Mean Machines

Star Control

Publisher: Ballistix
Machine: Sega Genesis/Sega Mega Drive

Published in Mean Machines #10

Star Control

Aaaiiee! The evil Hierarchy is attacking everything the good Alliance holds dear! There's only one thing for it: send out all the Alliance ships for a grand battle to the death!

Star Control is a space combat game played head-to-head against either a human or computer opponent with four selectable intelligence settings.

The basic game is based around a series of dogfights. Each fleet has eight completely different ships, and both players simply choose one ship to take into combat. The battle takes place over a single screen. When the combatants are far apart, the game automatically switches to a distant view, with small spaceships. As the player moves closer, the game zooms in and the ships get bigger - close up combay is displayed very large, so you can see just exactly how much damage your weapons are doing!

Star Control

The object of the exercise is simply to destroy your opponent by killing off his crew. Each hit sustained bumps off one of his men, and his crew bar diminishes accordingly - a completely depleted bar results in the ship exploding in spectacular fashion.

When a bout is over, the loser chooses a new ship to battle the victor with, and the overall winner of the contest is the first person to destroy all the ships in the opponent's fleet.

Know Your Enemy

There are fourteen ships featured in Star Control. Dotted around the review you'll find profiles of seven of the most deadly ships. All of the ships in the game have a different main attack weapon, along with a custom device.

Star Control

Pressing the B button fires the main weapons, and these range from rapid-fire lasers to cruise missile launchers! The custom device for each ship is fired up with the C button. Some ships have extra weapons (missiles and the like) whilst others have more interesting units like cloaking devices, shields and warp-units!

Profile: Hierarchy

  1. Ilwrath Avenger
    This ship's flame-throwers are excellent in close-quarter combat, and its cloaking device means it can sneak up to opponents undetected.
  2. Vux Intruder
    The Vux craft shoots out blobs of green fungus which eventually cover the opponent's ship making it slower and less manoeuvrable. Then it can move in and destroy its target with its close-quarter laser.
  3. Mycon Podship
    The Mycon ship has mega-powered homing plasma bolts as its main weapon. Once it is up to full power, it regenerates crew members - useful in a long battle!
  4. Umgah Drone
    Another close-quarter ship. Its antimatter ray is deadly, and it can also zip backwards out of trouble.

Profile: Alliance

  1. Earthling Cruiser
    Slow, but highly manoeuvrable. Its heat-seeking missiles are excellent for long-range combat, and its point defence lasers are useful at close quarters.
  2. Yehat Terminator
    This very quick ship has a fast-shot cannont, and also has a force shield which stops virtually anything.
  3. Ariloulaleelay Skiff
    Very fast, with no inertia. Auto-aim laser and hyper jump abilities. Useful, but tiny crew means one hit and it's all over.


Adding a bit of lasting power to the game is a strategy option where there are a host of scenarios. The Alliance player has a number of starbases to defend against superior Hierarchy forces. For example, in the first scenario, the Hierarchy have the Ur-Quan ship while the Alliance have to make do with the weedy self-destructing Shofixti!


Star Control is one of the best Megadrive games I've had the pleasure to play - in two-player melee mode. Each ship has its own strengths and weaknesses: one moment the remote fighters of your mighty battleship might be wiping the floor with your opponent, and then he comes up with a ship equipped with superior firepower and a special laser designed to deal with your fighters!

Star Control

It's the sheer amount of ships that makes Star Control last so long. My favourite ship has to be the Klingon Bird of Prey-alike (it's even got the cloaking device!). In one-player mode, a lot of the game is lost, simply because roasting the backside of your pal is such a good laugh.

Star Control is one of the greatest two-player games you'll ever play, but if you're going to be playing on your lonesome, you'd best give this a miss.


In the two-player head-to-head stakes, this takes first prize. It's brilliant fun taking on another human player and using cunning, skill and tactics to take out his fleet.

Star Control

Many of my lunchtimes (and beyond) have been taken up with very noisy mega-battles with Gary Harrod! Playing it on you just isn't anywhere near as much fun - even the excellent presentation, brilliant sampled sound effects (see how many old b-movie sounds you can identify!) and a weirdo strategy game don't help. I think it's simply because you can't turn to the Megadrive and shout gleefully at it when you've just wiped out its best ship!

So think long and hard before you buy this game - if you've always got a second player to kick ass with, it's highly recommended. Solo players just won't get value for money out of the product.


Presentation 87%
Superb intermission screens and breakdowns of each ship plus a massive variety of options give this plenty of polish.

Star Control

Graphics 83%
The still screens are utterly stunning, but the in-game graphics are rather disappointing.

Sound 83%
Raucous effects which suit the action perfectly - see how many samples you can identify from crappy sci-fi movies!

Playability 93%
It looks rubbish to start with, but simultaneous two-player action comes no finer than this.

Lastability 82%
The two-player option is something you'll come back to years from now - the single player action isn't as much fun, though.

Overall 86%
Looks crap, but this is a thoroughly brilliant two-player Megadrive title which should definitely be looked at.