While StarCon still remains a mystery, The PlayStation Museum and PONAF seem to have the most information about this game. It was never released due to problems during development. I’m not sure how they got their hands on the video footage of this game. Some people claim that they have a Pre-Alpha release of StarCon. It was scheduled to be released Holiday Season of 1998.
StarCon is Accolade’s second time trying to revive Star Control without Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford. They wanted to make this game more action oriented by setting the game in 3D space, and having the player fights against multiple targets at the same time. It also featured a 2-player co-operative mode. If the first player launches a fighter ship and there is a second controller plugged in, then the second player can fight with the first player. With only one controller plugged in, the player simply switches to the fighter ship. This game is frequently compared to another PlayStation game, Colony Wars.
StarCon wasn’t intended as a PlayStation exclusive. While the PC version is being developed by an internal team under Accolade, Starsphere Interactive would make the PlayStation version based on the PC design. Once completed, both versions would have been released simultaneously.
The January 1998 issue of PC Gamer Magazine seemed to love StarCon:
The Star Control 3 team is working on this one, and they’re taking it to the limit. They’ve compiled a Star Control History Compendium, and they’re going try to to tie up the loose ends from previous games.
– PC Gamer Magazine, January 1998, Page 46
Legend Entertainment is repsponsible for “Star Control 3″. It confuses me since the developers are simply credited as “Accolade”. I’d like to assume that Legend worked on StarCon as well, but there may be something that happened where it wasn’t Legend, and still considered “The Star Control 3 team”.
We want to move away from the adventure element and concentrate on what it seems the players really want – action!
– George McDonald, PC Gamer Magazine, January 1998, Page 46
Star Control II had a very deep adventure aspect to it, which helped the gameplay experience feel different each time since one moment, you’re traveling to a star system, then gathering minerals, upgrading your ships, and defending yourself from enemies. It remains true that many of the best-selling games are action games, so I understand their decision to put more emphasis on action. The combat in Star Control is one of its most defining features that makes it stand out from other Science Fiction games.
The PlayStation Museum recently added an interview to their page with an anonymous person from Starsphere Interactive.
“There was a specific emphasis at the start of StarCon to create a more combat-intensive game than the previous incarnations of Star Control (I spoke to Paul Reiche after the project was canceled about this issue). I can’t fully speak as to why that decision was made by Accolade.”
– Anonymous Starsphere Interactive employee
There’s never been a clear answer explaining why StarCon was canceled. Development of StarCon officially discontinued on October 5, 1998. Apparently, Accolade re-evaluated their decision for StarCon “due to deficiencies in the game’s design”, and according to PSM’s Starsphere informant, 70% of the PlayStation version was playable and very promising. It even took advantage of the PlayStation’s hardware to create nice visuals for its generation.
I know that it doesn’t seem like it has the “seal of approval” from the gods, Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford, but it just interested me because of what the anonymous employee said and the fact that he even talked to Paul after the cancellation. If this game was completed and released, the Star Control fan base would have definitely been different from what it is now. Star Control II wasn’t noticed as much since the 3DO lost to the PlayStation in the console war. With the more popular PlayStation having a Star Control game, it could have had more time to get more sales. However, I’m not sure if this would have actually placed Paul and Fred back into Star Control again. Accolade seemed desperate to get a Star Control game out there, and something happened to put an end to StarCon.
I know that a Star Control game made by the original creators, Toys for Bob, will be a million times better than any “StarCon” wannabe game. With only three major home consoles left, and powerful PC hardware, whatever platform Star Control appears on, it won’t be a dead one. Many people see StarCon as “The PlayStation game that was never finished” and there’s more to it than that, and to this day, there’s still questions unanswered about it.