Lots of old games receive great praise long after the fact which is then repeated until “everyone” believes it. Unfortunately, at least in my experience, most of the time the games being trumpeted are dross.

So, for example, Final Fantasy VII. I’ve played it and couldn’t get into it. There’s a story that I’m supposed to care about for some reason and some combat mechanics that aren’t fun. It’s hard to look past graphics that sloppy when the other components are too weak to support them.

That said some games do deserve the rosy specs treatment and today I want to talk to you about one of them.

StartopiaThis beautiful game was released in 2001 by Mucky Foot Productions, people who had previously worked for Bullfrog back in the day. Theme Hospital anyone?

Mucky_Foot_ProductionsDeliciously British this sci-fi game managed to be both expansive and charming whilst avoiding hyperbolic epicness. (I don’t generally like epic games, I always struggle to buy the concept of anything being that important.)

Set aboard a toroid space station (doughnut shaped) the player’s task is to refurbish it and meet certain objectives. Sometimes it’s about industrial production, other times it’s about farming or tourism. There’s even a conquest aspect when AI players are running other segments of the station.

Station_startup(One of the stations as seen in the game’s startup screen)

There’s three decks, lots of alien races, a friendly AI with a calm voice, and of course a CMOT Dibbler character – your old pal Arona.

Speaking of the voice it was provided by William Franklyn who replaced Peter Jones as the voice of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy following his death in 2000. Unfortunately Mr. Franklyn popped his clogs in 2006 so a hypothetical Startopia 2 couldn’t benefit from his dulcet tones.

The soundtrack was a delight as well – I actually have it on my phone (my primary music device). It’s that awesome:

Back to the point though – this game still looks good to me. It has a cartoonish art style that has really made the textures survive and of course being a PC game its resolution isn’t some upscaled piece of crap.

It’s a bit low poly but I feel it looks better than a hell of a lot of games these days. It’s twelve years old!

The only thing I can say against this game is that it can be rather crashy. Hopefully that has improved in recent years (it was recently released on Good Old Games) but either way it’s a small price to pay.

Since it came out the only game I can think of that even comes close is Evil Genius but even that isn’t all that good as it lacks a sandbox mode. I hate having story progression forced upon me. It’s a game - let me play!

Thankfully Startopia doesn’t have that problem. Manage all the space stations!

0 responses to "…and at these prices I'm cutting both my throats."

Leave a Reply