Game: Spacebase Startopia
Genre: Simulation, Strategy
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, Console and Mobile)
Developers | Publishers: Realmforge Studios | KalypsoMediaGroup
Age Rating: US E10+ | EU 7+
Price: US $49.99 | UK £44.99 | EU € 49,99
Release Date: September 24th, 2021
Review code used, with many thanks to KalypsoMediaGroup
Spacebase Startopia was originally released in March 2021 on Steam. Now this economic simulation strategy game has made its way to the Nintendo Switch.
The game is a management simulator based on Startopia, which was released way back in 2001 on PC. Much like in the original, you’re put in charge of a series of doughnut-shaped bases. The Spacebase, which you’ll need to turn into a fun place for aliens to live, work and play. Every visitor has a wallet filled with energy. The energy that you’ll need to tempt them into spending by keeping them entertained and fulfilling all their needs.
War and Peace
There is a little bit of a story attached to Spacebase Startopia about a war between different Aliens races. And how it has destroyed the region of space the Spacebase is in. The Spacebase Startopia that you build is vital to bring the waring fractions together in harmony and hopefully peacefully too. It’s not particularly memorable nor is it that important to the gameplay.
On your mission to set up the best Spacebase Startopia in the galaxy you have a helpful AI named Val to help you on your quest. Val will throw in-jokes and criticism and try to be helpful along the way. Thankfully, you can silence Val in the settings of the game if the metallic robot voice starts to grate.
There is a tutorial to get you started. Complete with that sarcastic AI, it does a pretty average job of walking you through the basics and showing you some shortcuts. I had many more questions to ask when I finished the tutorial than before I started!
Eventually, through playing the game I picked up what it was I had to do. Spacebase Startopia is separated into a series of scenarios, each with a different focus and main objective. There’s also a sandbox mode where you can let loose with your imagination.
Stations in Spacebase Startopia are split into three areas. The bio deck has floral and fauna. It provides sufficient resources for survival and a place where aliens go to get back to nature. It also produces supplies for you to manufacture in the factory.
The fun deck is where you can build massive discos, arcades and fancy hotels for your visitors. Finally there’s the bottom deck for basic needs like sleep and food, as well as more industrial stuff like your factory, security forces and research lab.
The management aspect of Spacebase Startopia is trying to keep everyone happy, within the confines of a space station. You can open bulkhead doors for a new section to expand the decks but it costs more and more each time.
I found I naturally tended towards being pretty conservative with the space I had to build in. While you are constructing the best Spacebase you also have to make sure you’re placing enough robot bins and air filters around the place. Due to the confined space, if all your visitors are too closely packed together and the busier your base is, the more likely visitors are to get sick and you can’t have that on your watch.
Fuzzy Drones Need Help
Once you construct some of the decks in the Spacebase you have to employ some aliens to help the Fuzzy drones that run them. The Telgors, who oddly enough look like anteaters, are needed to run the recycling centres and prevent your station from being overrun by waste. Then you have the Gresulurians, who look like typical grey aliens with large eyes they are the brain boxes and medics of your Spacebase.
Combat: Show Them The Airlock
Combat in Spacebase Startopia is an RTS affair. You get direct control of mechs that you’ve constructed. You’ll need to show enemies and competitors the door, or airlock since it’s a Spacebase, and the opportunistic pirates that will occasionally decide to invade.
I also found I had to be careful when setting up my buildings as the mechs couldn’t find a path through the tight areas between the buildings. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t tell you this beforehand and it’s a little annoying to find that out once you have everything in place.
Spacebase Startopia does have a bit of humour and some corny sci-fi jokes to keep you amused or to make you cringe when you have heard the same joke repeated again. Each time you start a new scenario you are sent to a different station and you must unlock items that had been unlocked previously.
Basically, you start all over again from scratch which ends up going through the same early game loop. Having to eventually re-acquire the building that would help you reach your goal. It can get repetitive re-doing everything again.
I understand it would be difficult to get a game like Spacebase Startopia with all its menus and placing of items that need precise controls implemented on the Switch and to make them intuitive as possible. Spacebase Startopia hasn’t managed that, it’s not the worst control-wise but it could be a lot better.
Sometimes there was a slight delay from when I pressed a button until the action happened on screen. Overall the game runs well on the Switch, there is a little slowdown when your Spacebase is buzzing with visitors, but it is not enough that it interrupts that gameplay.
Spacebase Startopia is a pretty complex space base builder that’s marred by poor tutorials. If you can manage without the tutorial and dive right in you might get on fine. Overall, Spacebase Startopia is an enjoyable game once you give it time and get into it. One thing in particular I enjoyed doing was watching the visitors go about their business and having a great time on the fun deck. Kinda made me wish I could join them!
Final Verdict: I Like It