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And for a time there was rejoicing and forsooth all was hunky dorey. Then, upon Mankind was there laid the greatest of catastrophes and he was bummed. - The book of Endurium, chap. 3.

One of the first Wide Open Sandbox games, Starflight was the creation of Binary Systems. Touting '15 man-years in development', the game was, unlike many other games, able to live up to the hype by providing a galaxy of 200 stars, with 800 or more planets, several races with their own behaviors (Taking an Elowan for a crewmember? Don't visit Thrynn space, then...), and even though you could go anywhere and do anything, there was an overarching reveal that was frankly amazing for its time.

Ah, did we mention it fit on two 360k floppies?

This game spawned one sequel, Starflight 2, and an unofficial sequel, Proto Star, since by that time Electronic Arts and Binary Systems parted ways. For some time there was word that there might be a third game in development, but at this time it's considered to be Vaporware.

Both games are available on Good Old Games.

This game is considered to be the spiritual ancestor to the popular Star Control 2. The fact that Paul Reiche III and presumably others were involved with both series helps.

No relation to the disaster movie Starflight One.

This game provides examples of:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: In the first game, the price of Endurium will rise not once, but several times. (Thankfully, you can find it on certain planets in abundance... and one planet is MADE of the stuff.)
    • Less severe in the Genesis version, where the price rises in relatively small increments, and the ease of getting money makes the increases almost meaningless.
  • After the End: The Old Empire was destroyed by solar flares and alien invasions, and humanity only survives on Arth and as the Umanu.
  • Anti-Villain: The Ancients are destroying all other life in the universe out of simple self defense.
  • Apocalypse How: The Crystal Planet, a Weapon of Mass Destruction built by the Ancients, also happens to be a Forgotten Superweapon (to the rest of us) that causes stars to flare, killing all life
    • On a smaller scale, the Black Eggs (see below).
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Endurium in the first game, Shyneum in the second.
  • Black Box: All of the important artifacts in the game are ancient alien technology that can be used but not replicated.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Uhlek and Umanu. Both species are simply taken over by an entity(s) known as UHL, which tacks it's name onto theirs. The Leghk became the Uhlek, while a lost Human colony became the Umanu.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Spemin are completely incapable of being honest, unless they're kept honest by fear.
  • Copy Protection: The first game used a code wheel by which you could enter codes; failing to do this properly would have the Interstel police hunt you down, and ask for a code again. Fail this time and you'd get blown outta space. The second game ditched the code wheel and just relied on the map. "PULL OVER! THIS IS THE INTERSTEL CORPORATE POLICE. YOU ARE UNDER ARREST. DROP ALL SHIELDS AND DISARM ALL WEAPONS. YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF INTERGALACTIC SOFTWARE THEFT LAW. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RESIST."
  • Death World: Most worlds are pretty dangerous to land on. In the second game, though, the G'Nunk homeworld is a real hellhole with Everything Trying to Kill You. Also, with extremely dangerous Brass Harpooners to farm for cash.
  • Deflector Shields: A possible ship component, and can be manually raised and lowered. It's best to keep them lowered, as raised shields may be seen as a hostile gesture.
  • Dirty Coward: The Spemin.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: Playing with Black Eggs isn't suggested.
  • Earth-That-Was: You can find Earth by tracing the path between the Noah 9 colony ship's wreckage and its intended destination on the paper map. Earth itself has been scoured clean of all life by the Crystal Planet, but still barely habitable.
  • Easter Egg: The Mysterions, already a freaky race that usually terrified the player when they were first encountered, could actually, somehow, be talked to and would give out the then phone number to Binary Systems...but only in binary. Less subtlely but probably more appropriately you end up running into the Enterprise from Star Trek, and as The Next Generation hadn't been made yet, the Kirk-era ship immediately and appropriately starts firing away at you.
  • Enemy Mine: The Spemin M.O. in the Backstory was to try to hide behind one set of enemies to be protected from another set.
  • Fantastic Racism: While their Arth-born brethren have gotten over it, foreign Elowan and Thrynn ar not on very good terms with each other. Having a member of one race as part of your crew will cause the other to attack shortly after trying to initiate conversation.
  • Game Breaking Bug: Though more annoying than game-breaking, the Genesis version, which is essentially a port of the PC version flat-out Video Game Remake with highly changed game mechanics, has the side-quest to get rid of the Uhlek removed, while the in-game text and hints on how to do it are still intact.
    • The IBM PC original has an option to quit without saving. Doing so basically makes the game unplayable without reloading from an earlier save, which makes you wonder why they even bothered having that option. Oh, and the game itself uses self-modifying code, so I hope you backed up those floppies...
  • Genius Loci: The Uhlek Brain World in 1.
  • Harmless Villain: The Spemin in the first game. Inverted in the second game when they loot a ton of Leghk tech.
  • Have a Nice Death: When your ship/lander is destroyed in the Genesis version of the first game, you get treated to an image of your ship/a planet respectively exploding, as well as a description of how you died and that the universe is screwed.
  • Hive Mind: The Uhlek.
  • Insectoid Aliens: The Veloxi.
  • Killer Rabbit: The Chichifa in 2.
  • Lost Technology: You wind up picking up and using quite a bit of this over the course of the game.
  • Mistook the Dominant Lifeform: The Elowan and the Old Empire had some rocky relations early on because the Thrynn convinced humanity that the Elowan were nonsentient.
  • Precursors: The Ancients, in both Starflight 1 and 2 which was a race that ruled the galaxy thousands and thousands of years ago, leaving behind pyramid like ruins. Subverted in the fact that they haven't gone anywhere, but are actually the fuel powering your ship in the first game, and the G'nunk's in the second.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The G'nunk, although they are acutally a collection of races, and not a single species.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: You find out at the end of the game through notes and other research that the Applied Phlebotinum fuel Endurium is alive, sentinent, and not too appreciative of being burned alive for fuel and is the reason why they built their save themselves, they were going to kill all other life in the galaxy, and it's hinted they've done this before. Also happens to be The Reveal, hinted at by some of the more unusual creatures you run into.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The foreign Thrynn are lying, deceitful bastards. At least they won't attack on sight.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Gazurtoid in the first game hate anyone who breathes air instead of water (except for the Uhlek, who they've formed an alliance with due to the flares, and the Spemin, who've been pulling a fast one).
  • Single Biome Planet: These come in three flavors: temperate, icy, and Mordor. There are also gas planets, but landing on them is instant death.
  • Starfish Aliens: Most of the species you encounter have some Starfishy traits. The crown, of course, goes to the Ancients and the UHL.
  • Strange Syntax Speaker: The Veloxi.
  • Translation Convention: Averted and played straight. If your communication officer is up to speed, conversations with aliens will be in English. If not, the conversation will be half English and half alien, or all alien.
  • Updated Rerelease: The Macintosh, Amiga, and Atari ST ports vastly enhanced the graphics and sound over the IBM PC originals, as well as adding a nice mouse-driven interface and a far more convenient saving system. (But to be fair, they were released at least three years after the PC version, by which time IBM PC-compatibles were getting competitive with even the Amiga.) The Sega Genesis version was an outright Video Game Remake with significantly changed mechanics.
  • Vestigial Empire: Technically, Arth civilization is the last remnant of the Old Empire.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: There are three Black Eggs in the game. That's one more than you actually have a legitimate use for. Feel free to use your imagination when disposing of the third.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: One of the earliest examples, perhaps dangerously close to a Quicksand Box given the not-immediately-apparent Timed Mission.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Elowan communication.
  • You Bastard: If you so desire, you can ship Endurium, which you discovered in 1 was sentient beings and is now illegal in 2, to the G'nunk for cash, but the Humma Humma and Interstel don't appreciate this...