Star Control


Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 7

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

Star Control (U) [x]_000.jpg (21741 bytes)Simultaneous two-player action games seem to finally be coming back in style.  We're seeing more of it on the Genesis with recent releases like Alien Storm, Bimini Run, Blockout, and Star Control by Ballistic.  Games of this nature allow us to have a friend over and play together, just like when we were kids.  You didn't have to take "turns" going in the sandbox back then, nor to participate in a little game of "kill the carrier" - and you never had to wait until your friends were finished playing the latest board game to get in on the action.  Why is it then, that our games today are so geared toward the individual?  It has become so common that you have to buy an additional controller for your Genesis just to have a friend join in.

Star Control breaks away from that particular fashion in a stylish way.  One player is the good guys, the other player is the bad guys: just like when we were kids.  The object is to defeat the enemy fleet using a wide array of alien vessels.  Either side has seven types of craft, each very different from one another.  There are three ways to play the game - practice (one-on-one combat), melee (pit all seven ships against the opponents seven, one at a time), or full game (where you select from one of fifteen scenarios).  The full game approach also incorporates some war-game strategy, since you move your ships around a "star field", jockeying for power.

The game correctly boasts being the first 12 meg game.  Only months ago, the first 8 meg game was released, and that was a big deal at the time.  I haven't figured out where all of that 12 meg is stored although the beautiful, hi-res screens used to depict each ship must gobble up quite a bit.  The sound effects are a bit sparse, but very effective.  Hearing the Ur-Quan ship (the toughest one in the game) bellow "LAUNCH FIGHTERS" or the Chenjesu D.O.G.I. weapon bark when attacking and yip when destroyed are truly fantastic.

Star Control (U) [x]_001.jpg (21809 bytes)The graphics are nothing to brag about (with the exception of the full-screen depictions mentioned earlier) but don't harm the game, either.  I felt that in many cases the ships were too small, and in most battles I still have to search around the star-dotted screen to find my tiny ship.  Some of the special effects used in the game are quite effective.  One example that comes to mind is the cloaking device on the Ilwrath Avenger - rendering the ship invisible for as long as the commander wishes.  One press of the button and the craft's image slowly fades away into the blackness.

Controls vary for each ship, but the general pattern is always the same, making it easy to handle.  Naturally, it is a large and varied universe, and some vessels are extremely sluggish - don't blame the controllers! 

Truth be told, this game is really a 16-bit, 12 meg, 1990's version of the Atari classic, Space War!  Overall, this is a very enjoyable game.  It was the two-player action that hooked me.  I also admired the way the programmers incorporated a "personality" into each craft.  Furthermore, the packaging is exceptional.  The box contains well written documentation, a separate booklet describing the alien races and their ships (which is HIGHLY enjoyable and perhaps necessary to figure out what some of the ships are doing when they are attacking you) and an innovative advertising gimmick for Ballistic's games in the form of collectible cards.  Check out Star Control - it's worth a good long look.

"Save for enhanced graphics & sound, this is no better than any of the similar games for older systems like Atari & Intellivision."  

"While I am not one for wargames, This cart seems to be the exception, great for the strategist."


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Last updated: Monday, September 26, 2005 03:45 PM