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Video Game / Star Command

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Left-to-right: Antorian, Cortex, Vocar, human (science officer), Trilaxian, canine (not in the game unless you participated in the Kickstarter campaign), Midorian. In case you were wondering, they're all standing in line to the bathroom.
Star Command is a game developed for iOS, Android, and PC/Mac (released later). It's a mix of simulation and RPG 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). 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. 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 travelto Mercury and 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 Olympus, 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 (and doing one Timed Mission at Deimos back in Sol), 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 Olympus 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 Olympus-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.

An expanded, open-ended version called Star Command Galaxies is currently in the Alpha stage of development for PC and Mac. The game will feature custom ship layouts and a procedurally-generated galaxy.

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.
  • Attack Drones: After building the sentry room and tokens in it, yellow crewmembers can deploy temporary sentry drones (effectively, turrets) when being boarded by the enemy.
  • Bee People: Antorians are bugs that walk upright and like the taste of humans.
  • Bird People: Avarians are birds. Their ships, called Preying Birds, even have wings. They also really like practical jokes. When they walk, they bob their heads like chickens. (This part actually makes sense.)
  • 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.
    • As of update 1.1, a crewmember will claim that beaming down to planets will be possible in future versions.
  • 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.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: After beating the Lazarus mission, one of your crewmembers will tell you to expect follow-ups in future updates of the game, including the ability to send away teams on planets.
  • The Bridge: The bridge is usually located at the front of any ship design and must be fully staffed (4 crew or 2 crew + The Captain) in order for the ship to perform at optimum efficiency. 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 other) 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.
    • During the Si'las Side Quest, after you have managed to repel his boarders, he will offer to spare your crew if you let him make use of your ship's guidance systems. Even if you refuse, the next conversation option has only one choice - to give in. To be fair, though, his ship is extremely difficult to destroy.
  • The Captain: The Player Character, of course. If he/she dies, the game ends. Also, when assigned to a room, contributes double what a normal crewmember does.
  • 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. Additionally, if fire is not contained, it will continue to spread and damage more areas. 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.
    • As of update 1.1, the shield recharge rate is dependent on how many crewmembers are working on The Bridge and in the engine room. For maximum efficiency (99%), both rooms must have 4 crewmembers each, although The Captain counts as two.
    • An interesting fact about enemy shields: even if they only have 1 point left, hitting them with a blast worth 60 points would drain their shields but do no damage to the hull. Only the following shots will start dealing damage to the hull. Conversely, your ship can receive damage even if your shields aren't completely drained (they actually become ineffective at about 25%).
  • Descriptively-Named Species: Antorians are large insects. Slightly subverted in that they look mostly like upright-walking cockroaches than ants.
  • 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 Olympus 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.
  • False Flag Operation: As part of his coup preparation, Admiral Micari recruits loyal officers into his conspiracy and eliminates those who would oppose him either by sending his Antorian allies against them or, as he does with you, destroying them himself and then planting evidence that you did it, thus giving him grounds to brand you a traitor and kill you.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Many of the non-Antorian villains act this way, although a couple like the Cortex and Si'las seem possibly genuinely Affably Evil.
  • Harder Than Hard: The highest level of difficulty is called Blackhole and it is a challenge for even the most experienced players.
  • Higher-Tech Species: The Grol are a race of Mechanical Lifeforms whose technology is light-years ahead of anyone else. They live aboard a giant black rectangular object. When you encouner them, they will explain that they only wish to preserve those who are worthy. They will offer one of three tests, and the resulting battle will depend on what you choose. For example, if you choose the test of war, your task will be to destroy the ship the Grol send against you. If you choose the test of peace, the Grol ship will be far too powerful for you to destroy (and you weapons won't work anyway), so you have to survive for 3 minutes. After the battle, the Grol will reward you with some tokens. You can come back for more tests (and tokens). Unlike other races, Grol boarding parties only consist of one being, who can One-Hit Kill your crewmembers (on the hardest setting) and is very difficult to kill. If you don't kill Grol invaders quickly, they will duplicate themselves. For bonus points, the Grol invaders look a lot like Gort, including the iconic Cyber Cyclops eye that also fires beams.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Name: The Biblical Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus. So, naturally, a planet called Lazarus is likely to have hordes of zombies on it.
  • Military Coup: Admiral Micari is trying to orchestrate one with the help of his Antorian allies. He quietly eliminates those officers who wouldn't follow him... including you.
  • Mood Whiplash: Most of the game is very cutesy and with an irreverent fourth-wall-breaking sense of humor. Then you run into nightmarish things like the video of the zombie cosmonauts and the end result of the Virtue encountering the space monster.
  • 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.
    • On Blackhole difficulty, all blasters fire at an increased rate in order to allow for quick kills on both sides.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: On Lazarus, you encounter Research Assistant Dunk, an erudite Antorian whose speech is normal compared to all the other Antorians you meet. He explains that Antorians have multiple castes. Until then, all you've met were members of the Warrior Caste, who aren't too bright. Dunk is a member of the Scholarly Caste. In fact, if you choose to beam him up instead of his Vocar superior, you can recruit him into your crew.
    • For that matter, the Vocar scientist (whom you can recruit if you choose to beam him up instead) doesn't have a problem with your Midorian crew members, unlike all the other Vocar you meet who hate Midorians with a religious passion.
  • Named After Their Planet: Surprisingly, averted, for the most part. The only clear example are the Antorians, whose homeworld is Antoria. Midorians are from Noorfoo. Avarians are a borderline example, as their planet is called Ovior.
  • New Game Plus: After beating the game, you are sent to the Phobos shipyard to get a new ship. After this, you start over, which the game Handwaves by claiming a Negative Space Wedgie. However, you get to keep all your current crewmembers and their XP.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The second mission features zombie cosmonauts still wearing their spacesuits minus the helmet.
    • You meet more zombies later at Lazarus. It's implied that this is where the zombie cosmonauts came from.
  • Nothing Personal: The Trilaxian commander will tell you this if you refuse to allow him to beam over, explaining that his people aren't really interested in trading technology, they'd rather just take yours.
  • Obviously Evil: The human traitors dress in black and will occasionally do an Evil Laugh, just in case you weren't sure that they were attacking you.
  • Only Mostly Dead: After you build the medical room and created revival tokens, killed crewmembers have a short countdown above them, during which time a blue crewmember can use one of these tokens to bring them back. The countdown is very short but can be slightly extended by upgrading the medical room. Crewmembers sucked out into space are dead permanently.
  • Proud Merchant Race: The Trilaxian Trade Empire. When you first encounter them, the ship's commander will offer to beam over in order to trade advanced technology. If you agree, he will beam over a Boarding Party instead. If you refuse, he will explain that he's not really interested in trading, just taking, ending the conversation with Nothing Personal. After you deal enough damage to his ship, he will leave (there's no profit in having his ship blown up).
  • Punched Across the Room: The large Antorians don't carry weapons. Instead, they punch your crewmembers, causing them to fly away a good distance. Cortex cyborgs also do that.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Admiral Weber, who remains loyal to Star Command.
  • 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.
  • Sadistic Choice: On Lazarus, when the research team is about to be overrun by zombies, you are given the choice of whom to teleport to your ship: the Vocar scientist or his Antorian assistant. Whichever one you beam up will join your crew. The other one will, presumably, be killed. On the other hand, if you replay the game after beating it, you can save the other alien while still having the first one in your crew.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The whole game is one big Shout-Out to Star Trek. Some randomized captain names are plays on Trek characters and Real Life actors (e.g. Kirk Norris).
    • The Grol are a Higher-Tech Species with incomprehensible goals who live in blocky space structures and whose ships have numerical designations instead of names. They also wish to preserve superior races, claiming that inferior races are "irrelevant". An obvious Shout-Out to the Borg. However, there are other aspects of them that are decidedly not Borg-like, such as their Secret Test of Character and the fact that their troopers have a decidedly Gort-like appearance.
    • The Cortex are vaguely reminiscent of Cybermen in their goal to "upgrade" everyone to immortal metallic bodies with only the brain remaining from the original being.
  • Slow Laser: 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.
  • 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. revive, sentry drone, grenade). 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.
  • Timed Mission: When visiting Deimos (one of the moons of Mars), you encounter a damaged Midorian ship carrying a cure to a plague ravaging Midorian worlds. The Midorian captain asks you to take the cure to three waiting Midorian ships, but you only have 8 minutes before the cure expires. The first one is easy, you just give the cure and continue. The second one has a Vocar Scout trying to keep you from handing over the cure. The third one has a Vocar Inquisitor doing the same. You have to beat them both in under 8 minutes.
  • 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.
    • For a more specific example, there's Kooolok, the commander of the Trilaxian Axion you meet when you visit Pip for the first time. If you visit Pip before you visit Cranus, you will see the wreck of an Axion before a Cortex ship shows up. The Cortex who talks to you then will reveal that he is Kooolok whose brain was forcibly extrated and placed into a Cortex body. But now he's glad it happened and can't wait to do the same to you. Interestingly, if you visited Cranus before Pip, there won't be any wrecks or introductions; however, you will still refer to the Cortex you talk to as Kooolok.
  • 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.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: It's implied that this is what happened to the inhabitants of Lazarus. Anyone who scans the planet will activate a defense mechanism that fires a powerful cannon at the ship and beams in hordes of zombies. It's implied that the zombie cosmonauts that you meet in the second mission visited Lazarus and ended up zombified.