Startopia

aka: Spacestation, Startopia: Space City
Moby ID: 4232
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Description official descriptions

Startopia is a real-time strategy/city management game. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, it is your job to rebuild the once-thriving network of space-stations. You must compete against several other enterprises, using economic and military means to expand your power.

The toroidal space stations are divided into three decks, each split into several sections with bulkheads. The droids construct buildings, deliver cargo, make repairs and can open sealed bulkheads. The first deck houses the basic building to maintain the station like a port for the alien visitors, a recharger for your working droids and an Energy collector that powers the different facilities. Energy also serves as currency. The inner Pleasure deck is home to shops, bars, discos and other entertainment. An outer deck called the Bio deck can be used to grow plants and trees and is used by the visiting aliens as a recreational deck.

Nine different alien races, each with their own abilities and preferences, can visit your station. Aliens can be hired to work for you in your facilities or as security. The game modes offered are missions, sandbox and multiplayer.

Spellings

  • 太空城市 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

143 People (129 developers, 14 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 85% (based on 37 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 38 ratings with 3 reviews)

An excellent game... with ONE fatal flaw!

The Good
It's not as original as all that -- games like Dungeon Keeper, DKII, Theme Park, and Theme Hospital all operate similarly -- but Startopia is all that and more, a wonderful sim that covers maintenance, economics, and allows you to interact DIRECTLY with the sim characters!

The Bad
Crash.

Crash, crash, crash.

This game crashes like crazy. One minute, I'm happily juggling resources and the happiness of my station inhabitants while making trade deals with intelligent slugs from Ciegrim-7... and the next moment, I'm looking at my desktop theme.

Crash.

The official site admits that perhaps the game may be a little buggy, and offers a patch that fixes some of the crash-to-desktop bugs.

And after you download it, and install it, the game won't crash.

Quite as often, that is. It'll still crash regularly.

This is the sole feature that keeps this game from being a classic.

The Bottom Line
A brilliant piece of work, wonderful, engaging... that is made a frustrating mess by having been released prematurely.

Windows · by Dr.Bedlam (55) · 2003

A rare gem.

The Good
Originality is scarce nowadays, with recycled ideas all over the gaming scene. Watching something fresh and new is very exciting. Startopia is fresh.
The game recycles many old ideas from Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital and Theme Park, but it has many new ones that make the game different from his ancestors. There are many areas you'll need to cover at once: crew recruitment, room and space management, trading with passing spaceships, and even conquering new sectors in the station. The interface combines all of those fields to easy to find, easy to use, friendly looking buttons, most of them one mouse click away.
Another GENIUS idea is the BioDeck. A third of your station is devoted to growing plants, and when you enter it you have four new buttons: land height, moisture, heat and water. By using these buttons you can create fascinating terrains, each growing its unique plants and attracting its unique races. You can build a high, snow-peaked mountain, looming above a nice pool, whose shore is as dry as a desert, and when the plants start blooming you end up with an amazing graphical display.

The Bad
The battle scenes quickly become very crowded, with lasers flying all over the place. Although they're not very fancy, thirty warriors battling each other lower the game speed considerably.

The Bottom Line
An excellent game that all gamers should at least try, and probably purchase.

Windows · by El-ad Amir (116) · 2001

Highly addictive, if not as original as some claim.

The Good
Dungeon Keeper 2 in space doesn't necessarily sound like a good idea. But Mucky Foot apply their golden touch (or is it golden tread), throw Populous, Sim Farm and Theme Park into the mix and create a very tasty stew. Maybe it's just me; I never liked real-time strategy before DK2, and when I did get hooked on it, it seemed too short, leaving an itch for Startopia to scratch.

Anyway, substitute airlocks for dimensional portals, droids for imps, energy for gold, aliens for monsters and a power plant for your dungeon heart, and you've got the general idea. DK2's naughty feeling is echoed in that you get to build "love nests" manned by the winged Sirens, while the Theme Park flavor is increased by catering to a similar set of visitor needs, such as building food stands and toilets - or Dine-o-mats and Lavatrons, as the sci-fi equivalents are called.

It's not entirely derivative of DK2, but it does stand quite unashamedly on its shoulders. Inventions of its own include the fact that your environment isn't excavated; you're reclaiming toroidal space stations and expand your territory by opening bulkhead doors, at a cost. You also get to do some interior decoration, right down to placing lava lamps in your love nest or sick bay, and eventually terraforming on the upper biosphere deck, which is thankfully free apart from the cost of hiring farmers.

The gestalt of being in space is excellent; I found myself accepting it without blinking, this vision of a seedy metal-canister mall where disease and litter are among the biggest problems and people sleep in automated tin cans.

The music is funky without being tiresome even when played hours on end, which is quite a feat and a real boon for any strategy game. And be warned, this can really suck you in; it's the only game that has had me glued to the screen for twenty hours straight.

The Bad
Some interface niggles hamper this from really flying, such as when you stash a crate with a droid in it somewhere and forget about it only to have it rot, or the extremely fiddly way of rotating buildings. Or the somewhat inconsistent use of the right mouse button, or the fact that the game happily lets you rotate the view uselessly straight up into the ceiling - several times, I've been literally crying out for a "reset view" button or a "rotate building" key.

I do miss the extremely satisfying creature pick-up and slap-clicking from DK2; here, you beam droids and crates into your inventory stack. While this lets you shift large quantities more effectively, it just doesn't feel half as cool. And though the game is quite humorous, there are fewer laugh-out-loud moments like when you first build the torture chamber in DK2.

Fairly stable even on Win98, never taking less than five hours before dumping to the desktop. Still, no hangs, the triple-slot autosave works really well, and the fact that I'm annoyed at a pause every five hours speaks volumes of Startopia's addictive quality.

The Bottom Line
You should try Startopia even if you don't like strategy or god games; if you do like them, you need this one. And if you thought Dungeon Keeper was a bit too sadistic, this should be exactly your cup of tea.

Windows · by Ola Sverre Bauge (237) · 2004

Trivia

Development

The game originally attracted the interest of publisher Psygnosis, but the team settled with Eidos based on their chemistry with that company.

Mucky Foot was founded by ex-Bullfrog members, so it's not too surprising to find a lot of Startopia's features borrowed from another Bullfrog game, namely Dungeon Keeper 2.

Easter egg

If you zoom up on the Workstations in the Laboratory, you can occasionally see the "Blue Screen of Death". The Turraken scientist will shake with anger and bash his fist against the screen, getting the Workstation back on track.

Movie reference

Slight spoiler: the speech given to the player during the end scene may sound familiar. It is based on the speech Darth Vader gives Luke Skywalker after their battle on Bespin in the Star Wars movie.

Patch

The English voice acting of the in-game AI adviser VAL, which was voiced by William Franklin, was considered so good that shortly after the German release a "patch" was made by fans, which replaced all the German voice acting with the English one. The file is about 300MB, which was quite a large amount back in 2001.

Sales

According to the developers, the title scraped together a disappointing amount of 110,000 units sold.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Drew Dorton.

Additional contributors: curacao, Unicorn Lynx, Sciere, SGruber, garkham, Pizzaking27.

Game added June 5, 2001. Last modified January 22, 2024.