Squadron of Shame Ep. 6: Star Control II

Don’t be fooled by their name; they have nothing but good things to say about the masterpiece known as Star Control II.  The Squadron of Shame seeks to “rescue the unappreciated games that deserve to be saved.”  For their sixth episode, they have devoted over an hour to discussing Star Control II.  I split the audio so only the Star Control discussion is left.  Check it out:

Squadron of Shame - Star Control II (67.7 MB)

I like how they say “It’s what Star Trek should have been”.  The Star Trek did its best to stay true to the timeline established in the TV shows, but it never felt new or stood on its own.  To me, it felt like it was simply putting me in the captain’s shoes in games such as Star Trek Bridge Commander.  Star Control is a wacky colorful sci-fi adventure that involves diplomacy, adventure,  combat tactics, knowing when to retreat, meeting weird aliens, find out what happened to the other races and saving the universe.

There’s even an interesting rumor mentioned here.  The rumor is that Paul Reiche and Fred Ford were working on SC2 and the deadline was near and they took their work and disappeared for six months.  Accolade hired private detectives to find them and found them in Alaska.  The game changed dramatically with pages of dialog and the code size increased more than twice its original size.  I have no idea if that is true, but that is one really cool rumor.

One thing they discussed was the difficulty of the game and how important it is to remember facts and writing down things such as locations to progress through the game.  Although this isn’t a bad thing, it does present a steep learning curve for new players.  When I first played the game, I read a walkthrough to get through these barriers.

One of them also mentioned that if someone doesn’t like the long single-player campaign, he or she could just have fun with the super melee portion of the game and play against friends.  This is something I did once, although my friends had a hard time getting used to the different ships and gave up when they realized how many ships there were and how they’re all different.  In any case, it was just good fun.  When the netplay feature was implemented in UQM, I quickly realized that I have a lot more to learn until I can consider myself the “Melee Master”.

They even compared SC2 to Mass Effect and said that this game has a lot to learn from SC2.  Whenever a player lands on a planet in Mass Effect, the player has to move slowly on the planet, whether it be through driving or walking.  In SC2, the player can simply jump in and out of any planet.  They even stated that all the aliens are all humanoid-based in Mass Effect and in SC2, they each take on interesting and unusual forms such as caterpillars, plant life and spiders.  Each creature had its own set of voices, personalities and fonts.  Custom typography is a very tedious task and when used properly, it does a good job at emphasizing the characters and their mood.  They even went as far as saying that SC2 had better dialog than Mass Effect.

"I think in terms of making it relevant, the things I love about Star Control II, namely the dialog, the world, the sense of exploration.  All of that can be ported definitely to a new game and can be made relevant and interesting in an interesting way."
- Squadron of Shame, Episode 6

They mentioned porting The Ur-Quan Masters to a portable like the PSP, iPhone or DS and Xbox Live Arcade.  I remember a few years ago, someone started a thread on the official UQM forums about an UQM port.  Some Star Control fans have contacted Denny Atkin to the point where he had to mention that he’s powerless in this situation because:

"... I can only do things with your suggestions for the website. I can't help you with other suggestions, such as getting features added to your Xbox 360, raising your gamerscore, leaking top-secret release dates, or making this a better world by getting Star Control released for Xbox Live Arcade. Sorry!"
- Denny Atkin, Games Editor, This Week in Xbox

It doesn’t matter anyways.  Mr. Brian has been hard at work at his XNA version of SC2 which runs both on PC and Xbox 360.  It contains plenty of features such as 4-player melee and plans on implementing some online features.  It’s really cool and has great potential.  You should check out his blog if you haven’t seen it already.

A special thanks to the Squadron of Shame for taking the time to discuss Star Control and to Megagun for sending me a link to their podcast.

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