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Video Game / Star Control
aka: Star Control II

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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 Toys For Bob (later known for Skylanders) and 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 features a "campaign" mode — a rudimentary Turn-Based Strategy game. It pits the Alliance of Free Stars (where humans were only minor members) against the evil Ur-Quan Hierarchy, with each side comprised of seven different races. Each side starts on opposite ends of a small map; the objective is 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 allowed players to pick any 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" is included: an upgraded version of the original's Melee mode, with a plethora of new ships, larger fleets, and 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 and low-quality Muppets during dialogue scenes and for its heavy re-use of dialogue from SC2 for exposition. 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 classic (Accolade-era) Star Control games were available from separately, but were briefly delisted before being reuploaded as Star Control: The Ur-Quan Masters (which combines the first two games) and Star Control: The Kessari Quadrant; these renames followed the games onto Steam. However, during the lawsuit between Stardock and Reiche/Ford (read below) the classic games were taken down again, only to be put back up again once the lawsuit was concluded, called again simply "Star Control I-III". There is an excellent — and free — port of Star Control II to modern systems, called The Ur-Quan Masters, maintained by an active online community.

There were numerous Fan Sequel projects to Star Control II during the franchise's long history, but none were completed. The most successful one was called Project 6014, based on the Ur-Quan Masters engine, as it was the only one to have a fully playable demo of the adventure mode.

Stardock acquired Accolade's share of the rights, and made a game based on the Star Control II gameplay and set in an entirely new universe, released in September 2018 as Star Control: Origins. And then, after 25 years since the release Star Control II, Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III announced a sequel to Ur-Quan Masters, then called Ghosts of the Precursors. Unfortunately, the existence of two separate commercial projects led to tensions, which has developed into legal action to determine exactly who owns which bits of the Star Control IP. After a year and a half of legal conflict, the lawsuit was settled, with the new Star Control franchise (based on Origins) going to Stardock, and The Ur-Quan Masters franchise (consisting of the first two games) going to Ford and Reiche. The sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters will get a new name, and both parties will now make some contributions to the other side's projects.

Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III's blog where they share the news on UQM2's development can be found here, and they have also opened a subreddit where people can discuss the development of the game here.

Stardock's Star Control website is located here.


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Tropes common across most or all of the series:

  • 2-D Space: Because the games are played from a top down perspective, this trope is in effect for most of the series. There are two exceptions; the sector maps from the first and third games are fully 3D. Keeping yourself oriented in such a map can be frustrating, demonstrating exactly why this trope is so common.
  • 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).
  • Artificial Human: The Androsynth.
  • 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.
  • The Battlestar: The Ur-Quan Dreadnought, which combines a heavy-hitting main weapon with the ability to launch autonomous fighters to harass the enemy (manned by members of your crew, so don't forget to swing around and pick them up when they need to refuel).
  • Battle Thralls: The races that fight for the Ur-Quan make up the Ur-Quan Hierarchy of Battle Thralls.
  • BFG: Several ships have one, notably the Druuge Mauler's massive axial cannonnote , the Ur-Quan Dreadnought's fusion blaster, and the Chmrr Avatar's heavy x-ray laser, so powerful it ionizes the solar wind.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Or, in this case, "crew".
  • 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. The highest-point-value ships are consequently the ones with the fewest hard counters — but they will always have a least a few such hard counters.
  • Critical Existence Failure: The Life Meter literally consists of crew members being killed by malfunctioning hardware, and the ship itself doesn't take any damage until everyone's dead, at which point it blows up.
  • Deflector Shields: The Utwig Jugger and the Yehat Terminator both have these, though they function quite differently.
  • Distinctive Appearances: Played absolutely straight with most alien species, but averted with Precursor technology across the series and within each game (especially the second). Their artifacts and ships have no common design elements and no unique aesthetic theme. The same race that built the Precursor Battleship with its ominous asymmetric spikes and curves also built the sleek and angular Precursor Tugboat, the perfectly-cylindrical Precursor Bomb, and the bloated-fan shaped Mycon.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Syreen Penetrator. Yes, it looks exactly like what its name would compel you to think it would. It's even ribbed.
  • The Dreaded Dreadnought: The Ur-Quan Dreadnought, also The Battlestar.
  • The Empire: The Ur-Quan Hierarchy, and later the Hegemonic Crux.
  • Energy Absorption: The Utwig Jugger cannot recharge its own battery, but its energy-hungry shields convert incoming damage into energy.
  • Energy Weapon: 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.
  • Expy: Several of the ships were clearly heavily inspired, at least in their appearance, by classic ships from science fiction. The Earthling Cruiser, for example, was clearly designed to look like Starship Enterprise, while the VUX Intruder has the same basic shape as the Klingon Cruiser, and the Ilwrath Avenger has both the general appearance and the cloaking device of the Romulan Warbird. The Ur-Quan Dreadnought, meanwhile, looks a lot like a green version of the Battlestar Galactica. The Mmrnmhrmm Transformer, on the other hand, transforms between an X-Wing form and Y-Wing form, although neither looks all that much like its Star Wars namesake.
  • The Fair Folk: The Arilou, aloof Little Green Men that they are.
  • Fake Difficulty: There are a few ships that are not at all hard to beat with the right ship as long as one is extremely patient. The Ilwrath Avenger is not especially tough in principle. It can turn invisible, but given the way the camera works, you will always have a general idea where it is, and it is also relatively slow and sluggish with a very short-range weapon (only the Umgah anti-matter cone is shorter), so you can just keep your distance, shoot at where you think it is, and gradually whittle it down. Unless, of course, you just get bored fighting the stupid thing for two hours. The Slylandro Probe often presents a similar problem. They are not hard to beat, as long as you are very patient.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Takes different forms in each game, with Star Control II using it as an extremely central gameplay mechanism.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Both the captains of Star Control II/Star Control III and Star Control: Origins.
  • Fetch Quest: Predominantly in the second game and Origins, and to some extent in the third.
  • Fight Woosh
  • First Contact Faux Pas: Supposedly the reason relations between humanity and the VUX are so sour is that when they made first contact the human commander said "That's the ugliest freak-face I've ever seen!" without realizing how good their translation software was.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: A mainstay across the majority of ships. Notable exceptions include the Orz Nemesis with its rotating artillery cannon, the Spathi Eluder whose most effective weapon is aimed backwards, and the Arilou and Slylandro weapons which always aim toward opponents.
  • Flying Saucer: The Arilou Skiff.
  • Fragile Speedster: All three games offer a variety of smaller vessels, with only a small amount of crew (which represents their Hit Points). These vessels rely on speed to defend themselves and to outmaneuver their opponents. Normally these ships are considered the least powerful among all vessels, and are fairly cheap to purchase, but in the right hands they can be quite devastating.
    • The Arilou Skiff is a good example. It has a tiny crew complement and won't be able to take more than a couple of hits from most weapons, but its unique propulsion system is both fast and unpredictable. Furthermore, it can teleport away in an instant, whether to dodge enemy fire or to close the distance for a strike.
    • The Shofixti Scout is also a Fragile Speedster, with barely any crew — a single shot from the enemy may take it down. Its fast engine can help it stay out of reach while sniping at its enemy with a tiny forward-facing gun, but it more often requires its speed simply to dodge between enemy shots and close the distance rapidly, at which point... Kaboom.
    • The Umgah Drone, another small and fragile ship, is normally quite slow, relying on its main weapon as a sort of shield against enemy attacks. However, it has powerful retro-rockets that enable it to fly very quickly, albeit only backwards, for a short period of time. If the Drone can time its backwards jump properly, it can park itself next to an enemy and eliminate it almost instantly.
    • The Pkunk Fury is one of the fastest and most maneuverable ships in the game, and it relies on this speed to dodge between enemy shots and protect its extremely small crew. On the other hand, each time it dies the Fury has a random chance to spontaneously resurrect itself, substantially increasing its survivability (and potentially making it one of the strongest ships in the game).
    • The Zoq-Fot-Pik Stinger is another Fragile Speedster in the game, having a very small amount of crew and sufficient speed and maneuverability to protect itself. It also requires this speed to close the distance with its enemy and utilize its powerful stinger attack, without which it is quite a weak vessel overall.
    • The Thraddash Torch is a small ship with little crew, and is normally only mildly fast — but it will likely spend most of the battle deploying its afterburners, which give it an immense speed boost. This also serves as the Torch's most dangerous weapon, since the trails of flame left behind by the afterburner will actually hurt any ship that collides with them. Also computer-controlled ships will happily crash into the puffs without even raising up shields in those ships that have them
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • Backward Utilized Tracking Torpedo, a Spathi weapon which shoots a backward-aimed homing missile (that makes a farting sound when launched, in case the name was too subtle for you.).
    • De-energizing Offensive Guided Interceptor, a Chenjesu weapon which siphons battery energy from an opponent (and makes dog-like noises as it does or when it's destroyed).
    • Fiery Ring of Inevitable and Eternal Destruction, a Kohr-Ah weapon which projects a ring of fire around the ship.
    • The VUX (Very Ugly Xenomorph). "VUX" is the actual name for the race (why it's capitalized is unknown, but all VUX names seem to be), but the Terrans Backronymed that phrase out of it as a joke.
  • The Future: All the games take place in the 22nd century, after Mankind has become a minor space-faring race.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • The Earthling Cruiser, while fast-turning, is a comparatively slow ship with a below-average crew count. It has point-defense lasers that can somewhat protect it from certain threats, but its most important tool is a guided nuclear missile launcher which is one of the deadlier weapons in the game. The Cruiser will tend to stay as far away from its opponent as it can, sending missile after missile until it is dead.
    • The Druuge Mauler from the second game is, practically speaking, a cannon with an engine. It fires a single long-range shell that causes serious damage on impact. The ship itself has an average crew complement, but may need to sacrifice that crew to power its cannon. Additionally, firing the cannon causes the ship to accelerate in the opposite direction, at which point it will fly very quickly across the screen and runs the chance of colliding with a planet or coming into range of enemy weapons.
  • 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.
  • Gun Kata: Ships in this series can only point in 16 intermediate cardinal directions. If an enemy ship isn't within these 16 possible lines of fire, they cannot be hit by direct fire. However, homing projectiles still have a chance.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: The Syreen (except they're blue). Heavily lampshaded, from their outfits to their Penetrator ships. The Syreen commander in the second game even comments on how interesting it is that their biology is so similar to humans...with a very flirty overtone. As it turns out, they're close enough to be able to breed.
  • The Greys: The Arilou are green, but they otherwise fit the slightly more benign (maybe) version of the trope. They still probe people, though.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Averted completely. The game uses a sprite's alpha mask to determine collisions with that sprite.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics:
    • Standard tactics with Spathi Eluders, though they were designed with Run first and Hit second.
    • The Arilou rely on this type of tactic almost exclusively, with the entire design of their ship geared specifically towards it. They have short-range lasers that automatically fire towards the target at any angle, allowing them to make effective fly-bys. When the fly-by is done, the Arilou ship simply teleports far away, to get ready for another attack.
  • Human Aliens:
    • 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 close to 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 take their role in all but name once you get all the relevant plot coupons to complete the second game.
    • Played more straight in the Origins, where humans emerge as the new leaders of the sector after ousting the Scryve.
  • I Shall Taunt You: The Pkunk's modus operandi. Their taunting actually reloads their ship's battery.
  • Just Between You and Me: Invoked very explicitly by the Kohr-Ah, after you speak the words. That is, you ask them why they keep attacking your ship, and it turns out answering that specific question is almost a holy directive to them. They acknowledge, hold off on your destruction, and start a careful explanation of the history of their people, their enslavement by the Dnyarri, the subsequent revolt and liberation, and why they must purge the universe of all sentient life but their own. In the end, they still intend to kill you, but they hope at least you understand them a bit better.
  • 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!
  • Leitmotif: Each race has a specific tune that plays when one of their ships wins a battle.
  • Life Meter: Each ship has one, purportedly representing how many surviving crew it has.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Though not common (due to potential balance breaking), a few Lightning Bruisers do exist in each game. Unlike the Fragile Speedsters, these have significantly more crew, and can thus take more damage. Their weapons are not more powerful per-se, but they can be used a lot more aggressively.
    • The Mmrnmhrm Transformer is this to some extent. In its Y-form, it is extremely fast, albeit slow turning, and fires extremely long-range, reliably tracking missiles. In its X-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.
    • The Syreen Penetrator starts out as a Fragile Speedster, since it begins each match with only a small fraction of its crew capacity filled. If it gets full crew, however, by sucking in crew from an opponent ship (or by taking a Hierarchy colony, in the original strategy game), it becomes one of the most powerful ships in the game — it remains one of the fastest, most nimble ships, but with the maximum amount of crew available to any ship (including the Dreadnought, et al).
    • The Spathi Eluder/Discriminator) is a large but surprisingly fast ship, with excellent maneuverability as well as a large crew complement. Though it primarily relies on hit-and-run tactics like a small Fragile Speedster would, this ship can make strafing runs on its opponents, dodge shots, survive quite a bit of retaliatory fire, and outrun most enemies. These qualities have helped make it a fan favorite.
    • The Androsynth Guardian is normally an averagely-fast ship with an averagely-powerful defensive weapon, which spends its time fleeing from the enemy or taking up a defensive stance. When it activates its special ability, however, it temporarily becomes one of the fastest-moving objects in the game, and will cause severe damage upon any collision with the enemy, fitting this trope to a T.
    • Star Control 2 adds the Supox Blade. This fast, agile ship is capable of flying sideways or backwards on command, and has a rapid-firing weapon that can dish out quite a bit of damage. It requires plenty of skill to fly properly, otherwise it is unlikely to do much damage, but in the hands of a skilled Blade pilot it is downright deadly — dancing around its enemy while pelting it with shots.
    • The Slylandro Probe, which actually shoots lightning. The probe is incredibly fast and can change direction on a whim, making it exceptionally difficult to target. Though somewhat fragile, its speed gives it ample protection in the right hands. It needs to rapidly close the distance with its enemy to strike (due to the short range of its lightning attack), but can cause significant damage on each pass.
  • Little Green Men: The Arilou are small, green-skinned aliens who fly saucer-shaped craft. They're the mysterious subtype, and have been visiting Earth in secret for centuries, experimenting on the population in pursuit of a plan that they claim is ultimately for our benefit but refuse to discuss in detail.
  • Lotus Position: The Arilou are depicted in the lotus position while piloting their spaceships, hinting that the ships are run using Psychic Powers.
  • Mana Meter: Each ship has one, representing energy for weapons and special features.
  • Mighty Glacier: The largest and most expensive ships in the game are usually this. Their weapons and abilities are usually quite devastating, but a small Fragile Speedster in the right hands may be able to run circles around them.
    • The Ur-Quan Dreadnought is the most iconic Mighty Glacier of the Star Control series. A Battle Star with a powerful cannon and autonomous drone fighters, it relies more on offensive power than defense, and is appropriately a little faster than the other examples below.
    • The Kohr-Ah Marauder is the Dreadnought's counterpart, with a set of somewhat more defensive abilities that do not require it to move around very quickly. It can happily snipe its opponents from afar, and is very dangerous when the enemy closes the distance to it.
    • The Mycon Podship is agonizingly slow, with a very low top speed and awful turning rate. Its main weapon (a homing plasmoid) is extremely dangerous.
    • In the first game, the Alliance has only one Mighty Glacier in the form of the Chenjesu Broodhome, which is also significantly slower than most other ships. In particular, its turning rate leaves much to be desired. Of course, its primary weapon can be very powerful when used correctly, both on offense and defense.
    • The second game adds the Chmmr Avatar to the Alliance fleet. Though a little faster than most other Mighty Glaciers in the game, it is still a very slow ship. Instead of chasing down its opponents, it can use a tractor beam to pull them in, and then obliterate them with its powerful laser. It also has three Zap Sats which will automatically engage the enemy when it comes close. Though it is the most expensive and arguably most powerful ship in the game, it is surprisingly vulnerable to some of the smallest ships (the Fragile Speedsters), particularly the Thraddash Torch.
  • About half of all ships added in Star Control 3 are Mighty Glaciers. Chief among these is the Doog Constructor, which has a rapid-fire weapon which automatically targets the enemy vessel, meaning that the Constructor doesn't need to turn around to engage its foe. On the other hand, the Constructor is incredibly slow, and cannot effectively flee from other Mighty Glaciers and Glass Cannons, who will easily pick it apart from a distance.
  • Herald Eradicators, also added in the third game, are supposed to be incredibly powerful (as a result of Gameplay and Story Integration), with a very large crew complement, a heavy weapon, and on top of it all: a cloaking device. They also cost a hefty sum in melee mode, appropriately. Sadly, cloaking is not a sufficiently useful ability, and overall this vessel remains only mildly powerful compared to the Mighty Glaciers from previous games.
  • Multi-Directional Barrage: The Pkunk Fury has three rapid-fire guns, oriented forward and to both sides — all firing simultaneously.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: The Pkunk are pacifist mystics who talk a lot of new-agey stuff about reincarnation and precognitive visions and the unimportance of material things.
    Pkunk: Greetings and various apropos felicitations! We are Pkunk. Hatchlings of light, spiritual soul beings of the vast cosmic oneness, wayfarers on the river of destiny, students of the mystical dimensions, purveyors of blissful love, birdlike manifestations of glorious light energies from the astral plane. How about yourselves?
  • Planet of Hats: Each alien race, in its own way.
  • Practical Taunt: The Pkunk regain battery by insulting their opponents.
  • 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.
  • Space Elves: The Syreen are of the blue space babe variety, while the Arilou are of the mystic alien intruder type.
  • Space Friction: Both played straight and averted. In combat, all ships (except one) maintain angular momentum and obey rudimentary gravity around planets, although they also each have their own arbitrary maximum speed. The exception is the Arilou Skiff, which accelerates to maximum speed instantly, and stops instantly whenever its engine is turned off — but this is specifically justified by its unique engine technology. Also note that Star Control 2 plays Space Friction absolutely straight in Hyperspace, where the laws of motion are supposedly quite different.
  • 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.
  • Space Opera
  • 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.
  • Spin Attack: Though both dead-on and strafing runs are possible with the Pkunk Fury's multi-directional weaponry, the manual for SC2 actually recommends employing a spinning "Death Blossom" attack: release the thruster and fire while constantly turning.
  • 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.
  • Stupidity-Inducing Attack: The Ur-Quan once genetically engineered an entire species, the Dnyarri, into sub-sentience. Now just called "Talking Pets", they're used as translators since the Ur-Quan find interacting with other intelligent species to be demeaning. This was done for the heinous crime of enslaving every sentient species in that part of the galaxy with their telepathic powers, experimenting on their slaves, and committing multiple acts of genocide.
  • Suicide Attack: Pretty much the Shofixti hat.
  • 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).
  • Taking You with Me: The purpose of the Shofixti Glory Devices.
  • Tele-Frag: The Arilou Skiff has this as its drawback, there is a small but nonzero chance of teleporting into the planetnote . Unsurprisingly, this is immediately fatal.
  • Teleport Spam: This can be a useful strategy when using the Arilou.
  • Too Many Mouths: The Umgah are gelatinous pink blobs with mouths, eyes, and tentacles randomly scattered around. What's more, they did this to themselves; there's no way of knowing what they look like naturally.
  • Troperiffic
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The Androsynth, against humans.
  • 2-D Space: Applies everywhere except the first and last games' strategic maps.
  • The Unpronounceable: The Mmrnmhrm. (MUR-na-murm)
  • We Cannot Go On Without You!: Losing your flagship in battle in 2, 3, and Origins results in a game over in the former two and an option to repeat the battle in the latter. Justified in that the Player Character is the captain in command of said flagship and, in 3, the flagship is one of the few FTL capable starships since the breakdown of Hyperspace.

The original Star Control provides examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The manual explains the Mycon crew regeneration as "adding four furious fungal fighters to the podship's crew".
  • All There in the Manual: The story is never explained in-game.
  • Black-and-Gray 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.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Generally, finding a precursor artifact was a good thing, although of course some ships would benefit more from some artifacts than others. For the Mycon Podship, however, finding Precursor thrusters was often a bad thing. If the Mycon Podship went too fast, it would run into its own plasmoid projectiles the instant they were launched. Normally, the Podship could not go fast enough to do that, unless it performed a gravity whip around the planet, in which case it just had to turn first to shoot backwards. With Precursor thrusters, however, the Podship could accelerate to be fast enough to hit its own shots on its own. Moreover, there was no easy way to tell if you were going too fast. You either had to guess and hope for the best, or only ever shoot backwards to be safe, which could make it much harder to hit the enemy. All in all, the Podship was better off without the thrusters.
    • The Ilwrath Avenger's cloaking device was like this for human players. Sure, it kept your opponent from knowing where you were (although the computer always would), but it also kept you from knowing where you were. Were you about to collide with the planet? Maybe.
  • 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.
  • Civil War: The Alliance-Hierarchy War is also a civil war for humanity, since there are humans on both sides: the Earthlings with the Alliance of Free Stars, the Androsynth with the Hierarchy.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • 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.
    • It is also nearly pointless to use the cloaking device when you're using the Ilwrath Avenger as the computer will always know where you are. (Actually, the computer will aim at a fixed-distance offset from your actual position, which results in relatively good accuracy at long range, but can result in pathetic 90°-off accuracy at close range)
  • Copy Protection: Professor Zorg's Guide to Alien Etiquette. The original game shipped with a code wheel; it consisted of three concentric disks that must be rotated to line up in a specific way to generate the answer for any given copy protection question. Later versions did away with the code wheel, since the publishers knew the Internet was now prominent and anyone could look up the answers for any given question.
  • Deflector Shields: Fortifications, which can be skipped by the Arilou and destroyed by the Ur-Quan.
  • 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 while heavily damaged, and then crash into the planet during the enemy's death animation.
  • 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.
  • Instant-Win Condition: Some scenarios have as their win-condition the destruction of the enemy's starbase. It does not matter how many ships the other side has left, how few ships you have left, or if he is in position to destroy your starbase on his very next turn; destroy his starbase and you win. Not every scenario has this has its win condition, of course.
  • Level Editor: The computer versions came with nine pre-installed scenariosnote  for the full game, but you could go into the files and edit any of these into an entirely different scenario. The Genesis port lacked this feature, but it came with an additional six scenariosnote  to compensate.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • 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.
    • Several missions in the full game are determined by the available paths between stars, which are generated by luck. The game has failsafes to make sure that the two factions aren't completely isolated, but there are no protections against situations where one faction is stifled by a bottleneck while the other freely mines the rest of the available stars.
  • 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.
  • Powers as Programs: Finding and installing Precursor technology on your fleet.
  • Puny Earthlings: Humans are the second-least advanced race taking part in the war.
  • Starting Units: Depends on the scenario being played.
  • Stat-O-Vision: The detailed starship schematics that can be accessed in Practice mode.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Almost all ships almost always benefit from finding Precursor artifacts, but certain generally weak ships become extremely powerful with the right artifacts. For example, the Earthling Cruiser, one of the weaker Alliance ships, becomes one of the most powerful ships in the game with the addition of Precursor thrusters. The Cruiser's main weakness is its poor top speed and its extremely poor acceleration, so the improvements to both from Precursor thrusters make it a much more powerful ship.
    • Artifacts which boost your crew or battery capacity stack. That's right, with enough luck, you could turn a Shofixti Scout into a tank.
  • Turn-Based Strategy: The Full Game mode.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Starbucks, generated via mining colonies and Starbases.

Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters provides examples of:

    Tropes A — F 
  • Absolute Xenophobe: The Kohr-Ah cannot feel safe or secure while a single member of a single other sentient species survives. Their trauma runs too deep.
  • Adam and Eve Plot:
    • 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...
      Tanaka: 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  human women, and Syreen can breed successfully with humans. And they will, whenever given any type of chance, with gusto.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts:
    • 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 slavery will 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're trying to do.
  • Alien Kudzu: The Mycon's Deep Children, which burrow into the lower crust and turn the planet into a lava-covered hell.
  • Alien Sky: Unzervalt's sky is orange, and presumably not just at sunset. There is also a large moon visible from Unzervalt's surface.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike. Very heavily averted. Besides gas giants, that cannot be explored, there're around 50 different types of planets. Earth-like worlds ("water worlds") not only are few and far between but also they include both planets so hot that their water is in the form of water vapor (nasty places to visit with a stock lander) and others so cold that they're covered in ice.
  • 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.
  • Always Chaotic Evil:
    • Blatantly parodied with the Ilwrath, who tout their own evil so proudly the player can introduce criticism of the trope into a conversation with them.
      Captain: But 'evil' is that which is morally bad or wrong. And if your actions are judged by your society as correct, aren't you, in fact, good?
    • Played straight with the Dnyarri.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Syreen.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Most of the characters, including your human crew members.
  • ...And That Would Be Wrong: When asked about a way to stop the Ilwrath:
    Pkunk: If some benign and loving, yet incredibly destructive and powerful force were to simultaneously rip off all their legs and drop their putrid egg sacs into steaming pools of molten metal, that would have the desired result of ending the conflict. Ah, but I jest. Of course I bear the Ilwrath no ill will. How could I, when I am filled only with love?
  • Animated 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.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Villain: The Ur-Quan Kzer-Za
  • Apocalypse How: Several variants, including multiple genocides, slagged planets, a once-habitable system roasted by a massive solar flare, and a bomb capable of blasting an entire planet to dust.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The Androsynth homeworld is basically covered in this. You don't get to read it, which is just as well given the effect it seemed to have on the crewman who did.
  • Arc Words: The Armor-Piercing Question below.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "The Words", a specific sequence of words that the Ur-Quan are culturally compelled to answer with a temporary ceasefire and an explanation of their actions. This works on the Kohr-Ah just as well as it does their Kzer-Za brothers.
    "Hold! What you are doing to us is wrong! Why do you do this thing?"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The suicidal Tanaka laments that his race is dead, his world is an airless rock, and he's watched all his FunRoms at least a hundred times.
  • Artificial Stupidity: While computer-controlled ships are generally quite competent, they do make some serious blunders. Notably, the computer cannot grasp the idea that it's sometimes better to remain stationary, which is why ships like the Thraddash Torch and Spathi Eluder are so effective against them. Ur-Quan Dreadnoughts sometimes stupidly send fighters against ships that can easily destroy them (such as the mentioned Torch), wasting crew.
  • Artistic License – Space:
    • The planets of the different star systems never move across their orbits, meaning for example Earth will always be in the same spot of the Sol system.
    • Planetary data for some of the Solar System bodies is often different to their Real Life equivalents. Venus in the PC versionnote  has a much less dense atmosphere than its real-world counterpart, and Jupiter and Saturn are also more massive.
    • Only the largest moons of the Solar System (those at least more or less as large as the Moon, er, Luna) are featured. Also, the asteroidnote  and Kuipernote  belts as well as planetary rings are absent.
    • The stellar temperature sequence (white, blue, green, yellow, orange, red from hottest to coolest) is inaccurate (more info here). However the game represents reasonably well the abundances of different types of stars in our galaxy, with red dwarfs outnumbering all the others and supergiant stars, especially the hottest ones, being rare.
    • Except Sol and the Solar system, both game constellations and stars have little, if any, resemblance with real-world ones. Justified in that they represent groups of stars close in Hyperspace named so after the latter was mapped.
  • Asshole Victim: The Druuge are the first victims of the Death March. It's somewhat hard to mourn them. The next victims are the Mycon, then the VUX. The Mycon have no problems destroying earthlike planets — inhabited or not — for spreading their own colonies, while the VUX are huge bigots. So it's hard to mourn them, either.
    • The Druuge got screwed over when they sold the Ultron to the Utwig, receiving only a handful of useless baubles in return. On the other hand, the Druuge had sold the Ultron under the false claim that it is an all-powerful divining instrument, when for all they knew it had no real function whatsoever.
    • At one point during the game, the entire Umgah race becomes mentally dominated by a Neo-Dnyarri. The Captain does take pity on them, and works to solve their predicament, only to discover that they have no intention of joining the New Alliance in gratitude for this, are quite happy to return to being Hierarchy Battle Thralls who help enslave other species, and proceed to try to kill the Captain on behalf of their previous masters.
    • The Dnyarri themselves are this, after the Ur-Quan turn their entire race into mindless animals. They totally deserve it though, not only for enslaving another species, but for forcing their slaves to commit genocide on quite a few other species.
    • The Kohr-Ah dance on the edge of this trope. On the one hand, they've had to endure a whole range of horrific atrocities at the hands of the Dnyarri; but once that was over, their chosen response was to try and eradicate every sentient species in the galaxy to prevent it from ever happening again.
  • 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.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Averted. No system, including the Sol one, features either asteroid belt(s) or rings surrounding their planets -those asteroids that appear during combat are another thing-.
  • At Least I Admit It: The Druuge give you this beautiful speech as you are about to claim the Utwig Bomb:
    Druuge: 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. (And sentient.)
    • The Taalo led the Sentient Mileu and tried to protect it against a psychic threat, but were ultimately forced to retreat to another dimension. The ancient artifact they created to defend against mind control is eventually picked up by the Captain.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Ask the Orz about the Androsynth, again and again. *Dancing* ensues.
    • Tell the Syreen what really happened to their homeworld and bring some proof, then see whether they can still remain content and fatalistic.
  • BFG: One unique to this game is the Hellbore Cannon, which can be installed on the Flagship once blueprints for it have been acquired. It is on par with the Ur-Quan fusion blaster — except the Flagship can be fitted with powerful batteries and power plants that could allow it to be fired much more rapidly. And as per the modular nature of the Flagship, several Hellbore Cannons can be installed in tandem, firing shots in several different directions with every trigger pull.
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: The Slylandro are bioluminescent.
  • 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.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Some of the things you can/must do during the course of the game (from decieving and betraying multiple people to starting a genocidal war) can easily qualify as ruthless or even evil, but your enemies and their plans are much, much worse.
    • The Arilou come off as exceptionally arrogant and possibly even nefarious when you discover that they've been running experiments on humans for quite some time without asking for permission. Then you discover that their goal is to protect humans from an extra-dimensional Eldritch Abomination (although their ultimate motive is still presented as completely selfish).
  • Blatant Lies: Just about any conversation you have with the talking pet.
  • Boarding Party: The Orz Marines.
  • Boldly Coming: Goes hand in hand with the Blue Skinned Space Babes.
  • Border Patrol: If you try to leave the solar system without fixing the starbase first, you are faced with massive swarms of Slylandro Probes.
  • Brave Scot: The Yehat are a Proud Warrior Race with a clan-based society. For some reason, they also speak with a heavy Scottish accent.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: During the credits, the animated actors talk about their roles in the game, the game itself, what they want out of the sequel, and Frungy. There are also a few outtakes.
  • Brick Joke: Per the closing credits, this game was brought to you by Frungy — specifically, by the Interstellar Frungy League, which is named in the very first screen.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • The Umgah are inveterate pranksters to unhinged levels, as well as bioengineering experts.
    • The chronically cowardly Spathi are capable of lightning-fast technological advances when their well-being is at stake.
    • As a genius tactician with a human fetish, Admiral ZEX is this to other VUX.
  • 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...
  • But What About the Astronauts?:
    • At the end of the war, the Alliance lost and Earth was trapped under a slave shield. Thankfully, a research group had established a colony that went unnoticed by the bad guys.
    • When the Syreen's homeworld was destroyed, most of the survivors were the members of the all-female Space Patrol.
  • Call a Human a "Meatbag":
    The Captain: Goodbye, Slylandro gas bags!
    Content to Hover: Goodbye, human fluid sack!
  • The Captain: The player character, and literally, as mentioned in No Name Given.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: The standard-issue Pkunk captain and his first officer are apparently this, or alternately the Cloud Cuckoo Lander and the Only Sane Man:
    Pkunk Captain: Chrupp, would you just look at that creature's aura! It's magnificent! The soft blues... the gentle greens... the unusual shades of chartreuse and ocher! This human must be on the side of Truth and Light, Chrupp, he must!
    First Officer Chrupp: Just in case, I am raising shields and warming up the guns.
  • 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
  • Changing Gameplay Priorities: The first portion of the game emphasizes exploring the area near Sol, primarily for resources (and bio-data for the Melnorme), due to having a slow and vulnerable ship as well as a serious resource deficit. At around the one year mark, most players would already be powerful enough to scavenge only from the most resource-laden planets they happen to come across, and by the late game players tend to remove the cargo hold from their ship altogether. At the same time, as one's ship gets faster and stronger, there's a gradually-increasing emphasis on locating new races and completing quests throughout the galaxy.
  • 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.
    • The Thraddash, who enjoy fighting so much that they have nuked themselves back to the stone age (literally, they had to start civilization from scratch) 18 times. If you beat them up enough they will respect you enough to join you. Or imitate The Three Stooges.
  • 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.
  • Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun: How the Pkunk figure out the "Dogar and Kazon" speaking to the Ilwrath are fakes.
    Pkunk: Aside from never having seen them on the 4th astral plane where most gods like to hang out, we also recently went back and listened carefully to a recording of one of their broadcasts which was sent to the Ilwrath on Hyperwave channel 44. We were able to detect some giggling at the end of the message.
  • Les Collaborateurs:
    • The Yehat monarchy switched sides near the end of the war, selling out their people and the alliance and reducing their race to Hierarchy slaves in order to retain power once the Ur-Quan won.
    • The Mycons also willingly submitted to the Ur-Quan without a fight, for reasons known only to themselves. A conversation with a Mycon during the game suggests that they recognized they could not defeat the Ur-Quan at that time, so joined them with the ultimate goal of finding a weakness to destroy them.note 
  • 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.
  • Collector of the Strange: Admiral ZEX.
  • 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.
  • Compelling Voice: If you encounter the Neo-Dnyarri without suitable protection, everything he says will be an irresistible command — including the command to "Go and get yourself killed"!
  • 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.
  • Constellations as Locations: All the stars in a constellation are close to each other, forming contiguous regions on the hyperspace map. The manual explains that these constellations are not the same constellations visible from any given planet, but were created after hyperspace was mapped from the patterns on the map.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The first Supox ship you bump into just so happens to be lugging around the remains of the Ultron.
  • Cool Starship:
    • The player character's flagship, a Precursor tugboat, built by a re-activated robotic factory.
    • The Ur-Quan's flagship, the Sa-Matra, a Precursor Battleship, destined to be the trophy in the Ur-Quan's Doctrinal War.
  • Copy Protection: Name the star at this location on the bundled map, please.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Druuge and their Crimson Corporation.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Despite the silliness, the Arilou, Ur-Quan and Orz all imply that reality really bites in this universe, and it's all about to get much, much worse.
  • 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 Project 6014, 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.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Humorous dialogues with the various races play over the credits.
  • Creator Cameo: Co-creator Paul Reiche III provides the voices of the Mycon and the Talking Pet. The victory sequence includes cameos from him, his father Paul II, his daughter Arianna, and his son Devin.
  • Creepy Monotone:
    • Both Ur-Quan subspecies.
    • The Mycon, making it even creepier when they don't, mostly when they echo some long-dead ancestor.
    • The mind-controlled Umgah.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • 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 with a peashooter up front, until you realize Spathi are far too scared to face enemies. 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 pelting the enemy with rear-mounted homing missiles needing no aim, 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, crying and running away all the time.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right:
    • 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. That's because Utwig neurology is compatible with the Ultron, unlike Human brains.
    • 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.
  • Cutscene: Prologue and epilogue. They seem to show a rather Zeerust retro sci-fi future with Space Clothes.
  • 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 Seeker: You, if you're silly enough to confront a mind-controlling alien without the Taalo Shield. Tanaka and the Ultron-less Utwig also have suicidal tendencies.
  • Death World:
    • Any planet that is wracked by Firestorms, Earthquakes, Lightning Strikes, and/or is inhabited by hostile life will require extra caution or should be simply avoided at all costs. Lander upgrades can reduce the damage of many of these problems, but not all.
    • Venus is the first planet that you find in the story with an Atmospheric Rating of 8. Trying to explore the planet is guaranteed to destroy one of your (unupgraded) planet landers within seconds. On the other hand, planets with an Atmospheric Rating of 2-4 are relatively safe.
    • A planet with a 2-4 Seismic Rating is dangerous but still explorable. However, a Seismic Rating of 5-8 is really tempting fate.
    • A planet with a surface temperature of up to 100-200°C can be explored with some caution. Do not try to explore a planet with temperatures well above 300°Cnote 
  • Death's Hourglass: One of the Melnorme you encounter possesses 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.
  • Developers' Foresight: It seems the developers anticipated the possibility of players cheating to get enough credits to buy the information from Melnorme about why their bridge changes color. Should you do so, the price jumps to what is literally impossible to obtain in the game, since that number is beyond that can be expressed with how many bytes the game's programming uses to record how many credits you have.
  • 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.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: It certainly sounds that way with many of the Orz' lines — You get make the *heavy space* Orz ships and use *GO! GO!* for the *dancing*! — but if you can guess at more precise translations using context, they're are a lot more ominous than they sound. "Dancing," for example, typically means "kill each other with weapons."
  • Dirty Coward/Lovable Coward: The Spathi's hat. As their prayer goes: "Oh, God, please don't let me die today! Tomorrow would be so much better!"
  • Disc-One Nuke: The Spathi Eluder can be acquired very early in the game, with one available in Sol if you befriend Fwiffo. It's also extremely good at fighting most enemy ships, including both kinds of Ur-Quan.
  • 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.
  • Ditto Aliens:
    • Lampshaded by the Zoq-Fot-Pik: "You must meet with our leaders. They are wiser... more powerful beings!" "They look just like us, though."
    • Downplayed with the Spathi Safe Ones, who look like other Spathi, but wear clothes that clearly identify them as rulers.
    • Humans and Syreen also have only one dialogue picture each, but then you only talk to Hayes and Talana.
  • 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 undo as much of it as possible.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: One bit of Mycon dialogue implies this:
    Mycon: Juffo-Wup acknowledges the existence of un-Voidable Non. When we are faced with such, we join, absorb and wait for our opportunity to learn the weakness that will allow us to Void the Non.
  • 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.
  • Dream Match Game: Super Melee allows you to pilot every starship available between the first two games, even those races which aren't available in the sequel due to plot reasons (namely the Chenjesu and Mmrnmhrm, both replaced by the Chmmr, and the Androsynth, having been wiped out by the Orz).
  • Early Game Hell: The lack of mobility, combat capability, and fuel for your main ship are the three main concerns you have to address at the start of the story. The first issue can be resolved easily, the second issue depends on how fast you can find biological data, and the third issue can remain serious and constant if you don't find an easier way to expedite your interstellar travel.
  • Earth-Shattering Poster: The 3DO box art shows the Earth being cataclysmically crushed between two alien hands.
  • 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.
    • Pkunk are pretty eager to forgive you after you insulted them and possibly destroyed several of their ships, as long as you promise to "try" not to blow them up anymore.
  • Either "World Domination", or Something About Bananas: The Orz speak an extremely odd language — so odd that the flagship's translation software can't properly 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.
    • If you befriend the Thraddash, they ask you for help naming their new culture. As above, one of the options is "The Glorious Slave Empire of (Your name)", which the Thraddash begrudgingly accept because "you're the one with the big starship".
  • 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  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."
  • Eldritch Starship: Specifically, the Precursor battleship, the Sa-Matra. It has a weird shape with no clear axis of symmetry. Notable because the Precursors also had less eldritch-looking starships, like the Flagship.
  • Enemy Civil War:
    • The Captain can incite one by convincing the Ilwrath to attack someone else besides the Pkunk — whereupon they decide on their own to go after the Thraddash. The Ur-Quan are too preoccupied at that point to enforce their rules against infighting.
    • There is a lot of resentment among the Yehat's Starship Clans about the ease with which the Queen surrendered to the Ur-Quan and then joined their side. You can provoke them to rebel if you show them a live Shofixti, who were thought to be extinct.
    • The "Doctrinal Conflict" is an ongoing civil war between two Ur-Quan factions. The faction you fought in the first game was the nicer of the two.
  • Enemy Mine: The reason for your alliance with the neo-Dnyarri.
  • Everything Sensor: Installed on the precursor ship, it can read tons of information about any planet you visit, though it is not too precise about things located on the surface, such as types of lifeforms or exact quantity of minerals.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Any deeper and the Ur-Quan would trigger involuntary bowel movements.
  • 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.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: The Slylandro'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.
  • Expospeak Gag:
    Tanaka: I'll kill you this time, you pitiful, weakling fancier of herd animal excrement!
    Tanaka: I will hang your withered reproductive organs from my posterior monitor!
  • Fantastic Measurement System: Briefly mentioned for laughs by the Zoq-Fot-Pik.
  • Fan Sequel:
    • 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, none of which fared 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.
    • There was another Fan Sequel in development, called Project 6014, which uses UQM's engine and got as far as a playable demo. Development seems to have stopped in 2013.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Several races in the game take counterpart cues, some (in more benign cases like the Thraddash or the Spathi) simply having real-world accents, but others outright being based around the Theme Park Version of cultural stereotypes.
    • 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 are 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.
    • The Shofixti are the Theme Park Version of the Japanese, with emphasis on their warrior traditions, especially on the kamikazes, and, unfortunately, the broken, heavily-accented English.
    • The Yehat have a clan-based system of government, and the the translator renders their speech with a thick Scottish (or faux-Scottish) accent.
    • The VUX are rendered with British accents, and seem based around the colonial-era British Empire: being the archetype of stuffy imperials motivated by a sense of cultural supriority. Their uniform also resembles that of a real life decorated naval admiral.
  • Fictional Sport: Frungy, frungy, frungy!
  • Freeware Games
  • Freudian Excuse: For at least two whole species.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Spathi ship's secondary weapon is officially called the B.U.T.T. (Backwards Utilizing Tracking Torpedo) while the Kohr-Ah has F.R.I.E.D. (Fiery Ring of Inevitable and Eternal Destruction). It *does* fry you.
  • 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.
    • Ilwrath ships are very effective against Earthling cruisers thanks to their cloaking devices, and the Ilwrath 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.
    • The storylines for the Syreen and Mycon are heavily intertwined, even though we only hear of one battle between them (where the Syreen used an ambush to gain the advantage). In combat, the two ships are almost symbiotic: the Mycon ship can regenerate dead crewmen, while the Syreen ship can pull those crewmen over to replenish its own crew. Matches between two competent players using these ships can become very drawn out.
    • Shofixti Scouts are a good way to severely damage Ur-Quan ships, but the scout will usually be destroyed in the process and the work would have to be finished by other ships. In the campaign we hear that during the war, the Shofixti did the exact same thing on a much, much larger scale.
    • The deflector shields on a Yehat ship can be activated for just long enough to deflect an entire Pkunk "Death Blossom". In-game, the Yehat will annihilate the Pkunk if their enmity is not resolved very carefully.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Possible case on Eta Vulpeculae. One of the researchers Goes Mad From The Revelation, screaming about an Eldritch Abomination that is now after him, and the wounds he's sustained appear to be getting inexplicably worse... but there is no actual decrease in your crew count and it is never spoken of again. Note that it is possible to have casualties from other story events, e.g. Fwiffo firing on the lander.
  • 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.
  • Ghost Planet: The Androsynth, Burvixese, and Taalo homeworlds. Every homeworld, everywhere, if you don't stop the Kohr-Ah in time.
  • Giggling Villain: Admiral ZEX. (Hee! Hee! Hee!)
  • 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: Averted. The Starbase only accepts raw minerals; the Melnorme only accept Credits which they give in exchange for biological information and the locations of Rainbow Worlds; and the Druuge only 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.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!:
    • The Yehat were not happy when their queen decided to surrender to Ur-Quan.
    • The Kohr-Ah Primat is alluded to be female, given how the Kzer-Za mulled whether they should try and contact 'her', before dismissing the idea as they think she's too stubborn.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Poor Bukowski. He discovers some relevant information pertaining to the fate of the Androsynth, and possessing the knowledge makes him vulnerable to suffering the same fate. His last acts are to destroy as much of the information as he can, to protect everyone else from knowing.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The presence only known as 'Them', which the Arilou hint at, but refuse to elaborate further.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The force the Ur-Quan leave behind to guard Earth do such an inept job that it is easy if not encouraged to clear Sol without firing a single shot. First, the Ilwrath leave almost immediately once the Ur-Quan's proverbial back is turned to join their brethren on a galactic killing spree, leaving the Spathi in charge. Then the Spathi talk themselves into relocating as far away from Earth as possible (they end up on Pluto) just in case the completely powerless Earthlings mount a surprise attack. After that, they decide that it wouldn't hurt to sent just one ship home. And then another. And so on. By the time the player arrives, there's only one ship left and a bunch of harmless robots made up to look threatening. The Spathi captain immediately surrenders and starts spilling vital secrets the moment he spots what so much as could be a hostile ship. Everyone involved is quite lucky that by the time the Ur-Quan realize that the Earthlings are working against them again, it's too late to dole out punishments.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Although you can ally with them, the Spathi will leave you soon afterwards.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • 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. See Moon Logic Puzzle below.
    • 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. As a result, players who gathered all clues and solved the puzzle would then spend hours searching for Katana, who never shows up if Tanaka is alive.
    • Convincing the Syreen that the destruction of their original homeworld was caused by the Mycon requires getting a crucial piece of information that can be obtained from two sources with no obvious connection to the subject: Either keep buying information about the recent past from the Melnorme until they mention the Syreen, or go talk to the Mycon on their homeworld. The latter is especially obscure because as all home planets it is protected by an infinite armada (and the dialogue will always end in an attack), and you are given no indication you might learn something that is not mentioned by other Mycon.
  • Here We Go Again!: In the credits sequence, as the Utwig celebrate the restoration of the Ultron, the High Proctor loses her grip on it in the middle of the "Exultant Caper of Revelation," followed by a crashing sound...
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The Shofixti did it with their entire species. Almost.
    • Parodied, near the end of the game, when the ship is about to be destroyed in the fight against the final boss.
      Dnyarri: OK, human, this is it! The last battle, your final moment of triumph! Don't screw up. And in case you're wondering, I'm not going with you, Captain. I'm staying on board. Why, you ask? BECAUSE I'M LOCKED IN HERE, YOU IDIOT! GET ME OUT! HELP! HELP!
  • Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: For the Captain, at least. Every dishonest reply he can make will be liberally underscored with multiple ellipses. NPCs will generally give other indications of being untruthful.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The Arilou homeworld; appropriately, as they are practically The Fair Folk.
  • Higher-Tech Species: The Ur-quan are one of the oldest species still active. They and the Chmmr are the only races around with the technology needed to send really big spaceships into hyperspace.
  • History Repeats: An aggressive race prone to infighting manages to conquer its instincts and establish a civilization, then starts exploring their system with primitive spaceships. Some time after that, they are contacted by a race of crystalline beings, offered to join an interstellar alliance, and quickly become an important part of that alliance. Unfortunately, they become enslaved by a third race of aliens, and have to fight their way to freedom with extreme methods. This description fits both the Humans and the Ur-Quan.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Unique to this game are the Thraddash, who fly rather small, fast, and somewhat fragile ships, with a mildly-powerful primary gun. On the other hand, they have a unique ability to get a sudden, short-lived speed boost that leaves a long trail of dangerous plasma behind them. The most effective tactic for this ship is to fly at the enemy, fire a few shots, and then fly away hoping they'll give chase. If they do, simply hold the special ability button to create a strip of plasma, which they'll run into if they don't veer away quickly enough. This tactic makes the Thraddash Torch one of the most dangerous (and very cheap!) counters to the massive Ur-Quan, Khor-Ah and Chmmr battleships.
  • Hive Mind: An unusual case with the Orz. While they do all have a single mind, they aren't separate creatures at all; They are a single Eldritch Abomination. When the creature pushes itself into Real Space, it manifests as an Orz "Individual".
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: This is a fairly common trope in conversations with alien species.
    • Pkunk: "Just off the top of my beak..."
    • Thraddash: "The ship took off like a farg out of hell..."
    • Yehat: "Ye can be destroying Dreadnoughts until the breegs come home..."
  • Honest John's Dealership:
    • 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. In fact, they don't really fit this trope that well, because they consider it equally unethical to cheat people and to give charity. 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.)
  • Honor Before Reason: After orbiting the galaxy in opposite directions for thousands of years, the Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah are fighting a war to determine whose method for pacifying the galaxy is superior. The Kohr-Ah's doctrine of extermination has the advantage of leaving empty space behind them that does not need further tending. The Kzer-Za slavers, on the other hand, have to deal with a massive amount of battle thralls and the resource expenditure required to create slave-shielded worlds. Of course, this gives the Kzer-Za the advantage of having battle thralls — but they then vehemently refuse to use those thralls in the war against the Kohr-Ah. Essentially, the Kzer-Za lose the war because they refuse to utilize the one advantage their method has over the Kohr-Ah method — in a conflict that's all about whose method is better.
  • 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.
  • Humans Are Warriors: Variant 3. Humans Are Soldiers.
  • Human Popsicle: The Shofixti Maidens. The Captain also threatens the Spathi to releases the Evil Ones he claims to have in suspended animation.
  • Human Resources: Well, Druuge Resources, or whatever slaves of other races they have. Their ships' Mana Meter can be replenished by sacrificing crew members.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place:
    • 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). You have to take some care when using it, as it leaves the ship stuck in one spot for about five seconds while the engine charges up, and thus easy pickings for a nearby enemy.
  • Hypnotic Creature: 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.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: This exchange between the PC Captain and the Thraddash:
    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!
  • Immune to Mind Control: Anyone in proximity to the Taalo shield. Note that the protection isn't complete; the Neo-Dnyarri might not be able to order you to blindly attack the Ur-Quan, but if you question them too deeply about things they don't want to talk about, you will find yourself talking about pretty flowers instead.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Dnyarri's/Mind controlled Umgah's Khan Fusion joke.
  • 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 
  • Insufferable Genius: Professor Jules Farnsworth from the Unzervalt research team. To quote the manual, he was "widely disliked for his flamboyant egotism and rude impatience with peers who did not hang on his every word".
  • 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.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest: Averted. Even though the game is a Wide-Open Sandbox, there are only two storylines that you are not required to complete in order to beat the game (three if you count the Shofixti Revival storyline as its own thing rather than a part of the Yehat rebellion storyline). One of them gives you a nice bonus right before the end of the game, the other rids you of a very annoying enemy (the Slylandro Probes).
  • It Amused Me: The Umgah's motivation for doing anything.
  • 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, and major political incident ensued. You can try to keep apologizing until they finally reveal they are just using the insult as an excuse, and the real reason for their hostility is that they find the humans repulsive.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: The Kohr-Ah Death March, unless you are very quick. On the other hand, if you are quick, you can use their genocide to bypass most of the required quests in the game.
  • The Jailer: The Ur-Quan Kzer-Za.
  • Jerkass: Many of the dialogue options allow the Captain to embody this trope.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: The game will give you a false hope that it's possible to make peace with the VUX by making amends for a past diplomatic blunder the humans committed against them, but nothing will ever come of it for the simple reason that they are even bigger hypocrites and bigots than humans. If pressed, they will admit that the insult meant nothing to them: they hate humans simply because they can't stand their physical appearance.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: You have to piece together everything from the hints, rumors, and bits of information the aliens give you.
  • Karmic Death: Admiral ZEX is killed by the beast that you gave him when it breaks loose just as he is about to backstab you.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The Captian leaves the Neo-Dnyarri locked in the ship as it's being used as a makeshift bomb during the ending.
  • 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.)
  • Knight Templar: Both Ur-Quan subspecies turn out to be this.
  • Knowledge Broker:
    • The Melnorme. Their culture looks down on giving away any information for free, and will sell any information given the right price, however, any information they wish to keep secret, such as the identity of their sources and why their bridge turns purple during trade negotiations, is given an insanely high price tag.
      • And if you do somehow manage to acquire enough currency to meet that price tag (probably by cheating), the price will suddenly jump up to a value even higher than what the game can store in memory.
      • It's also important to note that the Melnorme do not accept Resource Units like your starbase does — they will only trade information for other information, specifically biological data collected on distant planets and the locations of mysterious Rainbow Worlds.
    • The Pkunks, to a lesser extent. Slightly downplayed in that they give their info freely, and they sound like the ramblings of phony psychic... but ignore them at your own peril, because they are surprisingly accurate, if metaphorically.
  • Late to the Tragedy: The captain and their crew were absent for the Slave Shielding of Earth and the Ur-Quan domination of the galaxy, and have to be filled in after the fact.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: The Black Spathi Squadron.
  • Lethal Joke Character: The Thraddash Torch. On the surface, and in low-level play, it looks like a pretty terrible ship. It has one of the lowest crew stats in the game, its primary weapon is a weak, slow-firing blaster, and its special move (an afterburner that leaves behind a plasma trail) will only damage the AI or somebody who's Too Dumb to Live. But in high-level play, it's almost universally banned as overpowered. Why? Firstly, the afterburner makes it the fastest ship in the game, capable of dodging most projectiles and running rings around the slower ships. Secondly, that "useless" blaster, while not dealing much damage, has a very long range and can penetrate almost all forms of point defence. So almost any battle with a sufficiently skilled Torch player will result in a very slow and boring Death of a Thousand Cuts as the "stronger" ship tries in vain to hit the Torch while being whittled down very, very slowly.
    • The Pkunk Fury seems like a very weak ship, and the Pkunk themselves are basically joke characters, being space-hippies. Then you get to the final battle against the Sa-Matra, and it turns out that the Fury is by far the best ship for defeating the defenses of the Sa-Matra, almost as though they were designed for that very task. And then you remember that the Pkunk claim to have psychic powers....
  • Living Gasbag: The Slylandro are floating translucent gas bags with glowy bits inside them.
  • Machine Monotone: The Chenjesu, Mmrnmhrm, and Chmmr).
  • 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.
    Thraddash: To you, an inferior alien, this may seem bluntly stupid — the product of a sick, primitive society. SNORT! You couldn't be more right!
  • Magikarp Power: Your flagship. It starts out entirely dependent on its escort ships, having a painfully slow speed and turning rate that makes it all but a sitting duck in combat and armed only with a weak forward gun with a slow recharge rate. Fully upgraded and with all the Melnorme technology purchased, it becomes a Lightning Bruiser with potentially hundreds of Hit Points, point defense weaponry, and a main weapon that hits as hard as that of an Ur-Quan Dreadnought while firing multiple simultaneous shots that all home in on their target
  • Manchild: Some of the Captain's possible dialogue choices are a little... odd.
    • Captain: (to the Arilou) We have met the Umgah, and they are acting extremely weird, like zombie-blobbies!
    • Captain: (to Admiral ZEX) You lied, Admiral ZEX! There was no 'warp nullification field'! Cheater!
    • The new anti-Ur-Quan coalition established by the Captain is Canonically Named "The New Alliance of Free Stars", but you can instead choose to call it "The Empire of (Your name)!"
  • Market-Based Title: The Star Control II part of the title was dropped for the open-source release of the game (ported from the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer version to modern operating systems), due to the name Star Control being owned by Atari.
  • Mars Needs Women: Mars Needs Men: Admiral ZEX wants to be "friends... perhaps even more" with the Captain, to the point that he tries to take him by force before being Hoist by His Own Petard.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings:
    • Fwiffo is the youngest of over eighteen thousand.
    • Tanaka had six sisters and "many" brothers. Then there's the number of children he himself can produce.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Ultron. The Utwig insist that it "fills the empty space we did not know was there" and provides them with psychic visions. Most other people you speak to think it's a useless piece of junk that the Utwig were morons to purchase, and everything after that is a species-wide Placebo Effect. It's not made entirely clear which is the truth, and it is a Precursor artifact of some kind; once it's fully repaired, the scientists at the station orbiting Earth are convinced that it does something, but aren't sure what. A few of the prophecies it provides are also demonstrably accurate, such as its instruction that the Utwig and Supox should attack only the Kohr-Ah (which extends the Enemy Civil War, since the Kohr-Ah are winning, whereas attacking both sides wouldn't accomplish anything).
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • The Arilou Skiff ignores gravity and inertia, unlike every other ship.
    • The Slylandro Probe is always moving at maximum velocity and can't ever slow down. On the other hand, it can reverse its direction of movement instantaneously.
  • 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.
  • Missing Secret: The Rainbow worlds form an arrow. What does the arrow point to? Nothing. Word of God is that it was going to be a Developer's Room, but they couldn't think of enough jokes to put in it.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: The location of the Beast Admiral ZEX is looking for is hinted to be in a yellow star of the 8-star 'Linch-Nas-Ploh' constellation, which roughly means `the snake-like creature who has swallowed the elephantine beast.' This puzzle is one of the biggest Guide Dang It! moment in the game, but as someone deduced, checking the starmap reveals Lyncis constellation, which looks like a line with a box in the middle of it. In other words, like a snake who has just swallowed a large prey, and is now bulging in the midsection.
  • Mr. Exposition:
    • Commander Hayes of the SOL III Starbase fulfils this role. He's pretty much the first character you meet, and since the Captain has been out of touch with the rest of the galaxy for twenty years, he needs to be brought up to date. Unfortunately, Hayes' information is quite dated, since he has been stuck on the starbase his entire life. He has nearly no information on current events in the galaxy. His purpose, at the start of the game, is primarily to give what limited information the player needs in order to play the game properly during the first couple of hours. Once the starbase is re-purposed for war, Hayes will slowly begin to process and deliver more pertinent information to you regarding events happening in the vicinity of the Sol system.
    • Once they are encountered, the Melnorme serve as an integral and highly-important information service — selling exposition to the player for a modest price. Unlike Hayes, the Melnorme have a plethora of information about the galaxy — both past and present (and, to some extent, the future!), which they sell in discrete pieces. Each piece provides not only pertinent and interesting information about the chosen subject, but often also a very important hint that could significantly affect your success. Anyone who is not paying attention to what the Melnorme tell them is highly likely to run into many Guide Dang It! moments.
  • 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 
  • Might Makes Right: The Thraddash way of life.
  • 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. Ominously, it's never made clear what happened to them. They're 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.
  • Money Grinding: Mineral gathering, which will give you Resource Units to upgrade your ships and fleet. It is quite easy to overdo it, though you will not realise it until it is too late.
  • Moral Myopia: The underlying motives are understandable, but both the Path of Now and Forever and the Eternal Doctrine are based on the premise that nobody else deserves their freedom or their lives as much as the Ur-Quan.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: When Tanaka prepares to attack you, he makes sure to let you know that "I am the glorious Shofixti warrior, Tanaka."
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much:
    • Admiral ZEX, the one VUX who is not a frothing xenophobe. Because he's a frothing xenophile.
    • The fabled Black Spathi Squadron, which according to the stories goes about performing "brave and hostile deeds" against the Ur-Quan. Very un-Spathilike.

    Tropes N — Z 
  • 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.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: Averted. The Alliance of Free Stars lost the war depicted in the first Star Control.
  • No Hero Discount:
    • 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.
  • No Name Given: Officially, the player-character is merely called "the Captain", so as to work within the confines of being able to name him/her whatever the player wishes. The 3DO version gives the Captain and his flagship default names, Zelnick and the Vindicator respectively.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The backstory provided in the manual explains at length why the player's Precursor starship is unique: While the automated Precursor factory could presumably build another one if raw materials were ferried over, the only way the humans managed to provide human-operable controls to the first one was to remove the main computer from the factory and jury rig it to the starship's bridge.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If you surrender to the Kzer-Za or play with the Utwig bomb you get dumped into the opening screen.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Ur-Quan get a beautiful one if you tell them about the existence of the neo-Dnyarri. They even consider going so far as attempting a cease-fire with the Kohr-Ah so they can deal with the threat, but ultimately decide that the Kohr-Ah would think it a trick and not believe them. This is the only time in the game their demeanour of self-assured superiority is broken, replaced with a tone of panic and urgency.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Kohr-Ah.
  • One-Gender Race: The Syreen come close, with some justification and a lot of Lampshade Hanging. Their home planet was destroyed by a Mycon Deep Child. Most of the survivors were from the Syreen Space Patrol, the vast majority of them female thanks to the matriarchal culture. The end result was ten thousand survivors, of which only five hundred were male.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: The Druuge's Crimson Corporation.
  • One World Order: Each alien race in the game, with a few exceptions.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: Naturally, it's the mostly-naked Green-Skinned Space Babe who makes the offer. It turns out you married her ...
  • Orbital Bombardment: Several examples.
    • When asking the Spathi why they fight along the Ur-Quan enslaved, they mention how part of the surrendering ceremony included blasting portions of their planet's surface into radioactive dust. The Spathi didn't like that part.
    • Starbase Commander Hayes mentions how the way the Ur-Quan made clear that Earth had lost the war was to destroy Buenos Aires. Weeks later, after the official surrender and the human decision to be slave-shielded, the Ur-Quan blasted from orbit not only all man-made constructions more than 500 years old, but also places seemingly worthless for humans (presumably to destroy more ancient ruins):
    Starbase Commander Hayes: From their positions in orbit, the Dreadnoughts blew away a kilometer of land in central Iraq, vaporized several targets in the Amazon rain forest, punched a big hole through the antarctic icecap to destroy something deep under the surface, and melted a broad swath of the ocean floor in the south-eastern Atlantic.
  • Organic Technology: The Umgah, Supox, and Mycon all use organic technology. The Mycon are organic technology.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: It can help a lot when your partner in conversation has broken sensors and can only judge your ship by gravimetry data. Or has been brainwashed.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Dnyarri (to the Milieu), the Ur-Quan (to a ton of people), the Orz (to the Androsynth); the Sa-Matra recategorized the Ur-Quan as an Outside-Context Problem to the Alliance.
  • Painting the Medium: In the version of the game without voice-acting, each species speaks in a different font that reflects its personality.
  • Paying for Air: The Druuge species run themselves as a gigantic Mega-Corp called the Crimson Corporation, with everything the Druuge own being company property... including the oxygen on their planets. As a result, getting fired from it inevitably ends in execution as the unfortunate in question ends up "stealing company property" by merely breathing. At least the retirement packages include (reduced) oxygen intakes.
  • People Jars: The Shofixti maidens.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • 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 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.
  • Pet the Dog: The Syreen surrendered to the Ur-Quan after their nomadic fleet was abandoned by the remainder of their erstwhile allies. One of the Ur-Quan leaders arranged to locate another planet that matched their specifications.
    • If you surrender to the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za, they will execute you, but spare your crew.
  • 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.
  • Planet Looters: The Mycon, who are corrupted Organic Technology.
  • Plant Aliens: The Supox; the Mycon are fungus. The Zoq of the Zoq-Fot-Pik may also be one, as at one point it threatens the Pik with "[blowing] a cloud of spores at you."
  • Player Headquarters: The Starbase.
  • Point of No Return: Once the Utwig Bomb is installed into the flagship, you're pretty much done exploring, as it takes up ten of the sixteen available slots, and it also removes any room for landers or the warp escape unit. Granted, at this point you have infinite RUs as well, and the Melnorme can still accept Rainbow World data in exchange for credits, which pay out enough to cover every upgrade and information piece.
  • Power Nullifier: The Taalo shield nullifies the Dnyarri's mind control. Try going after him without it, and you'll regret it.
  • Preexisting Encounters: Most battles result when an enemy fleet (readily visible beforehand) makes contact with your flagship. This can happen in planetary systems (where you can see the approaching fleet and its type, but not its strength) and in hyperspace (where all you see is an approaching gravity well, with no indications of precisely what's causing it). In both cases, a fast-enough flagship can maneuver to avoid the encounter altogether. The game also has several set battles, which cannot be avoided in order to finish the game.
  • Prepare to Die: In as many word, when Tanaka mistakes you for an Ur-Quan.
  • Press-Ganged: Implied to have happened to Fwiffo, as he was hit by a vegetable cart and woke up on a naval ship with no money. Given the general Spathi attitude, willing volunteers were probably hard to come by.
  • Press X to Die: You can blow up the Utwig Bomb from the Devices menu, taking your flagship with it.
  • Proud Merchant Race: The Melnorme.
  • 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.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Dnyarri.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Much of the game is spent seeking out the other races from the old Alliance and convincing them to join in your fight against the Ur-Quan, as well as finding some new friends along the way.
  • 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.. This is lampshaded on the intro sequence and on the ending sequence with you, as personnel dress in red.
  • 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 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 Hippie In Space. They appear to believe in reincarnation for everyone.note 
    • More seriously, the Kohr-Ah also believe in reincarnation. They use this to justify their genocide of all other life: By their belief, everything will one day eventually be reborn as a Kohr-Ah, so in the long run nothing is lost.
  • Relationship Values
  • Religion of Evil: Parodied with the Ilwrath.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: Kzer-Za and the Kohr-Ah factions of the Ur-Quan.
  • Retcon:
    • 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 (in both cases, it does not work). In the latter case, is even lampshaded:
      Captain: Hmmm.. maybe reverse psychology would work. Er... Die alien scum!
    • You'll need to use this against the Shofixti survivor (Tanaka/Katana). Trying to befriend him won't work; he will only respond favorably to repeated insults.
    • Patrolling Spathi attempt this with a belligerent Captain, with a bit of Game of Chicken thrown in.
      Captain: Wanna fight?
      Spathi Captain: Er... Yeah, we do.
      Captain: So let us fight.
      Spathi Captain: Okay, let's fight. Here we go. We're rarin' to fight.
      Captain: So let's fight, already!
      Spathi Captain: Oh! Um... we changed our minds. We don't want to. Sorry.
      Spathi Captain: (Pwappy, you idiot! I told you that wouldn't work!)
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder:
    • Hilariously subverted at the bottom of a list of suggestions for dealing with the rogue Slylandro probes:
      Captain: Well to begin with, if I were you, I'd sue the Melnorme.
      Content to Hover: Sorry. The Melnorme made us agree to a formal Waiver of Damages in case something like this happened.
      Captain: Couldn't you broadcast some kind of recall signal?
      Content to Hover: No, not catalog item 2418-B (Remote Self-Replicating Robot Explorer Probe). The model with the recall transmitter was catalog item 2419 and the Melnorme said it was out of stock.
      Captain: Someone is going to have to hunt them all down and destroy them.
      Content to Hover: No, that would never work! The probes will replicate too fast! As soon as you destroyed one, two would take its place!
      Captain: I don't suppose you have some kind of Mega-Self-Destruct code or something?
      Content to Hover: WHY YES, THERE IS! You're a genius, Traveller! Why didn't we remember that!?
    • When confronting the neo-Dnyarri:
      Dnyarri: Boy, are you A PAIN, do you know that? WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, MY LIFE!? Oh, you do? Hmph.
  • Scared of What's Behind You: Admiral ZEX's last words are impatient yelling at Sub-Commander DAX, who is transfixed by the escaped Beast approaching ZEX from behind.
    Sub-Commander... are you listening to me? What are you staring at? PAY ATTENTION, Sub-Commander! Give me a report on its posit - WHAT ARE YOU STARING AT!...
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Several different types, including the Ilwrath, the Kohr-Ah, and the Kzer-Za.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The Melmorne will leave the galaxy the moment the Death March begins, and thus you won't be able to trade with them past that point.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Dnyarri. The Umgah unknowingly remove one from its can.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Races slave-shielded by the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za. Cracking a slave shield and letting the Chmmr out of their can is one of the primary objectives of the game.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge:
    • It is possible to beat the game without ever visiting the Earth starbase. However, actually doing so requires infinite patience and planning: you can never build any new ship modules, which means your space travel is very slow and limited; you are at the mercy of Hyperspace spawns (especially Slylandro probes), and your original lander must last you for the entire game (though only biological pickups matter now). The original creators never thought anyone could make it to the Chmmr with all the parts for the final battle, so the game originally crashed. The remake will simply spit you out near the starbase with the required equipment.
    • The upgrades to your main ship that are provided by the Arilou and the Melnorme are optional. But without them, the amount of time you'll have to expend on gathering resources, refueling your ship, and traveling to plot-progressing locations is greatly increased.
  • Sequel Hook
    Children: But Grandfather! What happened? Where did you go? And how did you find the Mark II?
    The Captain: That, my children, is an entirely different story.
    • During the credits, the neo-Dnyarri, the Syreen, and the Druuge all claim they were told that the sequel will be about them.
    • It is implied that, long ago, the Precursors moved towards the galactic core. Presumably the sequel was supposed to expand on this.
    • It is implied that the Taalo may have survived in another dimension (and the designers confirmed this in an online chat). Together with the unresolved Androsynth/Arilou/Orz story arc, this suggests a sequel would have involved visiting another dimension.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • 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 Jerkass 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 here and here for more information.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: The proper way of dealing with Tanaka the Shofixti, coupled with a little You Fight Like a Cow to make him realize he couldn't possibly be fighting an Ur-Quan ship.note 
  • 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.
  • Sidequest: Recruiting various aliens such as the Orz or the Zoq-Fot-Pik into the New Alliance, dealing with the Slylandro Probes, saving the Shofixti race, and instigating the Yehat civil war all qualify.
  • 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.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: There is silliness all over the game, but it has quite a lot of serious moments as well, such as the Ur-Quan's Woobie-ish past. Also, considering other games Toys For Bob has created, this is probably the most serious game they have ever released. Compared to other similar works, this game is a lot sillier than Babylon 5 or Mass Effect, but generally more serious than Star Wars or Space Quest.
  • 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.
  • Special Effect Branding: It has a wide range of Starfish Aliens and Rubber-Forehead Aliens, with ships designed to meet their physiological needs as well as using their unique weapons systems. While you may control ships designed by a specific race, you must also have pilots of that race to control them.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • Star Control II is very much like both Starflight I and II, and one of the developers of those games was also one of the developers of Star Control II.
    • The Mass Effect series can be seen as a successor to Star Control II especially with regards to planetary exploration, plot, and dialogue trees.
  • Stalked by the Bell: The Death March.
  • Starfish Aliens:
    • Many species, but especially the Orz. The inability of your ship's computer to accurately translate for the Orz only emphasizes just how alien they are.
    • 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 embarrassed if you mention, being their reproductive organs. The Slylandro reveal that the glowy bits don't glow in their own eyes but they still know exactly what you're talking about.
  • Starfish Language: Orz again.
  • Start of Darkness: Of the Freudian Excuse variety. You can get slightly different perspectives of the story from the Melnorme/Mael-Num, both Ur-Quan subspecies, and — if you don't mind Blatant Lies — the Talking Pet.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • The Orz refer to fighting as *dancing.* The Space Marines they send to board enemy ships are called *GO! GO!* Ergo... they're *go-go* *dancers*.
    • The VUX are disgusted by human mannerisms like nodding, since their own necks don't have the same range of motion. That is, they're stiff-necked.
  • Stripperiffic: The Syreen. Lampshaded thoroughly and gleefully — for example, the first time you encounter one, only one of the four dialog options is about something other than your contact's (lack of) costume.
  • Stunned Silence: From the Captain, after the Pkunk's decision to give him love instead of mineral resources or biological data or any such insulting physical aid.
  • Subspace or Hyperspace: It's the world map!
  • 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.
  • Superweapon Surprise:
    • 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.
    • The Ur-Quan decided to use the immense power of the Sa-Matra against the Chenjesu, pretty much ending the war right then and there.
  • Suppressed History: After the Ur-Quan had conquered Earth, they destroyed every human site and construction that was over 500 years old through Orbital Bombardment, including areas that the humans were completely unaware of, including a site deep under Antarctica and an area of the ocean floor implied to be Atlantis. The Spathi also claimed that the Ur-Quan had done something similar to their world.
  • Surreal Horror: Orz and several other examples.
  • Take That!: If you get in a conversation with a Druuge ship, the Druuge captain explains that their "Crimson Corporation" improves the quality of life for all Druuge through the "Dribble-Down effect". Uh huh.
  • 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 Shofixti took this concept to the next level by blowing up their own sun to destroy a good part of the Ur-Quan fleet.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: No matter how tense or time sensitive the situation is, no matter how much they might want to kill you, alien captains will gladly talk to you for as long as it takes to exhaust their Dialogue Trees, until you either try to cut of communications yourself or deliberate aggravate them into fighting early. Some races will attack immediately no matter what you say (particularly the Slylandro Probes or, unless you say something specific, the Kohr-Ah), but these are very few — most will keep chatting even as they insist they do not wish to and important events will only start after you guide the conversation in that direction. In the meantime, feel free to get as much exposition as you want. In the final battle of Star Control 2, the Dnyarri lampshades this.
    Dnyarri: Oh gosh, gee! I don't know! Let's just sit here and talk a while AND IGNORE THOSE THOUSANDS OF DREADNOUGHTS THAT ARE GONNA CREAM US IN A FEW SECONDS!
  • 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.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Which the Arilou claim is why they won't tell you anything. After what happened to Bukowski, we believe them.
  • Timed Mission: 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.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • The Thraddash put themselves back into the Stone Age with nuclear war. Repeatedly. And they are proud of it.
    • The Pkunk make repeated attempts to rejoin the Yehat, and can only be persuaded not to do so with mystical nonsense. If you don't tell the Pkunk to turn back (before the civil war starts), the Yehat kill most or all of them.
  • 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.
  • Trolling Translator: During the credits, a Talking Pet gets fed up with constantly translating "submit or die" and replaces it with things like "I like to hold fuzzy little animals and give them huggie-wuggies."
  • Try Not to Die:
    • "Try to avoid getting gruesomely killed, Captain!" is one of the things Base Commander Hayes says to you as you depart. Cheerfully.
      • This may be a Shout-Out to Starflight, where one of your mission objectives is "Keep from getting brutally killed."
  • Uncanny Valley: In an in-universe example, the VUX see the humans as this. For instance, the VUX can't bend their neck-analogues, so when a human moves their head, it looks like its neck is broken and they are a talking corpse.
  • Uncertain Doom: The Faz were slave-shielded by the Kzer-za around 22000 years ago. Their ultimate fate is never revealed, though. Similar applies to the Taalo, but Word of God says they're still alive somewhere.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable:
    • Go to an enemy planet protected by an infinite fleet without your emergency warp escape unit. Lampshaded by the Thraddash, who keep score of how many of their ships you have destroyed, except for fights in their homeworld. Even they think that's incredibly stupid.
    • Run out of fuel and keep refusing contact with the Melnorme.
    • Due to a glitch, attempting to complete the game without ever making contact with the starbase was impossible in the original release. The Ur-Quan Masters fixed the glitch, making it merely inhumanly hard and tedious.
  • Universal Universe Time: Your ship keeps dates in Earth time, and other species are shown referring to "months" and "years" as though these are standardized units. This may be an artifact of the ship's Universal Translator; the only race who appear to use a different calendar (the Slylandro, who keep time based on their own planet's orbital period) are a new race with whom the protagonist makes first contact, so the translator may lack a basis for converting their time units.
  • 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 
    • The Androsynth are another example: despite much foreshadowing, you never find out exactly what the Orz did to them.
  • Uplifted Animal: The Shofixti were already sentient, but they were given technology by the Yehat, which is called "Uplifting" in-game.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Your ship has been fitted with a gigantic bomb, stripped of most of its exploration-related equipment, and sent to the middle of Ur-Quan space on what seems like a suicide mission.
  • Vichy Earth: While Earth itself is wrapped in an impenetrable shield (meaning that it is still independent, but impotent), the starbase left in orbit by the Ur-Quan is very much compliant. It really had little choice, being closely watched by a contingent of Ilwrath and Spathi ships, and requiring regular supply transports from the Hierarchy to stay alive. Everything changes not long after the game begins.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • 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 calls 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.
    • You can lie to the Safe Ones about clearing Spathiwa of "Evil Ones" and have them send their resettlers to be devoured. Repeatedly.
    • You can treat your crewmen as expendable Redshirts when exploring those worlds with hostile conditions and/or lifeforms, and/or fighting enemy ships. Be aware that both planet landers and ships for your fleet are expensive.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
    • If too many people recruited die on your journeys, Hayes will complain about it and crew cost will climb.
    • You can sell crew members into slavery with the Druuge in exchange for various advantages, but if you make a habit of it the cost of hiring new crew will skyrocket.
    • If you sell the Shofixti maidens, then the Shofixti can't be revived, which means the Starship Yehat won't be motivated to revolt, which means you won't have backup at the final battle.
  • Video Game Geography: Explorable planets behave like cylinders — going off one side of the map brings you back on the other side; the top and bottom edge of the map are impassable barriers.
  • The Voiceless: The middle member of the Zoq-Fot-Pik.
  • The Wall Around the World: Slave shields.
  • Warm-Up Boss: Assuming you don't immediately leave the Sol system, your first fight will be against an Ilwrath Avenger with barely a third of its crew and a non-functional cloaking device. Meanwhile, you have a fully-crewed Earthling Cruiser which has homing nukes.
  • Warp Whistle: The QuasiSpace Portal Spawner.
  • 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.
  • We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: The Slylandro probes, due to a slight programming error.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Utwig Bomb. No matter how shiny it looks in your inventory: Don't. Touch. (How bad could it be? It's just a giant bomb, and our scientists urge that if we test it, we be at least 17 parsecs away! What could go wr—)
  • Weaponized Exhaust: The Thraddash ships leave a fiery trail in their wake thanks to their afterburners.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Ur-Quan enslavers insist they do what they must to protect sentient life from genocide, extinction and things... worse than that.
  • Wham Line: The very first line of the game. If you read the game's manual and backstory, it implies that the war is still in progress. Then, when you approach Earth:
    "You are trespassing within Ur-Quan space. This world, Earth, may not be approached for any reason."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Fwiffo is never treated as anything more than a generic ship captain after you recruit him. No more word is said about him after speaking with The Safe Ones, even if you manage to finish the game with him alive (as many players like to do).
    • The fate of the Faz, the very first race to be slave-shielded by the Kzer-Za, is never revealed.
  • What Have I Done: The Slylandro after they realize their "peaceful contact" probes are attacking spacecraft and killing people.
  • 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.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • 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.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Ur-Quan Kohr-Ah
  • Wrap Around: East-west on planet surfaces; in all directions during space battles.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: Attack a Spathi ship while calling them "evil squids", and the captain spends some time protesting that they're actually more like clams.
  • You ALL Look Familiar:
    • 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.
  • You Monster!: The Dnyarri are seen this way. Frankly, it's hard to argue.
    Ur-Quan: 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.

Star Control 3 provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The Kohr-Ah subplot is never explained (save for the implication that the few Kohr-Ah who were brought along as observers radicalised some of the Kzer-Za) or resolved, and has no connection to the rest of the story.
  • Abusive Precursors: The Eternal Ones are believed to seed the galaxies they visit with proto-life after consuming the local sentient life.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: All Ploxis names seem to start with "pl".
  • Alien Animals: The Ortogs, who are mentioned in the previous game's manual, play a much larger role in this game. They are revealed to be the Precursors.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Unlike the nasal, electronically distorted tone of SC2, the voice actor for SC3's Spathi uses a Woody Allen-ish voice.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Xchaggers are repeatedly said to be single-celled organisms, but their physiology shows them to have distinct eyes and a mouth with teeth, both of which are too complex for a single-celled organism. The way they come together to form a culture is likened to mold, which also does not consist of single-celled organisms.
    • Basically everything involving evolution is pretty squishy, right up to the re-evolved Precursor basically describing the principle of evolution as a benevolent god which leads species to higher Evolutionary Levels rather than a survival-based bottleneck.
    • The VUX and the Vyro-Ingo being xenophobic entirely as a result of being a split race that "lost DNA" after being uplifted is pretty bizarre too. It is at least explained that they don't instantly change after their genetic reunification, as cells don't just change overnight.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Apparently all alien languages are relexes (exact word substitutions) of English, as the Precursor tells you that "all races that developed mathematics" had the confusion between "Eternal Ones" and "Eternal1". This would not make any sense for most languages here on Earth, as they have different words for "one" the pronoun and "one" the numeral.
  • As You Know:
    • The first conversation in the game helpfully explains to the Captain that, for example, he was born on Unzervalt. Oh, and by the way, he recruited the Ur-Quan between games.
    • Lampshaded when asking the VUX about their history:
    Admiral DOX: [shouting] You know our history! You were... er, excuse me...
  • At Least I Admit It: The Lk openly admit that they are going to betray you when it suits them, and expect the same of the other races.
  • Brother Chuck: Some of the races from the first two games are nowhere to be found in the story mode. Justified as the races that didn't join the League of Sentient Races are still in their home sector. The Supox and Arilou are the only exceptions, since the Arilou decided to go back to being neutral, with the occasional Mister Exposition conversations. You won't like the Orz after you find out what happened to the Supox, though...
  • But Thou Must!: The VUX will leave the League after a while if you don't throw them out after their various betrayals. They'll rejoin when they've been reunited with the Vyro-Ingo.
  • Call-Back:
    • Plexor's Precursor ship is the Flagship from the previous game.
    • You can say The Words ("Why do you do this thing?") in conversation with the Kohr-Ah.
  • Canon Discontinuity:
    • The creators of the first two games, who had nothing to do with the third, have stated that they don't consider it canon. While the current owners of the rights to the third game (the rights to the first two games are owned by the creators) and the Star Control trademark haven't explicitly said so, they have made statements indicating they agree.
      • That said, some aspects of the story and game are at least close to what Reiche & Ford intended for future development, based on notes they provided; the true nature of the Mycon is one example of this.
    • Stardock, who currently own the "Star Control" trademark, have separated Star Control 3, listed on their Star Control website, into its own universe and retitled it as Star Control: The Kessari Quadrant.
  • The Chessmaster: Plexor.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Plexor and the other Ploxis Plutocrats.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Despite the silly tone of many conversations, this game is a very straight example of the genre. The Eternal Ones, the game's main antagonists, fit all the criteria listed on the Cosmic Horror Story trope page (though the fact that your ship's tech team easily figures out how to improve the efficiency of the Heralds' Sentience Thresher by many orders of magnitude is still a very silly moment).
  • 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.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: The Ur-quan Kzer-Za joined the League after the destruction of the Sa-Matra.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The reunion of the VUX and the Vyro-Ingo features the Vyro-Ingo ship mounting the Intruder with a Tab A in Slot B and their flying away together. All to classical music.
  • 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.
  • Face–Heel Revolving Door:
    • The Spathi defect to The Crux midway through the game, though certain Plot Coupons can be obtained by interrogating them. Once Plexor and, by extension, The Crux are defeated, the Spathi will come crawling back.
    • The VUX, having attacked the Mycon and later either left the League or been thrown out, can later rejoin the League after being genetically reunited with the Vyro-Ingo.
  • 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).
  • Find the Cure!: The Xchagger Plague subplot.
  • Fun with Acronyms: One of the devices you are going to use during the third game is called the Cosmic/Celestial Un-Devolver, or CUD for short. It is used to restore an Ortog, a cow-like creature, to full sentience.
  • Giggling Villain: Plexor, the Plutocrat.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The True Name of the Eternal Ones does this to computers. Not just any computers either — only the most powerful Precursor computers suffer this fate, while lesser ones simply self-destruct.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Plexor exposes the hypocrisy of the League of Sentient Races and the player's role in it.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Many of the enemies from the last game, including the Mycon, the VUX, and the Ur-Quan themselves are now members of The Federation, with varying degrees of sullenness.
  • Humans Are Special: The Precursor tells the Captain that humans have a very high Precursor Potential, if not the highest in the current cycle.
  • Info Dump: Infamously, the Precursor once you un-devolve it.
  • In Name Only: The "Kohr-Ah" that appear in this game are merely Ur-Quan Kzer-Za who have painted themselves black and adopted the Kohr-Ah's doctrine. It does make setting up Ur-Quan colonies a real pain, as every second colony established will defect to the Kohr-Ah, meaning that instead of being able to stock up on supplies, you'll have to face down Marauders.
  • Interface Spoiler: The manual and the early dialogue tell you that the Supox are part of the Kessari expedition. However, there is no Supox icon in your colony ship interface in the orbit screen, and there is no Supox ship in Hyper-Melee either.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: The Ebon Hinge and the Plasma Regroover, both acquired early on in the game. The former is required to complete the Sentience Energy Collector, the device you need to finish the game, while the latter can be used to free the Mycon from their programming and give them true sentience.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: The Ploxis replace their "th"'s (whether voiced or not) with Z's.
  • Lawful Stupid:
    • 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.
  • Machine Monotone:
    • The Chmmr, who are Mechanical Lifeforms.
    • When speaking with the Orz, the translation computer inserts the lingual best-fits in *asterisks* in Machine Monotone.
  • Magic Feather: When they lose the Ultron (again), the Utwig eventually come to the conclusion that the real power was inside of them all along and they don't need it anymore... after you've gone to considerable trouble to get it back.
    Captain: No! Take it! TAKE IT! I DEMAND IT!
  • Manipulative Bastard: The Plutocrats, who else? Divide and conquer is their game.
  • Mirror Boss: Plexor's Precursor vessel has the exact same capabilities in combat (rapid fire missiles and point defence) as the Captain's new vessel, though it resembles the old ship from Star Control II. Of course, the player doesn't necessarily have to engage him using the Colony Ship.
  • Nerf: The Captain's new Precursor vessel, the Colony Ship, comes with dumbfire missiles and an enhanced point defence system. The ship is a lot less versatile than the Precursor vessel from the previous game due to its lack of modular options.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Surrender to an enemy, piss off a plot-critical NPC, piss off the League Ethics Council, wander into a system about to experience interdimensional fatigue, use your ship's computer to decipher the true name of the Eternal Ones, or attempt to join the Crux.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: This is exactly what the Clairconctlar say as you keep pestering them about their history. You need to do so in order to break them out of their servitude.
  • Opening Monologue
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The would-be Kohr-Ah among the Kzer-Za paint themselves black, and not very well.
  • The Power of Friendship: Throughout the game, you need to win allies by helping them, as opposed to your adversaries, the Crux, who enslave other races by using trickery and manipulation. By the end of the game, the vast majority of the quadrant's races are members of the League. Even the Captain mentions in the ending narration that "this is a shared victory on a galactic scale".
  • Press X to Die: You can activate the "True Name of the Eternal Ones" from your inventory after your science officer explicitly warns you not to do that, earning you one of the game's snarkier Game Over screens.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Harika. The Ur-Quan also seem to have evolved into this.
  • The Symbiote: The Harika/Yorn.
  • 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.
  • Rogue Planet: The Owa are one of very few alien races in the franchise whose homeworld can't simply be happened across as you're exploring. That's because your ship's navigation is based on travel from star system to star system, and the Owa inhabit a rogue planet. You can't travel there without coordinates straight from the Owa themselves.

  • Shout-Out:
  • Silly Prayer: The Spathi, Loveable Cowards that they are, have the following daily prayer according to one you find early in the second game: "Oh, God, please don't let me die today? Tomorrow would be so much better!"
  • Simpleton Voice: The Doogs speak in one.
  • Snake Talk: The Lk talk like this.
  • The Spark of Genius: The development of sentient beings, both biological and technological, is apparently guided by the so-called "Precursor Potential", which is a mysterious trait present in a few select individuals (and requires a diverse gene pool to manifest) that drives the whole species forward.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The manual and Stardock's short-lived re-release spell the name of the game's setting as the "Kessari" Quadrant (with one R), while in-game text calls it the "Kessarri" Quadrant (with two R's).
  • This Is a Drill: One of the weapons of the Daktaklakpak Vivisector.
  • This Loser Is You: Watch as the Spathi leader tries to ward off what he believes to be an alien invasion.
  • 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. The Daktaklakpak protest, saying that is the shortened version of their full name.
  • Vicious Cycle: The Eternal Ones' feeding takes place in cycles. First the Eternal Ones need many sentient races to emerge in the galaxy, and then these sentient races get exterminated as the Eternal Ones feed on their "sentience energy".
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: SC3 does this in a particularly heavy-handed way, which contrasts with the freedom the player had in the previous game. Do not attack another sentient race's fleet if it can be avoided, and even if you get insulted, do not return their insults. An unwarranted attack will earn you a reprimand from the League Ethics Council. Three reprimands will force you to step down as Captain of the League, earning you a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: The Eternal Ones' full name is this to the Daktaklakpak. The name contains a full summary of what an Eternal One is (starting with its name, its genetic composition, so on and on), and there is no computing system that can calculate the entire thing. The Daktaklakpak feel compelled to try anyway, and whenever one of them attempts to do so, he explodes.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The Owa speak this.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: The villainous Plexor approves of you for, as he sees it, establishing yourself in an unassailable position of power over the rest of the League of Sentient Races by means of controlling the largest and most dangerous weapon — and the only remaining means of interstellar travel.

Star Control: Origins provides examples of:

  • Aliens Steal Cable: The Tywom first became aware of humanity by intercepting radio transmissions.
    Wymdoo: Honestly? Once we started watching your shows, and writing fan-fiction for your shows, and then taking that fan-fiction a bit too far for your shows... we could hardly just sit back and do nothing!
    • In Wymdoo's Loyalty Mission, you find a crashed Tywom ship that was sent to watch TV broadcasts of another non-spacefaring race.
  • Anal Probing: Mocked in the first encounter, as you can ask Wymdoo whether his species was responsible for it. According to him, it was just a convenient excuse made by some humans who went into the woods and came out walking funny.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • There are now many places to outfit the starship and buy fuel and ships for your fleet, you don't have to always return to Earth for that. Also, crew is free, but you can only obtain crew for the races that are allied with you.
    • If you do run out of fuel, the Tywom will rescue you in short order and haul you back to Earth. You don't have to wait for the Melnorme and then spend money (and perhaps even ship components) on fuel.
    • Planet scanning interface shows how many R Us you can mine there.
    • You can have battles controlled by AI for you.
    • Captain's Log completely averts Now, Where Was I Going Again?.
    • There's a "Sell Conventionals" button that allows you to instantly sell all minerals except radioactive and exotic. This can be frustrating at times though.
    • New patches introduced partial selling of minerals, locking certain minerals from "Sell All" button and reminding the player that they will need a certain quantity of a mineral for quests.
  • But Thou Must!: In some dialogues, all the replies are various ways to say "No".
  • Big Bad: Most of the game is spent gathering a resistance to oppose the tyrannical Scryve empire.
    • Then the Xraki show up with the intent to kill everyone, so obviously your attention turns to them instead.
  • Bootstrapped Theme: The Hyperspace theme of Star Control II — largely that game's most iconic piece of music — has been elevated to the main theme of this game.
  • Centrifugal Gravity: Earth ships, like the Vindicator and basic cruiser, have rotating rings to provide artificial gravity.
  • Continuity Reboot: The universe of Origins shares no story elements and almost no aliens (barring the Precursors, "Mysterious Aliens" that, until the rights were allowed in the court case, remained unnamed but were clearly hinted to be the Arilou, a minor cameo from the Zoq, and Xraki's "Gluttonous Eyes" that seem uncomfortably similar to the Orz with the original Star Control universe.
  • Demoted to Extra: All the races of the main game take a back seat to the machinations of Syndicate and Liberators in the third part of the DLC.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: You can encounter (but not hail) a Xraki starship long before their official introduction.
  • Effortless Achievement: Some of the game's achievements are added very easily. Hell, you get an achievement simply for starting the game.
  • Flat "What": A possible reaction (along with "What?" and "What?!") to the first Tywom you meet calling you "sexy".
    Wymdoo: That's weird. Translation error, probably. That happens sometimes. Anytime we say something weird or uncomfortable, that'll be a translation error.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: During the frictions between two of your allies (to the point that one of them even refuses to talk to you if you bring the other's ships to the encounters), they can still coexist peacefully in your fleet manifest and the Sol system.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • The Gluttonous Eyes mentioned by the Xraki that converted them into their heralds. They may or may not be the Orz.
    • Whatever it is that's coming from the W51 Molecular Cloud and all the minor races are fleeing from. It could possibly the be the Gluttonous Eyes themselves.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: Exiting to the main menu from the game asks if you want to "Abandon humanity?" The option to exit the game on the main menu offers the tooltip "Run, coward, run."
  • Gunship Rescue: At the climax of the main story, after spending the entire game basically being the only person in the galaxy who can get things done, all of your allies show up uninvited to the final battle with the Xraki, clearing the way for you to head straight for the Origin. It's a nice change to be the one being helped for once.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: As in Star Control II, you can name your captain and starship.
  • Humans Are Leaders: Despite having exactly one hyperspace-worthy ship for the majority of the game, humans unite most of the galaxy to fight the Scryve.
  • Humans Are Special: Mocked as part of a Badass Boast by the Scryve, who say that they encountered species similar to humans "every hundred or so years," but have wiped out every single one.
  • Humans Are Superior: Many of the races (even the Scryve) note that humanity has that certain, rare, special spark that makes them candidates to become the next galactic superpower. Whether that's at the the head of The Federation or The Empire is largely up to you.
  • It's Up to You: Justified, since the Vindicator is the most mobile ship in the entire sector (except maybe for the Mysterious Aliens/Arilou) due to Hypergates.
  • Jump Scare: All conversations with the Xraki begin with one. An Xraki jumps up to cling to the camera briefly before settling in at the controls of its starship.
  • The Multiverse:
    • Strongly implied among the more advanced aliens you encounter is that you are in just one of many possible universes, leaving the explanation open that the familiar races of the old Star Control games exist in another. The Precursors are also suggested to be the same species in both continuities.
    • The Multiverse DLC comes with an editor that allows players to construct their own aliens, ships, and even game scenarios, the idea being that any mods created with this editor are taking place in other universes.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The first couple of hours of gameplay are quite similar to the beginning of Star Control 2: meeting a weird alien, having to procure uranium from somewhere in the Sol system, meeting and destroying an enemy ship.
    • There is an out-of-the-way star system called "Fwiffo".
    • You can encounter a world with ruins belonging to the Ktang, a species from Star Control 3. In Origins, however, they were wiped out long before ever achieving spaceflight, courtesy of the Phamysht.
    • You can encounter a small colony of Pik... as in the Zoq-Fot-Pik from Star Control 2. In this universe the three were not able to cooperate (due to rampant cheating at Frungy) and did not exterminate the Zebranky, leading to the Pik abandoning the homeworld and becoming refugees.
    • A small colony of Zoq can be found on another planet. They tell almost exactly the same story, but insist that it was the Pik, not them, cheating at Frungy.
    • Game files indicate that the Mysterious Aliens were intended to be the Arilou, and the Maelnir traders were meant to be the Melnorme. However, due to the legal dispute between Stardock and the original games' writers, they had to change the names and character designs. Once the legal dispute was settled, the Mysterious Aliens were re-named to the Arilou.
    • There's a species called Verezi. No word if they're somehow related to Keel-Verezy from Star Control 2 though.
    • One Maelnir mentions The Crimson Corporation (aka the Druuge) as being active in another region of the galaxy.
  • Nostalgia Level: Hyperspace in general, complete with remixed music from the original.
  • Planet of Hats: The Scryve deliberately genetically engineer their "ward species" to be that.
  • Portal Network: The Precursor starbases you encounter in hyperspace have a feature called "hypergates" that allow free and instantaneous travel to any other Precursor starbase you have previously encountered.
  • Product Placement: There's a crashed Tesla car on one of the moons of the Sol system. (Albeit not without reason.)
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The Precursor starbases still retained most of their functionality after being shut down for 205,000 years.
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: Not the captain themselves, but their XO. If you lose a lander on the planet, he doesn't die; however, if your lander finds something of interest, it's always he who leads the landing party.
  • Ship Tease: The Captain and Star Control commander can have several flirty interactions, but it ultimately doesn't go anywhere.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There are planets named Gallifrey, Trenzalore and Brantisvogon.
    • The stories you can tell the Phamysht during the dinner party are retellings of Die Hard, The Catcher in the Rye and Harry Potter.
    • The Precursor databases look physically a whole lot like the insides of HAL 9000.
    • There is mention of another alien power out there known as the Covenant, who are expected to make contact with humanity within the century.
    • Star Trek gets a couple, naturally. The "Away Crew" and "Red Shirts" achievements for landing successfully on a planet and losing a lander after landing, 'Boldly Going Somewhere' for entering hyperspace the first time, and naming yourself Kirk nets you the "Copycat" secret achievement. There are also a number of planets and systems referencing Star Trek — system Wolf 359 in particular is one big Star Trek reference, fromthe system name itself, to pretty much every single planet and moon being a reference to different series in the universe — McCole, Locutus and Futile, Sisko's Revenge, and Klokx.
  • Take That!:
    • A friendly one towards Star Control II. "Other universes are just like ours, only in lower resolution".
    • The aforementioned crashed Tesla roadster is either this or a bit of realistic outcomes, depending on your views.
  • 20 Bear Asses: Several times, you are tasked to procure a certain amount of various minerals.
  • Uncanny Valley: When Overmind-controlled Trandals speak, their mouths either don't move at all or mismatch completely with what they say.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: As of current version, it's possible to soft-lock yourself during the Pinthi quest. If you infect yourself, don't have enough superfluids and not enough crew to dispatch a lander to collect them, you can't progress further.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: There are several hints dropped that there is something really nasty heading for this area of the galaxy... and the Scryve are not that threat.
    • The Mysterious Aliens/Arilou refer to other threats out there, and mention that humanity made it to hyperspace "almost too late". They later clarify that no, the Xraki are NOT the other threats they were referring to.
    • The Norast and the Maelnir both claim that "this section of the galaxy will be up in flames before long", but don't specify why they think this. Both the Liberators and the Syndicate also indicate that something is obliterating entire civilizations and is heading this direction. Whatever it is, they claim "not even information seems to escape from it".
    • The Lexites detected something coming from the W51 star cluster and their reaction was to flee as fast as they possibly could in the opposite direction.
    • Jeff mentions that one reason he doesn't want to stick around is an impending threat, and humanity should "learn how to slip between layers of reality" sooner rather than later. Consider that Jeff considers the Scryve Empire a cute and hilariously non-threatening entity to himself.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Scryve seem to be moving towards that territory. There have been several rebellions against them that have yet to be put down, and their response to the threat of humanity rallying other civilizations against them is really pretty half-hearted. It's later shown, however, that the bulk of their military is engaged with a different enemy on the other side of their empire.
    • As of the fourth part of the DLC, some of them have more or less acknowledged the humans as the governing force in the sector and even try to cooperate with them. There are also, however, factions within the Scryve that still want to annihilate humanity.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential
    • You can kill (instead of stunning) critters on the planets, picking up "Critter Meat" after that.
    • The Menkmack's idea for a joke is to sell fake potential colony locations to the Mu'Kay. You can join the "fun" and even get a reward from the Menkmack.
    • You can offer your crew members to Phamysht to be eaten as an alternative to combat.
    • Also, you can leave your allies' worlds to be destroyed by the Xraki in the late game.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Due to the legal battle over the IP, this is in play. Effectively, Stardock has the Star Control name, Toys for Bob has the rights to all of the aliens species. Thus the Continuity Reboot and Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of the Arilou. These disputes were settled and the "Mysterious Aliens" inroduce themselves as the Ariloulaleelay.
  • You All Look Familiar: Lampshaded multiple times, once by a Free Trandal who says that "for convenience, all intrasystem communication is routed through my ship", and also by the the Mukay in a less hand-wavey way, as they claim it's the result of the in-universe characters being more prone to seeing only what makes aliens different from their own species. Played straight by almost everyone else, but averted with Tywom, who have several distinct (if unnamed) characters with their own backgrounds and voices.

Alternative Title(s): Star Control II, Star Control 3, The Ur Quan Masters, Star Control II The Ur Quan Masters, Star Control 2, Star Control Origins