Video Game / Space Rangers

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A series of top-down Wide Open Sandbox games released for Windows by Russian developer Elemental Games. So far, two games have been released, with both games having very similar gameplay.

In Space Rangers, a powerful alien ship called "Makhpella" and its fleet of battleships known as the "Klissans" invade our region of the galaxy. Five races have formed a loose confederation against it, known as the "Interstellar Coalition": The brutish Maloq, the lawless Peleng, the tech-loving Faeyans, the enlightened Gaalians, and the business-minded humans.

The player takes the role of a young pilot voluntarily enlisting into the titular organization known as the Space Rangers. Space Rangers are tasked with defeating the Klissans, but are given full freedom in deciding how to do so. You can fight the Klissans directly on your own, salvaging their technology and researching ways to defeat them. You can trade commodities between planets and earn enough money to turn your ship into a juggernaut. You can raid civilian ships as a pirate, and you can even perform diplomatic errands. Whichever way you choose, your ultimate task is to become powerful enough to drive the Klissans back and eliminate the Makhpella.

On the whole, Space Rangers is played as a top-down, turn-based tactical game coupled with considerable RPG Elements. You fly your ship from star to star, planet to planet, fighting the enemy (whoever you choose it to be at any given time), upgrading your ship, trading cargo, and so forth. Everything is done using a simple point-and-click interface. However, at many points in the game, gameplay changes radically, incorporating mini-games that are very different from this style. Major diplomatic quests require playing text-based mini-adventures (some of which are remarkably complex). Wormholes take you to another dimension which plays like a classic Shoot 'em Up. The second game even features a rudimentary Real-Time Strategy mini-game with giant robots for units (inspired by ZX Spectrum game Nether Earth). Overall it's no surprise That Other Wiki classifies it as a "Multi Genre" game. Of course, since the game is extremely open-ended, no one forces you to play any of these if they do not suit your style.

Very importantly, the game world is constantly being simulated in the background regardless of what the player is doing. The program controls all enemy ships, civilian and military ships, and even a slew of other Space Rangers who are constantly competing for the highest ranking. While the player may be passing time waiting for his satellites to finish scanning a dead planet, entire battles are fought over star systems on the other side of the quadrant. The enemy and the Coalition send ships at each other, attempt to stay technologically ahead of each other, and prices change according to the lively traffic of trading ships across all sectors of space. In fact, on the easier difficulty levels it is possible for the Coalition to push the enemy to the brink of destruction all by themselves!

The second game (Space Rangers 2) can be seen as an advanced version of the first game, offering many features that the first game did not have while keeping the same gameplay style. The story is almost the same too: the defeated Klissan mothership Makhpella has given rise to a three separate races of machines that now seek to destroy the Interstellar Coalition as well as each other, so now you have three major enemies instead of one, but everything else is largely the same. Nonetheless, thanks to the success of the original, the second game features much higher production quality, and a lot more content.

The re-release of the second game, titled Space Rangers: A War Apart, adds new music, HD support and a third major fraction besides the Coalition and Dominators - the Pirates. The Pirates fight the Coalition as well as Dominators, and players can infiltrate the Pirates to destroy them from inside - or to betray Coalition and take over the galaxy. Fitting its past, A War Apart is still a Wide Open Sandbox beyond belief.

Although released for the Russian market, which consistently shows more interest in slower, smarter games, Space Rangers 2 did surprisingly well in the West for its genre. This is despite an entirely inconsistent quality of translation, which left some texts almost undecipherable (and some quests ridiculously difficult to complete). Both games were eventually released as a complete box set known in Europe under the name Space Rangers: Reboot, which contained both the original and Rise of the Dominators combined with the expansion pack. Don't be fooled too much by the name, though. In America, Space Rangers: Reboot refers only to the expansion pack. Both games used to be on Steam, and 2 also used to be available on GOG.com, but both versions were taken off of both services by the publisher, most likely due to the release of the HD remake. Currently, the only game in the series that can be purchased is the HD remake, which makes the games preceding it very difficult to obtain.

The HD remake includes the expansion and new content. A few developers of the team behind the HD remake were involved in the development of the original game or its expansion. The game got a decent English translation (from scratch) and a release outside of Russia in October 2013.

Not to be confused with the short-lived 1993 television series of the same name, with Power Rangers in Space, or Buzz Lightyear's job.

This work contains examples of the following tropes:

  • 100% Heroism Rating: The player can improve relationship with planets by protecting them from the enemies.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Mugged a couple of traders for their cargo and money? Four months in prison! Sold too much drugs at once? Four months in prison! Attacked and destroyed an entire military fleet, leaving a planet defenseless against killer robots? Four months in prison!
    • That is, of course, if you manage to reach a planet in order to be arrested at all. Otherwise the system military will simply blast you of the sky.
  • All Gays Are Promiscuous: You can visit a gay bar in one of the text adventure mini-games in the first game. When you enter it, you are immediately harassed by a Camp Gay man and promptly start running for your life.
  • Already Done for You: You can accept an assassination mission only for your mark to be killed by someone else in an random fight. You can still collect the bounty on them, though.
  • Asteroid Thicket: In the intro. Averted in the game, where asteroids fly around at great speeds and obey both solar and planetary gravity.
  • Attack Drone: The tranclucators.
  • Auto-Save: The game auto-saves before entering space or when you start a text quest. In case of the text quest, you're given the option to reload should you fail it.
  • Back from the Brink: The game starts this way, with the Klissans or Dominators having taken most of the galaxy and the player being part of the effort taking it back. On the higher difficulties, might end up with the enemy finishing it for good.
  • Badass Bystander: All traders, diplomats and passenger liners are armed and tend to help each other. It's not uncommon to see an unfortunate pirate fleeing from the ship he was trying to mug, constantly hailing his pursuer and offering money for leaving him alone.
  • Big Red Button: A quest involves delivering an entire shipment of them. It seems that Maloqs don't appreciate how one's supposed to gently push the Big Red Buttons, smashing them every time they use them.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Judging by the amount of puns and such in the original Russian text, it would seem like there should be a lot of these. For example, a "Mentoshoop" - a sort of a radar used by dominators - can be read either as "A mental probe" or as "The one who gropes cops".
  • Blind Jump: The black holes which sometimes appear at the edge of the systems allow you to make a fuel-free jump to another star system. At the cost of having to fight the enemies inside the black hole's space and ending up in an unpredictable location (in a system that's 50 parsecs deep into the enemy territory, for example).
  • Breakable Weapons: Equipment wears out if used (so you repair bot will not wear out if your hull doesn't need repair, and weapons don't wear out if you don't fire). Also, if something is broken enough, it starts malfunctioning — for example, the fuel tank starts leaking, making you waste fuel, and sufficiently damaged engine will slow you down to a crawl.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": In one text quest you must figure out how to feed a "Desert Ship" from Mars. In the original Russian version, this English name is phonetically transliterated to Cyrillic letters. In Russian, "ship" means "thorn", so Russian players are tricked to think they are dealing with "Desert Thorn". The animal's description is also intentionally confusing. In the end it is revealed that player was dealing with a simple camel.
    • In another example from the same quest, "Ferriferous No-Oodles" is telephone wire.
    • That zoo quest in general consists of these. There are five animals and five types of food, all named in insane ways, and the point is to figure out what each of them actually means.
  • The Can Kicked Him: One of possible ends of Prison quest involves other prisoner sticking your head into the toilet until you suffocate.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Your enemies in hyperspace know if a random powerup is going to be a good one or a bad one.
  • Cooking Duel: Some text quests. Drawing, cooking pizza, racing, robot fighting, MTG-like card game, fishing and electing.
  • Cosmetic Award: The most common awards for completing quests are medals, which do nothing but look good.
  • Critical Encumbrance Failure: Just one unit of excess cargo and your ship isn't going anywhere.
  • Digitized Sprites: For virtually everything.
  • Election Day Episode: One of the text quests require you to become elected leader of the planet. The loser gets blasted by security guards, due to an existing law. Within the following seven days, you organize advertisements, press conferences, and try to convince citizens to vote for you.
  • Enemy Mine: When Klissans/Dominators enter a system, everyone will stop fighting and will attack them. Or escape.
  • Escort Mission: One of the mission you can get from the planet Government.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Yes, pirates are bad... but they are still part of the Coalition and they still protect systems in case of Klissan/Dominator attack.
    • This applies to ranger-pirates, but not regular pirates. In most cases they will pick up any valuable debris they can reach and then run for their lives.
    • It is strongly recommended not to kill other rangers, even pirates, on higher difficulties.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Any player who practice the role as an Anti-dominator pirate suffers from this. Everyone, as in everyone will be considering you as a good source of loot, pirates, dominators, rangers and even traders will find you a decent opportunity for profit. Although for endgame players, this trope can also be played in an inverted fashion.
    • Heck, even when not serving the role mentioned above, asteroids will likely to become your undoing as well.
  • Evil Debt Collector: Apparently, you become this after your long journey into becoming the new Baron of the pirate armada. Allowing you to collect taxes off pirate-controlled planets with ease. At least it is illegal, right?
  • Explosions in Space: Quark bombs and fuel barrels explode, damaging everything nearby after being shot. All spaceships also explode after being destroyed, but they don't damage anything.
  • Fission Mailed: One of the text quests in second game has this. It's easy to see it coming because it happens at the second location, and you don't have many choices in the first location.
  • Game Within a Game: One of the text quests. An important person is stuck playing an MMORPG. You need to free him of his addiction. The solution? Beat him at the game!
    • Most text-quests can be considered to be games within the game, since they are almost entirely disconnected from the main game (having their own, fully self-contained plots). But one quest that stands out in this regard is one where you are hired to pay a ransom for the release of some guy who got into debt with a local crime gang. This text quest plays out as a miniature game of Space Rangers - except in multiple choice form. You get a truck which you drive around between locations on the map, buying and selling goods, avoiding motor gangs, upgrading your equipment and running into all sorts of random encounters and mini-quests.
    • In another quest you play as a space ranger from past. It's just like the main game - but in text-adventure form!
  • Gameplay Roulette: Normally a simultaneous turn-based space action-rpg, but then sometimes you shift genre into arcade shooter, or into an RTS which you can also turn it into third-person shooter, or a text adventure which might range from choose your own adventure to economic simulator. If you want to avoid those, be a bit careful on getting quests. Don't worry too much, though, all of them are fun.
  • Gentleman Thief: A pirate player is likely this, stealing loot from trader ships in all sectors around, but is still ultimately purposed to put an end to growing Dominator expansion in HD.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest: Two types of missions, cargo delivery and planetary text-adventures, have no impact on the game beyond your bank account (and possibly a secondary item given to you which may make you more powerful). The other three (assassination, escorting a ship and defending a system) can have marginal impact if your interference causes or prevents the random ship from doing something helpful or harmful within a system.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: In the beginning to mid-game, rocket launchers rule. They are light, shoot far and deliver appreciable damage. By the late-game however, more exotic weapons like the "Vertix" and "Turbo-Gravir" take the lead.
    • Shrapnel weapons are quite effective in the mid-to-late game. The Fragment Cannon hits hard and scales excellently with tech levels while being quite cheap. Then you get Flow Blasters with their awesome range, and Multi-Resonators with their splash damage - both very effective in Hyperspace, too. After that there are only energy weapons left.
  • Luck-Based Mission: A few of the text adventure mini-games. Justified in some cases, as in the "Casino" quest.
  • Mental Time Travel: One of the text quests sends your mind back to the 22nd century.
  • Mini-Game: Lots of. Text quests? Check. Arcade battles? Check. A 3D Real-Time Strategy game with an element of Third-Person Shooter (you can take personal control of your units)? Check.
  • Nintendo Hard: One of the tournaments. You get a savegame with 200% difficulty where you start with lousy equipment and down to one system in the whole galaxy. Now go win the game.
  • Obvious Rule Patch/Anti-Grinding: Using a Transfactor Beacon now gives you radiation sickness. It's an incurable disease that lasts a couple months (likely the more you use those the longer it lasts) and dramatically reduces any experience you receive. This change came as a response to an exploit where, once you get a cool enough ship, you can load it with vertixes, IMHO-9000s and resonators and destroy entire crowds of enemies very quickly. Getting a load of Transfactor Beacons and summoning huge clouds of enemies used to be an insanely effective way of experience farming.
    • The weight of Turbo Gravirs and IMHOs dropped by Dominator ships is increased in Reboot (each weigh at least 100) after veteran players found it too easy to rock 4-5 of them as early as 4 years into a game even in 200% difficulty.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: You drive in a worm hole in one system and exit at another, after surviving a shooting minigame with potentially valuable equipment and artifacts as reward.
  • Police Are Useless: Local military defense rarely exists in space, which is why you often get missions to patrol a system against pirates for a few months. The military will sometimes fill this role by scrambling some battleships to take down wanted pirates, but most of the time they stay on a planet and there is no way to call for their assistance.
    • Even if the military does exist within such star system, most of them will likely to spend their time hunting you down instead of the raiding pirates in question.
  • Random Drop: Semi-averted. You can usually scan enemy ships to see what kind of equipment they have. However when their ships explode what is salvageable depends on what weapon finishes off the ship, how much money you have, what day it is, etc or in short how lucky you are.
  • Rule of Fun: Space is Noisy. The ships and stations are a little too big compared to the planets. Each planet is like a single city, with only one type of economy and political stance. Hyperspace is an arcade minigame. But who cares? As long as players have fun playing it.
  • Save Scumming: For a lot of things, like Government rewards after you have completed a quest, artifacts gained after completing the Blackhole shooting minigame, rare micromodules for sale in rangers center, drops from dead enemies. The last one is extremely important especially in harder difficulties where it is vital to get the best equipment in the shortest amount of (game) time possible.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Dominators in the second game.
    • Makhpella is also this, until you manage to talk to it. As it turns out, Makhpella believed our spaceships were intelligent, and that we (the humanoids flying them) were a disease. It simply tried to eradicate the disease in order to help the spaceships. Once you explain this, Makhpella actually apologizes.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: You can spend money to repair your reputation at planets. Even if a planet's military is hostile towards you, you can contact one of the ships and offer to pay for damages.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Some of text quests let you escape right at the beginning. Some give you a chance in the middle. Sometimes you can do it at any moment.
    • Other rangers do that all the time, even those whom you've hired to accompany you, making them effectively worthless.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: One of text quests involves investigating a tribe of Akabos, who are basically anthropoid dogs. The name is backwards for "sobaka", Russian for "dog". Three named members of the tribe are Kibob, Kizut and Kirash — backwards for "Bobik", "Tuzik" and "Sharik", Russian stock names for dogs.
  • Shout-Out: Lots of.
    • Maloqsoft is a software company that produces really crappy software.
    • Linux is the name of a planet, as well as the name for superior software.
    • One space-disease causes the player to hallucinate images of spaceships/bases/etc that are not there. Don't be surprised if you see Babylon 5 or the Death Star hanging around in a star system you just entered.
    • Astrodroids from Star Wars are back and explicitly named droids, even though they look different.
  • Space Does Not Work That Way:
  • Space Pirates: Two kinds; regular criminals who go around attacking ships, and Space Rangers who choose this way of life. The player can be a pirate too.
    • Pelengs are a race full of space pirates (or at least they hold pirates, thieves and other professional criminals in high regard). Maloks consider them merchants, but more honorable because there's shooting involved.
    • Pirates now form a hostile force comparable to dominators in threat in the HD re-release.
    • On the other hand, pirates fight against dominators and can free star systems from them (Of course, in order to set their own rule. Still, pirate-owned systems are less hostile than dominator-owned, where everything tries to destroy you without question).
  • Spiritual Successor: to Star Wars (not the behemoth franchise, but a small indie game no one except the developers have heard about). The enemies were going to be named Klings in homage to it, but this was changed to avoid similarity to Star Trek.
    • More notably, the game is sometimes considered a successor to Star Control and Elite.
  • Stock Puzzle: Some text adventures include these forms of stock puzzles, which are amplified as being part of tournaments that grant galactic prestige.
  • Subspace or Hyperspace: There's a typical Elite-like hyperspace jump. There's also a different kind of hyperspace, accessible near black holes and leading to a... Shoot 'em Up arcade mini-game.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: A villainous example spanning the entire story of Space Rangers 1.
    • In the sequel, the Transfactor Beacon summons an army of Dominators, usually Kelleroids. Since the Dominators are broken into three factions which are at war with each other, it is possible to summon them upon a system infested by another faction and watch the two fleets duke it out - then pick off the survivors (or pick up the remains).
  • Take a Third Option: A pirate player is obliged (but not forced) to take the third option of fighting Dominators and Coalition members at the same time.
    • This trope is taken for granted when you decided to kill both the admiral of the Coalition military and the old baron of the pirate armada, allowing the said pirates to return to their old roots with you as their new leader. This also serves as a good ending for you and the pirates.
  • Take That!: One of the text-quests involves a human computer system being infected by a virus called “Windows,” and the company providing anti-virus software is called "Maloqsoft".
    • In the sequel, Maloqsoft apparently switched to military research.
  • Temporal Sickness/Laser-Guided Amnesia: A text-quest in the first game involves using experimental gaalian Time Travel tech. It is explained that the shock of time travel scrambles the conscious memories of the rewinded period in the displaced individual, but leaves the subconscious memories intact, which manifest in constant strong deja vu. This is known as Temporal Amnesia.
  • Tier System: Each item is assigned a technology tier to determine how powerful it is. Space Rangers gives a color coding to the equipment, while Space Rangers 2 shows a filling bar on the right (as well as proving a letter code for weapons.) In both games, non-weapons are given a distinct name, while weapons can only be differentiated by their tier code.
  • Timed Mission: All quests given by planetary governments are timed. Asking for a "harder" or "easier" mission simply alters the allotted time (along with associated payment), rather than the objectives or the difficulty of the mission itself.
    • Due to the way the game's AI works, it is entirely possible for the villains to completely destroy the Coalition if you don't pay attention and/or take too long with the main quest.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: It is guaranteed that you will replay most of the text adventure mini-games several times before completing them, as the winning path often only becomes obvious after several failed attempts.
  • Truth Serum: A courier mission has you transport a pizza recipe. The volunteer that receives the pizza then said everything he thought about the local planet's authorities within five minutes (with the wife and mother-in-law doing the same).
  • Turn Basedtactics: Although rather a rare example of a turn-based RPG.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: In text adventures the Player Character will often kill mooks with guns, but rarely gets an option to pick up said guns. When the writers bother to explain this, they mention fingerprint scanners on the trigger.
  • Unwinnable by Design: The text adventure mini-games have examples ranging across the entire extended cruelty scale, but generally tending towards the crueler end. For example, the one where you have to rob a Pelengan bank would rate around Tough or Nasty (it is easy to miss the winning path but generally there are clear hints what to do), while the quest where you have to deal with the native Menzol race is definitely Cruel if not Evil, as it is extremely easy to lock yourself out of the winning path by spending all your money and valuable items in the wrong places.
  • Updated Re-release: Twice. Firstly, there's the Reboot expansion/box set/it's kind of complicated depending on region, released in 2009. Secondly, there's the expanded, retranslated HD rerelease in 2013.
  • Western RPG: The game mostly follows Western conventions. Interestingly, the developers used to live in Vladivostok, which is as close to Japan as you can get without actually living in the country itself - thus geographically making it an Eastern RPG.
    • This was "fixed" later, when they moved to Europe.
    • A classic exploit that still remains as a newbie freebie: at the start of the game, a medical station in the Solar System offers a large quantity of cheap medicine, and the planet Venus (a few days away) offers nice sums for it, thus your only activity that makes sense early on is to run this route for a couple of in-game months.
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