Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters

Made by Accolade, released in 1992

Allying with Starbase



Current Zar note: I did this LP in 2006! Still figuring out exactly how in-depth I wanted to go into with these... I left my write-up mostly unchanged.




SO like I said before, I wanted to do another screencap adventure. Thinkin about what to do, I decided that the game that the least amount of you out there have played is probably Star Control 2. Star Control 2 is also one of my absolute favorite games ever, so I thought it would work well for this.

I can't really even put into words how much I love Starcon2. The intense, complex world behind the scenes of Starcon2 is something that I still admire to this very day. The amount of detail and history poured into every alien race to me is what every scifi thing should have. I think Starcon2 shaped a lot of how I approach stories and my sense of humor, and it definitely had a huge effect on my taste in music. I love this game to pieces, I swear to god.

The problem is that this game is hugely text based. As opposed to Phantasmagoria, I can't take a random screenshot and summarize cause a lot of the fun of this game is the way the dialogue appears and how the jokes are delivered. I tried to cut down on my screencapping, but lo and behold, I only visit the Pkunk, the Spathi, and the Orz and I've taken over 900 screenshots.

SO.

Despite the fact that these screenshots are strangely small, I don't think people would look very favorably on an entry with some 900 pictures. So I've broken it up into smaller pieces so far. Considering how fanatically I screencap everything in this game, it'll probably be broken up into what species I meet at what period.

For this installment, we're going to hit the very beginning of the game. For those who have played through it before, we're going to do the first missions to get the Starbase Commander to ally with you. This will include lots of screencaps (about 130) and music, as SC2 without music is a sad sad thing.

The problem here is that this is not the full experience of Star Control 2. I strongly recommend playing the game yourself because it is fifty billion times FANTASTIC, but I'm pretty sure no one will do that. BUT IF SOME PEOPLE WILL you can find a copy of the original DOS version here. HOWEVER there is this project recently that is planning on reworking Starcon2 to work on modern systems called The Ur-Quan Masters. UQM will work MUCH easier than the DOS version, which is strangely temperamental even in DOSbox, so if you're gonna go for it and don't wanna put in a lot of effort, go for UQM. If you're HARDCORE go for the DOS version.

ALSO if you're playing the dos version, you will run into the incredibly annoying copy protection. Some of you out there might be like "What's copy protection?" and the thought of people not knowing what that is makes me weep that they were spared the pain. Copy protection was what old games used to try and protect themselves from being copied and distributed. WE ALL KNOW HOW THAT TURNED OUT but they were a really irritating little thing to get around, especially if you DID buy a real legit copy of the game and then just happened to lose the manual or included map or whatever and therefore could never play it again.

Case in point, me and Alex lost the map for Starcon2's copy protection when we were younger and we spent many frustrated months unable to play it. We were so desperate that when it loaded the copy protection screen, we put in the one constellation that we knew until it let us in, then began writing down constellation coordinates BY HAND.

But with the advent of the internet, it's not hard to get a copy of the Starcon2 map. In fact, here's a link to the map right now, courtesy The Pages of Now and Forever, the best SC2 resource on the net.

SO anyway let's get this started. Star Control 2 is one of those old games that does not use a mouse. Believe it or not, you barely notice. I think this is a problem for DOSbox, as whenever I hit ctrl to take a screencap, it counted me as pressing enter. What this means is that there are some things that I couldn't/can't screencap very easily. Sadly, the intro is one of these things, and the intro is this fantastically stirring thing that is so great aaagh.

Here's the intro music for the game. I wish I could take screencaps so you could see what goes with it because it's amazing and fantastic and explains a lot of things. This is in MOD format, which is what the original soundtrack to SC2 was done in, if I recall correctly. Most modern music players SHOULD be able to play MODs, and if not I bet there are plug-ins that you can download.

Basically, the Ur-Quan want to kill/enslave everyone. A bunch of Aliens (the old Alliance) disagree. The Ur-Quan win the war and slaughter/enslave them. START GAME.

These screencaps are much smaller than the Phantasmagoria ones. I wonder why that is? OH WELL.

Ah, we begin. This is Sol, the system where Earth is. The first thing you do is rename your ship and captain. I blanked on a good name for my starship so it's just called the Wheeha. Alex used to name it after his initials which actually worked pretty good, as his initials sounded good together.

Anyway, most solar systems are laid out like this. The music that plays for this is calming and very pretty. I don't have a MOD for it, but I do have an mp3 of it.

Solar System (Right Click Save As)

I like how the planets situated. It's hard to see with this tiny screenshot tho. Again I recommend playing the game yourself.

My ship is the earliest ship so far, so it moves very slowly and turns horribly. You can see one ship beside the larger one on the right there. You can have various ships on your side to help you fight your battles, as well as upgrade your main flagship as time requires.

As you move closer, the camera zooms in on you.

Aha, here's Earth! Note that lovely red glow? Also red thing coming my way.

THE UR-QUAN! The Ur-Quan are your prime antagonists in this, and they have more depth than you might expect although I won't get into it right now. We'll get to that later with the specific entries for them and the Kohr-Ah. They've got a lot going on, haha. God the Ur-Quan music is fantastic.

Here's the MOD.
Here's the Mp3. They're very close. Some of the mp3s don't match the original MOD very closely, but this one does.
The UQM remix! Has an interesting knife kind of noise going on
Pablo remix, a bit more low-key without the guitar kind of feel.
Erol Otus version, with a new pipe organ main instrument
An OCRemix, The Path of Now and Never! A long, sinister, dark metal take on the theme that's SO COOL

Well, to be specific, it's the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za. More on that later, I suppose. Their music is so imposing and dramatic AGH I LOVE IT SO.

Here's a large, hi-quality GIF of how the Ur-Quan looks when it's idling and when it's talking to you.

I'll let the conversation play out.

ANYWAY now that the Ur-Quan has wandered off to do evil, let's go visit the starbase!

You can barely see the Starbase Commander here, but god do I love the music for it.

Here's the MOD.

There are a few versions of the Starbase Commander theme out there. You spend a LOT of time at the Starbase, so this makes sense.

MP3 version of the Starbase Commander theme which is very close to the MOD.
Here's a remix that is pretty close but also features a deliciously piercing synth
Here's another remix, courtesy the UQM remixing project. UQM is working on remixing all of the original songs. I think the original Starbase Commander theme is so deeply hidden in this one that it's hard to recognize.

Here's where you get your first dialogue option. By the way, I recommend you guys out there pay attention to dialogue options cause a LOT of them are rather silly. It can be easy to miss since these screencaps are so small.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. There below the ship on the right is a small oscilloscope. It just goes along with the music currently playing.

I snipped some stuff inbetween these two things. Basically they need supplies.

Snipped more stuff about how the starbase works (reactor core stuff, all very techtalk)

If you ask him where to find the radioactive elements, he suggests Mercury. True enough, there are radioactive materials there, but the planet is also EXTREMELY MURDEROUS and there's a good chance of your lander getting destroyed seconds upon landing there. Knowing this, I know there's another planet in the solar system that is much safer to mine.

Aha. Note the tectonics and the weather. Those are very big deals because those determine the frequency of earthquakes and lightning strikes, both of which can fry your lander really quick. Also temperature determines whether there are lots of trails of flame that will burn your lander to cinders.

I strangely did not take screencaps of the actual landing mineral gathering process. Eh, next time. Mostly, if you're playing this legit, you'll be spending A LOT OF time mining for various minerals to sell at Starbase.

Mining minerals and selling them is a huge part of the game, and it's the part that Dad liked the most. The music that plays is hypnotic and it's very easy to just get into a kind of trance while doing it. It's still Dad's favorite track from the game.

Here's the MOD for it. It's a short song, but I could listen to it for ages.
Here's the mp3, very close
Here's the UQM remix, also very close

Anyway back to base!

Hehehehe.

Here's a big quality gif of the Starbase Commander talking and idling.

I like the idea of replying to that question with "I need to ask a few things."

Anyway, skipped some stuff. Basically just explained that I came in my big honking Precursor ship to save everyone. Hayes is intrigued because being a slave sucks. He asks why I'm not all slaveshielded like Earth is, and I explain about the whole mission to Vela. For those who didn't watch the intro, basically near the end of the war a science mission went to a far off star called Vela and managed to escape getting slaveshielded with the rest of the humans. Thus where the Captain grows up and where this big honking Precursor ship comes from.

Aha, that's why that remix is called Corridor Nine!

Anyway blah blah Hayes says he's not convinced unless you go check out the base on the Moon.

Not sure why I took this one, okay.

Off to the moon!

Note that small square where the oscilloscope was? That's where it shows your Lander doing things. That's where you navigate your Lander and such. You can shoot out little stungun things and pick up minerals and also your lander can blow up very easily. These little bulldozer things are harmless.

Aha, the base!

This is a tragedy. Because of the ctrl problem, I can't take screencaps of reports from the Lander, which means some of the better lines are gone. It's a shame, really. Especially later with the Androsynth ruins. I'll transcribe those later I guess.

Hayes: Well, I'll be #$^#ed.

At that point Hayes expresses some more reservations.

OH NOES

Ah, the Ilwrath. Their ships are more irritating than anything else, and usually you can minimize your contact with em if your careful. Their music is great, very ominous. Also you can have lots of fun with them later. Hehehehe.

Here's the MOD.
Here's the mp3, very close to the original
Here's the UQM remix in OGG format, pretty recognizable

Dogar and Kazon are the Ilwrath's twin dark gods of death and destruction. The Ilwrath are constantly sacrificing and killing things for them.

Hi-quality animated GIFs of Ilwrath talking and idling!

Anyway.

I love this game so much.

And it's off to Melee mode!

Melee mode is seriously one of the most fun things about Starcon2. It comes with a Supermelee mode where you just battle each other and IT'S GREAT. Me and Alex spent HOURS battling eachother. Sheena too. In fact, we made friends with people by inviting them to play Melee with us. Anthony comes to mind. I wonder where he is, that reminds me.

Anyway, problem is that the flagship is ungainly and slow right now and pretty much sucks, and Earthling Cruisers (yes, the ship that looks like it's from Star Trek, that's deliberate) pretty much suck. Your mileage may vary but to me they suck.

Don't have much of a choice. Cruiser it is!

The melee screen. Those little pictures of each alien race move according to whatever direction you press. You press left, your little thing in the icon does SOMEthing to indicate that it's turning left. Those little animated pictures are great. Anyway. Battery is what powers your weapons. Some things cost a ton of Battery (to use current examples, the Earthling Cruiser's nukes take a good chunk of battery) and some species don't regenerate Battery very well or at all. There are two weapons that you can use, primary and special. for the Cruiser, the primary is the auto-tracking nukes, and the secondary is the pointlaser defense system, which would only come into play against space marines or if someone got real close to the ship.

For the Ilwrath, their primary weapon is a flamethrower, and their secondary is the ability to cloak themselves, which is irritating but easy to get around if you know how. Crew, obviously, is how many hitpoints your ship has.

The melee music is great. I never got tired of it, no matter how many times me and Alex battled eachother repeatedly.

Here's the original MOD
Here's the mp3, very close
Here's a remix by Kumiorava, pretty close to the original
Here's the UQM remix of it, also pretty close to the original

As you get closer to your enemy, the screen zooms in. This makes tracking invisible ships, like Ilwrath, much easier cause you KNOW they're at least close this way.

I dislike the Cruiser cause it's slow, tho it's got good turning, and its nukes take a good deal of battery. You can fire maybe two in rapid succession. Also despite the fact they're supposed to be tracking nukes, they usually miss. The pointlasers do piddly damage but they can save you from Marines and such, like I mentioned. But mostly, if you have choice, there are better ships to play as then a Cruiser.

There's a backstory behind the Cruiser and how the Humans came up with it that's huge and long and awesome and I'm too lazy to type it up here. Here's a quick summary and more details about it (and humans in general) can be found here.

THERE caught one of the nukes.

When you win it plays a little victory ditty for whatever race you are.

Skipped some stuff, basically Hayes asking what we're going to do.

I like that there's a serious answer and a bunch of goofy ones.

You can look back on dialogue you coulda potentially skipped this way.

You can name your Alliance any of these. Yes, we have named it The Empire of [insert name here]. Chris did that a lot, if I recall.

I went with the traditional path.

Weeks pass, blah blah, my ship is ready whee!

The emergency esape is VERY USEFUL. It even works for ships I carry with me. The emergency escape is great for avoiding some battles and in some cases, you NEED to use it.

Anyway, after this I just asked a bunch of questions.

DARN IT WHY DO I LOVE THE VUX SO MUCH

This is actually not entirely true, but we'll find that out later.

You never see the Chenjesu in game, by the way, but you can play as their ships in SuperMelee. The Chenjesu Broodhome was Sheena's favorite ship.

The Umgah are hilarious. I know I got "HAR" from them for Space Pony. I just know it. We'll meet them later.

Mmrnmhrm ships were another personal favorite of mine, but also only available via SuperMelee.

I love the Spathi so much. We'll see them very shortly.

Anyway, enough history!

Where to go, where to go. Yes, even this screen has specific music!

Here's the MOD.
Here's the mp3, very close
Here's the UQM remix, Under a Red Sky, which is long and awesome

Ah, let's outfit the flagship.

Here's the MOD
Here's the mp3, very very close
Here's the UQM remix, very close

You can buy things for your main ship and fuel here. Crew is on another screen. You can get upgrades from the Melnorme for better things eventually. Right now my flagship is pretty terrible.

However.

There is a trick here that I am going to exploit. Actually it's more like a glitch. Why? I'm pretty sure you don't want to watch me spend hours mining resources. That would be boring for you. SO I am going to use this glitch to get me some RU so we can just jump into everything. Why yes this is technically cheating. BUT I've played this game legit before so GET OFF MY BACK.

I'm almost positive they fixed this glitch in the UQM release.

I have but one lander. What happens if I sell it? It goes away. What happens if I try to sell it again after that?

WOOP.

So yeah, you can just sell landers like this repeatedly. Eventually the more you sell, it goes back down to sane numbers, but if you sell the nonexistant last lander again, then bam. It multiplies again. Infinite RU.

Hahahaha you can see how many there are.

I don't need that many, so I'm just cutting it down to two cause I don't plan on doing too much mining considering that I've got all this cash. Hooha.

First things first, I gotta get the turning jets and fusion thrusters. These make it a MILLION times easier to move around.

Haha, now we're talking.

Here's the other area, the shipyard. Here's where you can buy ships to add to your fleet, provided you have the plans and the nativeborn alien captains to fly them. As I go through the universe, more and more ships will be available here for purchase. At the moment, all I got is the Cruiser. This is also where you get more crew.

Here's the MOD
Here's the mp3, has some neat soundeffects
Here's the UQM remix, which is a bit heavier and longer and has a neat breakdown near the end

Next up, meeting Fwiffo!

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