Video Game: Space Rangers
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 new campaign, where players can infiltrate a pirate faction that is also trying to take over the galaxy. Fitting its past, A War Apart is still a Wide Open Sandbox
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, or with Power Rangers in Space
This work contains examples of the following tropes:
- Abusive Precursors: The five races of the galaxy, to the Dominators. Quoting a certain pirate: "If you were carpet-bombed with nukes and radiation-roasted for a couple hundred years, wouldn't you be royally pissed about that?"
- Adventurer Archaeologist: The player takes on this role in a few text adventure mini-games, solving a simple puzzle for a team of more traditional archaeologists.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The second game is about defeating results of this.
- Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Maloqs' stools are considered treasures of art. A true Maloq stool is supposed to be wobbly, have splinters that tear into one's butt and be heavy and unwieldy.
- Aliens Speaking Russian: Averted with the Klissans and the Dominators, as you need to acquire and use special programs to talk with them at all. Played straight with the other Coalition races.
- 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.
- Asteroid Thicket: In the intro. Averted in the game, where asteroids fly around at great speeds and obey both solar and planetary gravity.
- 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".
- 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.
- Colour Coded Armies: Maloqs are red, Pelengs are green, Faeyans are pink, Gaalians are yellow - and so are their ships and planets. Humans' planets and ships are dark blue.
- Conveniently Close Planet
- Comedic Sociopathy: This is the Pelengs' hat. They think space pirates are good role models, don't see anything wrong with selling drugs in schools, and order hits on garbage transports just to piss off Gaalians.
- 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.
- Did You Just Have Tea With Cthulhu: It's possible to talk to Makhpella using Mental Communicator. Once it's built, it can be used to diplomatically solve the problem and finish the war.
- Digitized Sprites: For virtually everything.
- Dirty Coward: For this reason, the entire Rangers program sans you is a complete disaster. AI Rangers are tasked with preserving themselves at any cost, which is why they always turn tail at the first sight of enemies, only visit already freed systems to collect loot, and even under your command they have to be ordered every turn to do something other than running for them to not forsake the order immediately.
- Eldritch Abomination: Makhpella. It's revealed that all Klissan starships are her organs. There are at least two more of them.
- Enemy Civil War: The Dominators. They are divided into 3 factions that are as hostile to each other as they are to the Coalition.
- 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.
- Exploding Barrels: in space, no less. You can drop fuel cisterns (barrels) and shoot them to blow them up, damaging anything nearby.
- Extreme Omnivore: Maloqs have a fair part of this too.
- To a larger extent, the Terron Dominators. "The final goal is to absorb all the matter in the universe into my species." One of the ways of defeating the Terron boss is to tell him to go eat a star, out of all things.
- Fantastic Racism: Played for laughs, most of the times. Maloqs see themselves as superior beings because they are so strong and dream of galactic domination. But they are the stupidest race of the five and it's unlikely they'll ever achieve their goals, aside from a few super-weapon projects.
- The Federation: The Coalition.
- 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.
- Foreign Queasine: One of the text quests involves a cooking contest. Quite a bit of "exotic ingredients" can be expected (Beef steak, still bloody and covered with ash, for the Maloq; Seafood decorated with live worms for Peleng, etc).
- For Science!: Dominator Keller doesn't destroy the Caolition ships - he's merely disassembling them for studying. It's not his fault they cannot reassemble back!
- From a Single Cell: The Dominators consist of autonomous microscopic nodes, and thus can easily replicate themselves.
- 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!
- Global Currency/We Will Spend Credits in the Future: The Galactic Credit is the human currency, but they've managed to convince all other races to use it as well. Averted in some text quests.
- Good Is Not Nice: Gaalians give their share of assassination missions. They tend to mourn their targets though, and treat this sort of mission as very traumatic experience.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: Arguably, text quests. If you fail one, you can go back in time and try it again. And again. And again.
- Hurl It into the Sun: Klissans and Dominators can easily be tricked into flying into the sun. One of the ways of dealing with Terron is to give him a program of transforming the star. Scientists say that he will probably melt within a year.
- Humanoid Aliens: All other Coalition races.
- Humans Are Average: Their technology is better than Maloq and Peleng technology, but worse than Faeyan and Gaalian technology.
- Humans Are Diplomats: Sort of. The Coalition uses human currency and time system for a reason.
- Irrelevant Sidequest: All missions that planet governments give you will only affect your bank account. Except maybe assassination missions - your target is a randomly chosen ship which might've done something useful in the quadrant if you hadn't taken it down.
- The rewards for side quests are slightly more significant; they can make the player stronger, and can thus lead to liberating the galaxy. However the plot of a side-quest has no bearing on the reward you get for completing it.
- 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.
- Mad Scientist: The Keller Dominator. His way of researching things is to take them apart and see what they are made of. Humans can't reassemble themselves after the process? Not his problem!
- 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.
- Mistook the Dominant Lifeform: Makhpella thinks that your ships are sentient, and pilots are just an organic disease infecting them. He is just trying to cure the infection.
- 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.
- One-Man Army: Every ranger is one. In fact, the Coalition created the Space Rangers to be this.
- Our Orcs Are Different: The Maloqs definitely have a lot of the traits of the "Blizzard orcs" archetype (personality-wise), although this time they are not in conflict with humans.
- 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.
- Planet of Hats: All five sentient races are quite widespread across the galaxy, so you'll encounter many planets with the same hat. The Maloqs' hat is being the Proud Warrior Race (see below), Gaalians are wise and patient, Faeyans are awesome scientists, and Pelengs are the slimy spies, villains and backstabbers. Humans are an average race in both attitudes and technology, while apparently being superior businessmen (After all, the galactic currency is the human-originated "Galactic Credit").
- Subverted in text quests where you may encounter smart Maloqs and heroic Pelengs.
- Police Are Useless: They are non-existent 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.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Maloqs. Trading or killing pirates might end up with you being very unpopular with Maloqs - they do not appreciate activities that don't involve war, and they think of piracy as an honorable career. The Maloqs' way of greeting is to punch the other person in the face. Maloqs despise any luxury, and ban any trading in luxurious items on their planets. In fact, the only luxury items they allow for themselves are stools.
- 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 ship 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Is Cold: The intro. Look at peleng's face near the end.
- Space Is Noisy: As most of the combat takes place here.
- 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.
- 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.
- Starfish Aliens: Makhpella and the Klissans.
- Storming the Castle: One of the ways to dispose of Terron is deploying a small army of robots on its surface and destroying its core. Amusingly, it can easily be done with a single robot via manual control.
- 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 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.
- Talking the Monster to Death: The player can choose to do this to one of the 3 main bosses.
- 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.
- Timed Mission: 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.
- All quests given by planetary governments are timed. Asking for a "harder" or "easier" mission simply alters the allotted time, rather than the objectives or the difficulty of the mission itself.
- 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.
- 2-D Space
- Even Hyperspace is in 2D, although it's played on the flat surface of a 3D sphere - making navigation utterly confusing.
- Universal Universe Time: One of the most notable human successes was to establish this (the other was the Galactic Credit).
- Unusable Enemy Equipment:
- When you destroy another ship, some of its equipment is dropped intact. Klissans/Dominators often drop equipment that is only useful to them (like parts from their computer systems or inner workings) and largely useless to the player. Fortunately, these items can still be sold — and science stations pay extremely well for them.
- 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.