Unfortunately, the dog isn't in the game.Star Command
is a game developed for iOS and Android (coming soon). It's a mix of simulation
with the player assuming command of a starship and managing its functions and various rooms in order to fulfil missions. Originally pitched by the developer War Balloon Games on Kickstarter
as a mix between Star Trek
and Game Dev Story
, the project received double the requested amount and was released in 2013 by 14Bricks. Like Game Dev Story
, Star Command
employs pixel graphics in a deliberate attempt to re-create the retro feel of old games.
At the beginning, the player creates his or her avatar and is given several crewmembers to start. The Bridge
and engine rooms are already created. The rest of the rooms require tokens to be built. Crewmembers can be divided into three categories: Red (tactical), Yellow (technical), and Blue (science/medical). The types of tokens that can be used to recruit crewmembers and build/upgrade rooms are also of these colors, although any of these tokens can be used to recruit someone. Crewmembers assigned to the bridge, armory, or any of the weapons rooms don red uniforms and are able to fight off boarders
with blasters. Yellow crewmembers are those assigned to the engine, dodge generator, and sentry rooms. Those assigned to the medical, shield booster, and healing rooms are blue. The only one who doesn't change uniforms depending on assignment is the Player Character
, who is initially assigned to the bridge, but can be assigned anywhere. All crewmembers gain XP when performing their duties: red when fighting or charging weapons; yellow when fixing the ship, building sentry drones, or charging the dodge generator; blue when healing, building resurrection tokens, or charging the shield booster. Crewmemebers who level up get an additional point to their current color score. Each ten points in a category unlocks a new ability, although only one can be active at the same time (e.g. rapid-fire
for red or instant heal/fix for blue/yellow).
Much of the game involves combat with another ship (always 1-on-1). The combat interface shows enemy stats such as the state of their armor and shields and the charge level of their weapons and transporters. Unlike the player's ship, enemy shields don't recharge and, instead, act as more armor. When the player's ship's shields are knocked down (usually after a single hit) below a certain threshold, the enemy can beam in boarders
who attempt to kill your crew and destroy your rooms. Weapons are usually targeted pretty randomly. A hit on a normal section will usually result in some damage to the ship's health and this area being on fire (which does no harm to anyone). A hit in a room may damage this room and make it unusable (as well as its function) until repaired. A hit on the outer hull is likely to result in Explosive Decompression
. Anyone in the vicinity of a hull breach will be sucked out. Unfortunately, the AI doesn't quite grasp that, so both the enemy and your crew will happily walk past an exposed section and will be breathing vacuum before they know it. The only way to avoid being hit by enemy weapons is to use the dodge generator to evade (the ship's animation doesn't show it; both just hang in space and trade blows
), which requires dodge tokens. Each ship design features two weapons rooms with three possibilities on the type of weapons: laser
, plasma torpedo, and machinegun
. Different weapons must be chosen for each weapons room. When a weapon is charged, it can be fired, provided the player passes a targeting mini-game
, which is different for each weapon. Lasers are medium-level weapons with the fastest recharge rate but only a max of three shots per charge. Plasma torpedoes are the most powerful and can potentially fire four shots per charge but require torpedo tokens to be manufactured. The machinegun can potentially fire up to 30 shots per charge, but each shot is weak.
At the beginning, only a single ship design is available. This one is small and only features small rooms. After beating the game, three medium ship designs are unlocked that feature small and medium rooms. No large designs are available at the moment but may be added in the future.
The storyline starts with the player receiving a ship to command and sent by Admiral Micari of Star Command to Mercury to locate a missing cargo ship. Upon ariving, the player finds its wreck and is immediately attacked by an Antorian
scout ship. Next, the Admiral sends the player to Mars to investigate a strange spacecraft that has appeared there, which turns out to be an old Soviet spaceship filled with zombie cosmonauts, who immediately start beaming themselves aboard your ship, ignoring shields. The next mission involves saving a ship of peaceful Midorians from an Antorian dreadnought whose princess offers to join your crew. After that, the player comes upon a destroyed Star Command ship and is accused by Admiral Micari of treason. Barely escaping from being destroyed by his flagship the Olympic
, the player flees to the Midorian homeworld of Noorfoo in the Tarsus system (the game calls it a galaxy but it's clearly not). After fighting enemies at every location in Tarsus, the Midorians inform you that Sol is under attack by a large Antorian fleet. The player returns to Sol only to find out that traitorous humans are helping them and are, in fact, led by Admiral Micari. He survives the destruction of the Olympic
and flees to Antoria in an Escape Pod
. The final battle involves first facing off the most powerful Antorian dreadnought yet and a heavily-upgraded Olympic
-class ship under Micari's command, one right after another. The player can then fly to the Phobos shipyards to select a new ship design and replay the campaign at a higher difficulty level (while keeping all the existing crew with their XP).
The game features plenty of Shout Outs
to Star Trek
, and many of the game's alien races are, in some ways, parodies of races encountered on the show.
Star Command provides examples of:
- Absurdly Low Level Cap: It's ridiculously easy to get all crewmembers to level 30 in their respective area. Switching to another area (e.g. red to yellow) negates this and requires the crewmember to level up all over again. The original level is not lost, though, and can be used again if switched back to the original area. The hardest part about this is keeping the crew alive, as higher level doesn't mean higher HP.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The maximum number of crewmembers allowed on your ship depends on how many can be assigned to the rooms on your ship. Most rooms only allow 2 crewmembers. The bridge and engine rooms allow 4. The enemy, though, appears to have unlimited crew, as they will keep sending boarding parties until either their or you are destroyed.
- Artificial Stupidity: Both your crewmembers and enemy boarders will happily walk past a section of the ship that's exposed to space and be sucked out for their trouble. Since beam-in locations are random, boarding parties can also be beamed into an area explosed to space.
- Bee People: Antorians are bugs that walk upright and like the taste of humans.
- Boarding Party: It's standard for enemies to beam over squads that try to kill your crew and damage your rooms when your shields are down. You can't do it, though.
- Brain in a Jar: The Cortex seek to immortalize themselves and every else by extracting the brain (by force, if necessary) and putting it into a jar atop a cybernetic body. Their ship even has a brain in a transparent tube at the front of it.
- The Bridge: While there is a room on any ship that appears to be the command center, and where the Player Character is first assigned, it actually does nothing during battles. It does allow you to have 4 red crewmembers assigned to it, which helps to fight off boarders. It can also serve as a fortress of sorts, as it's one of the only 2 rooms (the engine room is the othre) with a single entrance. Thus, all enemies have to come through one-by-one.
- But Thou Must: Several times in the game, you don't really have much of a choice other than to fight, even though various conversation options appear to indicate the opposite. In one case, the alien captain will ask of your opinion on their enemies (your friends). If you claim that they're your friends, they will regretfuly decide to destroy you. If you claim they're not, the alien will angrily declare you a liar and attack anyway. In another case, an alien captain is deliberately prentending to be The Unintelligible as a prank. Eventually, no matter what choices you pick before, your Player Character will get annoyed enough to start a fight and all choices lead to combat.
- The Captain: The Player Character, of course. However, he/she is no more special than any other crewmembers, except for the fact that, if he/she dies, the game ends.
- Casual Interstellar Travel: It takes 15 seconds to travel to another star system (or galaxy, as the game calls it). It takes 3 seconds to travel within a star system, unless the planets are far from each other, then it also takes 15. Yes, it takes as much time to travel from Mercury to Neptune as it does from Sol to a faraway system.
- Critical Existence Failure: Averted for your ship. As more enemy shots hit, rooms can be damaged and crew can be killed, reducing your ship's effectiveness and disabling certain functions. Played straight for the enemy.
- Also played straight for your crew and enemy boarders.
- Deflector Shields: All ships have them. For the enemy, they just act as extra armor points and don't regenerate. For you, they can regenerate or be boosted back to full strength. Also, when your shields are below a certain threshold, your ship can be boarded. The only exception are the zombie cosmonauts in the second mission, whose transporter technology is so outdated that modern shields aren't designed to block it.
- The Engineer: Any yellow crewmember can fully repair a ship in a short amount of time and seal every hull breach. An obvious reference to miraculous engineers in Star Trek.
- Escape Pod: Admiral Micari and several other traitors and Antorians escape in one when the Olympic is destroyed. It appears to have an FTL drive capable of reaching Antoria from Earth.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: When you first travel to Ovior in the Tarsus system/galaxy, the Avarians will appear to be incomprehensible, resulting in the Player Character getting annoyed and starting a fight (you don't really have a choice in the matter). After getting sufficiently pounded by your weapons, they reveal that it was all a big prank and find it hilarious that you fell for it. The fact that their boarders and your crewmembers may have died doesn't even enter into it. They follow up with another "joke" in the form of hailing you and then laughing that you answered. All follow-up visits to Ovior result in straight-up battles to the death. Obviously, the Player Character has had enough.
- Evil Laugh: Traitorous humans do it all the time when they board your ship.
- Explosive Decompression: A hit on an outer hull will likely result in a hull breach, causing anyone in the immediate vicinity to be sucked out into space. However, stand just one square away from the "suck-out" zone, and your crewmember will be fine. The breach will continue to vent atmosphere until shields are restored. A yellow crewmember can then repair it.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: The laser fires up to three slower-than-light bolts that deal medium damage. The animation for the weapon appears to eject a shell of some sort every time it fires and experiences recoil.
- Idiot Ball: You can hold it several times, if you wish. In one mission, you come upon a damaged Star Command vessel. The surviving crew ask for help. You have the option of beaming them aboard, which reveals that they are traitors. Alternatively, you can beam a bomb aboard their ship with no consequences. In another mission, a new alien race of Proud Merchant Race Guys offers to trade you advanced technology if you let their representative beam over. Naturally, if you do, they will beam in a Boarding Party.
- Immortality Immorality: The Cortex have achieved immortality via a Brain in a Jar approach. They wish to share their gift with everyone... by force, if necessary.
- Kill It with Fire: Antorian fire-ants are natural flamethrowers.
- More Dakka: The machinegun can fire up to 30 shots per charge. While each shot individually doesn't do a lot of damage, the damage quickly adds up.
- Also, one of the special abilities that red crewmembers can get every 10 levels allows them to temporarily rapid-fire their blaster.
- Petting Zoo People: Avarians are birds. Their ships, called Preying Birds, even have wings. They also really like practical jokes.
- Punched Across the Room: The large Antorians don't carry weapons. Instead, they punch your crewmembers, causing them to fly away a good distance.
- Quick Time Event: Firing a weapon starts a targeting mini-game, depending on the weapon. How successful you are determines how many times the weapon will fire for this volley.
- Red Shirt: Suprisingly, averted. Since only red crewmembers have weapons, they are the only ones who can defend themselves in a fight. Anyone who wear yellow or blue has a higher chance of being killed.
- Retraux: The game intentionally features pixel graphics that wouldn't look out-of-place 20-30 years ago in an effort to evoke feelings of nostalgia (for those who actually remember games of that time period).
- Rock Beats Laser: The primitive Soviet transporter technology allows zombie cosmonauts to beam right through your shields, which aren't designed to block it.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Vocar hate the Midorians with a religious passion and will demand that you renounce your friendship with them or perish through Guilt By Association. However, even if you do, they will assume you're lying to them and attack anyway.
- Script Reading Doors: Averted, which is a surprise, given the inspiration. Doors open when anyone walks past them, even if they have no intention of entering. This also means that any enemy can walk onto your bridge without a problem.
- Space Management Game: Each ship design only has a limited number of slots for rooms available. The small design only allows two extra small rooms in addition to the bridge, engine room, and two weapon rooms (those are standard for all designs). This means that you must choose between building a healing room, a dodge generator, or a shield booster. Medium designs have three small room slots but now have two medium room slots out of three medium room options: armory (red can throw grenades), sentry (yellow can place sentry drones for defense), and medical (blue can revive recently-killed crewmembers).
- Your token inventory is also limited to 15. This includes red, yellow, and blue tokens that can be used to build/upgrade rooms and hire additional crewmembers. It also includes tokens created by certain rooms (e.g. torpedo, dodge, shield boost). Tokens can be destroyed if necessary to make room for new ones.
- Standard Starship Scuffle: Both your ship and the enemy just hang in space and shoot at each other. Your shots can miss if you fail the mini-games (they won't even fire), but the only way to evade the enemy shots is by dodging.
- Teleporters and Transporters: All enemy ships have them and use them to beam in boarding parties when your shields are down. Your ships also, apparently, has one but it can only be used only through conversation options to beam a bomb to a suspect ship or beam in survivors from wrecks.
- Timey Wimey Ball: This is how the game explains the restart of the campaign at a higher difficulty level upon completion.
- To Serve Man: Antorians really like the taste of human flesh. In your first mission, an Antorian scout ship raids a human civilian ship near Mercury. Why? They were hungry, and this is their version of a drive-through.
- Unwilling Roboticisation: The Cortex will ask nicely, but if you refuse, they take your brain by force, put it into a jar atop a mechanical body. Why? It's for your own good. They just want to make everyone immortal.
- We Cannot Go On Without You: If the Player Character is killed, the game ends with a Non-Standard Game Over. This can be quite sudden if the player is sucked out during Explosive Decompression.
- We Have Reserves: The enemy will continue to send over boarding parties until they're destroyed. There's no limit to how many they can send. The best part is that they still keep shooting at your ship while their people are on it.