Are you going to argue with the angry space-squid? You better not; that’s an Ur-Quan, and they’re the villains of one of the best games ever made. They’re also probably the key inspiration for Mass Effect’s Reapers, but I digress. If you’ve never played Star Control 2, then now is the time. Originally released back in the dark ages of 1992, this space adventure/combat/RPG hybrid was a flagship title for PC gaming, and eventually got ported to just about every system out there. Many years later, and the developers were kind enough to hand off the source-code and resources for the game to their stalwart and hard-working fans, and so The Ur-Quan Masters was born.
“An HD remake of Star Control 2. It’s the full Ur-Quan Masters game but also featuring a high resolution mode, new features, & new artwork.”
UQM HD is effectively a mash-up of all the best elements of each version of Star Control 2 to create a definitive version of the game that’s compatible with modern machines. A secondary group of fans have gone one giant leap better and updated all the graphics so that it looks sharp and crisp on your 201x-era monitor. Rather than just use upscaling algorithms, it looks like every single sprite has either been painstakingly re-drawn by hand, or modelled in 3D and rendered out as a sprite sheet, and the results looks great. As with the previous version of UQM, the music is remixed, and the speech (taken from the 3DO edition of the game) has gotten polished up a bit, too. It’s still undeniably an early 90s game, but this is definitely the best version of it yet.
Is It Time For *playing* Yet?
While officially billed as a mod, Ur-Quan Masters HD is packaged as a standalone, complete game. Right now available only for Windows, but there’s Mac, Linux and even Android ports in the works. Be warned that while it is possible to bash your way through the game using brute force alone, you’re probably best off consulting the (spoiler-free) star-maps here, which will help a lot with early-game navigation. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to check out the original game manual either. Back in those days, tutorials were printed on paper, not integrated into the game itself. With those in hand, and your mission in mind (liberate Earth from surly robo-voiced space-squid… familiar, much?), go forth, brave space-captains! The galaxy is depending on you.