So, for the month of November, I've decided to do something a little different. I'm going to (hopefully) be posting between five and seven times a week, short little snippets, almost-but-not-quite-reviews of the games that formed my childhood (with a few more recent examples thrown in).
Star Control is a top down shooter, where you engage a single other ship in battle, usually centered around a planet. Each ship has a primary weapon, usually some sort of cannon, varying in power, and a secondary weapon. Every ship has it's own speed, HP, fuel (used to power your guns), and a wide selection of ships.
What it had going for it:
I'm sure games of this variety existed before I played Star Control in 1991, but the battles were endlessly entertaining. The variety of ships available was impressive, and it showed a great amount of imagination in the variety of weapons available. Kind of like Super Mario World, Star Control took a really simple idea, and gave it a few extra layers of complexity, but didn't mess with the fundamental format that makes for an endlessly entertaining game.
What it didn't have going for it:
There's no real... well, game. The game consisted of dueling spaceships, and pretty much nothing else. No doubt realizing this, the developers slapped in some sort of nonsensical tactical, civilization-esque game where you colonize planets and use them to build ships, which fight with other people's ships. I know I was very young, and most of the intricacies of it were utterly beyond me, so I just kind of figured the game was good, but I couldn't understand it yet. This is untrue. In retrospect, it just sucks.
Likewise, when you're picking ships for just facing off against your brother, they weren't designed with the idea of “all of these ships are balanced for one on one combat”. If they were, I could probably balance ships better with a paper bag over my head and boxing orangutans for arms.
My brother and I are dueling, and his ship, the smallest, fastest, weakest one available, as best as we can discover, has no secondary weapon. Halfway through our first duel, his ship explodes for no reason, and he loses instantly. He picks the same ship next time, hoping to discover what happened. Again, we trade shots ineffectually, and after about 25 seconds into the match, he explodes again for no reason.
This happens two more times before we discover that apparently, the “secondary weapon” on the ship is a self-destruct mechanism, and in order to ensure that you don't do it accidentally, you need to activate it three times before it goes off. Seriously, who gave that the thumbs up? I know, let's make the worst ship in the game explode when you use its secondary weapon! It'll be awesome!
Also, curiously enough, some of you may be familiar with http://www.nablopomo.com/ which involves blogging every day for the month of November. Oddly enough, I was not when I began this exercise. Funny thing, that...