I want to tell you a story, so please, have a seat, get some hot chocolate, and listen…
When I was 12 or 13, I got my first computer based on MS-DOS for Christmas that year, a Tandy 1000EX from Radio Shack. Along with this computer, I was told I could have one game, so in looking around the store, I found an unassuming thin black box with a spaceship on it called Starflight and BASED ON THE SPACESHIP alone took it home with me. In loading up that first 5/14″ low density floppy and finding myself in a Starport above Arth, I started to think I might be onto something special.
Then, when I had my crew and my ship, left startport and opened the in-game starmap…the same one that came printed with the game, but I hadn’t looked at it yet…my jaw hit the floor. HUNDREDS of starsystems, many with planets, were there waiting for me to explore them, and I could go in any direction I wanted. That year, I spent 200-300 hours at least playing Starflight, both alone and with my best friend Leo, who shared in my adventures. He and I would spend hours at my place pouring over notes we took, marking places on the map, laughing at alien conversations and fighting tense battles. Even after we finished the game, we still flew around, explored planets, talked to aliens and so on. It was a glorious time that we still talk about to this day.
This sense of wonder, of exploration and discovery was only matched a few years when the sequel, Starflight 2: Trade Routes of the Cloud Nebula, was released, and it improved in its predecessor in nearly every way except one…it actually had a finite end. Regardess, Starflight 2 added a huge nebula, time travel, trade options, better diplomacy and so much more, but honestly, that doesn’t make it a better game than its predecessor, since it’s still so good. I spent another 200-300 hours on Starflight 2, once for a week straight after drinking many cans of Jolt Cola.
I have many, many fond memories of playing the Starflight games, and now, thanks to Good Old Games — who now want us to think of them as GoG since they’ll be selling newer games soon enough — you can too, as they are selling both Starflight 1 and 2 for six dollars. If you’ve never played these games before, now you can do yourself the enormous favor of trying them out. Sure the graphics are crude, and sure the interface — which only uses the arrow keys — is outdated and obtuse, but that barely matters. Once you begin to explore whole planets, talk to well-written and well-thought-out aliens and let the sense of wonder grip you, you’ll hopefully see what I’m talking about, and why I’m so excited about this release.
When I first learned of GoG, my first thought was, “When will they get Starflight?”. Well, on this day of giving thanks, I am totally giving my thanks to GoG for releasing these milestone space RPG adventure games, and implore you to give them a try. In the nearly thirty years since the first game was released, I’ve yet to find another game like these, and I hope that once you give them a try, you too will be entranced by all they have to offer. Good luck, and Happy Thanksgiving!