Ur-Quan Masters HD: A Star Control 2 Remake

By Alec Meer on January 7th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Not a terribly representative screenshot, but I couldn't not post that guy's expression

Star Control, and particularly its embiggened sequel, is one of those classics of the 1990s that, while it perhaps doesn’t inspire quite as much mass veneration as some of its early-PC peers, has remained beloved and deathless in the long years since release. Ur-Quan Masters was an ambitious and well-received fan-made (and free) remake of its galactic exploration and roleplaying, interspecies chat and spaceship-based shooty bang-bang, and it now adds the mandatory ‘HD’ designation and associated heightened graphcisability.

A playable alpha is out now, and while there’s a lot left to do it appears to doing a bang-up job of keeping SC2 fresh. It’s based on the now-free source for olden dev Toys for Bob’s original game, and adds in assorted new elements in addition to the requisite sound and vision. Here’s how it’s looking:

I do like that it retains a certain 1990s vibe despite being made more appropriate to modern machines. It lends it a certain psychedelic silliness that today’s more self-regarding space games seem to lack.

That’s yours to try for the cost of a 553MB download right here.

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64 Comments »

  1. Veritaas says:

    FUCK YES! For those who haven’t played it but have played a more modern game like Space Rangers 2, get to it NOW.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      Ack when ever someone mentions Space Rangers it reminds me other game (Not space rangers but a similar ridiculously over macho title).

      It was part Elite, but you could land in space stations and walk around in like a top down Ultima 7 style rpg.

      The box art was a photograph of some guy with 90′s hair, a leather jacket and a crash helmet made to look like a space helmet

      And the tag line of the software house that produced it was “Games For Adults” (A very misleading title for a 14 year old let me tell you)

      Any ideas?

      • Veritaas says:

        Sounds like Freelancer?

      • Swabbleflange says:

        Space Rogue, an Origin game.

        It was on a Microprose offshoot called Micro Style.

        • Maxheadroom says:

          Space Rogue! Thanks Swabble! (thanks everyone else too though)

          And here’s that silly box art too:
          http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/1/14/Space_rogue_cover.jpg/250px-Space_rogue_cover.jpg

          It was actually really good. someone should remake this, or has there already been one and I missed it?

          • abandonhope says:

            Wow. And I thought Freelancer’s box art was corny.

          • Ubik2000 says:

            SPACE ROGUE!

            As a kid whose only computer for many, many years was a Mac Plus, Space Rogue was one of the handful of games I had to play. I missed out on your X-Coms and your Elites and all the other games you fellows wax nostalgic about, but goddamn it, I had Space Rogue, Windwalker and SimAnt!

            Space Rogue was pretty fantastic, although the FTL travel mechanic of flying through an endless sequence of concentric rings was more than a little frustrating, although not quite as frustrating as the need to endlessly swap two floppy discs back and forth to get the damn game to load in the first place.

            I also, through a friend who someone managed to talk his parents into getting him a 3DO, had access to Star Control 2, and goddamn it if it isn’t still in my top 10 of all time. Everyone go play it now!

          • jinains1988 says:

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          • El Mariachi says:

            I was going to guess SunDog, by FTL Games… which, by strange coincidence, bears a resemblance to FTL in the space travel bits.

      • cylinder1024 says:

        Logged into say it was either Sentinel Worlds 1: Future Magic or Starflight 1/2.

  2. x. says:

    This is surprisingly good. Too bad that I just replayed the game a few months back.

    PS. Totally offtopic, but RPS, you should write something about The Fool and His Money. Been waiting foreveeer.

  3. Premium User Badge

    elderman says:

    Windows only at the moment, as the Indie Games Blog pointed out. Mac and Linux versions in the works.

  4. philbot says:

    Gotta love games where the Alien races aren’t just bipeds with different faces to humans. There was some truly wacky aliens in that trailer, and damn it was awesome!

    • Felixader says:

      But of course there had to be at least one blue, voluptuous busted, human like alien chick in there. :-P

      • Treymoney says:

        I vaguely recall that being explained in-universe, though.

      • daktaklakpak says:

        That would be the Syreen, and their ship is called the Penetrator. Yes, it looks just like you might imagine.

        Like pretty much all the races in the game, they were presented very tongue-in-cheek, and were a parody of certain sci-fi genres. Flash Gordon, original Buck Rogers, etc., in this case.

        • LintMan says:

          Bonus Penetrator fact: There is a unit for the game AI War named Penetrator (it’s a stealth penetration unit) which I suggested to the awesome devs, having taken the inspiration from the Syreen Penetrator’s name.

    • Skabooga says:

      This game has given me my two favorite alien species – The Zot, Fot, Pik, and as a close runner up, the Spathi. Heck, if we ever make contact with extraterrestrial life in the real world, the best that species could ever hope for is third place.

      • cptgone says:

        i haven’t made it beyond the (hilarious and kind of endearing) Spathi yet, but races who are named Zot en Pik sound very promising (these names meaning “mad” and “dick” in my lingo).

        “a certain psychedelic silliness that today’s more self-regarding space games seem to lack”
        so true (and well put)!
        (another good example, IMO, is MoO2. amazing how much atmosphere a few simple animated bitmaps added to that game)

    • LintMan says:

      Nearly all the races of Star Control 2 are quite different and memorable. (And funny).

      Orz – (my favorite) – fishlike *fingers* of an extra-dimensional Lovecraftian being
      Thraddash – blustery rhino-like beings
      Umgah – practical joking blobbies
      Spathi – cowardly clam-like beings
      Chmmr – crystal/machine intelligence hybrids
      Mycon – evil volcanic mushrooms

      Star Control 2 is dated by today’s standards, but it’s still a great game with a great and funny story, and some awesome music.

  5. Stan Lee Cube Rick says:

    This looks surprisingly well done and very faithful to the original art. I’m going to have to play this soon.

  6. Reapy says:

    SC2 races, ships, and especially sound effects and themes are forever burned into my head.

    That said, I have found the direction Starfarer is going to basically be everything and more than I ever wanted from of star control. If you like this do yourself a favor and check it out.

    Edit, apparently they just renamed it to starsector.

    • squareking says:

      Aw man. I thought Starfarer was the perfect name. Stupid legal reasons.

  7. sinister agent says:

    Fwiffo Fwiffo Fwiffo Fwiffo Fwiffo Fwiff… sorry, what? There are other things in there, too? Huh.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Malibu Stacey says:

    Ur-Quan Masters was an ambitious and well-received fan-made (and free) remake

    Actually the Ur-Quan Masters is a cross-platform release based off the 3DO version which had it’s source code (but not art assets) released under GPL by the creators over a decade ago.

  9. Trithne says:

    This is basically what I wished FTL had been more like.

  10. Dominic White says:

    This only carries the ‘alpha’ tag because The Ur-Quan Masters project is officially permanently in Alpha, despite being complete, fully playable and more polished than the old DOS version ever was.

    The HD project seems to be complete, too. Every piece of graphicalness seems to have been redrawn. As others have mentioned, it’s a VERY authentic update. The re-draws look exactly like the originals, but much more detailed.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      “The Ur-Quan Masters project is officially permanently in Alpha, despite being complete, fully playable and more polished than the old DOS version ever was.” – lol. Another of these groups that keep their product in “alpha” stage as an ultimate excuse for any criticism? Gratz! Google would be proud of you!

      *facepalm*

      • Dominic White says:

        … What the fuck? They’ve tagged it as alpha because they’ve still got a list of additional features to add, but it is literally 100% complete, stable and more featured than the original right now. Full support for Windows, Mac & Linux, too.

        It’ll also likely never leave Alpha, as the last update was in July 2011.

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        Typically the way this happens is no one in the project is really defining the target, so there’s no acceptance to relabel as a release.

        It’s just a lack of project management as its traditionally known, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, though the labels do end up being silly.

  11. tentaclesex says:

    Surprise and Terror!

    (Not actually terror, this looks cool.)

  12. deadly.by.design says:

    Am I the only guy who keeps reading the headline as “Quran Masters?”

  13. captainsteve says:

    Easily one of my favorite games of the 90s. I’d beg for a full budget remake or sequel (no, I will not recognize StarCon 3 exists), but I doubt it would ever end up really capturing the spirit of StarCon 2. But I would still throw my wallet at the screen if it did come to pass! I’m surprised it hasn’t been, what with the rebirth of retro style gaming over the last few years.

  14. InternetBatman says:

    I wish Mass Effect had learned a bit more from Starcontrol II / the Ur-quan Masters. They never really did figure out a good metagame. The sex scene in Ur-quan Masters is surprisingly risque, and definitely NSFW.

  15. Joshua Northey says:

    Was a tremendous game. Replayed it maybe 4 or 5 years ago and it held up extremely well.

  16. Premium User Badge

    wyrmsine says:

    There’s a version of Star Control 2 on every single game machine I own, with the possible exception of the Wii. It’s compiling on the Raspberry Pi as I type this. Highly recommended.

  17. SkittleDiddler says:

    Why are the couple in the lead picture wearing Santa Claus suits? The future has no fashion sense.

  18. RogB says:

    I get that its higher definition sprites, but the fact that there still seems to be only 12/16 rotation angles looks decidedly ropey these days.
    surely this could be smoothed out without -completely- breaking the feel of it?

    • Ubik2000 says:

      Honestly, that looked a bit odd to me too – I remember the turning as being smoother the last time I played UQM (and in the 3DO version), but it was quite a while ago that I last tried it.

    • squidlarkin says:

      Exactly what I was thinking. It’s probably the oldest-school aspect of the game, and fixing it seems impossible without massive rebalancing, since in a lot of matchups the only workable strategy is to attempt to approach from between firing angles.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Yeah, I’m disappointed they didn’t improve on that… it actually looks worse with improved graphics.

  19. Dirk Beefhammer says:

    Hello. This looks great. Never played it, but it looks great. I like Space Rangers 2, I suppose this is a big inspiration for that.

    Loved the trailer.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    Never enjoyed the space combat, but really enjoyed the exploration.

    • cptgone says:

      so did i.
      i wish combat was optional, or auto-resolvable.

      • t1gerdog says:

        I first played it in Linux a couple years ago and the combat ‘was’ auto-resolving.. I don’t know if it was a bug or what? I just thought that’s how it was. Maybe it was an option I ticked in the menu.

        Dunno, But all other versions have had the normal combat.

  21. Yglorba says:

    Although I’m always glad to see StarCon 2 getting more attention, I almost wish they’d devote this energy to either making a true sequel, or to updating other unknown games (especially Starflight 1/2).

    I mean, the Ur-Quan Masters already exists. There’s a ton of great games that lack that kind of update…

    Granted, I’m sure it’s partially because they have the cooperation of the original devs (who own most of the rights), so it’s more feasible to do it for this one. But still…

    • LintMan says:

      Well, there’s been a few efforts at a Starcon2 sequel. There was Timewarp, which seems to have stalled out a while back, but there’s also Project 6014, which I believe is still in progress.

      Also, the original devs have occasionally expressed interest in making a true sequel, but the Skylanders phenomenon has likely locked them into that for the foreseeable future.

  22. Premium User Badge

    jrodman says:

    Have to say the old version looks better. It’s more internally consistent stylistically and doesn’t overreach its grasp.

  23. Shazbut says:

    This game should be in any top 10 anyone makes, even its about something entirely unrelated to games, like food or athletes disqualified from the olympics

  24. Fwiffo says:

    As you may be able to tell, I’ve always adored this game. Another excuse to play it, I say!

    Also of note is that this is actually a side project of the artist working on the fan-sequel, Project 6014.

  25. Urfin says:

    I wish they added a smooth-turn option for combat. It’s literally the only thing SC2 lacks to be perfect.

  26. Scrofa says:

    The best space RPG ever! Would play it again.

  27. fivesixpickupsticks says:

    S.P.A.Z. is the closest modern game to SC2.

    • Vinraith says:

      An arcadey shoot-em-up with no depth is the closest modern game to SC2? That’s just tragic.

  28. BobbyDylan says:

    Downloaded this on the first day it became available. It’s a fantastic piece of work!

  29. Arkh says:

    FUCK YES, I love this game. Another reason to replay it again.