Starflight 2: Trade Routes of the Cloud Nebula

starflight 2.1“Grandpa, this picture looks really old?  And who are these people?”

“Why that’s me and the crew of the Skywalker!  That’s Uncle Luke right there.  He was always tinkering with the engines.  Your great granddad said he followed his father’s footsteps and was a heck of an engineer.  And you remember Aunt Lakshya before she went off on that diplomatic mission to the Tandelou homeworld…”

“Oh, I hope she brings us more of the Happy Juice when she visits next time!  What about those guys?”

“That’s Luca; followed his dad’s footsteps and became the ships medic!  You know we called the ship the Skywalker because we had two Luke’s on board!  There was some old movie from before the solar flares that….

“Is that our android?”

“What?  No, that was one of the most loyal android I’ve ever known! One of the Omega Jr II models!  Believe it or not, the crew called him Jerry just like the original ship’s crew did!”    

“You mean the Intrepid?  The ship that saved the universe from collapse?”  

“You bet!” 

“But this picture looks way older than that!  It only has 4 colors and I can’t expand it as a hologram!  This picture must be like a million years old!”

“Funny you say that, Jill…”

Unlike the original game, my notes on this one are lost.  What is not lost is all the packing material, charts, and most importantly: the memories.  

I’ll remind you that when I found Starflight had a sequel, I didn’t even read the super tiny label on the back corner that said “supports CGA, EGA, MCGA, VGA, Tandy 16 color.”  I just bought the game.  To have another experience like the original Starflight was worth any price and it was going to cost me more than just the game!  It entailed me buying a monitor to play it.  (My dad was the best; he didn’t hesitate.  He bought that 4 color monitor in no time at all!)  In retrospect, that seems silly, but I don’t regret that for a moment!

This story takes place in a different part of space, but the ship and the crew were yours to do with as you pleased.  Like the original, I created a crew based on the friends I was hanging out with at the time.  The story centers around a race that was basically a ball of goo that rose to power and is now feared by all the other races.  It’s our job to find out what happened.  Or that’s the little I remember of the original story.  What was neat about this one was that it added trade routes that really helped up your funds.   I found one that was a magnificent way to make money buying Happy Juice from one race and selling to another; a race of spider-like creatures as I recall that lived on the very edge of the titular Cloud Nebula.  This allowed one to up the ships stats and pay for training for the crew.  The trade was now a part of the planetary landings; exploring was the same fun affair on planet, but just had the addition of the towns.  But in space….

The box claims there are “over 500 planets and 30 alien races”.  Obviously, space was as vast as before but had a major difference; the nebula.  It was a massive nebula in the center of the map which obscured how many stars there really were to explore.  When my neighbor and I mapped out the cosmos in the first game, the map showed most of the stars making the stellar cartography of our lives quite easy.  Where a nebula existed, there could be a world, but not always and the first game had smaller, sporadic ones.  That didn’t hinder our exploration.  But in Starflight 2, the map was so heavily made up of nebula, we were flying blind more often than not.  So I think that probably hindered our note taking which might explain the absence of them.

If I had a complaint about the sequel, it’s that it added a lot more humor.  That’s not usually a bad thing but I felt it took too much away from an otherwise brilliant science fiction story.  Even the names of the races had a sense of comedy: The Dweenle.  The Humna Humna.  And it seemed like most of the science fiction games of the time did a similar thing, which I really didn’t love.  At least they made up for that in other ways and this one did something that fired on all thrusters…

starflight 2Like in the original game, the nebula messed with shields.  This meant that a trip into the nebula was even more dangerous than standard space exploration.  But it wasn’t until a certain point that really captured me.  To solve the game, you have to travel back…. back in time over 1 million years… to before the nebula existed!!  Oh, the excitement.  Would the ship make it through the time warp?  How prepared did we need to be?  In retrospect, it’s laughable.  It was a video game which really meant it was graphics that changed.  But in 1989, this was something new and exciting.  The very idea of it.  I called my neighbor who had helped me with the first game; she had to see this!   We sat on the edge of our seats as we flew through the wormhole.. for the 5 seconds it lasted.  But that excitement was why we loved the game.  

For years, I’ve been looking for the next one.  Starflight III has been on the horizon for as long as games have been out there.  Maybe that’s the real excitement: knowing another may one day arrive.  I would love to see it with the graphics of Mass Effect, but the style of the original games.  I want to be allowed to create and name the crew from various races.  Let’s have an entire universe to explore, with a star map, because duh!   Since those days, no game I’ve played has allowed my imagination the freedom to have my friends on journeys with me.  I’ve played plenty of space exploration games (No Man’s Sky, for instance), but those are games where you travel alone.  No, I want to have the chance to travel with my crew again.  My friends and I will be ready to take to the stars whenever that day comes!  

Until then, check out about 9 minutes of footage, thanks to Squakenet on Youtube.  ML

This entry was posted in Entertainment, Games, Reviews, Science Fiction and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Starflight 2: Trade Routes of the Cloud Nebula

  1. scifimike70 says:

    When I think about how creatively far each new space-age adventure series (TV and video games) could go for its own identity since the cornerstone of Star Trek, I can most easily appreciate how a video game series like Starflight can so uniquely appeal to fans like yourself, ML. Thanks for your sharing your review and memories of this one on the Junkyard. 🚀🛸🌌

    Liked by 1 person

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