Top 5: Spaceship Games

5. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
December 1998 | Factor 5 | Nintendo 64 & PC

Star Wars Rogue SquadronA long time ago, before Star Wars: Battlefront this was the greatest incarnation of Star Wars video gaming available. Players controlled the elite members of Rogue Squadron, including Luke and Wedge as they battled the Empire in movie re-created battles and new scenarios. You could jump into an X-Wing, A-Wing, Y-Wing and each would feel like a brand new ship with its own unique set of perks and disadvantages. Or you could enter a secret code and pilot the Millenium Falcon, Tie Interceptor or a Naboo Starfighter (which was a great Easter egg hidden for months after the game released until The Phantom Menace hit theaters). Realistically, the most played level was the recreation of Hoth as you would trip up AT-ATs with tow cables just like in the films. Much can be said for how accurate the game recreated the galaxy beloved by fans but it was still a competent space fighter all on its own.

4. Galaga
December 1981 | Namco | Arcade

GalagaNot necessarily the first spaceship game (Space Wars, Space Invaders, Asteroid and Centipede all were on market beforehand) but arguably one of the most fine tuned quarter munches available is Galaga. Players control a ship on the bottom of the screen, which can move horizontally and shoot vertically as enemies divebomb and blast you out of existence. The first level is simple and fills the player with confidence as basic foes line up like targets but as you progress there will be more varied foes with different tactics, flight patterns and an increasing number of bullets on screen. The game becomes more about making well timed shots instead of just spamming the fire button. Galaga is a timeless high score chaser which is light on story (is there a story) but tight on gameplay. Plus there is that great feeling of entering your initials at the end if you crack the high score (or just pus “ASS” like everyone else seemed to…).


3. FTL: Faster Than Light
September 2012 | Subset Games | iOS, Mac & PC

FTLFTL changes the formula a bit from other entries on this list; instead of controlling a ship during space battles, you control the crew. This is the Star Trek / Battlestar Galactica / obscure sci-fi book simulator fans have waited years for. You assign a crew to their station (weapons, shields, boarding) and captain your way from one side of the galaxy to the next; the only thing standing in your way…is the entire known universe. Each mission is 8 randomly generated galaxies where you will encounter new allies, rare resources and a slew of enemies. Some of your progress carries over, encouraging replay value but a successful mission comes down to luck as much as it does skill. Did you rescue the rambling madman who can decode the message 3 galaxies later or did he kill your crew in the middle of the night? FTL’s greatest asset is choice – do you go off course to respond to a distress call, do you target the enemies shields or weapons, do you board the ship…who do you sacrifice on your dwindling crew? These decisions make every playthrough different than the last.


2. Resogun
November 2014 | Housemarque | PS3, PS4 & Vita

ResogunResogun takes the traditional vertical approach to space battles (like Galaga) and turns it on its side – literally. You fly on a 360 degree circle, going vertical or left and right as wave of enemies try to destroy your ship and the last of humanity. It retains the high score chasing, enemy dodging and twitch reflexes you anticipate from the genre but expands upon the gameplay mechanics in interesting ways. You can play it safe, and pick off foes one a time, or race through the level and hordes to ensure you destroy key enemies and rescue helpless humans on the ground. At the end of each stage, the level expands like an iMax scene as a screen encompassing boss turns the area into a bullet hell scenario. Resogun remains one of the best games on the PS4 with beautiful rendered backgrounds, particle effects and addicting gameplay. The Housemarque team expanded the offering with free DLC which lets players build and share their own custom ships.


1. Star Fox 64
June 1997 | Nintendo EAD | Nintendo 3DS & Nintendo 64

Star Fox 64All of the love and admiration Star Fox has as one of Nintendo’s properties is due to the greatness of this entry – and its well deserved. Star Fox 64 is an on-rails shooter (most of the time) where players dodge enemies, unlock secret paths and destroy hordes of on coming ships while the elite Star Fox team is constantly chattering in your ear (“Do a Barrel Roll!!”). Instead of traditional difficulties, there is an “easy” path and “hard” path from each level as you beat it properly or fail in a secondary mission objective. It creates the opportunity for varied gameplay and some of the best levels aren’t even in the ‘correct’ path. During certain boss fights or combat scenarios, the Arwings enter free range mode and the rails are removed, Star Fox turns into a true flight simulator with in-air dogfighting. There are a couple levels with a tank and sub (lol!) that do manage to update the gameplay and offer a nice change of pace from the previous action. Star Fox 64 is a timeless classic, hence the 3DS remake and one of the best games on the Nintendo 64.

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