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Video Game / Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic

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In the year 2995, the Federation of Planets' attempt to settle the Rouyn and Mistassini star systems is halted by unidentified raiders attacking the supply ships bound for these new outposts through the Caldorre system. On the behest of the Caldorran governor, eight Badass Crews, each flying an Interceptor-class starship, are sent to locate and deal with the source of the attacks. You are one of these crews, and It's Up to You to put an end to the raider menace.

Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic is a classic Space Opera Western RPG developed by one Karl Buiter and published by Electronic Arts in 1988 for DOS and Commodore 64. Originally planned as the first game in a long-running series (hence the title), poor sales smothered the idea in its crib despite good critical reception. Nonetheless, Buiter managed to produce a Spiritual Successor titled Hard Nova two years later.

The game contains examples of following tropes:

  • 2-D Space: Due to the technological limitations, all space battles occur on a flat plane and your position is given with just two coordinates.
  • Action RPG: Space combat takes place in real time from top-down perspective, although your controls boil down to tactical movement and choosing an enemy ship to open fire on (your ship then fires automatically until you deselect the enemy or it is destroyed). Likewise, on-foot combat occurs in first-person real time, where you control the party leader.
  • All Deaths Final: If a party member's hit points are reduced to zero, they are dead and you can't bring them back.
  • All There in the Manual: As was common in the old days, you are expected to read the game manual to have any idea of the plot, as you start the game on a space barge approaching Caldorre and, after a few clicks, already have to fend off the raiders that the game itself tells you nothing about.
  • Badass Crew: Your Player Party is said to consist of individuals who "survived" a grueling training specifically for this mission.
  • Boarding Party: If you successfully cripple an enemy ship, you can then board it with your crew.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: During the production, extra effort went into making each character portrait as distinctive as possible.
  • Cool Starship: Your own Federation Interceptor-class starship, which you have to name yourself and which can be upgraded in the course of the game.
  • Dialogue Tree: The dialogues let you pick what you say to people.
  • Expy: One female portrait looks an awful lot like Ripley from the Alien movies. A male portrait looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger in sunglasses.
  • The Federation: The Federation of Planets seems to be an interstellar entity that enforces law in the star systems that willingly join it and have representatives in its government.
  • Fictional Document: The game's manual is presented as a Commander's Reference Manual written by the Federation officials for the upcoming mission.
  • The Six Stats: Has only Five Stats; Strength, Stamina (instead of Constitution), Dexterity, Comprehend (instead of Intelligence), and Charisma. You can improve all of them by spending cash at the training center.
  • Hit Points: The Trauma Rating measures how close a party member is to dying.
  • Hub City: The Caldorre system consists of three habitable planets, each of whom hosts a space port you can land in: Caldorre itself, Norjaenn, and Ceyjavik.
  • Human Aliens Speaking English: When the Federation explorers first mapped Caldorre in 2709, they discovered it to be populated by humanoid beings speaking a variant of "Anglish"—the precursor to Commonspeak. This is speculated to be a consequence of Caldorre having been colonized and abandoned by Earthlings long ago.
  • Manual Leader, A.I. Party: In on-foot combat, you only control the party leader, while the rest of the crew attacks the enemy on their own.
  • Military Science Fiction: While you operate pretty autonomously, your party are Federation officers and must comply with its orders and regulations.
  • Player Party: At the start of the game, you create a crew of five, one member from each Character Class: a Pilot (conducts space combat), a Navigator (executes Hyperspace jumps), a Communications Officer (hails other ships and peforms some technical tasks), an Engineer (repairs ship systems), and a Medic (heals party members).
  • Rank Up: Ranks act as Character Levels, so your party starts as Combat Cadets (level 1) and may eventually advance to Command Captains (level 20).
  • Relationship Values: Most NPCs you encounter will form an opinion of you based on what you say to and do for them, which may influence how the plot develops.
  • Sidequest: Among other things, you can hunt raider ships for Federation bounties, escort Federation transports, deliver packages, and mine raw materials from planets.
  • Skill Score: The game features four weapon skills (Contact, Edged, Projectile, Blasters), each improving your effectiveness with certain weapon types, and eight miscellaneous ones (Tactics, Recon, Gunnery, ATV Repair, Mining, Athletic, Observation, and Bribery), some of which may only be relevant to certain classes. You gain skill points to invest in them at character creation and at every new level—how many depends on the character's Comprehend stat.
  • Space Opera: You play as a Badass Crew of a Cool Starship out on The Quest to save a star system from an enigmatic space foe.
  • Spiritual Successor: Hard Nova, made by mostly the same people, was not connected to Sentinel Worlds directly, but featured enough similarities to be dubbed its "sequel" by fans, anyway. Sentinel Worlds may also be seen as a distant predecessor of the Mass Effect series: Mass Effect had elements of its gameplay (finding mining sites, operating an ATV on planets), and Mass Effect 2 had elements of its plot (a Badass Crew of a technically-military-but-essentially-autonomous Cool Starship trying to stop enigmatic raiders from attacking human colonies).
  • Subspace or Hyperspace: Entering Hyperspace lets you travel to other planets and even star systems faster-than-light.
  • Subsystem Damage: In space combat, you can focus fire on the enemy ship's hull, engine, computer, or lasers to destroy them, cripple them, or render them harmless, respectively. Likewise, enemies can target your subsystems to decrease your ability to fight back or to pursue.
  • The Leader: The crew member in the first party slot is responsible for dialogue with NPCs during on-foot sections, and can be dynamically chosen from among the original five members (replacements cannot lead the party).
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Just twice in the game it abandons the normal combat system to instead have a one-on-one "energy battle". This simply requires you to press one button when "ATT" flashes on the screen, and another when "DEF" does, until one side wins.
  • Universal Currency: The classic sci-fi "credits" are accepted in every shop in the game.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Downplayed. There is no designated "main" PC, but if all five of the original crew members perish in combat, it's Game Over, despite the fact that you can always bring in replacement crew members from the Recruitment Center. The justification is that the replacements did not receive the special training needed to complete the mission.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: While the main quest is quite compelling, you can just as well Take Your Time with it and instead throw yourself into hunting raiders, exploring and mining planets, and completing side quests.
  • With This Herring: Downplayed. While you are equipped with the best ship and gear the Federation could get for you, you are expected to make ends meet in the Caldorre system on your own, due to "recent budget cuts".

Alternative Title(s): Sentinel Worlds