Attention troper — heed this recorded message! This works page speaks with the voice and authority of the Ur-Quan!Star Control is a series of shoot-'em-up/Action Adventure games by Accolade built around space battles modeled on but substantially expanded from Spacewar.As in Spacewar, the battle portion of Star Control involves two armed spaceships in a 2D space battlefield, often with a planet in the middle. Unlike Spacewar, there is a wide range of ships to choose from, each representing a different alien race and possessing a distinct appearance, handling characteristics, weapons, and unique abilities. With this wider variety of ships, Star Control also boasts the ability to create fleets, so that when one ship is destroyed another can take its place in battle — until one side loses by running out of ships.More importantly however, space battles in Star Control are just the cherry on top of the cake: all three games (and particularly the second and third games) go well beyond mere space battles, offering an "over-arching" experience that gives battles context and explores all of the different races and their relationships.The original Star Control featured a "campaign" mode - a rudimentary Turn-Based Strategy game. It pitted the Alliance Of Free Stars (where humans were only minor members) against the evil Ur-Quan Hierarchy, with each side comprised of 7 different races. Each side starts on opposite ends of a small map; the objective was to advance your ships planet by planet, fight enemy ships whenever they are encountered, gather resources to purchase stronger ships, uncover artifacts to boost specific ships' combat prowess, and ultimately clear all enemy assets off the map. However the game also included its famous "Melee mode", which simply allowed players to pick any two ships (or two fleets of any composition) and just duke it out - skipping all the Resource Gathering and territory control stuff to give a fun, fast-paced casual experience. In fact, the game became famous primarily for its Melee mode, and many players were content with just playing this mode over and over.Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters took things many levels beyond the first game. For one, "Super Melee mode" was included: an upgraded version of the original's Melee mode, with a plethora of new ships, much larger fleets enabled, as well as the ability to save "favorite" fleet compositions to disk. Once again Super Melee mode was a major attraction to the game, but Star Control II is mostly famous for its story mode: an RPG/Action Adventure game akin to Starflight, set twenty years after the Alliance of Free Stars lost the war featured in the first game. The player character travels the galaxy searching for a way to overthrow the Ur-Quan, meeting (and, if conversations went badly, battling) most of the alien races mentioned in the first game, discovering several new ones and sooner or later learning that there are worse things than the enslaving Ur-Quan, and they're about to take an interest in mankind. Gameplay follows many RPG tropes, albeit at a different scale: for "character", read "ship"; for "party", read "fleet"; for "town" or "dungeon", read "planet". The game is highly regarded for its engaging story and for the inventiveness and humor of its story and setting.Star Control 3 had a tough act to follow, which it tried to do by adding even more races and ships, providing an "isometric" combat mode with Digitized Sprites, and mainly by mixing the strategy aspect of the first game with the Action Adventure aspects of the second. Unfortunately the finished product failed to live up to expectations for various reasons, possibly because it was made without the involvement of the series' creators. Also, the story-lines of many of the established races took strange side-ways turn, and the game was also criticized for its use of awkward-looking Claymation during dialogue scenes. It was not very well received by the fanbase, though some debate still continues regarding its ultimate Fanon Discontinuity status. Nonetheless, Star Control 3 remains a relatively popular item in direct-download stores.All three Star Control games are available from Good Old Games. An excellent — and free — port of Star Control II to modern systems, called The Ur-Quan Masters, is also available from this page. But Wait, There's More!: A Fan Sequel to Star Control II, called Project 6014, is being developed here.PRIORITY OVER-RIDE. NEW BEHAVIOR DICTATED. MUST BREAK SUBJECT INTO COMPONENT TROPES.
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Tropes common across most or all of the series:
Action Bomb: Theoretically you can shoot ships down with the Shofixti Scout's "main" weapon. But usually it's not the most efficient of the Scout's tactics.
The Alliance: The Alliance of Free Stars, later The New Alliance of Free Stars (though it may be given a different Punny Name during the second game).
Arbitrary Maximum Range: The majority of weapon projectiles will disappear after traveling a certain range. Some, however, will track the enemy indefinitely (until they hit or are otherwise destroyed by colliding with other projectiles or obstacles).
Asteroid Thicket: In tandem with every starship battle being centered on a planet, they also all feature asteroids spawning from the edges of the "arena". They don't damage you, though, only throw off your momentum.
BFG: Several ships have one, notably the Druuge Mauler's massive axial cannonnote actually, the Druuge Mauler is a massive axial cannon, the Ur-Quan Dreadnought's fusion blaster, and the Chmrr Avatar's heavy x-ray laser, so powerful it ionizes the solar wind.
Cast From Hitpoints: A ship's crew functions as its hitpoints. The Orz can send crew members into space to board the enemy ship, while The Druuge can sacrifice crew members in order to regain energy. The Ur-Quan Kzer-Za can send small, short-range one-man attack vessels against the opponent.
Crippling Overspecialization: Every race uses only ONE type of ship that is very good against certain ships but is helpless against other kinds of ships.
Fixed Forward Facing Weapon: A mainstay across the majority of ships. Notable exceptions include the Orz Nemesis with its rotating artillery cannon, and the Spathi Eluder whose most effective weapon is aimed backwards.
In the first game, both the Arilou Skiff and the Shofixti Scout are this. The Umgah Drone is normally quite slow, but has powerful retro-rockets that enable it to fly very fast, albeit only backwards.
The second game adds the Pkunk Fury, Zoq-Fot-Pik Stinger and Thraddash Torch. The Fury, however, has a luck-based special ability that can occasionally render it nigh invincible.
Frickin' Laser Beams: The Arilou, VUX, Mmrnmhrm and Chmmr all pilot starships which use instantly-generated lasers as primary weapons. The Earthling Cruiser and the second game's Precursor flagship use point defense lasers as secondaries. There's a few small craft, such as the Ur-Quan Dreadnought's fighters and the Chmmr Avatar's ZapSats which use them, too.
Global Currency: Starbucks in the first game, Resource Units in the next two games.
Gradual Grinder: Any ship that has only low-damage attacks, such as the Spathi Discriminator or the Arilou Skiff, has no choice but to be this.
Leitmotif: Each race has a specific tune that plays when one of their ships wins a battle.
Gravity Sucks: Averted. Gravity in melee behaves very realistically for a 2D arcade-style game. You can orbit planets and use the gravity to accelerate faster then the ship's engines would allow in the so-called "Gravity Whip" maneuver.
Justified with the Androsynth, who were cloned from actual humans before taking to the stars and becoming a political power of their own.
Not so justified with the Syreen. The characters point out that this can't possibly be a coincidence, but no real explanation is given why they are so genetically compatible with humans that they can produce fertile offspring. Wild Mass Guessing abounds, mostly involving the Arilou.
Humans Are Leaders: Averted. The more advanced Chenjesu were actually the leaders of The Alliance, and the Chmmr retake their role in all but name once you get all the relevant plot coupons to complete the second game.
Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: As a general rule. Energy weapons, like the VUX or Mmrnmhrm lasers are often quite powerful, but are generally very short-range and tricky to aim. The Arilou laser is pretty much the worst of all possible worlds: very short-range and low-damage. Projectile weapons, on the other hand, while not always as powerful, usually have a much longer range and usually come with tracking capabilities, meaning that they are much easier to hit with. The Earthling MX missile, for example, has very long range, excellent tracking, and does quite respectable damage. The Mmrnmhrm missiles, while doing little damage per strike, have phenomenal range and very good tracking. The one big exception is the Mycon plasmoid; an energy weapon with long range and tracking but it is very slow, meaning that many ships can outrun it. In some situations, it is possible for the Podship to actually overtake their own plasmoid and receive the damage from it!
Life Meter: Each ship has one, purportedly representing how many surviving crew it has.
Lightning Bruiser: The Mmrnmhrm Transformer is this to some extent. In its x-form, it is extremely fast, albeit slow turning, and fires extremely long-range, reliably tracking missiles. In its y-form, it is very maneuverable, albeit slow, and fires very deadly, albeit short-range, lasers. If used properly, then, it has all the advantages of a fast, maneuverable ship that can hit easily and do tremendous damage. Its only real drawback is that actually transforming the ship costs all its fuel, so the key is transforming at just the right moment. In the hands of a skilled pilot it is one of the deadliest Alliance ships, while still being relatively low-priced.
Raygun Gothic: The Syreen have this aesthetic. Their ships are old-fashioned rockets; their ship controls look ripped from the covers of 1920s sci-fi pulp; the Syreen themselves might have walked straight off the pages of "Amazon Princesses of Space" or some such. All this helps lampshade the fact that the Syreen are a race of good old-fashioned Blue Skinned Space Babes in a game otherwise populated by Starfish Aliens and Eldritch Abominations.
Reincarnation: The Pkunk ship can physically reincarnate with all hands when destroyed on the field of battle. It has a 50% chance of happening each time, so with the help of the Random Number God the Pkunk can be an unreasonably formidable race given that every captain is a New Age Retro HippieIn Space. They appear to believe in it for everyone.
Space Elves: The Syreen are of the blue space babe variety, while the Arilou are of the mystic alien intruder type.
Space Is an Ocean: There are a few exceptions in each game, but for the most part this trope is heavily applied. Spacecraft are called "ships", battles are fought in 2-D Space, and naval ranks are used for space officers. On the other hand, Space Friction applies only in Hyper Space in the second game - though ships do still all have an arbitrary maximum speed everywhere else.
Spaceship Slingshot Stunt: A necessary tactic for survival during combat, at least for most ship types. The Arilou cannot utilize it at all, since their ships do not accumulate momentum from any source.
Starfish Aliens: Most of the species in each game. There are a few more or less "humanoid" species (and the Androsynth, who are human clones), but other species go from mildly familiar (like the Yehat) to bizarre (like the Umgah) and all the way to incomprehensible (like the Orz).
Stealth In Space: The Ilwrath specialty. Though many factors can give away the location of a cloaked Ilwrath ship, it does render enemy homing projectiles largely ineffective. Furthermore, the Ilwrath ship automatically orients itself towards the enemy upon decloaking, which enables it to give a sudden and effective burst from its main weapon.
Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: While the end result of a battle is heavily influenced by skill, most ships are particularly useful against some ships, while being particularly vulnerable to other ships. Ships with fewer vulnerabilities cost more to manufacture/acquire (though some of the cheaper ships can still be surprisingly potent in the right hands).
Tele Frag: When using the Arilou Skiff's teleportation, there is a small but nonzero chance of teleporting into the planetnote Or an asteroid. Or your opponent's ship. Unsurprisingly, this is immediately fatal.
Teleport Spam: This can be a useful strategy when using the Arilou.
Word of Gay: The Androsynth, according to Paul Reiche III. It's subtly indicated even in the original material — look closely at their in-game art, and you'll notice that they have little pink triangles on their uniforms. Given the end they meet in the sequel, it could be the greatest case of Bury Your Gays ever.
Black and Grey Morality: Consider the behavior of the Alliance of Free Stars, the ostensible good guys: whenever the Alliance captures a Hierarchy colony or mine, they annihilate it from orbit, killing untold numbers of civilians. Except for the Syreen: when they capture a Hierarchy colony, they first use mind control to recruit crew from the colony, then destroy the remainder from orbit. And they're not the only slavers in the Alliance: the humans of earth enslaved the Androsynth, who are, after all, just genetically engineered humans; that's why the Androsynth joined the Hierarchy after they escaped from slavery on earth. The Ariloulaleelay also have a track record of carrying out abductions of members of other species, and possibly of sexually molesting those they abducted. And then you have the Shofixti, a race of suicide bombers. So, kidnappers, slavers, rapists, and suicide bombers, and these are the good guys.
Character Name Limits: Some race and captain names were too long to fit on the sidebar showing the ships' stats:
Androsynth was shortened to Androsyn.
Ariloulaleelay was shortened to Arilou, and unlike "Androsyn", this is considered an acceptable short form in-universe.
In the Genesis version a wider font was used for captain names than in the PC and Amiga versions, and so many ship captain names were shortened. The Ur-Quan title "Master" became "Lord", the Umgah name "Grijbul'o" became "Gibj'o", and the initial consonant before the second "eep" in Yehat names was removed. This carried over to the second game, where the name of the Zoq-Fot-Pik race was shortened to ZoqFot.
Computer-controlled ships can always keep track of where the planet is, even when it is not visible on the screen, and as such will never accidentally fly right into it as it appears from the edge of the display. But you will.
Double Knockout: Move a Starbase onto the same star as the enemy's Starbase and laugh as they destroy one another. Also possible if you take out a Hierarchy ship with a Shofixti Scout's Glory Device, that is, by suicide bombing. Or if you win a battle, but are very badly damaged, and then crash into the planet, killing your last crewman.
Fog of War: Star clusters are hidden from player view until traveled to, if the aptly-named "Hidden" option is selected; even when "Visible", exactly what the stars are is unknown until visited (only in the Genesis version). Even in the PC version, planet types are concealed until a star system has been visited.
Since the star clusters in the full game are generated randomly every time according to data in the scenario file, you may end up starting the game with the enemy ships and your starbase/colonies/mines in one "arm" of the cluster, and your own ships in another. Now imagine what happens if the losing condition for your side in this scenario is losing your starbase/colonies/mines.
If one of your ships just happens to run across a Precursor artifact, that can radically improve that ship's power, especially if it's an artifact that that particular ship could really benefit from.
Number of the Beast: One of the Ur-Quan captains is named Master 666 (Lord 666 in the Genesis version and the sequel).
Planet Looters: To replenish their crew reserves, Syreen ships must raid Hierarchy colonies.
One of the races is reduced to one or two males and a handful of females. Within two months, they have an effectively infinite population. Granted, they are a rodent race...
"This humble warrior will take the Shofixti maidens you possess, gently wake them, and then perform ribald feats of unsurpassed fertility! ...With their consent, of course."
Same with the Syreen, although they start their repopulation with a larger gene pool: 500 males and 10.000 females. Happily, the Syreen look very human, Syreen women tend to look like extremely attractivenote if blue human women, and Syreen can breed successfully with humans. And they will, whenever given any type of chance, with gusto.
Mostly averted. The Starbase is highly efficient and totally dedicated to your cause, so you can buy and sell items for 100% of standard value, so you can try out different ship builds. Later, once you recruit the Chmmr, they provide so much technology and resources that your RUs literally become infinite.
Since the Starbase has limited staff, for every thousand crew members you lose, the resources needed to hire them increase. There is a quest you can do to find a reliable source of crew, which stops this from happening. In addition, selling your crew into slaverywill raise the cost of crewmembers, since, understandably, no one will want to work for you.
Affably Evil: The Ur-Quan Kzer-Za are almost too damn nice for a race out to enslave all sentient life. The Kohr-Ah are also remarkably polite considering what they'retrying to do.
Alien Kudzu: The Mycon's Deep Children, which burrow into the lower crust and turn the planet into a lava-covered hell.
All There in the Manual: The game manual provides 220 years' worth of history in the introduction, starting from how radio waves sent in the 1930s attracted the attention of the Ur-Quan and other benign races, proceeding through the 2000s and various technological advances humanity made, passing into the 2100s when Earth was made part of the Alliance of Free Stars, describing how the player's ancestors got stranded around Vela, and finally ending in 2155, literally 48 hours away from the start of the game. However, the manual only gives information that your people, in Vela, would know and so omits some rather vital information. The game itself provides a greatly abbreviated version.
Another Dimension: The Orz, one of the more "alien" alien races, are visitors from another dimension. The Arilou are native to our dimension, but also travel extensively through another, and their homeworld can only be reached through it.
Asshole Victim: The Druuge are the first victims of the Death March. It's somewhat hard to mourn them.
Asskicking Equals Authority: Pushed to the limits and beyond with the Thraddash. They have so many civil wars it almost looks like a pastime to them. Their rather antiquated ships systems are the logical conclusion to this: each "change of culture" knocked them back by about 500 years in the technology race. By kicking their ass repeatedly yourself, which would be rather easy, you may become their uncontested leader.
At Least I Admit It: The Druuge give you this beautiful speech as you are about to claim the Utwig Bomb:
We know your soul, young Captain. It is no brighter than ours! We acknowledge our greed. We revel in it. You are the dishonest one! Hiding your shame in shadows, you fabricate justifications, rationales! In the end, we are just the same.
Benevolent Precursors: The Precursors, most of the time. Their technology is user-friendly, their planet destroying bombs have clear warnings in as many languages as possible, but their terraforming equipment is a bit...buggy.
Berserk Button: Save game, then ask Orz about the Androsynth, again and again.*Dancing* ensues. Or tell the Syreen what really happened to their homeworld and bring some proof, then see whether they still can remain content and fatalistic.
Bizarre Alien Senses: The Orz appear to *smell* their environment, where *smell* is an approximate translation for some alien sense we presumably can't understand. The Arilou also work hard to keep something from *smelling* the Humans, which imply they have a similar means of detection, mechanical or not.
Blatant Lies: Just about any conversation you have with the talking pet.
Border Patrol: If you try to leave the solar system without fixing the starbase first, you are faced with massive swarms of Slylandro Probes.
But Thou Must: Although some alien races can become enemies if you say the wrong things, the ones whose assistance you need to win the game will laugh off any amount of insolence. There is also one justified example...
The Cavalry: The Pkunk and the Yehat, right before the final battle, if you play your cards right. Considering that the speed of the Pkunk ships makes the final battle a lot easier, this is highly recommended
Chaotic Stupid: Umgah aren't malevolent, but continuously modified themselves and became very... mentally unstable. So they have a taste for slapstick comedy up to "Drop asteroid into their ocean! Boom! Splash! Big waves! Lulz!" level and worse. They don't make the most reliable ally for the same reason.
Character Customization: The Precursor vessel can be outfitted however you like, letting it be a warship, a mining rig, a crew transport, or a tanker with enough fuel to circle the map three times over.
Chekhov's Gunman: The little guy that sits in the corner and translates the Ur-Quan's speech.
Civil War: You can start one among the Yehat. Also, the Ur-Quan sub-species, the Kzer-Za and the Kohr-Ah, are fighting against each other to determine the fate of other species in the universe. The Kohr-Ah win in the end, which marks the beginning of their Death March.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The Mycon come off as a fairly non-humorous version of this. It doesn't really matter what you say to them most of the time, they will just ramble on about Juffo-Wup, and then occasionally speak in the voice of a long dead member of their species (due to Genetic Memory). And then they attack you. The only straightforward conversation you can have with them is when you inform them of a new planet to colonize.
While the Utwig obsession with the Ultron seems like a ridiculous religious obsession to most other races, once you actually repair it (and, in the backstory, before it was broken) everything they say it tells them turns out to be very important, from not giving the Precursor bomb to the Druuge to specifically attacking only the Kohr-Ah.
Virtually everything the Pkunk say sounds like lunatic ramblings. Ignore them when they tell you where they got their information... but don't ignore the information itself.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Star systems, planets and minerals. For the former, brighter colors mean hotter stars, and thus planets with better minerals and harsher conditions. For the two latter, vivid and funkier colors mean greater loot quality.
Hayes: To remember the color sequence from good to bad... the miner had a mnemonic that went like... Very Young Orangutans Could Grow Bananas, Perhaps Rather Well.
Comically Missing the Point: The Thraddash Culture Fourteen warned that each civil war results in a setback of 500 years, due to the Thraddash nuking themselves into the stone age. And then they were conquered by Culture Fifteen.
Thraddash: And did the change to Culture Fifteen set us back five hundred years? NO! SNORT! Two, maybe three hundred years, tops.
Compilation Rerelease: The short-lived Star Control Collection, which combined the first two games on a CD-ROM. Given that the games were small filesize-wise (as they'd been created with floppy disks in mind), the rest of the CD was stuffed with game demos for other Accolade products.
Covers Always Lie: The octopus-zerg-esque monster in the boxart never appears ingame. Some people argue it is the VUX Monster (who just gets text and a distinct monster sprite in the game, but nowhere near as detailed as the box picture); others suggest that it's a very off-model Ur-Quan. In the fan sequel Project6014, a new major villain race is introduced that uses this portrait, the Lurg.
Cowardly Lion: The Spathi will attempt to run away from every threat if possible. If it's not, don't underestimate them.
The Spathi don't seem particularly smart when you talk to them. They are ridiculous, ramble on pointlessly, live in perpetual paranoia bordering on full-out insanity, and insist on mispronouncing "Human" as "Hunam." They also advanced from their Bronze Age to Nuclear Power in less than a century while threatened by the Evil Ones, and are one of only two species to figure out a particularly important piece of Imported Alien Phlebotinum (and the other was probably the most intelligent in the game). If asked, the Starbase Commander describes a Spathi as a "cowardly mobile clam, armed with a howitzer." He's pretty spot-on.
The Spathi's ship, the Eluder, is another demonstration of their hidden badass. It's large, brightly colored, and clownish looking. It's designed purely for running away while the gunner is firing blind and panicked, probably while crying. It's also one of the most effective ships in the game specifically because it's designed to run away (high speed) while the gunner is firing blind and panicked (rear-firing homing missiles), and the large ship means a large crew compliment (lots of hitpoints). Eluders can last a damn long time in a fight, as long as you fight like a Spathi.
Cycle of Hurting: There is no Mercy Invincibility in Hyperspace, and this will show when you enter a star system while pursued by many fleets: One fleet will catch up during the jump-into-hyperspace animation, then another will catch up during the before and after battle animation, then another, then another, then you get accidentally back into the star system, then another, until you load a previous save.
Cycle of Revenge: Though not with many iterations: Dnyarri — Ur-Quan — neo-Dnyarri.
Death's Hourglass: One of the Melnorme you encounter posesses a device called MetaChron, which predicts its own destruction, and thus the destruction of its owner, considering that he keeps it in his spaceship (to be more precise, under his pillow). While having no relation to the plot by itself, the conversation about it hints that you are on a Timed Mission.
Developer's Room: The game was going to have one of these as the Secret of the Rainbow Worlds, but they ended up not doing it since they couldn't come up with enough gags for it.
Fwiffo: As yet, The Ultimate Evil remains largely unmanifest, and its powers and exact intentions are still a bit obscure ... since it lurks just outside the range of even the most sensitive, long-range detectors ... which we feel gives conclusive evidence as to The Ultimate Evil's nefarious intent.
David Bryce's voice acting pushes them more towards the latter than the former, mostly because of the humour of the electronically processed whine he uses for the Spathi.
Disproportionate Retribution: Just say one unkind word about the Ultron to the Utwig, or even show them a broken Ultron - and the Utwig will never forgive you for that. You will become their enemy number one, forever. Most races will be willing to give you a chance to make up for your past mistakes, but not the Utwig.
Distant Finale: Ends with the protagonist as an old man, telling his story to his grandchildren.
Lampshaded by the Zoq-Fot-Pik: "You must meet with our leaders. They are wiser... more powerful beings!" "They look just like us, though."
Partly averted with the Spathi Safe Ones, who look like other Spathi, but wear clothes that clearly identify them as rulers.
Doomed Hometown: Inaccessible subtype. Although strictly speaking the adventure isn't caused by what happened to the player character's homeworld, since he has already embarked on the adventure before he learns about it (and if you take the view that Unzervalt, rather than Earth, is the character's homeworld, it's possible to play out the entire game without going home and discovering it's been slave shielded).
Downer Beginning: The Alliance lost the war in the previous game and its former members are now slaves of the Ur-Quan. Your goal is to exact revenge on them.
Dramatic Pause: At least in the PC version, the dialog is often arranged to use the pause at the end of a screen of text this way, or as a beat in a joke.
Dueling Games: With Electronic Arts' Starflight series. Note that Paul Reiche III is credited in the Special Thanks for Starflight while being one of the co-creators of Star Control, and Starflight's lead designer, Greg Johnson, also took part in the development of Star Control II, so the developers probably don't feel any need for animosity between fans of both games. (For that matter, fans usually like both games.)
Easily Forgiven: The first time you meet Fwiffo on Pluto, he (in typical Spathi fashion) mistakes your harmless lander crew for a hostile force and, without any provocation, opens fire and kills several people. He blames his ship's automated defences for the incident, but it's pretty clear that he is lying. A few minutes and one conversation later, he becomes your first alien ally, and his ship forms an important part of your fleet, potentially for the rest of the game. You can fight him to avenge your dead crew instead, but he's alone on his ship (meaning it has only one hit point), making the victory feel quite hollow, and failing to ally with him makes the game much harder.
The Eeyore: The Utwig, after they broke their sacred Ultron. They get better.
Either World Domination or Something about Bananas: The Orz speak an extremely odd language - so odd that the flagship's translation software fails spectacularly to decipher it. While it can translate Orz speech enough to communicate a little bit, there are many words it can't find understandable equivalents for in English, so it makes do by flagging them and inserting linguistic "best-fits". The result is absurd, confusing, and ambiguously sinister.
Egocentric Team Naming: there's a part where you can pick the name of your new coalition. Options include "The New Alliance of Free Stars," "The Concordance of Alien Nations," "The United Federation of Worlds," and "The Empire of (Your name)." Hayes is a bit put off if you choose the Empire of Me option, but goes along with it.
Eldritch Abomination: The authors manage to give rather subtle overtones of this to the Orz, a bunch of ridiculous round parrotfish-things who inhabit the area of space that the Androsynth mysteriously disappeared from, and seem to be from... elsewhere.note They told you, they don't want to *dissolve* you, only to get *connected* for some *camping*. Even better if you'll *change*. Still, "they" are not *many bubbles* but is one with many *fingers*. From *below*.Word Of God states that the Orz are a projection of a malicious race (or being) referred to by Science Officer Bukowski as "Them," into Truespace. This is the race the Arilou was protecting humans from by changing their "smell."
Eviler than Thou: The Kohr-Ah pull this one on the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za. And the Ilwrath try to do this on everybody else.
Executive Meddling: Fortunately averted. The executives wanted to release the game in a buggy and highly incomplete state with placeholder dialogue everywhere. The developers spent 6 months of their own time and money to finish the game, rather than have the unfinished version released.
Explain Explain Oh Crap: The Slylando's explanation of why their probes are merely peaceful exploration vessels and couldn't possibly be attacking anyone takes this course.
Explosive Stupidity: If you have the Utwig Bomb in your inventory, clicking on it will blow up your ship and end your game.
TimeWarp, which was supposed to replace SC3 and contains a fairly hefty selection of fan-created starships to use in Melee, including the planet landers. Unfortunately, the project eventually collapsed and split into several forks, which also did not fare too well.
XR, or Expanding Realities, was another attempt at making a Fan Sequel, which did not go beyond a small and buggy melee demo. Then the project switched to making a movie, but even then nothing was released.
Now there is another Fan Sequel in development, called Project 6014, which uses UQM's engine.
The Melnorme, or Mael-Num, are similar to the Jews. They were nearly exterminated by the Ur-Quan and forced to flee their homeworld. They have survived for thousands of years as interstellar merchants and financiers par excellence. They are brilliant scholars: they are the source for all the upgraded designs for your ship, and they are themselves willing to pay for any biological data you find on your voyage. Additionally, it is strongly implied that they seek to discover the fate of the Precursors in the hopes of some day being redeemed from their exile. They are portrayed fairly positively, however, so they aren't quite Space Jews.
Fusion Dance: The Chmmr, resulting from the Chenjesu fusing with the Mmrnmhrm.
Tropes G - M
Gambit Pileup: The races known to have large-scale plots going on are the Arilou, Druuge, Dnyarri, Humans (i.e., you), Melnorme, Mycon, Orz, and Umgah.
Game Mod: There are actually quite a few, including one that greatly lengthens the time limit and makes time pass slower.
Gameplay and Story Integration: The Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors aspect of Star Control's space combat is justified during SC2's campaign, as it explores the relationships between the various races. Wars and predation taking place in the game world are reflected fairly well when ships from each warring race are pitted against each other in combat - ships belonging to the losing side in a war fare worse against ships from the winning side. Furthermore, many of the unique abilities of various ships are tied closely to the mindset of their races' cultures and their innate physical/mental abilities, as explored during the SC2 campaign.
Illwrath ships are very effective against Earthling cruisers thanks to their cloaking devices, and the Illwrath will constantly boast about how they kill humans for sport.
The Chmmr Avatar is fairly effective against the Ur-Quan Dreadnaught, which makes sense, since the Chmmr were specifically preparing for a second war with the Ur-Quan when they designed it.
The Utwig Jugger is one of the few really effective ships against the Kor-Ah Marauder; in the plot, they manage to delay the inevitable Kohr-Ah victory in the doctrinal conflict by taking advantage of this.
In combat, the Kohr-Ah Marauder is slightly stronger than the Kzer-Za Dreadnought. Slightly is enough.
Gendercide: The Syreen homeworld was destroyed by a cataclysmic disaster, and their spaceships were almost entirely crewed by women.
Genetic Memory: Mycon, neo-Dnyarri, Ur-Quan. And newborn Shofixti are getting skills from somewhere, possibly this.
When you ask the leader of the all female Syreen race if she and her colleagues ever get "lonely" she says "Don't worry about us, Captain. We make out alright (the original DOS version also added "with just us females")." Then there are the Androsynth, the Syreen's similarly inclined male counterparts (it's Word Of God). And all of ZEX's dialogue. In fact, this game had more sexual references than you would expect for something with an E rating...
Ask a Spathi patrol to share minerals with you once you ally with them. They offer whatever's in their waste disposal units, describing the contents as methane, sulfurous gas and 'some interesting organic compounds.' And yes, they did just tell you to eat shit.
Ghost Planet: The Androsynth, Burvixese, and Taalo homeworlds. Every homeworld, everywhere, if you don't stop the Kohr-Ah in time.
Glad I Thought of It: The Thraddash with the Captain's suggestion about attacking the Kohr-Ah in order to impress their Ur-Quan Kzer-Za Masters.
Global Currency Exception: There are two. The Melnorme accept Credits which they give in exchange for biological information and the locations of Rainbow Worlds; and the Druuge accept certain Plot Coupons — and crew.
God Guise: The Umgah do this to the Ilwrath by means of a powerful hyperspace transmitter. As a joke, they tell the Ilwrath to go to war with the neighboring Pkunk. If the player gets that transmitter, they can pull the same trick, and tell the Ilwrath to attack the warlike Thraddash, leading the two bloodthirsty species to annihilate each other.
While most things in the game have at least some clue somewhere, they are often obscure and easy to miss. It is all too easy to get stuck on your first playthrough without ever seeing the main plot.
The 3DO version, and consequently UQM, removed two bits of dialogue that a player might want to know about: the information about the game's time limit, and the location of the Mycon homeworld. This has led to many forum topics. Other pieces of missing information include the fact that Melnorme traders can be summoned with the caster, and the original starmap (which is required to decode the location of the VUX Beast).
The VUX Beast puzzle was still rather Guide Dang It even with all the hints.
What to do if you run into Tanaka is extremely counter-intuitive. You have a hostile response or a calm response...the hostile response will, of course, cause him to attack you. The calm response will cause him to laugh at you, and then attack you. What's the correct response? To insult him, get him to attack you, and then escape. Do this three times and then he'll talk to you. How'd anyone figure this out without a forum topic? There is one clue that tells you how to do this... but it's highly possible to have completed this quest before you even get this information offered to you. The designers foresaw the unintuitiveness of it all and coded in Katana, his brother, as a replacement in case the player screwed up once.
Heroic Sacrifice: Parodied, near the end of the game. Also, the Shofixti did it with their entire species. Almost.
Hilarious Outtakes: A set of fake outtakes in the closing credits, preceding the ones in Pixar's movies by a few years, including the Orz complaining about its dialogue and a Pkunk doing an impression of a phone psychic commercial.
The Melnorme, who will sell you fuel, technology and plot points in exchange for information they find interesting, are a benevolent version. Their culture considers giving away free information immoral, but their prices are fairly reasonable, and they are generally very helpful. Lampshaded if you get the Melnorme to tell you about the Druuge — when Greenish complains about how their only concern is profit, he notes that your character is smirking at him.
The Druuge are a race of Corrupt Corporate Executives, looking only to make a profit off of you, no matter what, and the resources they are most interested in are Human Resources. Some of the stuff they sell is useless, making them Snake Oil Salesmen as well. (By contrast, everything the Melnorme offer has some potential use.)
Hoist by His Own Petard: The Druuge convince the Utwig that apparently-useless Ultron is a device of vast prophetic power and offer to sell it to them in exchange for a valuable precursor bomb... but make the mistake of letting the Utwig they're dealing with test it first. The moment they touch it, the Utwig say that it's given them a vision of what the Druuge really want in exchange for it and pay them with worthless trash instead, which the Druuge can't reject without admitting that the Ultron is a fraud.
Horde of Alien Locusts: Slylandro Probes. They're not biological, but they're still compelled to consume whatever they come across and multiply exponentially.
Hostile Terraforming: Mycon Deep Children reshape planets they collide with, stimulating their volcanic activity to the point where it's comfortable for Mycons — which, since they enjoy temperatures above 600 Kelvins, means uninhabitable for pretty much everyone else.
Humans Are Psychic In The Future: It's mentioned randomly that some humans have 'esper' capabilities and are sensitive to various items or happenings in the galaxy. Such as if the Pkunk are killed off for real.
Humans Are Ugly: The VUX think so, and if you apologize to them enough they'll reveal it's the reason they went to war with them.
Fortunately for everyone, the... *below* level of reality isn't commonly reachable. Yet.
The 3DO background music that plays as you travel through Quasi-Space is definitely quite creepy, and includes bits that sound like the screams or yells of... something. Appropriate, considering some of the things the Arilou will tell you...
Hyperspeed Escape: Ships can flee combat. Since they're expensive to replace, this is often a good tactic, especially if it's your flagship that is threatened (since its destruction means your death, and is an automatic game over).
The Hypnotoad: The Dnyarri. The reason they didn't conquer the universe before the Ur-Quan stumbled upon their homeworld was because the Dnyarri were too damn lazy. They never bothered to develop spacefaring technology. On the other hand, once they had a race of space-faring predators under their control, they started making up for lost time with a vengeance.
PC Captain: Why didn't you fight against the Alliance, and where ARE the Ur-Quan? Thraddash: Where did they go, you ask? This is a secret, of course! We can't tell you! If we told you that they were fighting a secret war against a mysterious invader you might find some way to use that information against our masters. So forget it! No secrets!
Informed Ability: Ironically, the one ship specifically advertised in-game as being able to "defeat any ship in space," the Chmmr Avatar, is not as effective against the heavy Ur-Quan ships as a number of other ships in the game. They're not too bad against Dreadnoughts with some damage, but there are better ships to use. Marauders eat them for breakfast.note Though to be fair, the Chmmr designed them before they knew of the existence of Marauders.
In-Universe Game Clock: Time does not stand still. Certain events will happen at specific times after others, and there's a phenomenon which only occurs at a particular date. And, of course, there is a time limit.
Is This Thing On?: The humans and the VUX never got on very well. When a human starship commander first encountered a VUX ship, he made an off-hand derogatory comment to his crew about how ugly this alien was. Unfortunately, the VUX possessed some of the best Universal Translator technology in the galaxy. The ensuing political incident distanced the VUX from the Alliance long enough for them to fall to the Ur-Quan and then willingly join the Hierarchy as battle thralls.
Killer Rabbit: The Evil Ones look like silly teddy bears that don't move, but if you touch one, you get a taste of their true powers. Don't do that. (Their damage rating against a lander that runs into them is set to the maximum possible, meaning they're as deadly as the VUX Beast.)
Les Collaborateurs: The Yehat monarchy switched sides near the end of the war, selling their people and the alliance out and reducing their race to Hierarchy slaves in order to retain power once the Ur-Quan won.
Living Gasbag: The Slylandro are floating translucent gas bags with glowy bits inside them.
Certain events can make you lose the ability to build certain ships, such as the Spathi Eluders and Thraddash Torch. You can keep the ones you have in stock, but can't build more.
It's also possible to sell the Portal Spawner to the Druuge (although you would have to be utterly mad), and to offend some races so thoroughly that you forever lose the option to ally with them. Plot-essential races, though, will shrug off any number of insults.
Macho Masochism: Parodied with the Thraddash. Their Culture Three encountered a problem when coming into power as the previous culture already epitomized extreme strength and endurance. To impress them, Culture Three soldiers would stand on a tall hill where everyone could see them and cut off one of their own limbs, and then wave it at their enemies. Surprisingly, it worked and Culture Two armies ran away without a fight. At war parades Culture Three heroes would roll around on the ground because they had no legs to walk on.
Market-Based Title: The Star Control II part of the title was dropped for the open-source release of the game (ported from the Three DO version to modern operating systems), due to the name Star Control being owned by Atari.
Mercy Invincibility: Applied to ship encounters on the map screen. Unfortunately, though, not in hyperspace, showing why this trope exists in the first place.
Mildly Military: Used for laughs during one conversation with the Syreen commander. You may come down on her for her attire (which is Stripperiffic to say the least), only to hear that that's an official military uniform.
Mr. Exposition: Commander Hayes, since the Captain has been out of touch with the rest of the galaxy for twenty years, and he needs to be brought up to date. Greenish will also provide a wealth of backstory and hints, but demands to be paid for every item.
Microts: The Slylandro have "rotation," "Drahnasa," and "Drahn" which are something like their equivalent of days, years, and millennia (not particularly similar in duration to ours though). It would be tricky to decode these except that pretty much everything interesting that's happened on a galactic scale happens in one of three time periods (Quite Recently, A Long Time Ago and A Really, Really Long Time Ago) so luckily it's not too hard to figure out what they're on about.note One "rotation" is one "day" of their planet, 1 Drahn is equal to 4 million rotations and one Drahn is divided into two thousand Drahnasa. Some code examination reveals that the rotation of the Slylandro homeplanet is 14.2 earth hours which tells us that one Drahnasa is equal to 1180 earth days and one Drahn is 2370000 earth days.
The Missing Faction: "There are no Androsynth now. Only Orz." Androsynth ships are still in the game for the Super Melee mode, but they don't show up in the campaign at all. Sinisterly, it's never made clear what happened to them. They are simply...gone. Word Of God is that they got "snagged by the entity who/which projected its fingers into our dimension (which looked to us as the Orz.)"
Mood Whiplash: If you trick a Druuge into selling you a huge amount of fuel, he'll scream curses at you and lament about how he's going to be thrown into an atomic furnace, then go back to dealing with you as though nothing happened.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Shofixti blew up their own star to take down about a third of the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za fleet. That's great and noble and all, but it turns out the Kzer-Za's genocidal cousins are coming, the Ur-Quan are going to have a war to determine whether their official policy would be "enslave the universe" or "genocide," and the Shofixti just nuked the "enslave" side into numerical inferiority.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Ur-Quan Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah want to ensure their species' preservation, which they do by, respectively, totally subjugating or annihilating anything that isn't an Ur-Quan in case it eventually becomes a threat. This is what directly causes most if not all of the races who fight them to fight them, culminating in their crushing defeat.
Nightmare Fetishist: ZEX does, in fact, find humans and most other species ugly, just like all the other VUX. That's why he... enjoys them.
Even though all life in this sector of the galaxy is threatened with extinction, and the Melnorme have an abundance of knowledge and technology that could be given to you to prevent it from happening at any time, you won't get anything from them until you pay up. Justified by the fact that their culture is completely fixated on business transactions and considers giving things for free to be crass and insulting, and by the fact that the Melnorme will be leaving this sector of the galaxy shortly before the extermination begins.
On the other hand, most members of the alliance will give you everything they can spare completely free of charge if you ask them nicely. They just can't spare much.
Pig Latin: You can get the Thraddash to greet you this way.
Piñata Enemy: Slylandro Probes, the moment you get enough equipment to defeat them safely. They yield the most RUs when defeated, at 550 a piece. On the flipside, they only come in groups of one. Most players overlook the quest to fix them (and thus prevent them from spawning) because of their sheer value.
Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Thraddash are a parody of the concept. The Yehat and Shofixti are more serious examples.
Puny Earthling: The Ilwrath in their dialogue comment frequently on how squishy humans are and how easily they can be ripped limb from limb. The Arilou hint that humans are particularly vulnerable and need to be protected from things like the Orz.
Quicksand Box: The game starts in the Sol system (which is one of the largest star systems anywhere in the game) without any instructions on what you need to do unless you paid proper attention to the backstory. Outside the system is an entire galactic quadrant comprised of hundreds of star systems, only a few of which contain any plot-relevant material. Hints are obscure and easy to miss, so unless you pay close attention to all the dialogue, obsessively talk to everyone, and write down everything they say, it's very easy get stuck on your first playthrough, or just plain lose thanks to running into the time limit.
Recoil Boost: The Druuge Mauler ship is a flying cannon. Its theoretical max speed is painfully slow, but the cannon's recoil is so great that it's easier just to ignore the engine entirely. Just take care to avoid the planet.
Red Shirt: Your crew members are occasionally mentioned by name when you explore planets. Many of them die. Or worse.
Red Sky, Take Warning: The Ur-Quan slave shields have a red color — so if you go outside one day and find your planet's sky has turned red, that's a bad sign.
Reincarnation: The Kohr-Ah believe they're doing other races a favor by wiping them out and giving them the chance to reincarnate as fellow Ur-Quan.
The Spathi Eluder-class voidships were once Discriminator-class.
The first game placed the battles between the Hierarchy and the Alliance during the 2600s; several documents within the manual are dated 2612. The conflict was pushed back to the 2100s for SC2, as noted in the manual.
Some other minor lore from the SC1 manual was retconned as well, like the Arilou previously being "tormentors of the human race".
Reverse Psychology: You can try to use reverse psychology with the VUX or the Slylandro probes (it both cases, it does not work). In the latter case, is even lampshaded:
You: Hmmm.. maybe reverse psychology would work. Er... Die alien scum!
It's possible to skip much of the game by waiting for the Kohr-Ah Death March to begin. Why do quests for alien species when you can simply wait for them to be exterminated, then loot their worlds for plot coupons?You'd be a Jerk Ass if you did; that's why.
Additionally, you can finish the story mode without allying with the Earth Starbase. This feature went undiscovered to the programmers themselves for more than ten years. It also crashed the game prior to a special handler being added in The Ur-Quan Masters. Doing this is both difficult and extremely tedious, which helps to explain why it took so long. See hereand here for more information.
Shout Out: There's a long"Influences and references" page on The Ur-Quan Masters wiki, and it starts with the "This page is currently incomplete..." template, including many references to Starflight; not only its setting inspired many Star Control features, but some of the developers worked on both.
Single-Biome Planet: Averted. Earth-like planets are called "water worlds" and there is no in-game indication that they are geographically any less diverse than Earth. The only case when this is "played straight" is when the "biome" in question is some variation on "irradiated space rock", which is perfectly realistic.
Sins of Our Fathers: After humans created the Androsynth in the early 2000s, they were used as slaves and treated as second-class citizens. They escaped, and 100 years down the line the humans' grandkids would have to fight them.
Slap Yourself Awake: A species-wide example. The Ur-Quan were mind-controlled slaves of the Dnyarri, until they discovered that extreme pain would force the Dnyarri to disconnect from their minds temporarily. They then invented an Excruciator device to cause themselves constant agony, and rebelled and slaughtered their former masters. They wanted to Never Be Hurt Again after that, resulting in the enslavement or genocide of every other species they met.
Snake Oil Salesman: Be very careful when dealing with the Druuge. When a race's entire economy is one big Pyramid Scheme with death at the bottom, you tend not to worry about things like misrepresentation of product.
Starfish Aliens: Many species, but especially the Orz. The Slylandro are pretty much this as well, being floating translucent gas bags with glowy bits inside them. Glowy bits which you aren't supposed to be able to see and which they get very embarrased if you mention, being their reproductive organs. Considering that the Slylandro reveal that the glowy bits don't glow in their own eyes but they still know exactly what you're talking about, the inability of your ship's computer to accurately translate for the Orz only emphasizes just how alien they are.
Suddenly Voiced: The original PC version of the game in 1992 was text-only, but the 3DO version in 1994 added voice acting (by members of the development team, and their family and friends), a remixed soundtrack and 3D-rendered cutscenes. The developers had to use the 3DO source code for The Ur-Quan Masters because the original PC one was lost. Which version is preferable has been known to cause quite the Broken Base.
The Shofixti, while not pacifists by any stretch of the imagination, were generally considered the weakest race of the alliance. But when the Ur-Quan finally moved their fleet in to attack the supposedly defeated Shofixti home planet at the end of the previous war, the Shofixti blew up their sun with a previously-unknown Precursor device, doing more damage to the Ur-Quan than the rest of the war combined.
While it still didn't make them the most powerful race, humanity was also somewhat more dangerous than the rest of the alliance had anticipated, since most of their guided nukes had been locked up in peace vaults prior to the arrival of the Ur-Quan.
Suspended Animation: The Shofixti Maidens. The Captain also threatens the Spathi to releases the Evil Ones he claims to have in suspended animation.
Take Your Time: Averted with the main quest. Played straight with the Sylandro Probe sidequest, where despite everyone urgently telling you to wipe them out before they grow exponentially, their growth rate stops eventually, so they never grow too numerous no matter how long you wait.
Taking You with Me: The Shofixty took this concept to the next level by blowing up their own sun to destroy a good part of the Ur-Quan fleet.
Talk to Everyone: Very important if you want to get anywhere. The game just throws you into a huge map with hundreds of star systems to visit, and the only way to find out where important things are is to pay very close attention to the dialogue. Many hints are only repeated once and are easy to miss, so take notes.
Terminally Dependent Society: The Utwig, sorta. They don't need the Ultron to survive, but they get so depressed without it that the difference doesn't matter a lot.
That Makes Me Feel Angry: The Utwig talk like this a lot. Their culture is based around this concept. They invented the Mask Etiquette to stop themselves from transmitting emotional content through their facial expressions, and thereby achieve a higher level of civilization.
Time Limit: At a certain point in the game, the Kohr-Ah will begin a campaign of genocide against all other races. When they reach Earth, you lose. It's possible to delay it, as well; once you assemble the Ultron, the Utwig and Supox fleets can assault the Kohr-Ah, delaying their victory and the Death March somewhat.
Throw It In: Paul Reiche III said in an IRC chat that the Orz language evolved from some of Erol Otus' randomly scrawled notes (which included the first appearance of *happy campers* and *Jumping Peppers*).
Too Dumb to Live: The Thraddash stoneaged themselves with nuclear war. Repeatedly. And they are proud of it.
Translator Microbes: Precursor technology. One alien race, the Orz, is so alien that the device is unable to cope, rendering their dialogue in a bizarre fashion that manages to be both humorous and sinister. The VUX apparently have their own, even more sophisticated translators, and the Ur-Quan use their Talking Pets. Due to a quirk in translation, the Supox end up being from the planet Earth, located on the far end of the map from planet Earth.
Try Not to Die: "Try to avoid getting gruesomely killed, Captain!" as one of the things Base Commander Hayes says to you as you depart. He seems perfectly cheerful when he says it, too...
Uncanny Valley: In-universe example. The VUX also see the humans as this, mentioning that when the neck moves on a human, it looks like it's broken and they look like a talking corpse.
The Unreveal: You are told the Rainbow Worlds were left as possible clues to the ultimate fate of the Precursors, left behind before they departed. Discover all the Rainbows Worlds, connect them on the Hyperspace map, and you'll find they form an arrow that points northeast. Follow the clues and you'll find... absolutely nothing.note Word Of God says that they originally led to a secret Developer's Room type planet that was Dummied Out.
Uplifted Animal: The Shofixti were already sentient, but they were given technology by the Yehat, which is called "Uplifting" in-game.
You can sell your own crewmates into slavery to the Druuge, allow the Kohr-Ah Death March to begin so that you don't have to talk to people and can just pick their Plot Coupons off their planets as soon as they are destroyed, and refuse to intervene when the Zoq-Fot-Pik or the Pkunk are endangered. You can also sell the last surviving Shofixi females to the Druuge as slaves, dooming their race to extinction. The game ''will'' call you out on a number of the more dickish options.
When preparing for the final battle, almost all the space on your flagship is taken up by the modified bomb, making it impractical for you to equip it with much in the way of weapons or other defenses; the one thing you can do to make sure your ship has a good chance of making it close enough to the Sa-Matra to blow it up is to buy as many crew pods as you can fit on the ship, and fill them up completely, since crew act like hit points. Just one problem, though: the escape pod your ship has only holds one person, you. (Unlike some of the above, though, this has absolutely no bearing on the plot at all, and one could even surmise the crew is willing to do it to save the galaxy.)
We Need a Distraction: Fwiffo explains to the Captain how the Spathi stationed on the moon kept the Human Starbase convinced of their presence as such; machines were automated to push piles of dirt around to simulate militaristic activity, and the station's transceiver was fixed to "Send" using tapes of an indecipherable alien porn flick.
What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: In the first Star Control, most of the "evil" species were ugly, but no one would find any of the Alliance species disgusting. Star Control II rectified this somewhat by enabling the player to ally with one of the old Hierarchy species and introducing some more non-cute allies.
If you sell enough of your crew to the Druuge, your crew costs will skyrocket and the commander will flat out tell you that he'd kill you if you weren't their only hope.
The Yehat who remain loyal to their queen attack you, after pointing out that you ended a thousand years of peace among their people. But then, they hated you even before that, so it's not like it makes any difference.
Will Not Tell a Lie: The Ur-Quan make it a point of pride not to lie at all. Because having to lie means that you're weak, and the Ur-Quan are not weak. They will willingly put their busy schedule of slaughter and enslavement on hold to truthfully tell you their full backstory — if you just ask nicely enough.
Each sentient race has a single graphic that is used any time you converse with one (individual or group) of its members; even when you visit a race's homeworld and speak to its leaders, they're depicted with the same graphic as its other members, even if that shows them on the bridge of a starship. (There is one exception: the leaders of the Spathi have a special graphic showing them hidden away in a nice safe underground bunker.) Lampshaded by the Zoq-Fot-Pik:
Zoq: Talk to the leaders at our homeworld. They are wiser, more powerful beings! Pik: They look just like us, though.
Only 23 sprites are used to represent all the non-sapient flora and fauna in the galaxy, except for the plot important ones, which get unique sprites.
Chmmr: WE KNOW THE DNYARRI ONLY FROM LEGEND, WHERE THEY ARE DESCRIBED AS THE EMBODIMENT OF EVIL AND CRUELTY. IF THERE EVER WAS A DEVIL, CAPTAIN, IT WAS THE DNYARRI.
Ur-Quan: ...you were in contact with a creature so horrible, so evil that it makes ANYTHING else you have ever known TRIVIAL by comparison. There is no equal to the Dnyarri's cruelty, to its love for torment. Dying a THOUSAND TIMES would be preferable to what is in store for you if we do not stop that creature.
Darker and Edgier: The tone of the story is considerably darker compared to the previous game, perhaps due to the fact that your main enemies are Eldritch Abominations whom you cannot actually defeat and who are capable of wrecking the space-time continuum itself. There is still plenty of comic relief, though.
Eldritch Abomination: The Eternal Ones, the main antagonists of this game, a race of near-omnipotent Energy Beings feeding on sentience. The Orz, the Eldritch Abominations from the previous game, are heavily implied to be connected to them. The final mission of the game has you scrambling to keep the Eternal Ones from depopulating the entire galaxy while the Orz, who've been subtly undermining your efforts until now, stab you in the back.
Executive Meddling: How the entire game came to be in the first place. The publisher wanted to get a third game out, but only held the rights to the name, and not the content. The creators who held the rights to everything else finally gave in, reasoning that it was better than having a new game under the same name with nothing carried over from previous titles.
Feet of Clay: The K'Tang. They constantly brag about their supposedly enormous physical strength, but take away their power armor and they are revealed to be nothing more than small, scrawny creatures who are as cowardly as the Spathi and possibly much weaker than them, too (and cowardice is the Spathi's hat).
The Owa's hat. So much that their fleets stationed at the Rainbow Worlds will fight you to the death, even knowing there is no point in that and knowing they have no chance of winning, simply because they received no order from the homeworld to stand down.
The Clairconctlar are also this, which is how they got into the Crux in the first place, and stayed there for so long. The Clairconctlar destroyed a Ploxis civilian ship, and their queen offered to repay the Crux by becoming the Crux's slaves for an undefined period of time. The Ploxis found a way to keep their servitude permanent - they imprisoned the Clairconctlar queen on a Crux space station, and strictly forbade the Clairconctlar themselves to go anywhere near the station, while the queen was the only person with enough authority to decide that the servitude is over.
Real Is Brown: And gray. Mostly gray. Contrast this with the previous game's palette.
Retcon: The intro tells you that instead of simply being unconscious from being caught in Sa-Matra's explosion, your character was briefly transported into the future to see the Eternal Ones killing everyone.
Re Lex: Apparently all alien languages are relexes of English, as the Precursor tells you that "all races who developed mathematics" had the confusion between "Eternal Ones" and "Eternal1".
Shout Out: ICOM, your onboard hint machine, looks exactly like HAL 9000. Lampshaded, too, in one of the Captain's responses.
Too Dumb to Fool: The Doog. It is impossible to get them to 'spill the beans' in the early stages of the game.
The Unpronounceable: Played for laughs with the Daktaklakpak. Neither the Doogs nor the K'Tang seem to be able to pronounce the name of that race properly, and even the Captain himself can suggest that he just calls them Daks for short.
Vaporware: StarCon, a fully 3D sequel vaguely similar to Colony Wars. The Harika were one of the confirmed races.