Escape Velocity Nova

aka: EV Nova, EVN
Moby ID: 9881
Macintosh Specs

Description official description

In Escape Velocity Nova (EVN) the player takes the role of a starship captain, warping from system to system, trading commodities and engaging in combat.

The game interface is, oddly enough, a top-down perspective, such as might be found in games such as Asteroids or Star Control. To maneuver, players simply point their ship in the direction they want to go and thrust. Stopping is as simple as turning in the opposite direction and thereby thrusting against the ship's current direction.

In addition to the exploration inherent within the game, there are also a number of side-missions that can be picked up by the player at their leisure, as well as a handful of storyline missions.

EVN is a very freeform game; players are not even required to peruse the story missions. They can focus on upgrading their ship, become a pirate, or establish a fleet in order to exploit profitable trade routes.

When players engage a ship in combat, it will become "Disabled" shortly before it takes enough damage to be destroyed. Players then have the option of stopping their attack in order to board the ship in order to steal credits, resources, or even the entire ship itself (it can either replace the player's own ship or be added to their fleet). Naturally, ship captures are not always successful.

Groups +



Credits (Macintosh version)

20 People (18 developers, 2 thanks)

Engine Programming
Concepts, Plot, Dialogue, Scenario Implementation, Graphics, Sound Production, Boolean Illogic, and anything else that may have been forgotten
  • ATMOS Software Production
Tools Programming
El Presidente
Technical Support
Accountant and Office Manager
Bitwise Operator
Front Desk
Special thanks to
The EV Nova Resource Bible by



Average score: 85% (based on 8 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 9 ratings with 3 reviews)

The classic Macintosh series makes its first appearance on the PC.

The Good
Do you remember the boom times of computer shareware games? When games were created solely for the fun of creation, when you could support the developer directly with a simple registration?

Escape Velocity hails from that noble time period, and Nova is the third game in the EV series. The resolution is still locked at 640x480, but the graphics have been upgraded to the 16-bit color palette, with small touches like ship lean and running lights having been implemented. A rich back-story has been created for Nova, providing significant depth to the game. The game universe is huge, with dozens of ships (plus variants) and weapons, while user-created plug-ins can make it even bigger (which usually have to be run through a Mac-to-PC converter prior to usage).

And maybe the best thing about Nova: some enterprising individuals took it upon themselves to port the first two Escape Velocity games to the new engine as plug-ins, so now you can play EV and Escape Velocity: Override on the PC (outside of an emulator)!

The Bad
By nature, this is a repetitive game. It may be the type of repetition that you find enormously satisfying (like I do), but if it isn't, you'll probably find it to be a drag. And although Nova was first released in 2002, it still shows the age of the roots stemming from the first Escape Velocity, released back in 1996. This can be difficult to overcome if you've never played an Escape Velocity game before, but if you have, it's like coming home.

The Bottom Line
Build your character up from a lowly shuttle pilot in humanity's distant future, to a commander of an armada of destroyers or merchant vessels. Be a hero, help terraform a planet, acquire wealth, or take over planets and force them to pay you tribute. Download the game, give it a whirl for a month. Ambrosia Software has proven itself to be a successful company, and they still offer their games as shareware, so there's nothing to lose.

If you have problems, there is a dedicated user base that have FAQs and story walkthroughs, not to mention ready technical help. Just be careful identifying yourself as a PC user...some Mac fans still seem to be a little touchy about having one of their most sacred pillars of software development branching out a bit to the PC. Which I can completely understand, since Ambrosia provides many of my fondest Mac-using memories.

Windows · by Bet (473) · 2014

An open-ended, wonderfully-plotted space adventure with some annoying technical problems.

The Good
First off, the graphics should be mentioned. Ambrosia is not a large company yet the two-dimensional models are all distinct and of high quality. The factions all have wonderfully unique ships and weapons. It is a fixed-angle (about 3/4 view) isometric game. The pyrotechnics are great for a game of this type and so are the projectiles. It's not meant to be like freelancer or homeworld two and if you enter the game expecting simple graphics, you won't be disappointed. I have noted some minor graphical issues below.

The gameplay is fantastic. The Escape Velocity series has always been about open-ended plots, trading, galactic domination, and creativity. Nova stays true to this form while improving graphics and overall presentation. Like most games of this genre, you start with a terrible ship, get a brief introduction to the game, and then are sent off on your merry way. Depending on your inclinations you can trade, fight, or pursue plot lines for any of the six factions or multiple subfactions. But for the most part you have absolute freedom in the way you play this game, though the various factions do react to your actions and your 'criminal record.'

The stories for the various factions are fun if hackneyed. The development of these plots is accomplished entirely through text, so be prepared for a great deal of reading as you play this game. They are engaging and immersive and most follow the standard 'nobody-turns-into-great-warrior/hero' formula for video games. No real surprises there but the stories are pleasant. Additionally, the factions themselves are unique and have a great deal of character. The Escape Velocity universe is quite well crafted post-colonization and civil war human-only civilization. It's an easy universe to get interested in and if you follow the plot lines, you'll end up changing the very fabric of this universe, which is great fun!

The Bad
Weaknesses simply must be addressed in this game.

Firstly, the sound is uniformly terrible. The weapon sounds are bland and hollow with 'red alert' sounds they very well might have taken from Star Trek. This is perhaps excusable since Ambrosia is such a small company, but I would be remiss to not mention this. There is no music in the game either which is a major drawback to this game player. While it's no problem to turn on winamp in the background, it's a bit incongruous to listen to my music library while playing a sci-fi game. Even a bunch of classical music would have been better than nothing. Indeed, with a total lack of game music and bland and unimpressive weapon/explosion noises, I got quite sick of the sound in this game, which is quite uncommon for me as ordinarily I'm quite tolerant of poor sound.

Technical problems also mar this game. Crashes are fairly common and totally inexplicable. It is also necessary for every user to download quicktime and enable certain additional options in quicktime. While ambrosia's website has information about this step of installing EVN, it is wholly unclear precisely why quicktime in necessary to play this game. And if it's so necessary, why is it not included in the download?

As a further and much more annoying technical flaw, it is common for mission strings to not pick up. That is, you'll complete a mission, return to where you're supposed to, and nothing will happen. This happened to me twice for every plot line I completed! Mind you I did not fail the missions, rather, I double-checked with a mission walkthrough. Words can not describe now frustrating it is to have spent a few hours building up the money to buy a new ship and a few more hours to follow a plot line only to have the thing fall apart on you as some script or trigger fails. It's just sloppy and I found it unacceptable, especially since your pilot file is saved every time you land on a planet. So, if you do a mission but the trigger isnt' set off, then you land on a planet, your game is over-written and it's permanently impossible to get the trigger to acknowledge you've completed a mission. So it becomes necessary to manually back up your pilot files periodically when you know you're doing ok in the missions. This shouldn't be necessary.

The Bottom Line
All in all, this is a decent game and I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoy open-ended space sims. There are alot of great things about it, and it's certainly addictive to get bigger and better ships. However, the sound is rubbish and there are a number of technical instabilities and flaws that seriously detract from its enjoyability. It's quite enjoyable if you don't mind manually backing up your pilot file periodically or re-loading the game after a crash or consulting a walkthrough to find where the mission strings begin.

Windows · by Marty Bonus (39) · 2004

StarFlight fans: here's a game you don't want to miss

The Good
Good plot, good music (at the few plases where there actually is music), excellent atmosphere, suitable graphics.

The Bad
Not much here, but I do think they could have put a bit more work on the planet-landing part (for example, being able to explore planets and pick up resources such as in StarFlight would be fun).

The Bottom Line
Escape Velocity Nova is a fun space-game I recommend for anyone who liked StarFlight and other space-products from the "golden period" of computer games.

Although it could need a bit more work at places such as planets, the game itself is excellently fullfilled - brings a certain feeling of nostalgia.

EVN might not be very revolutionary, but it succeeds masterly in re-creating the atmosphere of the old classics in this genre.

Windows · by Stargazer (99) · 2003



Escape Velocity Nova started life as a plugin in development by ATMOS Software for Escape Velocity Override. During its development, improvements were made to Ambrosia's Escape Velocity program code. Ultimately, ATMOS contacted Ambrosia and they decided to release Nova as the next game in the series.


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  • MobyGames ID: 9881
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Dave Schenet.

Macintosh added by Kabushi.

Additional contributors: Shoddyan, Luckspeare, FloodSpectre, Patrick Bregger.

Game added August 2, 2003. Last modified May 29, 2024.