Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Before Mass Effect. Before Star Control 2. Slightly after Psi-5 Trading Company. Starflight was one of the original space games that didn’t just provide a universe, but filled it with with stuff worth seeing and doing. Mining. Combat. Diplomacy. Assembling the perfect crew to explore the universe, from some five different races of the eight available, and heading out to seek fortune and mysteries at the other end of the cosmos. Its Terrain Vehicle is essentially the start of the path that would lead to Mass Effect’s Mako. Though don’t hold that against it. Not too much, anyway.
On top of all this, it even managed to have a proper plotline, and a great twist! The stats of the galaxy are flaring, meaning bad news for everyone living on them. The only hint as to why is on a crystal planet moving slowly through the galaxy. It’s here that the player discovers that one of those pesky precursor races is not only responsible, but that the universe is literally burning its Ancients as space fuel. With this depth, this ambition, great alien races and even some humour (though not to the same extent as Star Control 2), it’s no wonder that Starflight is widely considered the foundation of the space exploration RPG. The likes of Elite would soon make the final frontier bigger, but few have given as good a reason to actually head out and see what there is to find.