Hope y’all don’t mind a third strategy game in a row, but at least this one is real-time! Well, kinda.
What is Startopia? A light-hearted tycoon/RTS/space station simulator released in 2001 by Mucky Foot, which included devs from Bullfrog (Dungeon Keeper). And unlike the previous two Classic Game choices (Civ IV and Master of Magic), Startopia is one of those games that I have never made the effort to really delve in to, despite its great reputation. Maybe that’s true of others here. Perhaps better described by a fan site as:
Set in a fantasy sci-fi future, you play the part of a space station administrator operating in a galactic civilisation ravaged by a recent space war. The action takes place in a spectacular and unusual game environment - the interior of a huge, torus shaped spinning space station. Inside, you are trying to develop and maintain a utopian environment for nine alien species, each with their own skills, personalities and foibles: a Startopia. The recent war has wrecked planets and destroyed ecosystems; its up to you to help rebuild interstellar civilisation and provide a home for the dispossessed.
Quite simply, Startopia does an excellent impression of a bustling space station. It feels like an actual place.
You can play to win, or you can use it like an ant farm in Sandbox Mode, poking it with a stick and watch it burble away in its own simulated world forever. This is a free wheeling, do-anything-you-like scenario where you can run the default game with whatever conditions and objectives that you like.
You get to stop plagues, reform criminals (as distinct from just summarily executing them - although you get to do that too) provide amusements and remedies from the sacred to the profane, and do the usual expand and conquer.
You create the right rooms, equip them with the necessary equipment and then hire the appropriate aliens from your population who run them with very little direct interaction at all. To keep and maintain your workforce, essential services must be provided: sanitation, food, accommodation, medical facilities, recreation; even a bit of love and religion on the side. The main function of the Station is to accommodate the hordes of passing space travelers and keep them entertained so you can part them with their money. Add space rats, space plagues, errant meteorites, giant killer bugs and, of course, other Station Administrators and this becomes a cool little game.
(GoG version installs to 1.01; I assume Steam version does as well but I don’t own that).
Note: I have not tested either the unofficial patch nor the widescreen mod. Playing just at 1.01.
Unofficial patch 1.02
Archive of Mucky Foot FAQs
Post Mortem Feature by Keiron Gillen: