Thursday, January 15, 2009

Startropics 1's Ending's Worth

Startropics 1 was a terrifically fun game with a lot of heart to it, one of my favorite NES games of all time. It was a very decent action RPG that had a strong devotion to its story, along with a rather unique RPG setting. Its most enjoyable aspect, the humorous and silly dialog and light overall mood, is what makes it notable in RPG history, because it was one of the earliest examples, if not the earliest example plain and simple, of the all too rare humor RPG. Fun, challenging, and silly in a nice way, the game's definitely worth checking out if you ever feel like kickin' it up old school. Or older school, I guess; I think we now consider SNES and PSX1 eras to be "old school."

There is one part of Startropics 1, though, that I feel is largely and unfairly forgotten and under-appreciated: its ending, and the perspective it puts on the game's adventure's purpose. A little refresher on the ending for those of you who haven't played it in a little while (and severe warning to those of you who haven't played it at all not to read further! Startropics 1's close enough to my heart that I don't want anyone to spoil it for themselves): after single-handedly beating the alien warlord Zoda, taking out an entire space ship full of world-conquering, technologically advanced alien invaders, and blowing said ship up, Mike returns to C-Island and brings the three delicious-looking alien sugar cubes to his uncle, who had insisted that they were artifacts important enough for his teenage nephew to take on a world-destroying group of aliens while armed with naught but a yo-yo in order to get them. They put the cubes together, there are some flashy effects (to the extent that the ol' NES can produce flashy effects, at any rate), and 7 kids suddenly appear. Mike and company discover that these children are the last survivors of Argonia, an alien civilization that had been otherwise utterly obliterated by Zoda and his bunch. Mike did more than just beat up bad guys and save his uncle--he preserved the last of an entire civilization from final ruin.

This is something that really impressed me about the game, that it would, at the end, make the otherwise relatively small (and often silly) adventure into something truly significant, arguably as epic a quest as any Save The World RPG plot; perhaps more, even. It doesn't seem that many people really think about this strong moment when they recall Startropics 1, even the many fans, who usually only think of and talk about the game's plot in terms of its fun and light atmosphere. Not that I can blame them entirely, of course, since the ending itself jumps immediately from finding out that Mike saved the remnants of an entire planet's people to someone making a joke and everyone going fishing, but still. It's a neat and fairly moving RPG moment, and I felt it deserved note.

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