Sunday, 30 September 2018

Star Control - Part 9

Generally I need little excuse to burble on about the Star Control series - it is one of my favourite of all game series' after all, particularly the skillish second game - but I've already taken detailed looks at the various spacecraft, the story, and of course reviewed the actual game and its prequel, so what else is there? Why yes that's right, I could take a look at the many alien races themselves!

Seldom have I played a game with such a varied, eclectic roster of species, and while many are perhaps not terribly realistic or even a bit gimmicky (a bit like pro wrestling was around the same time, in fact), they are appealing and memorable all the same. There are quite a few as well though, so I'll split this into several parts. This will be the second of two posts featuring the friendlier half of the roster...

Spoiler Warning! - It's probably not really worth mentioning for a 25-year-old game but just in case - the following post will likely contain some small spoilers relating to Star Control 2 and the story found in its main game, so proceed with caution if you've yet to play through it! (assuming you plan to) :)

Shofixti

You remember the Shofixti from the first game - the idiotic bears with the crap ships that could blow themselves up? Well, they don't feature so prevalently in the sequel but they are here. Well, I say 'they' but you will probably only get to meet one of them - Captain Tanaka, apparently the sole surviving member of his brave race who can be found pootling around his home system still trying to see off all interlopers.

That will include you too, unless you're able to calm him down in time, but it's good fun talking to him either way. It's quickly revealed that Shofixti culture is modelled on Japan, specifically the way of the samurai, with everything from their names and accents to their sense of honour and fearless attitudes reminiscent of that country's feudal era. They must've made brave (albeit nominally effective) warriors in the first Ur-Quan war, so you'll be filled with both sadness and respect when you hear Tanaka's tales of their demise. Bow before the noble creatures.


Slylandro

These fellows are the only non-corporeal beings in the Star Control universe (that we've met so far, at least) and take the form of... well, I always assumed they were gaseous beings of some sort but I don't think that's actually confirmed in the game. I'm not even sure it's possible, but either way, due to their whispy nature they are unable to travel through space and are instead stuck on their gas giant homeworld, known as Beta Corvi IV to us and 'Source' to them.

Given the nature of their existence, you might forgive them for having long ago descended into madness but they're actually very amiable fellows and are happy to chat about all manner of stuff that's happened in the area over the long years (or 'Drahns') they've been floating around. This chatter, unsurprisingly, gives you information on certain relevant events as well as a few clues here and there about how to proceed, and they prove very helpful early in the game. The first order of business with them, however, should be to get rid of their damn probes!


Supox

Among the last races you'll encounter in the main game will be the Supox and their close neighbours/friends the Utwig, both of whom reside about as far from Earth as any species in the game, and also, unluckily for them, close to the Ur-Quan border as well. They are one of the more interesting species in the game too, mainly in terms of what they actually are which is basically sentient plants. Talking with them is accordingly quite amusing given their numerous plant-based names and phrases. It would actually be interesting to find out more about these happy-sounding stalks.

Happily, despite some initial confusion on their part, they are also humble, very friendly and open to forming an alliance which gives your shipyard access to their highly maneuverable Blade ships. They even go so far as to attack the Ur-Quan at immense personal risk to buy you some valuable time. I hope real aliens are as friendly as these leafy fellow, I always look forward to having a chat with them. Just don't let them know of your fondness for broccoli with a light cheese sauce!

"Greetings fellow carbon creature, may your roots always be well watered."


Syreen

Ah, the Syreen. Every SC2 player will have an opinion on this particular species! Besides the blue skin they are very much like us physically, and they are also of course former Alliance members who fought alongside us in the first Ur-Quan war. Like us they chose to be slave-shielded on their homeworld after the Alliance's loss. Due to this, the only Syreen you can talk to is Commander Talana on their orbital starbase. She has lots of information and hints that prove useful as well as stories about her people who are now mostly comprised of females.

This came about due to the catastrophic destruction of their original homeworld, about which she and her kind are still understandably mournful. Fortunately, you get the opportunity to earn her favour by finding out what really happened to their former home. As well as focusing her anger, this also makes her even friendlier - if you play your cards right you might even get invited over so she can show her gratitude personally. And no, flowers and dinner are not prerequisites!

"...mmm ...MMMm!... Oh, MMMmm!!... ...MMMMMmmmmmm!!!... ...Mmmmm..."


Utwig

As mentioned, you probably won't meet the Utwig until pretty late into the game but they are worth the wait, for they are the mopiest most depressing race you're ever likely to meet in any game! This is entirely due to the Ultron, a seemingly useless piece of junk sold to them by the unscrupulous Druuge. The Utwig believe it to be an immensely powerful and mysterious device of ancient origins which ownership of and empowerment by has been their destiny as a species since their ascension to sentience, and acquisition of it completely transformed their whole civilisation. Suffice to say, it is rather important to them.

Imagine their consternation then, to have accidentally broken their beloved Ultron! This happened some time before you meet them in the game and they are, as a result, a species in deep inconsolable mourning, even covering themselves in the 'Mask of Ultimate Embarrassment and Shame', so you can't see what they look like. Luckily for them, they have something you need to finish the game, and... the only thing they'll give it up for is a repaired Ultron! It's not easy but you'll make a friend for life if you can manage it, although it's worth visiting these guys anyway, just to hear their borderline-suicidal musings in their hilarious depressed voices.


Zoq-Fot-Pik

This is an interesting species, mainly because they are actually three species, all of whom evolved simultaneously on a jungle-like world. They originally came together to fight yet another sentient creature from their planet - the carnivorous Zebranky which preyed on all three of them. Ever since, the Zoq, the Fot, and the Pik have effectively been one species, to such a degree they can no longer even remember which of them has which name. If that's not solidarity, I don't know what is!

As far as the story is concerned, you'll see about as much of this chirpy trio as you want to. They are very friendly and keen to be allies, mainly because their small patch of sky lies entirely within the Ur-Quan's vast sphere of influence and their ships have been getting harassed, particularly by the Kohr-Ah. If you accept, you'll have to go and save them every time the dastardly black Ur-Quan so much as sneer at them, but you'll also gain access to their weedy ships. Besides that their uses are few. They're pleasant enough though, and make a nice distraction now and then.

 

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