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Star Control

1991 Accolade

Devloped by Toys for Bob

Sega Genesis


Star Control is one of those games that comes along every few years and ups the playing field for everyone. The game takes an overhead shooter premise similar to Asteroids or Spacewar and expands it into a galaxy wide strangely game, the end result of which has garnered a cult following and multiple sequels. And it's pretty fun too.

The player can control either the Alliance of Free Stars (the good guys, including Humanity,) or the Hierarchy of Battle Thralls (the bad guys.) Each side has access to seven different races, each that come with their own unique ship. The style and capabilities of each ship varies widely but in the end each side is well balanced. The DOS version of the game gave the player the ability to create and save custom maps, sadly this feature is missing in the Genesis version. To compensate there are fifteen preset scenarios, such as "First encounter," - two scouting parties for each side meet for the first time, "Target Earth" - the badly outnumbered Earthlings must defend against the Ur-Quan invasion, or "Total War," which is exactly what it says it is.

The exploration/resource gathering/strategy portion of the game is played out over a 3-D rotating map of stars. Select a ship and several paths to the stars it can travel to are highlighted. The map here is a bit disorientating at first (it would have been nice to have the ability to move the map around as needed instead of having it automatically rotate) however after a few minutes you get a general idea of the "shape." Each star has one planet, of a specific type, "Life words," "Mineral worlds," and "Dead Worlds." Each ship can do one of the following on a specific world:

- Life worlds are the only places besides the home space station where colonies can be raised and crew replenished.

- Mineral worlds are the only places where mines can be established and money earned to buy new ships.

- Dead worlds can do neither, but can still be fortified to slow enemy movement.

Each ship can do all of the former, however certain ships seem to accomplish certain tasks quicker, for instance Human ships seem better able to establish mines while Syreen ships can establish colonies faster. Each ship can also besiege an enemy fortification and destroy enemy mines or colonies. Each side's flag ship seems able to kill enemy fortifications in a single turn. Strategy here plays a major role in the game. Each map seems to be randomly generated, but there always seems to be one or two choke points which when controlled allow you to hold the line and establish mines and colonies in relative peace, so you can build up your forces for a final thrust. You also have the ability to scuttle any particular ship at any time, although it's usually just more productive to send it into battle and take some dirtbags down with it.

When two ships meet it's time for melee combat. The screen switches to an overhead star field that resembles that from Asteroids or Sinistar. Each battlefield also contains a planet and asteroids that act as environmental obstacles. Damage is taken for collision with planets but not with asteroids. The planet has a gravity well that can be used to "slingshot" your ship to a faster speed. Larger ships (such as the Chenjesu) can actually get stuck up against a planet and easily destroyed. Each ship has a primary and secondary weapon, with vast differences in speed, armor, and offensive power. You can also find "Precursor artifacts" scattered on certain worlds which will add extra crew pods, thrusters, offensive power to the ship that finds them.


The Ur-Quan are masters of the Hierarchy of Battle Thralls. These centipede like creatures are on a mission to enslave all other sentient beings, to prevent anyone from enslaving them.

The Ur-Quan Dreadnought is slow but fires a highly damaging plasma bolt. The ship is also able to launch small fighter pods that automatically seek and destroy.




The Mycons are a fungoid race who's main preoccupation is locating life-bearing planets to seed their offspring, called "Deep Ones."

The Mycon Podship is incredibly slow to accelerate and turn. The ship fires a highly damaging homing ball of plasma, that eventually dissipates. Although the plasma ball is extremely damaging if used close up the podship is best utilized at a far distance. The Podship has the distinct disadvantage that if firing in the wrong direction (i.e. the enemy is behind you,) then the plasma ball will go the wrong way and damage their own ship. The Mycon's secondary weapon is the ability to regrow lost crew members.



The Spathi are cowardly clam-like mollusks who evolved on a world with large predators. They thus went from stone age to atomic age development in less than 100 years to escape their world.

The Spathi "Discriminator" is extremely fast and agile. While it's main weapon is rather weak, it's secondary weapon are backwards firing rockets, designed to be fired while retreating.




The Androsynth are a cloned human slave race who revolted and joined the Battle Thralls. Genetically superior to normal human beings, they invented interstellar travel decades before the rest of humanity.

Their Guardian ship fires a group of acidic bubbles that float in a seemingly random pattern and do a decent amount of damage. The ships' secondary weapon is it's ability to transform into a comet-like ram.

TheAndrosynth victory theme is the first few lines of "Mongoloid" by DEVO.




The Vux are a race of tentacled, squid like beings who find human beings physically repulsive. An overheard insult between the Vux and humanity's first meeting have created enemies of the two races ever since.

The Vux Intruder is slow moving but fires a highly damaging short ranged lazer beam. To compensate for it's speed the Intruder can launch "limpet drones," which will slow and eventually immobilize and enemy ship.




The Ilwrath are a murderous spider race, devoted to the worship of two insane, evil gods. Their entire society revolves around pleasing said deities with ritualistic sacrifices.

The Ilwrath Avenger uses a high damaging "Hellfire" flamethrower attack. To get the enemy in range the ship comes equipped with a cloaking device. The Avenger will always face the enemy ship upon uncloaking.




The Umgah ugly blobs of tentacles and eyeballs. They specialize in genetics, and enjoy adding extra limbs an organs to themselves for fun. They enjoy playing pranks on other races, even if said pranks result in genocide.

The Umgah ship projects very short ranged anti-matter cone. Any ship caught within the cone rapidly takes damage. The cone can also stop most enemy projectiles. The ship moves extremely slowly but has the ability to rapidly fly backwards to take the enemy off guard.




The Chejesu are a silicon based crystalline life form, highly intelligent and highly enlightened. They can be seen interacting with their technology with arcs of electrical energy.

The Chenjesu Broodhome is the only Alliance ship capable of outgunning an Ur-Quan Dreadnought. The large crystal missies it fires have an unlimited range as long as the fire button remains pressed. They into fragments when the fire button is released. The secondary weapon is a sentient life form while seeks out and sucks the enemy's energy reserves dry. As such the Broodhome is best played at a distance.




The Mmmmhrm are long time allies of the Chenjesu. They are a sentient robot race that share the Chenjesu home world.

The X-Form is capable of transforming from a slow form that fires a powerful lazer to a faster jet-like mode that shoots a weak long range missile.




The Yehat evolved from predatory birds of prey to an honor-based warrior society. Their society revolves around a Queen to whom all Yehat warriors devote their lives.

The Yehat Terminator is second only the the Chejesu Broodhome in offensive power. The ship's secondary weapon is a powerful (but limited) energy shield that can stop all enemy barrages.




The Earthlings seem to have the most ghetto ship out of everyone. It's a big, huge, slow moving clunker that looks somewhat like the starship Enterprise but different enough to prevent a lawsuit. It carries a small amount of crew and has a pathetically small energy meter. Lame.

The one good thing about the Earthling hunk of crap is the incredibly long range of it's nuclear missiles. The secondary weapon is a pont-defense  lazer system that can destroy small incoming projectiles (such as Ur-Quan fighters.) Crappy as it may be, it's still capable of dealing out a decent amount of damage, and with Precursor upgrades might actually become usable. The best way to play the Cruiser is from a far distance.




The Arilou are the classic "little green men," or what alien buffs call "The Grays." They were responsible for the abduction phenomena on Earth in the 20th century, in order to protect humanity from malevolent extra-dimensional entities.

The Arilou skiff at first seems pretty useless as it's extremely small number of crew means it will bite the dust in one good Dreadnought shot. However the skiff possess the highest maneuverability in the game, is not affected by gravity and inertia, and has a homing proximity lazer that when used effectively makes it one of the most powerful ships in the game. The secondary weapon is it's ability to teleport to a random place on the battlefield.




The Syreen are a race of blue skinned humanoids who are genetically compatible with humans. They seem to be all made up of beautiful half-naked women.

The Syreen Penetrator (lulz) is a phallic shaped rocket ship capable of fast speeds and decent maneuverability. Although it's primary weapon is rather weak, the Syreen's ability to "call" and abduct enemy crew make it formidable.




The Shofixti are small rodent-like marsupials who were given interstellar technology by the Yehat. Shofixti live by a samurai-like warrior code.

The Shofixti scout is the smallest Alliance ship and at first glance seems pretty useless. It's secondary weapon is a large self-destruction device that can completely destroy most opponents at close range.

At times these differences are a little too unbalanced. Flag ships on both sides pretty much dominate, leaving the others as cannon fodder. However those who have mastered the idiosyncrasies of each ship can appreciate them. For instance the Syreen's weak main weapon and large surface area makes it a sitting duck, but a skillfully player can use the "Syreen song" to decimate an opponent's crew with a few good passes.

Although the computer A. I. isn't too tough multiple scenarios and different modes of play (2 player, human vs. computer, strategic, melee battle, etc.) adds tons of replay value to the game. The rich background story and setting adds to the "universe" and actually makes it feel like you're accomplishing something. Is it worth playing this version, when there are superior computer versions out there? Yes, if purely for the fact that the melee combat is by far more enjoyable on a Genesis pad. From what I understand this cartridge is somewhat rare, this is one of the few instances where the hunt for an uncommon cart is worth it.

Graphics: Clear, no flicker or slowdown present. Ships each have a distinct look and a modest amount of detail. The sometimes funny animations of the various alien races is fun to watch.

Sound: Not much of the digitized voice present in the Dos versions here. What sound effects are here are generally well done - explosions, lazer blasts, etc.

Gameplay: One part strategy, one part shooter, the end result is unique and satisfying.


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