Thursday, July 26, 2007

Starflight - Finished the game

Well, this game is certainly short if you know what you are doing. I tried to play that way. I wouldn't go to a planet or area unless someone else told me about it. However, it is very early on that you can get information about the three items you need to win the game. I even played to get every possible (useful) artifact and it still didn't extend the game that long. The sense of exploration and discovery is much less when you play the game already knowing all there is out there. There really ends up only being so much to do. You can mine planets to get money to improve your ship, talk to aliens to learn the locations of artifacts on planets, and then go collect those artifacts. This is one area where Starflight 2 really improves on the original. Its expanded trade mechanism and... more interesting alien races and wider variety (even there are about as many spacefaring species) makes the game feel more epic.

One annoying thing that I forgot about this game was in regards to the Thrynn/Elowan conflict. I remembered that you couldn't have a member of the other species on your crew or they would be hostile to you. I also knew that if you became too friendly with one species the other would be hostile to you. I just didn't remember that "too friendly" meant talking to one before the other. I had about three conversations with the Elowan before talking to the Thrynn and basically lost all chance to get their conversations. So I had to start a new game and just get out to the Thrynn area so I could talk to them and get all the info they had to give before going back to my original game. It is really fascinating how game design like that was common back then.

I also encountered an apparent bug where, even upon returning their sacred artifact to them, the Veloxi weren't friendly enough with me to tell me where Sphexi was. That was the last location I had to go to before I destroyed the crystal planet, so it was pretty frustrating. I eventually looked it up and apparently they are supposed to tell you its location when you become friendly with them, but that never happened to me.

Another flaw of the game, not necessarily related to the Genesis port, is the complete absence of conflict. You never have to fight anything and are usually better off just running. A large part of the game is upgrading your ships' weapons and shields so this is a big let-down. Especially with the improved combat engine on the Genesis. Basically, the Uhlek are always too powerful for you to take on single-handedly, the Gazurtoid's immunity to missiles means you must fight up close with lasers so you will take a ton of damage, and with the Whining Orb (at least in the Genesis version), the Spemin will naturally be obsequious to you. Except for being attacked by whichever of the Thrynn/Elowan you don't befriend or the Veloxi after taking the Crystal Rod, you really never get into a fight that you shouldn't just run away from.

I'm being down on this game because it doesn't hold up as well, but its revolutionary nature still comes through. I still remember the great sense of exploration and discovery the game held when it first came out even if the universe feels small now. It set the tone for what a space exploration adventure should be, and though it wasn't perfect in its first incarnation, that is forgivable because of what it spawned. It is still a good game and I'm sure I would have had more fun if I had never played it before and knew none of the secrets. Still, it is dated, and the changes for the Genesis only helped a little bit (and hurt just as much).


Zharous said...

The Amiga/Macintosh version is clearly superior then the Genesis one in many ways, with the only exception of combat and planet exploration. The PC version despite being the most primitive happens to also be the most bug free.

Thrynn/Elowan conflict - take a Thrynn crewmember and speak to the Elowan, and you will achieve instantfriendly status with the Thrynn after the Elowan shoot at you. Ditto if you have the opposite problem. It is not even necessary to fire back.

Veloxi - if you are ever hostile with them you can never seem to achieve friendly status. Always paying bribes and being obsequious helps. This also may be a Genesis only bug.

The complete lack of combat is a major annoyance, only the PC version had one absolute required battle, the one with the Gazurtoid to obtain the shimmering ball. The Spemin could be intimidated for the rest of the game by one hostile statement as long as your ship was fully decked out in impressive weaponry. The Uhlek are defeatable in the Amiga and the PC version.

Davíd said...

Thanks for your comment!

I have to agree that the Mac port seems overall better than the Genesis one. That's the one I played in my youth, and despite playing it after Starflight II, I still greatly enjoyed it. My friend and fellow Starflight geek had the Genesis port and talked up its cool features, but I never saw it so I obviously didn't realize it had downfalls as well.

It isn't possible to befriend both the Thrynn and the Elowan in this game, right? That's what I seem to remember. Still, it's a shame you lose all the interesting dialogue, especially if you become friendly with the Thyrnn since the Elowans can really help you out.

And I'm convinced the Veloxi never becoming friendly must be a bug in the Genesis version. I know they did when I played the Mac version and I never did anything wrong here and did all the obsequiousness/bribes.

Troy said...

I am curious if you ever did any more investigation into the Genesis bug of the Veloxi never becoming friendly. I too have played the Genesis version and cannot get them to reveal the location of Sphexi. I have even started new games and I don't have any luck.

Just to note, I am playing on am emulator, so perhaps the bug is only found in certain ROMs/cartridges and not all of them? I have tried a few different ROMs (although they might be the same image, but from different locations), and I still receive the same error. It is quite frustrating indeed, as it is also my last piece of info before I can finish.

Thanks for mentioning it though, no one else has really mentioned this bug before.

Orakio "O Gagá" Rob said...

Same here. The Veloxis are friendly, but he never mentions the location of his planet. Pretty weird.

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