again in the same battle.

In the end, I lost 7 ships, including all but one of my new Avatars, to the six dreadnoughts.
Things are not going well for my fleet.
Fortunately, the moment I defeated the ships, the Yehat suddenly appeared, the rebellious faction having overthrown the queen. The Pkunk had unified with them in the meantime, and the new queen was Pkunk. They replaced 6 of the 7 ships I lost with 3 Pkunk Furies and 3 Yehat Terminators.
I was wondering why the Yehat civil war was taking so long. They couldn't win until the right moment.
The next phase required me to attack the battle platform itself. It had six shield generators on its perimeter, generating a shield and preventing me from flying my bomb into it. Also protecting it were these flying "repulsor globes"--that's the best I can describe them. They didn't do much damage, but they knocked my ships off course and made it difficult to approach the platform. It was also protected by these ships that looked like fireballs.

Most important, the platform itself seemed to have some kind of natural repulsing capability--or perhaps it was just the draw of the nearby planet. Either way, the end result was that most of my ships couldn't get anywhere near it, nor outrun the devastating fireballs. The only ships that I could even begin to use were the Pkunk Furies. I had to use them to circle the platform, slowly diminishing the shield generators while avoiding the many repulsor globes and fireballs.

It took me five tries. I only had three Furies and if they were all destroyed, I was out of luck with any of the other ships (the Yehat Terminators could almost make it, but not quite). I'm curious how other people do it, particularly if they don't lose as many ships as I did to the dreadnoughts and thus not have enough space for the multiple Pkunk and Yehat replacements.
My nerves were too frayed to get a lot of screenshots during this section.
After I finally destroyed the shield generators, I figured it was time to make a run for the center of the platform with the flagship and the bomb. Big mistake. My cumbersome flagship stood no chance against the still-active repulsor balls and fireballs. I had to reload and defeat the damned shield generators again, and it took me three more tries.

This time, I employed the rest of my ships to destroy the remaining globes and fireballs before, finally, sending my doomsday flagship into the maw of the platform. At this point, the game took over and commenced the endgame sequence.
"Goodbye, loyal crew!"
The sequence showed my captain escaping in a pod that seems much too small for the entire crew. In the escape pod's viewscreen--where he is suspiciously the only one present--he sees a huge explosion and goes unconscious. He wakes up to the beautiful Syreen commander, Talana, watching over him. Talana relates that the Sa-Matra was indeed destroyed and that the rest of the Ur-Quan fleets were destroyed by the New Alliance. The captain has awoken just in time to see the slave shield disappear on Earth.
Yes, the planet is definitely what I'd be looking at right now.
The narrative then shifts to the captain as an old man, relaxing on Unzervalt (the Precursor planet from the backstory), telling the story to his grandchildren. It is clear that he married Talana shortly after the events of the game. The children demand to know what happened in the five-year period after the Ur-Quan destruction, and how their grandfather found the "Mark II." But the captain simply says that those adventures are "an entirely different story," clearly setting up a sequel.
Perspective dramatically shifts in the final shots.
As the end credits roll, the player gets little humorous vignettes of the various races. The Zoq-Fot-Pik continue to debate about Frungy; the Shofixti male has run away for some much-needed recuperation; the Utwig manage to break the Ultron again, and so on. Many of them make allusions to being featured in the sequel. The entire sequence (which you can watch here) is cute, but it also serves to emphasize that the game's races are fundamentally silly, which more than slightly undermines the plot.
The Druuge makes demands for Star Control III.
So . . . I don't know. I was hoping for more of a twist in the ending, along the lines of Starflight. I feel like the only major twist in the game was in the relationship between the Ur-Quan and their Talking Pets, and that happened in somewhat banal dialogue comparatively early.

There's lots of external material for me to read before the final entry. I'm particularly interested in what elements of the game truly had alternate paths and which ones just seemed like it at the time. I'm also interested in any other side-quests or Easter eggs that I missed. The spoiler embargo is lifted, so please discuss liberally.

Final time: 47 hours


  1. There are surprisingly few alternate paths, actually. Most of the quest items and the Sa-Matra are protected by unlimited ships unless you do the necessary quests for them, so brute force is out. There are many alternatives on getting information (most tidbits are known by at least 3-4 races and also sold by the Melnorme), but not on actually acting on it.

    The Shofixti/Yehat/VUX arc was entirely optional I think, since they don't have any story items.

    The biggest alternative path comes from the nature of the time limit (February 17, 2159): it is the date the Kohr-Ah win the civil war and immediately begin their campaign of galactic genocide. They visit every race in a certain order and automatically and instantly destroy them, but it takes them a few months travelling at a speed of 15.8 hyperspace units per day, and they always leave the Chmmr second last and Earth last. This means that you can get ahead using the portal spawner, pick up any quest items from the ruins of the various planets, and get them to the Chmmr before they are killed, allowing you at least a pyrrhic victory. (Which is not reflected at all in the ending.)

    Allying with the Utwig and Supox adds an additional 202 days to the limit. An oversight in the code also causes them to be unable to kill races that are on the move, like the Ilwrath sent against the Thraddash, giving you some extra time.

    There's also a funny scene which happens when you visit the Talking Pet without the Taalo Shield, and tell him you know what he is.

    Too bad you didn't use the full equipped flagship. I think you would've loved it after fighting so many losing battles, that how effortlessly it can curbstomp pretty much any opponent.

    1. Oh yes I had forgotten the quality of the writing when the Ur Quan meet you while you are on metal compulsion, and tell them as such.

  2. As said by Zardas, the aiming module make almost all combats trivial - except maybe against the Slylandro.

    There are no really alternate path, but many items can be obtained in several ways. All items can be obtained by waiting long enough for the Kohr-Ah to launch their genocide movement and pick up the items behind them.

    For instance :
    - There are several ways to deal with the Druuge, in particular you can exchange the items for slaves (which will skyrocket the crew price back at the base ; if you do it twice the Human commandeer tells you you will be judged for war crime once the whole ordeal is over ; I never checked if it changes the ending sequence).

    - The Thraddash can be coerced to join you if you kill a number of them (trivial with the correct vehicles). You can also send them against the Ur Quan to win time.

    There are quite significant "side quests" though : You can win the game without dealing with the Slylandro, without saving the Shofixti, without saving the ZFP, without allying the Thraddash (which you did), ...

    All dialogues can be found here, if you are interested :

    1. Sending the Thraddash into Culture 20 gives you some influence over them, and you can send them to help the Ur-Quan even if you don't take over their culture, but they add precisely zero months to the deadline.

  3. Easter Egg : The Random World are actually shaped like an arrow on the Universe Map, though I can't remember what it points.

    The Melnorme are actually one of the Sentient Milieu race (the Mael-Num) which escaped and survived

    1. From the Ultronomicon, the SC2 wiki:

      The Spathi mention a Precursor text referring to what they translated as "10 artificial 'waste disposal sites'". Similarly, the Slylandro Joyous Lifting remembers that the "Shaggy Ones" (the Precursors) either discovered or assembled a set of 10 worlds and organized them in some pattern. He describes the location of two such worlds. The Thraddash likewise have discovered ancient text fragments which describe "Precursor Dumps" and state that the "dumps are in some kind of pattern". It is generally assumed that these are all references to the rainbow worlds.

      From a mail by Paul Reiche III: the arrow points the direction of the Precursor Migration -- and the supposed direction for the sequel to follow.

    2. The apex, Groombridge, was supposed to be the site for an easter egg where you could talk to the creators, Ford and Reiche. But it was never implemented because finishing the game became more impressing.

  4. For the end-game battle against Sa-Matra I use Pkunk exclusively. For me it's trivial to take out the shield generators with just one Pkunk Fury. After that it's just the matter of knocking off the fireballs which can also be done with the Fury.

    Before that the Ur-Quan are more tricky. It would be easier, indeed, if you could fight all three of each instead of alternating. For this I typically use Orz and Utwig. If I have non-Fwiffo Spathi ships, then I use them as well (I don't want to get Fwiffo killed, which is liable to happen due to the number of Ur-Quans). I rarely bother with the Chmmr Avatar, since it can't take out an Ur-Quan (either kind) without taking heavy damage.

    Yehat Terminators are ok as well against Kohr-Ah, less good against Kzer-Za (you can get them from the rebel Yehats if you talk to them. One of the Yehat spheres is the Loyalists and other is the Rebels, if you position yourself right you can meet only one side's ships.)

    You can also get more Furies if you talk to the Pkunk when they're at home. Though I rarely bother, since I only use the Furies for the end battle.

    The Thraddash I typically ally with by blasting them with the flagship and auto-tracking unit. One triple volley of Hellbore and the Thrad goes boom. Thraddash ships are quite good against the AI opponents since you can bait them to follow you and then torch with the afterburner. Though I rarely bother to get any, since I just get the Aqua Helix while I'm there and they become hostile again.

    In general, throughout most of the game, because Fwiffo's Spathi Eluder is so good against most enemies, I fly with very light escort for the mothership. So most battles I fight with the Eluder. Then once I get auto-track I switch over to using the mothership almost exclusively.

    Since I don't need the info-dumps to progress in the game, I generally prioritize buying tech from the Melnorme. But that's obviously second playthrough benefits.

    I don't know how I feel about sending the Ilwrath to exterminate the Thraddash... On one hand the Ilwrath are pretty irredeemable (and it gets of them off the Pkunk), but on the other I'm not sure the Thraddash deserve that.

    One thing I like about the storyline is that the primary antagonists, the Ur-Quan (both of them), are not evil as such. Even the Kohr-Ah think that what they are doing is best for you. You are filth, when they cleanse you, you have a chance to be reborn as an Ur-Quan according to their belief system. So they view it as allowing you the chance to become improved, become better. And the Kzer-Za likewise view what they're doing as protecting you. Under the impenetrable slave shield you are safe from threats. Both external and internal.

    1. My favorite ships are the Utwig and the Orz. The Utwig's obvious; their shield is awesome, and their weapon never runs out of oomph. Just don't deplete all your fuel, or you can't use the shield again that battle. (the shield absorbs power from attacks that hit it.) It's especially good against the Mycon, no idea why the Addict was having so much trouble.

      As they first start, the Orz are an average to bad ship. However, you can rotate their cannon! My favorite move is to spin it around backwards, and use them a bit like a Spathi. Their weapon does a lot of damage and shoots very fast, so if you're accurate with it, it's hard to dodge. That ship also has the ability to drop a marine that can do a very great deal of crew damage if it catches up to the enemy ship. It's like the Ur-Quan fighters, but once it gets through, there's no defense. It tears through some number of crew, and there's nothing the victim can do about it. It will even survive if it kills the ship, and return to the Orz.

      The Orz fights very well against the Kzer-za (green) Ur-Quan. Shooting backwards, it matches them strength for strength. Avoid the enmy fighters and don't hit the planet, and you're quite likely to win with a cheaper ship. It's much less effective, however, against the black Ur-Quan.

      When I was still young and reasonably quick, the Thraddash could really play hell on the Kohr-Ah, but my reflexes have atrophied, and nowadays I get bladed to death. Back in the day, I always found it very funny to kill those monsters with such a tiny, 6-crew ship, killing one of the most expensive ships with one of the cheapest.

      Now that I'm old, the only thing I like to attack the Kohr-Ah with is my flagship, sporting two Hellbore cannon mounts (so three total shots in a frontal fan), and three tracking modules so the bullets basically never miss. I can still take a hell of a lot of damage if I get an unlucky warp-in, but for the most part, I just point, shoot, and evaporate. Blam blam blam blam dead Kohr-Ah.

    2. Hold! What you are doing to us is wrong! Why do you do this thing?
      Alien, you have spoken the Words, and you have spoken them rightly.
      We will tell you our reasons why we enslave all other sentient life.
      We evolved on a hostile world, the descendants of solitary hunters.
      In those ancient days, there was no Kohr-Ah or Kzer-Za, only the Ur-Quan.
      We explored our world, and then the space beyond.
      Here we met the six races of the Sentient Milieu, which we joined as partners.
      It was on a routine planetfall that one of our Milieu scoutships first met the Dnyarri.
      They were evilly intelligent creatures who could control the minds of others.
      They wanted to rule the universe. We could not resist them.
      For thousands of years, we were unthinking slaves to the Dnyarri.
      The Dnyarri had a special liking for us Ur-Quan
      so they began to tinker with our genes. They built two Ur-Quan sub-races
      one Green, the thinkers and planners
      the other Black, the warriors and laborers.
      When the martyred genius Kzer-Za gave us the secret to defeating the Dnyarri, we destroyed them.
      Then we decided that we would never again be slaves.
      We would follow the Path of Now and Forever.
      We decided to enslave or imprison all other intelligent life in the galaxy.
      We had slave-shielded one world, when we learned that the Black Ur-Quan
      under a new leader, Kohr-Ah, had devised the Eternal Doctrine
      which called for the `cleansing', the annihilation, of all non-Ur-Quan sentient life.
      Before we could stop them, they burned the Yuptar race's homeworld
      and were on their way to the planet of the last remaining free race.
      We met the Kohr-Ah in orbit above that planet. We confronted them. They would not submit. We fought.
      When our battle was done, the Kohr-Ah were defeated.
      We exiled them, sent the remnant of the Kohr-Ah fleet into the unknown reaches of the galaxy.
      Then we began our own migration, moving around the galaxy in the opposite direction of the Kohr-Ah.
      Captain. You have heard our words. Now you have a decision to make.
      Submit to us, the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za, or face our wrath.

      Why do you wish to enslave us?
      Although you consider us the enemy, these conclusions are flawed. We are your salvation.
      We bring you peace
      a peace built upon OUR social framework imposed upon your planet
      a new world order in which your prosperity and security are assured by the Ur-Quan.
      We will protect you from the hazards of this hostile universe, from dangers so hideous
      your simple minds cannot imagine their dark scope.
      Today, we are the enemy. In time, this will change.
      Soon, you will come to understand the boon of slavery we force upon you
      and then, you will revere and even love us for this gift.

      Hello? Ur-Quan? Are you paying attention to me?
      In our twenty thousand years along the Path of Now and Forever
      we have dominated thousands of species, yes
      but we have saved hundreds from extinction.
      You imagine the threat of unknown invaders, or alien pestilence borne on the solar wind.
      We have seen these. But you do not acknowledge your own worst enemy, yourselves.
      We have found dead worlds without number, planets ravaged by atomic fire or gaian collapse.
      These planets were not rendered sterile by outside forces.
      They bear sad testament to the effects of unrestrained instinct and emotion
      or simple ignorance.
      We will prevent such mistakes.

    3. Above was Kzer-za. This is what the Kohr-ah have to say when you ask them what they're doing:

      What is this madness!? Why are you trying to kill everyone?
      We do not kill. We cleanse.
      Cleansing is necessary to ensure our eternal freedom and security.
      Indeed, you fail to understand: there is no death.
      Only termination and rebirth.
      Each termination brings around the new chance
      the possibility to be born an Ur-Quan.
      We merely present this opportunity, make it available to all.

      You have no right to continue this genocide!
      Our Path of Now and Forever is self-justifying, it needs no confirmation.
      We cleanse. That is all. There is no more.

      If you attack us, we will destroy you.
      Over five thousand races have made such a claim.
      We survived. They did not.
      Nor shall you.

      Hold! What you are doing to us is wrong! Why do you do this thing?
      THE WORDS!... the Words... the words
      alien, you have spoken the Words. You have spoken them rightly.
      We will explain to you about the Dnyarri our slavemasters
      the Taalo, our only friends... whom we exterminated
      and our reasons why we cleanse the galaxy of all other sentient life.
      We have explained this before, over twenty thousand years ago.
      Your words, `Why do you do this thing?' echo that ancient plea.
      You see, alien, we were a proud and mighty race, who were cruelly enslaved.
      For thousands of years, we had no free will.
      We were nothing more than tools.
      Never again will anyone enslave our people.
      We cleanse the galaxy of such threats.

      I guess that's it. Thanks for the info. We'll just leave now.
      No, it is not. There is more you must hear.
      When the war was over, the great Kohr-Ah rose from our ranks
      and declared the Path of Now and Forever. We would cleanse the galaxy.
      No one would ever threaten the Ur-Quan this way again.
      We had cleansed one of the three remaining Milieu races and were in orbit around a second's homeworld.
      From the surface came a plea... identical to the words you spoke a few moments ago.
      The one-eyed creatures, the Mael-Num, asked so simply, so clearly
      that we felt compelled to explain. While we did so, the Kzer-Za appeared.
      They would not permit us to destroy, they said. Enslave, yes. Imprison, yes. But never destroy.
      The moment was tense. Someone opened fire. The first Doctrinal War had begun.
      While we fought, the Mael-Num escaped. We never found them again.
      When our battle was done, we, the Kohr-Ah, were defeated
      however, the Kzer-Za let us go. We were exiled.
      We travelled through space, rebuilt the strength of our battle fleets
      and continued our plan to cleanse threats from the galaxy for all Ur-Quan.
      You have heard our words, and perhaps now you understand us a bit better.
      But now, it is time for us to cleanse you.

      Don't attack us! We are not your enemies!
      You are right.
      You are not our enemy.
      We have NO enemy
      beyond the Kzer-Za, our partners in the eternal conflict.
      You are simply... a spore, a seed.
      Today you are nothing... insignificant.
      But if allowed to bloom and grow
      someday... someday, you might represent a threat to our freedom and security.
      So we cleanse.

      I've heard enough of this madness. Goodbye.
      Before we destroy other thinking beings we share with them this comforting fact
      This life of yours... which shall end immediately following this statement
      is but one of many lives you will live.
      Perhaps, in your next incarnation
      you will be born an Ur-Quan.

    4. So, in fact both Ur-Quan factions do see themselves as a force for greater GOOD? Green octopuses - because they save pplz from themselves and black octopuses, and black octopuses - because they help pplz to reincarnate in superior octopus bodies?

  5. You can surrender to the green Ur Quan. They will tell you that you have made a wise choise that saves your crew, but that they will punish all officers by death. If you confirm, the game dumps you to the main screen, so it only marginally counts as an alternative ending.

    The game does a good job leaving things to the imagination of the player. I wish it would have taken the same approach with the ending. I didn't care for the Leslie Nielsen meets Roger Wilco version of the captain shown at the end.

    1. Okay. I guess I surrender.
      We will not kill your entire crew

      only those responsible for decision making

      specifically YOU, Captain, and your officers.

      I really, really, honestly surrender. I mean it. No kidding.
      Your wise decision has spared many of your crew the pain of death.

      However, as the commanding officer of your renegade vessel

      you will bear the full extent of the defined punishment

      which is death...

  6. The link to the ending you give in the entry isn't the link to the "silly" "races saying goodbye" sequence but to the general ending.

  7. Congratulations!
    I think you got most of what was available out of the game. Especially since you don't care about the combat (me neither). Narwhal also already mentioned my two favourite easter eggs of the game.
    I was deeply impressed by the plot. Yes, the twists don't quite have the force of THAT Starflight twist. Starflight's world is emptier but manages to fill the void with a lot of mystique.
    Star Control's world is more lively, and very dense. Not a lot of mystique. Also more playful, or even silly - which will be mirrored in the changes from Fallout 1 to 2.

  8. Plot twist: in the screenshot where the captain is looking at the planet instead of a much nicer thing he could look at, it's because he wants to distract himself because that thing under the bedsheet is not his knee, and it's embarrassing :p

    (sorry, couldn't resist making a bad lewd joke)

  9. It's been awhile but I recall having the flagship completely decked out in guns to the point where I didn't need to use any escorts and combat was fairly trivial.

  10. Congratulations on the win, I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your playthrough. Having never played Starflight, when I played this game as a teenager it was by far the game with the most detailed plot that I had ever played, and it always had a special place in my memory because of it. Replaying it this year I realised that it's not quite as good as I remember, but still pretty good. I think that the talking pet twist is revealed far too early in the game for it to have a "wow" moment, and as you mention all the races are rather goofy caricatures.

    In terms of gameplay I generally suck at both the combat and planet exploration so even in my original playthrough I did grinding for all the Melnorme upgrades pretty much straight away. I hated leaving rich planets behind because of the lightning and earthquakes so really wanted those upgrades. Consequently I ended up getting the Hellbore Cannons and auto-aiming module before almost all the tough fights, and it trivialises all of them. Whether this is a good thing or not I'm not sure, as it gave me no excuse to "get good" at the combat, which I could see being fun in the right circumstances. (As an aside my 4-year old son finds the Super Melee mode heaps of fun, he selects really powerful fighters like Kor-Ah and then takes out fleets of weaker ships, and has a grand old time.)

    I'm looking forward to the gimlet posting, noting that it pretty much has to get zeros in a couple of categories.

    1. I'm looking forward too. Only category where I think it could get a zero is Character Creation and Development, unless you count the ship as the character.

      Game world, there's plenty of it.
      NPC interaction, lots of NPCs around (all alien ship captains you can talk to).
      Magic and Combat, probably low score, but there is combat so it can't be zero.
      Equipment, there is both kit and quest items.
      Economy, arguably one of the main mechanics of the game.
      Quests, both main quest and sidequests, with alternate solutions to some.
      Graphics, Sound & Interface, very present (though probably gets dinged for the combat controls).
      Gameplay, this will probably be bifurcated, since Chet doesn't like the realtime combat.

      My prdiction is 40 to 45. A great game with lots to recommend, but very atypical if you judge it as a CRPG. Bump another 10 points if you enjoy the combat.

    2. I was thinking zeros in both character development and equipment, but I suppose you have to consider upgrading the main ship in at least one of those categories for a couple of points. The random plot items that you pick up aren't really what Chet considers "equipment". I predict high 40s, after all Starflight topped 60.

    3. What defines an RPG (or any genre) should be the types of experiences and choices the game provides more than the mechanics or delivery mechanisms. SC2 delivers RPG-like experiences and choices, and it's less (or not) important that it delivers them through unconventional mechanics.

      So yeah, you go on quests and as a reward you gain new and better powers and abilities which you can apply and configure in different ways, both in how you configure your main ship and your supporting fleet. Really, I think it does this better than many of the games already reviewed on this site.

      The real-time combat and comedic tone might not be to some people's preference, but I think it's hard to argue that they both were not executed well.

    4. It only gets a 0 in one category, for not having any character development.

  11. "I was ensuring that I exhausted dialogue options."

    Worth a try, anyway.

    1. There's no such thing as "exhausting dialogue options" with a woman, anyway.

    2. Really? I find most of the options quite exhausting.

  12. There's several interviews and archived messages with the creators Paul and Fred that you can find on the internet. Of particular interest is what they had in mind for Star Control 3, where the Orz were going to be the villains.

  13. The plot basically moves along the lines you experienced, but in various order depending upon when you do specific things. There's a bunch of small easter eggs, like the slave shield around Vela. You mentioned most of them, but ones I'm not sure you encountered:
    1. If you keep apologizing to the VUX, they break down and admit that they hate humanity because we look disgusting to them and they invented the offensive insult to cover for their racism.
    2. Repeatedly fighting Ur-Quan Kzer-za leads to their essentially telling you that they are losing the fight against the Kohr-Ah and your actions endanger all life in the galaxy. They don't quite beg you to stop, but they come close.
    3. Enough conversations with the Mycon reveal that they're some kind of bio-engineered devices, probably intended for either terraforming or mining uninhabited worlds, but which suffered the biological equivalent of bit decay and now target inhabited worlds by preference in order to reproduce themselves. In effect, they are ancient equivalents to the Slylandro Probes, though their programming broke down because they'd been around for so long under extreme conditions, not because of an overeager programmer.
    4. All the items in the game (including useless items the Druuge offer you) have descriptions via the Starbase Commander. Some are quite amusing.
    5. There are 26 total kinds of life-form you can scoop up in the lander (although it's technically 25 because the bulldozers on the Moon aren't biological).

    I think the game lives on in no small part because the galaxy feels like it still has mysteries to explore after you win: what happened to the Androsynth and is Interdimensional Fatigue a long-term risk? What of the potentially sinister plans of the Orz/Arilou/Melnorme (who, as the other survivors of the Sentient Milieu, definitely know a lot more than they let on and appear to be using you to deal with the Ur-Quan problem)? What about the Taalo, who the Orz insist still exist but someplace else (which might be a different point in time, but maybe not)?

    And the big mystery, where did the Precursors go and what were they concerned about? Star Control 3 tries (and, it is generally thought, fails) to answer most of these mysteries.

    Also, I suspect many of us had plenty of fun just playing the space combat game or exploring differing parts of the galaxy.

    1. Another thing that I don't think he tried was to keep asking the Orz about the Androsynth.

    2. Our charts show this as Androsynth space. Do you know what happened to them?
      Androsynth are not here. Orz are here.

      You are not the same too much like Androsynth. You are *happy campers*.

      Do you want to see our surprising toys*? No!! Do Not!!

      Androsynth are so silly. We do not *tell stories* a lot about them.

      No more Androsynth stories.

      What happened?? Dammit, what did you do to the Androsynth?!!
      Nnnnnngaaaa!!!! I am *squeezing* the *juice*.

      You have become too close. You are *sick* for the last time!

      Nnnnnnggggaaaaaa!! It is not enough for *happy days* I am sure.

      More and more *juice!*

      Androsynth are not the story!!

      Now please don't get mad, but what DID happen to the Androsynth?
      I am say best word *frumple*. Maybe you do not know.

      *Frumple* be *round* and yet *lumpy*. So bad!!!

      The asking about Androsynth is so *frumple* we are not happy.

      Do not asking it so much.

      It is better not to *frumple* or else there is so much problems.

      No more Androsynth is better.

      Just tell me this. Are we in for the same fate as them?
      You are not same. You are *happy campers*, but already you know.

      I will not talking about *silly Androsynth*, now is stop asking.

      If you are say the question another time

      it is *frumple* too much and Orz are *dancing* for *dissolving* the *campers*.

      I am clear!!

      You are not so *silly*!

      Okay, okay, you don't want to talk about the Androsynth. If you did, what would you say?
      Nnnnnggggaaaahhhhh!!!!!! It is *dancing*!!!!

    3. Does the game end at that point?

    4. No, but it really should. You're antagonizing an Eldritch Abomination, after all.

      He simply just turns permanently hostile. Other than missing out on his ships, you'll have to get the Taalo Shield the hard way by defeating the 14 Orz Nemesis stationed there. That is all.

  14. I'll wait until the GIMLET post to discuss at length how well the game uses the ships available to you at the start of the game to channel the player, while also having a backstory consistent with the ways in which the ships play against one another. It's a subtle but effective version of what many RPGs do with regions where monsters are much higher level, forcing you to wait and explore them later in the game.

  15. Congrats!

    Other comments already point out to what you might have missed, which is not much.

    There are no real significant alternate paths, as much as optional dialog and events that the player might encounter or not during a normal playthrough.

    Making the mothership barely fit for combat at the end is the way the developers pull the rug under you, if you ignored alien ships completely and just used an upgraded mothership to brute force your way through the game, which is completely possible by focusing on buying tech upgrades from the Melnorme.

    In my (re)playthrough, I just bought a full complement of Chmrr ships and used good old Zap Brannigan's strategy.

    Took me two tries and I had only the mothership surviving at the end.

  16. The game also has a novelization available for free.

  17. By the way, I missed it : the Syreen ability is even better than you described. The enemy space themselves... and you can recover them and add them to your Syreen crew (if not full).

    I always imagine how weird it is for the Syreen to have a crew where Mycoons, Thraddash, Slylandro drones ??? and Ilwrath cohabitate.
    As for the Ur-Quan, their crew is already composed of fallow races so one can presume you never "capture" the Ur Quan themselves this way. On the other hand, if I was the Ur Quan I would consider the Syreen "seduction" to be very close to the Dnyarri compulsion and I would have erased their race from the Galaxy.

    1. Slylandro Probe is the only ship completely immune to the Syreen's song.

      And yeah, the Ur-Quan Dreadnaughts canonically have only one Ur-Quan in them because of their fierce territoriality. The rest of the crew is composed of the battle thrall races.

    2. Which raises the question of who crews Kohr-Ah Marauders.

    3. Perhaps they are stuffed full of talking pets? :P

    4. That's cool, but I'm barely good enough to fly close enough to the enemy ship to USE the special attack, let alone collect all the spaced bodies after I do.

    5. Re: Kohr-Ah crew: my assumption was that in the Dnyarri attempts to make them better laborers they were (ironically, considering the Eternal Doctrine) modified to be less aggressively territorial than the original breed of Ur-Quan.

  18. Yeah, like others pointed out - the biggest thing that you could've done differently is equipping your flagship for battle. Like you, I don't enjoy the action aspect of the game, and much prefer the exploration/plot, so I didn't like having to learn how to fight with all the different ships. This caused me to abandon the game a couple of times. Finally, what I did that let me finish the game was:

    - At first, explore only, gather resources / bio data, run away from battle, and buy all the technological upgrades possible.
    - After maxing out the tech upgrades, drastically redo the ship configuration. Get rid of most storage space and other non-combat things, and max out the cannons/battery/etc.
    - After doing that, I started on the actual plot, without needing to run away from battle. I had no difficulties with any fight - with my flagship, I could kill most ships, including the Ur-Quan, in a 2-3 shots without suffering any damage. I found the game a lot more enjoyable that way as I could roam the world freely, not avoiding any fights and concentrate on the plot.

    1. I feel like by the time I got all the upgrades, including the most important ones, my flagship was no longer needed for battle. Things would have gone different if I'd prioritized the upgrades ahead of information from the Melnorme, but that really is't my style.

  19. Esteem for using the regular ships and not the completely upgraded, overpowered flagship. Well done! That's the hardcore way. Especially for someone who sucks at the combat, the overpowered flagship can destroy most enemies at long range.

    I see you still had Fwiffo until the end. Good man.

    You still didn't trade with the Druuge for crewmen. It's worth it just for the starbase commander's reaction. It used to be on the "What the hell, hero?" section of TvTropes until twitching nobodies changed it to something that they recognized. A reference to an ancient DOS game has no chance on that website.

    The Syreen ship can pick up the crew from the enemy ship. In fact, that's what the "siren" attack does, entrances the crew to defect to their side. They get added to the Syreen ship's total. Intentionally going into battle with a Syreen ship with only a few crew onboard is a great way to replenish yourself up to full in deep space without returning to starbase.

    Now that you're done, load up Super Melee with a team of Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah and blast an Alliance team to smithereens. It's very cathartic.

    1. Also in Star Control 1 the Androsynth are playable (on the Heirarchy side) and in Practice mode you can access detailed schematics of each ship.

    2. The Syreen have a crappy shot because their real strength is luring all the enemy crew on their ship, leaving them with only 1. That's also why the Syreen ship has such a large crew complement, to leave room for all the new recruits. The job of the shot is just to kill the last enemy crew and destroy the ship.

      * Transfer enough of your crew to serve in torment and death with the Druuge in Star Control II, and the Starbase Commander will call you out. It will also get much, much harder to recruit.
      "Captain, you are a heinous SLAVE TRADER!!!" *

      If you can't find it, it doesn't mean it is not there.

    4. No, it used to be the lead quote of the entire article. Not buried on a sub-page of a sub-page. The starbase commander's reaction is much longer than a single sentence, and it's hilarious.

  20. One comment I don't understand: "But since the Kor-Ah use a physical attack, the Utwig ship is no good against them." If I recall correctly, the Utwig shield absorbs energy just fine from both the blades and the fire attack of the Kohr Ah. To my memory, it was a rather effective ship to use against them, but it's been awhile.

    1. I suspect the problem was that the addict didn't time it right. Especially since the Kohr-Ah sometimes stop the spinning blade just before it reaches your ship, so you may blip the shields when you thought they hit and then you actually hit the blade a split second later when you run into it.

      If you get it right, the Utwig shield works fine against Kohr-Ah.

    2. I guess maybe that's what happened. Or is it possible that the Utwig shield PROTECTS against the Kor-Ah disks but isn't re-energized by it? Maybe the problem I had was that since the Kor-Ah ships use no energy weapons, my battery kept running out.

      This is what I get when I write about something 10 days after playing.

    3. No, mechanically the only thing that affects the Utwig shield is how much damage the projectile does. The more damage the projectile causes the more the shield recharges.

      Only things that are not projectiles (the planet and Androsynth blazer form) and things that don't cause direct damage (Orz marines, Melnorme confusion ray) don't recharge it.

      The Kohr-Ah blades count as projectiles even after they stop moving, so they should be quite ideal to shield against. (In fact, when I play against Kohr-Ahs with Utwig, I consider the stationary blades as convenient self-service recharge stations that I can use at my leisure.)


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