Star Control 3


#1

Okay, can of worms here. Sorry in advance.

I played Star Control 1 religiously on my Sega Genesis, having no idea it was the bastardized offspring of a fancy-schmancy computer game. Its Galactic Conquest (or whatever) mode was probably my first TBS experience ever and it was enchanting as hell. I daresay that it and Rampart are the last two games I was playing on my Genesis before finally packing it away in the mid-to-late-90s.

So, I get myself a hot-to-trot actual Windows computer for Christmas in 1996, and some months later, while wandering around the computer games aisles of a Louisiana Electronics Botique or Software, Etc. (don't honestly remember), I see Star Control 3. I'm not kidding: my draw dropped. I had to have it and begged and pleaded till I got it.

I went home, installed it, and played it. . . for hours. Then days. Then finally got stuck. I walked away for a bit, then restarted and played more. A lot more. And got stuck again.

The cycle continued for 2-3 years till I found out about internet game guides and managed to finally get past the stickier puzzles and finish the game.

And through it all, I loved that damn game. I thought the characters were quirky and even sometimes funny. The ships were like cooler, high-rez versions of all the awesome ships I used to tool around in on my Sega. The strategic game had been expanded and improved massively and the planet bases had Actual Factual Cool Graphics!

The puzzles were (to me, at the time), tough, but engaging. The plot was fascinating: it sounded like some cool stuff had happened in SC2 (picking up where my much-abused manual for Star Control 1 had left off, plot-wise), but SC3 was more than full of its own twists and turns. The rainbow planets leading the way, warp bubble tech, a whole slew of new, nasty aliens to beat, and the return (?) of the Precursors! Wow, too cool, man.

Now, keep in mind. . . I was relatively young at the time. Early teens at best; I'm not perfectly sure when I actually bought the game. And obviously I'd missed the Wondrous Glory that was SC2 completely. But I found SC3 to be this fantastic mix of the comedic point-n-click adventuring of Monkey Island with the science fiction space battle-ry of the oldschool Star Control game for Genesis, and I couldn't be happier with it.


So, I guess all of this is a long and roundabout way of asking: does anyone here agree that Star Control 3 might actually be a good, or entertaining, or funny, or enjoyable game? I recognize, after reading it 10,000 times, that it's obviously a bad sequel and a poor successor to a much-beloved classic. . . but taken on its own. . . would anyone else here say it's good?

Or am I just crazy?


P.S. - I still haven't beaten SC2. The damned mining and fighting mini-games and fuel management are way too finicky and hard for me, so I just die, or get stranded and then die.


Stardock owns Star Control and is planning an "XCOM-like" reboot
#2

you have to find people who never played SC2 to play SC3...

because anyone who actually played SC2 think SC3 is a pile of crap.


#3

I almost hope that such a person comes in so I can make them play 3 first, then ;)


#4

Someone who'd never seen or heard of the Godfather movies might watch Part 3 and think, gee, that wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen. It was the fact that it was a horrible, canon-destroying travesty of a sequel to a beloved game that has caused everyone to erase it from gaming's collective consciousness.


#5

I liked SC3.
The new alien races were interesting and unique in many ways, the storyline was creative and the contact with the precursors was an acceptable solution to the trope.

However, even not comparing it to SC2 there are certain parts that were simply very poorly done. The combat AI for instance.


#6

Maybe this is why I like it. I am actually super-awful at StarCon-style combat. I am literally rendered helpless by Geometry Wars, for a modern analogue.


#7

When I worked at Babbages, my manager loved SC3 and never played any of the other games. He was always recommending the game to customers, and only half of them ended up returning it. Those that did keep it used to come in and have long, involved discussions with him about it. So you aren't alone.


#8

I don't. I played SC2 most of the way through but didn't finish it. (I tend to not finish games.) I played SC3 all the way through I think 3 times or so. I enjoyed it. But I always enjoyed the story stuff of SC2, not so much the arcade game portion of it.

I did miss the Orz though. And the battle music/sound effects for the Pkunk.


#9

Amen.


#10

I liked SC3, and only played it after SC2.
(For me, SC1 was the one I never played.)

But it's similar to how I liked X-Com Apocalypse, it's required to make a certain "mental disconnect" to the previous game(s) to enjoy SC3 - if you expect SC2 improved, that's obviously a recipe for disappointment.
In my book, SC3 is nowhere near the level of "let's pretend it never happened" fail as, for example, Master of Orion 3.
It's a solid game. But SC2 is a true classic, and thus the two games are just not in the same ballpark.


rezaf


#11

I agree with this. I remember feeling that SC3 was definitely not as good as SC2 (I did notice that it was made by different developers), but I wasn't as Internet-rage-angry as everyone seems to get nowadays. Not in the same league as SC2, but, as you said, far from the travesty that was MOO3...


#12

Yeah, I agree as well. I was in the same boat. I loved SC2 so much, and waited for SC3 for so many years so eagerly. I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't let down, but I didn't want to ever pretend that the game didn't exist either. I definitely had an exciting time early on in the game.

Remember when you could build colonies in that game and actually start building structures on each colony that you thought mattered? Remember when you didn't know that the enemy AI was much poorer in combat than in the previous game? Remember when you first saw the muppet version of the alien races and thought it was a strange choice but you went with it?

And then I found out slowly that the AI was very easily exploitable in battle. And that some of the newer ships, while fun, were really imbalanced and we had to agree never to use them in hyper-melee mode against each other. And that colonies had absolutely no point because none of the enemies ever tried to retake the systems or anything interesting like that. There were just so many game systems that didn't hold together as well, and while that seed of disappointment in my gut started to grow and grow as I played, I did get to the end of the game before it blossomed into a full grown heartbreak. It helped that I liked the twist at the end on who the Precursors were, and even though that might not be what the makers of the first two games intended (as I found out years later), it still fit with everything we knew at the time.

Of course, my disappointment with the game was kind of an isolated disappointment. I even hesitated on mentioning it to my brother, who had played the game through with me. And then when I mentioned it, he was relieved and admitted that he was really disappointed in the game too but didn't want to say anything negative to ruin my enjoyment (I'd done the same for him). This was before it ever occurred to me that anyone might have an opinion on a game on the internet. Back then I used the internet to look up Chemistry and Biology information, not to look up leisure activities.

Years later, when I did look up Star Control 2 on the internet, it was a real joy finding out that there were so many people out there who LOVED the game as much as I did. By that time, I'd really put Star Control 3 long behind me. It's not that I wanted to forget that it existed or anything, but it's not a good enough game to evoke real passion and love like the second one is.


#13

Half! Is that a flippant statistic? I've only returned two games in my life, and both for installation or broken game errors, and even then the staff would make me install it on a store computer to prove my claim.


#14

I liked the Dak-tak. I always wanted to get their dialog audio files. Just the way they argued "Logically" and insulted you at the same time.


#15

I liked SC3. SC2 was a much better game but there was a lot of good in SC3 also... Honestly SC2 would have been hard to top.


#16

I played SC, SC2, and SC3, and finished both SC2 and SC3.

I disagree with the statement that SC3 was "a pile of crap." The truth is somewhat more nuanced: it was vaguely disappointing compared to SC2. The writing was less subtle. The jokes weren't as good. The overall arc of the game was less ambitious. The reveal with the precursors was stupid. And the things that they spent time and effort on (like the stop-motion animation or whatever it was) weren't enough of an improvement over the 2D art to justify them.

But it was not "a pile of crap" in the way that, say, MOO3, or Black and White were. I enjoyed it enough to finish it.


#17

Vindication at last!

I dunno, it just had this ineffable goofiness to it that I loved at that age. The more traditional visuals in SC2 don't quite sell the low-rent, oddball nature of it quite as well.

At the end of it all, I almost can't help but wonder if StarCon3 isn't a lot like a really enjoyable B-movie. The aliens are laughable looking, the dialogue is more than a little hokey, and most of the situations are weird at best, nonsensical at worst (the galaxy was built by cows!). The fact that some parts of it suffered (nonexistant AI, game systems only partially implemented, typical "click-things-till-one-works" puzzle-solving) strikes me as more of a budgetary limitation than poor design in a realistic sense.

I mean, Wikipedia states (no idea how accurately) that Toys For Bob didn't take up SC3 because Accolade wasn't going to give them a real budget to work with. In a lot of ways, it feels like Remedy acknowledged that limitation and made a point of reveling in it.

I dunno, all of this has me sort of hankering it play it again. I sort of miss those goofy little teddy bear monks and the symbiotic villain dual-race and all the other weird crap in that game.


#18

While it totally may be a happy accident, I’m not sure the oddball look you’re talking about in SC3 was deliberate. I think they actually thought it would look cool and slick.

I personally thought the weird claymation style used for the aliens in conversation was extremely offputting. And as peterb pointed out, the writing was just far too obvious – I think it was this problem more than anything else that was responsible for the lack of “magic” that SC3 had compared to SC2. Far too much telling, not enough showing.

About the only thing I liked about SC3 was the updated combat. I appreciated that they added a zoom out, instead of the “snap” zoom that SC2 had, and I liked having a new pool of ships to draw from.

If I were you, Armando, I’d give SC2 another try. There are ways to get around having to spend a lot of time mining.


#19

I tried this game several times when I was younger but it never really clicked with me. I never seemed to grasp the colony building portion of the game, or it was simply too hands off for me. The upgrade and resource system from SC2 gave you a compelling reason to explore, whereas in SC3... again, it just didn't click. Maybe I should go back and determine what exactly put me off the game.

The writing was definitely not as good, either.