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Video Game / Star*Drive

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StarDrive is a real-time 4X Sci-Fi Strategy Game, developed by Zero Sum Games, published by Iceberg Interactive, and released in April 2013. The 2015 sequel StarDrive 2 is a turn-based 4X strategy with real-time space battles, a bit like Total War in space.

In 2016, the sequel also received a DLC named Sector Zero, which doubled the maximum galaxy size from 100 star systems to 200, along with diving the galaxy into hexagonal sectors and adding the ability to construct space stations and such to fortify the key points of those sectors, as well as the alternate ways of winning the game.

The original game was popular for its fun ship combat, cool alien designs and extremely in-depth ship design system. However it was criticized for being content-light and unpolished. The second game looks to add much more content and polish, while keeping the things that made the first game great, and adding some new features such as Leaders which you can hire to govern your colonies. At its core, both games are the same: Start out with one planet and some ships, and use that to build an empire. Also: Samurai Space Bears.


No relation to the anime Star Driver, or to the campaign setting for tabletop game Alternity.

This game provides examples of:

  • 2-D Space: The way space is rendered in both games.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Cordrazine are Economists with some Diplomats thrown in.
    • Draylok are Espionage faction though they are decent with diplomacy and research as well.
    • Humans are the Balanced faction - they have bonuses to production, research, and income (and a nifty spaceship to start with), with no glaring weakness.
    • Kulrathi are Elitists, with bonuses to ship HP and ground combat.
    • Opteris are Industrialists.
    • Pollops are Balanced and Economists, having bonus population growth and decreased maintenance and food consumption.
    • Ralyeh are Researchers, with a science boost and a few minor bonuses.
    • Vulfen are Spammers and Industrialists, being extremely fertile and able to build things quickly, as well as gaining bonuses from nearby friendly units. Individually though, theis ships are rather weak.
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  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Draylok envoy appear to you as the busty purple-skinned humanoids you see on the cover, similar to Sireen or Asari. Watch them long enough, however, and the hologram generated by their chair will occasionally slip, revealing something quite different.
  • A Planet Named Zok: Both averted and played straight. For example, Pollops hail from the planet Sporl.
  • All Planets Are Earth-Like: Averted. There are uncolonizable Gas Giants, Barren planets with no atmosphere which you need special domes to colonize, and in the second game: asteroid colonies.
  • Beam Spam: There's a large variety of beam weapons, and since you can design your own ships...
  • Beast Man: Several races, like the obviously named Vulfen or the bear-like Kulrathi.
    • Bears Are Bad News: Kulrathi are a race of bear-like warrior-poets.
    • Fish People: Cordrazine are giant, intelligent, mind-controlling molluscs.
    • Wolf Man: Vulfen are a race of aggressive, wolf (or bat) like humanoids.
  • BFG: Some weapons at the end of the Tech Tree are bigger then many smaller ships.
  • Bug War: Opteris are a race of (usually) hostile, cybernetic insects. Chukk are a race of insectoid slaver-pirates.
  • Cloning Blues: You can research cloning later in the game.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: Usually played straight, though you can assign an AI governor to help you.
  • Cool Ship: You can easily design one.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Tweaking your ship or race design too much can result in this.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: Averted - when you make a federation with an AI civilisation, all their units and planets come under your control.
  • Cthulhumanoid: Ralyeh.
  • Descriptively-Named Species: Owlwoks, who looks like a cross between owls and Ewoks. Also, Vulfen, who are quite wolf-like.
  • Deflector Shields: A crucial way of protecting your ships.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment: One of the game's strongest points.
  • The Empire: Vulfen Empire.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Ships can fly anywhere, but they go faster on space lanes. In the second game ships can still fly anywhere, but they will use up fuel outside your territory.
  • The Federation: Human government is known as the 'United Federation'.
  • Four X Game: In real time, no less, which is a rarity. The second game is turn-based on the strategy/galaxy map, but has real time space battles.
  • Galactic Conqueror: Obviously, you can become one. In fact, this was the only way to win the whole game until the sequel's Sector Zero DLC introduced alternatives, such as a technological victory, or winning through the combined point total.
  • Gameplay Automation: You can assign an AI governor to a planet.
  • Glamour Failure: This happens to Draylok envoys if you watch them for long enough, as their holo-chair occasionally hiccups. See A Form You Are Comfortable With above.
  • Glass Cannon: If you 'forget' to add armor and shields to your ship.
  • Guide Dang It!: The "tutorial" is pretty much nonexistent, forcing players to learn as they go. It's designed to be easy to learn, but it still throws you straight into it without much help. The second game looks to improve on this by adding a tutorial / help feature and a metric ton of tooltips.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Subverted with Drayloks - a combination of mind-reading and holo-chairs help them look like this for humans, but their real form is that of an emaciated lizard-like humanoid.
  • Hive Mind: The Opteris are linked into one.
  • Humans Are Average: At least, they have no glaring weaknesses.
  • Humans Are Diplomats: Averted, along with Humans Are Warriors - if anything, Star Drive's humans are production-oriented race, with bonuses to industry, income and research.
  • Humanoid Aliens: Draylok, who have the appearance of Sireen clones, much like Mass Effect'''s asari. Unlike those two, however, that appearance isn't their true form, but merely A Form You Are Comfortable With, determined through mind-reading and created via holo-chairs.
  • Insectoid Aliens: : Opteris, race of intelligent, cybernetic insects.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: A wide variety including Rocket Launchers, Missile Turrets and Torpedo Tubes. Since you design the ships, you could have a ship that lays down massacre after massacre.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: Opteris, race of intelligent, cybernetic insects.
  • More Dakka: You've a nice variety of guns, ranging from your simple point defense cannon all the way up to your triple barreled BFG. With being able to design your own ships, this can occur.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Drayloks' true forms. Also, Vulfen.
  • Named After Their Planet: Played straight with Cordrazine, Kulrathi, Opteris and Vulfen. Averted with Pollops, Ralyeh and Humans. Possibly played straight with Drayloks (who hail from Drellok).
  • Narcissist: Cordrazine are obsessed with beauty, and consider themselves the epitome of it.
  • Point Build System: You can build your own race in such a manner.

  • Precursors: Aptly-named Remnants are the robotic remainders of an ancient alien race.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Kulrathi. Also Vulfen, though they aren't really that proud - just warlike.
  • Random Event: Another staple of 4X games.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Thoroughly averted.
  • Samurai: Kulrathi are heavily inspired by Hollywood Medieval Japan.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Ralyeh, of the fundamentalist variety.
  • Settling the Frontier: It's only the beginning, though.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous.
    • There are Owlwoks, who look like cross between owls and Ewoks.
    • There's also a race of Cthulhumanoids going by the name Rayleh, and worshiping 'the Elder god'.
    • There are some Shout Outs to the Master of Orion series as well. The Kulrathi are a pretty obvious one to the Bulrathi, for example.
      • Doubles as a shout-out to the Kilrathi as well.
    • One of the Steam achievements for the game is a reference to the Honor Harrington series. Rather fittingly note , it is awarded for launching a salvo of 100 or more missiles in combat.
    • Most of the heros are shouts outs to some pop culture character, examples include Rambowl, Zapp Groening, and Blaster, Master Engineer
  • Single-Biome Planet: Aptly-named desert and ice worlds.
  • Slave Race: Owlwoks to Cordrazine.
  • Space Marine: The generic land trooper of United Federation.
  • Starfish Aliens: Cordrazine. They look like big, betentacled one-eyed... things, hanging from the ceiling.
  • Tech Tree: Divided into 6 subcategories.
  • Terraform: Every colonisable planet can be terraformed.
    • Although actual terraforming is a very late game invention.
  • Ursine Aliens: Kulrathi are an archetypal example. Notably, their culture, while blatantly styled after Samurai-era Japan, to the point their form of government is "Shogunate", is far more advanced than associated with the trope. In particular, their lore states that their cities are built vertically so that they wouldn't disturb the surrounding wildlife.
  • Worker Unit: Freighters act as this.