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Entry updated 20 December 2011. Tagged: Game.

Videogame (2001). Mucky Foot Productions. Platforms: Win.

Startopia is a God Game set on a series of derelict space stations which the player must rebuild after an interstellar war. The developers had previously been part of Peter Molyneux's Bullfrog Productions (BP), and the design is much influenced by such non sf Molyneux games as Theme Park (1994 BP, 3DO, Amiga, DOS, Mac; 1995 CD32, Jaguar, MegaCD, MegaDrive, PS1, Saturn, SNES; 2007 NDS), in which players build and operate modern day amusement parks. Similarly to Theme Park, players of Startopia must set up various facilities, hire aliens to run them, and ensure that their customers are kept satisfied. Rather than providing family entertainment, however, Startopia's space stations supply rest, recreation and medical facilities for a variety of exotic alien species, from the psionically psychoactive Karmaramans to the two headed, scientifically inclined Turrakken. To succeed, a player must watch the inhabitants of their space stations closely and adjust their environment to maximize their happiness and minimize unnecessary conflicts. There is also an antagonistic aspect to the gameplay; other sections of the space stations are controlled by different governors, against whom the player must compete for business.

Startopia is a light hearted game, with a humorous tone influenced by the work of Douglas Adams and the television series Red Dwarf (1988-current). The need to balance the conflicting demands of many different species, combined with the inclusion of such random events as the arrival of aliens in need of medical attention or seeking spiritual fulfillment, gives games of Startopia something of the feel of non story arc episodes of Babylon 5 (1993-1998) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999). [NT]

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