Is Star Control II a Casual or Hardcore Game?

I’ve been thinking of this one for a while, and I have come to the conclusion that it is neither 100% casual nor hardcore. It’s somewhere in between that mixes elements from both sides; easy enough to control the ships, and challenging enough to find out what needs to be done next and how to defend yourself against attacks and survive. In order to survive the battles, the player must understand the strengths and weaknesses of each ship and know when to flee. There is not a single ship that can easily defeat every other ship. The one-on-one melee can be considered a very complicated version of rock-paper-scissors.

One thing that makes Star Control appealing to people who enjoy space combat is the simple controls. The arrow keys are used for movement, one button for primary fire and another for secondary fire. With the small amount of keys to press, the player can react faster to an opponent’s movements, and can concentrate on what is happening on the screen without having to move their hands around to press other keys. Because of simple controls, the player can concentrate more on developing their strategy without having to learn complicated key combinations for every ship. Basically, it combines “pick up and play” controls with “difficult to master” strategy.

Like many action adventure games, this game has a very deep storyline that expands upon the first game. The player learns about the different races and how they are involved in the game through character dialog. It is through dialog that the player can collect important items to advance the plot and getting closer to completing the game. In addition, the player can also send a planet lander to pick up items and get more information such as a hyperwave caster and what’s left of the Androsynth homeworld. Characters can give advice on how they are and what needs to be done. The player can even talk to the Melnorme for more direct advice on what needs to be done next and how to do it.

With the melee combat system, adventure and character dialog, saving the universe is no easy task, especially with a bare-bones space ship design the player has at the beginning of the game. In order to get fuel, build other ships and make upgrades, the player must make routine visits to planets and moons to gather minerals to be converted to resource units. This can be very tedious at times given that there’s a time limit until the Kohr-Ah go around on an all-out assault. With those pesky Slylandro Probes roaming, things can get complicated, and finding their homeworld can be tricky depending on the hints that are given to you. I admit that I used a walkthrough guide to help me get rid of the probes.

In addition, assembling the Ultron is both a very important piece for completing the game and involves talking to the right people to know where to go next. Sometimes a character will ask for something in exchange for an item, or even start a battle about it. It is very challenging, and with the travelling that it takes to find those answers, it results in more resource mining to get more fuel. Although I have no problems with this, full-time casual gamers may take a while to get used to this.

In summary, it is no secret that it’s hard to save the universe.  Star Control combines action, adventure, science fiction, fantasy, RPG and space combat with a mood that shifts from the serious “you will be cleanesd” mentality to the humor of finding out what Frungy is.  The mineral gathering and character interactions are still very common in today’s games such as World of Warcraft and Mass Effect.  The purple-bridged Melnorme is an ingenious way to push the player in the right direction (at a price) in addition to upgrades, fuel and information about other races.  Star Control still provides a challenge by today’s standards and is still simple enough for people to understand and get into without feeling like a complete newbie.  With the walkthrough guides available online, even the most stubbourn players can get through this masterpiece to find out what it’s all about.  With the deep storyline, strategic melees and witty dialog, Star Control II is definitely worth the routine mineral gathering and mystery solving for anyone who loves adventure and sci-fi.  I just hope that everyone knows how to get the Mycon to go to Organon

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