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Starflight (Sega Genesis) & the Art of the Deal



Shortly before the world descended into this virus-induced chaos, I took the family on a long-planned Disney vacation to Florida. We had an amazing time at the parks and whatnot, but naturally, as I'm wont to do when I'm somewhere away from my home town, I did a little google maps research and discovered a game shop that was within driving distance from the resort. And when the wife and kids were content in the pool one afternoon, I ducked out for a couple hours and hoped to get lucky.

Now the shop that I found wasn't much more than a hole in the wall in a depressing little strip mall, but they had a pretty decent selection of older games, so it was worth the effort. Unfortunately, while I managed to see a number of SNES and Genesis games in particular in the glass case, none of them had prices marked on them. When I inquired about one of them, the clerk who was working acted as if I was inconveniencing him greatly as he came over, took the game out of the case, adjourned back to his PC and proceeded to look it on on ebay or some other source. He fired back a number that wasn't exactly outrageous, but certainly wasn't a deal either, so I told him I'd look around a bit and let him know. Since I now knew what I was up against, I basically cast aside the SNES RPG that I was interested in as well as the CIB Dune for Genesis because I figured if I was willing to pay ebay prices for them, it would better behoove me to go that route seeing as I was out of town here, and if there were any issues with the games, I wouldn't be able to return them.

All of that said, I had made the 30ish minute drive to this place, and there were some good games to be had, so I didn't want to leave empty handed. I just didn't want to get held over the coals on the more pricey games in the case is all. And I also wanted to be discerning about my choices, as I knew that the fella working was slightly irritable, and would only be ebay checking for prices anyhow if I asked him about a game. So after about twenty minutes of looking over everything that they had, I managed to come up with a handful of games that struck my fancy. I figured that if I bundled up, it would be easier to negotiate a better price for the wares. All told, I grabbed a loose Adventure Island II for NES, 2 non-CIB 3DO games (Star Control II and Jurassic Park) but they were in their CD jewel cases, and a CIB copy of the Genesis game Starflight. When the smoke cleared, I got them for about 10% off of pricecharting, and ended up having a nice conversation about 90s gaming with the clerk who actually turned out to be a decent guy when he decrankified.

So, why have I told you all of that? No idea. Hahahaha, but hopefully it was a fun read. When I decided to a write-up about Starflight, I began thinking about when I bought it in February, and how that was basically the last great time we had as a family before Coronageddon struck, so there you go. But anyhow, Starflight is a 1991 port of a late 80s space simulation PC game which was co-developed and published by Electronic Arts. And the EA of the early 90s was one of the best companies in gaming, nothing like that of today, and they pumped out a number of excellent games for the Sega Genesis.

Starflight is actually much more Star Trek-esque in its gameplay and presentation than most of the licensed Star Trek games that I played in that era. You're the commander of a space ship and your home planet is in imminent danger due to increased flares from the sun. So the goal is to explore the universe, in search of new planets to inhabit. I'd estimate that of all the planets across the game space, perhaps 5% are inhabitable. Upon discovering a good planet, you have your scientist log in the journal and upon returning to your space dock, the bosses will credit you with a heap of cash for the effort. But if you log an uninhabitable planet, the bosses hoot and holler and nail you with a stiff fine.

Now, aside from that objective, you can mine planets for lucrative minerals to sell or use (this reminded me very much of the later Xbox Bioware series Mass Effect), and encounter all sorts of alien species; some friendly, some dicks, and you can choose to eff them up or become bros. There are some highly entertaining dialogue exchanges to be had if you let them. Mining is a primary source to make that cash for fuel and upgrades to your ship and weapons, training your crew, et cetera, all of which are necessary to get deep into the game.

When it comes to traversing the massive universe, there are wormholes which can be taken as short cuts to lower your fuel usage. However, you don't know exactly where they'll take you until you're there. But, once learned, the path will be logged on your starmap which can be accessed in the user interface. And finally, there are all sorts of ancient artifacts and such to find and collect throughout the universe, some of which are necessary to defeat the game, so exploration and charting where you've been are crucial to your success.

Anyhow, it took some thinking, deciphering lots of information from conversations with aliens, and trial and error before I found the final planet which you need to destroy to save your planet and race, but it was a heck of a ride. The gameplay is lots of fun for those who like an action/adventure component to their strategy games, and you really need to think your way through this game. And like I said, if you're a Star Trek fan, it plays more like a Star Trek game than most Star Trek games, so if you're anything like me, you'll feel right at home with this one.


Here are the final screens from me hastily snapping pics of the screen with my phone quickly while I still had the chance. Note that I forgot to turn on the dither blending option on the Mega SG that time which makes the cross hatch graphics look much better to me, but your mileage may vary.

Starflight 1.jpg

Starflight 2.jpg

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I got this game complete with the star map almost 15 years ago for $5 at Goodwill. I've always wanted to get into it since I like management style games but never have.

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I'd recommend giving it a shot, Aguy. It has a simple pick up and play quality due to the easy to navigate user interface, and the gameplay itself is mostly open-ended with freedom to explore and do your own thing. While there's an overarching objective, it's not necessary to pursue it for a fun gaming session. Similar to many of the modern games where you can just run around and do your own thing or engage in the missions if you choose, Starflight was ahead of its time in that capacity. 

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