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Startopia is a 2001 simulation game where the player is tasked with the administration of a toroidal space station in the aftermath of a galactic war. It met mediocre reviews, but became a cult classic. The developer, Mucky Foot, was founded by ex-Bullfrog employees.

The game is known for its Shout Outs and references to a numerous popular science-fiction shows and their respective tropes.

The singleplayer mode is essentially one large tutorial, with each mission focusing on one key element of the gameplay. The Kasvagorian Proud Warrior Race Guys will want you to violently attack and disperse squatters, while the profit-oriented Gem Slugs will want you to get rid of some opponents economically, for example.

Startopia is a surprisingly complex game, with the developers programming things to happen that the player might not realize. An extremely thought-out game guide online that details many of these, and many of the tropes below.


This video game provides examples of the following:

  • Accidental Art: The creator of the Turraken's 'racial statue' wants everyone to know that it's just the casing of an old anti-matter conducer. The 'creator' is simply an art researcher.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Crimes vary from 'attempted extermination of all sentient life in the galaxy' to 'appeared in terrible low-budget sci-fi film'.
  • Artifact Title: "Black Market Goods" were named because the Galactic Empire banned them. Even though the Empire is gone, people still call them Black Market Goods, despite being legal again.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence (If one gets 12 Zedem Monks and 12 Penitents, an Ascension ritual is performed. This, aside from looking flashy and being the goal of the eighth mission, has no benefits, and consumes the participants with no cost to the player.)
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Skrashers, giant bugs bigger than many of your buildings, with the instinct to smash up everything. Fortunately, if you keep the place tidy, they won't appear that often.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: See those scantily-clad Dahanese Sirens, their broad-shouldered males and petite females with large breasts? Now replace "male" with "female" in the previous sentence and vice versa.
  • Creative Sterility: The Greys' racial statue is simply a small collection of basic shapes. The description points out that while the Greys are intelligent and hardworking, their culture is very strict and unbending, completely opposed to creativity.
  • Crying Indian: Karmaramans lose a little bit of happiness and spiritual happiness if they see you harvest a plant on the Biodeck.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Zedem gods.
  • Deadpan Snarker: VAL, the station's AI.
  • Development Hell: In-universe: the Salt Hog's racial statue took ninety years to finish, because they kept being told to do other things.
  • Disneyfication: In the data files, the Oroflex was originally called the Orophux. Given that its a thing that gives massive stat gains in 'Love'...
  • Energy Economy: The energy that the base runs on is used as a medium to buy and sell furniture, rooms, and cargo.
  • Excuse Plot: There was an interstellar war that smashed up the vast network of space stations, and now you're rebuilding them. That's all the detail you get.
  • Expy: Arona Daal, of CMOT Dibbler, with elements of Minder's Arthur Daley.
  • Face Full of Alien Wingwong: The Memau, in a not-so-subtle Shout-Out to the Alien movies.
    • One random event even name checks the Nostromo as it brings aboard a lifeboat full of sick crew members who will all explode and release Skrashers if not treated quickly enough
  • G-Rated Sex: The Dahnese Sirens run G-Rated brothels: they hover in the air and beam sparkly love magic to their clients, who levitate during the encounter. Then there's the Oroflex, a sort of Naughty Tentacles Tilt-O-Whirl that looks alarming and disturbing, but the customers appear to enjoy it, having their "love" and "fun" stats boosted.
  • The Greys: One of the in-game races. They're employed as your medical staff. VAL says they're sorry about that abduction and cattle mutilation business, and they hardly ever do it now.
    • Several of Greys appear to have had relatives, who died during the UFO crash-landing in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Both VAL and Arona are voiced by William Franklyn, the voice of The Guide through radio seasons 3-5.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Arona Daal, whose goods are high priced, but who carries the largest selection of merchandise.
  • Horny Scientist: The Turakken have one of the highest needs for "Love" sessions from the Sirens.
  • Human Aliens, Winged Humanoid: The Dahanese Sirens, effectively.
  • Humanoid Aliens: All species save the Polvakian Gem Slugs.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bomb: The bombs planted by spies. This is lucky, since you have to hunt for them.
  • Killer Rabbit: The irresistibly adorable memau resemble a cross between a kitten and a raccoon. They sneak aboard the station through docking ports and wander around looking for trash to eat. Visitors and residents can't stop themselves from giving the cute little critters a skritch on the head. Unfortunately, if they encounter a memau that has eaten enough litter, they'll be given a Face Full of Alien Wingwong and become infected with skrasher spawn. Unless they get immediate medical attention, you can expect a huge mess.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father Arona Daal claims this in the ending sequence. Which is rather odd, when you consider VAL effectively implies the player's home planet is Earth. Most likely a Star Wars parody.
  • Mis Blamed: The Karmaraman racial statue may not have actually made the thing. None of the designers remember doing it, and there's rumors that another alien race designed the thing when the Karmas went off after getting the munchies.
  • The Monolith: The introductory sequence is lifted from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but with a donut replacing the bone.
  • New Age Retro Hippie: Karmaramas all the way and, to a lesser extent, the Dahanese Sirens.
  • Nobody Poops: Yes they do, and if you don't provide the facilities they may die of bladder wrack. Excepting the Polvakian Gem Slugs who just do it anywhere, though their droppings are valuable energy-rich Turdite.
  • Non-Entity General: The only clues to your identity are VAL's comments that suggest you're a contemporary human. (Well, you are.) Doesn't explain how you come to be in charge of rebuilding an alien space station, though. Or the fact Arona Daal claims to be your father.
  • One-Gender Race: Apparently all of them, besides the Dahanese Sirens.
    • Actually, the Sirens' genders are reversed in terms of body shape (i.e. Dahanese females look like human males and vice versa).
  • Our Angels Are Different: The Dahanese Sirens.
  • Planet of Hats: Every single race, including the race that occupies the role of spies and saboteurs. The work is clearly delineated by their hat: Greys are doctors, Karmaramas are gardeners, Salthogs are engineers and mechanics, Kasvagorans run security. Also somewhat averted, as any race (save the enemy agents) can be terrorists or criminals, and Salt Hogs, Greys and Targ will take up lasers along with the Gors when called or attacked.
    • It's implied that, back before the galaxy went to hell, the Empire engaged in deliberate social engineering to make each race specialize, forcing them all to depend on each other, as an attempt to prevent interspecies wars from breaking out. It didn't exactly work. (Though it seems to working now.)
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Kasvagorians. Apparently none of the others survived the war according to their intro.
  • Punny Name: The names of the aliens' homeworlds in their details. Many of the Turraken come from worlds in the Opray Ting System.
  • Real Time with Pause
  • Saintly Church: The church of Zedem is old-fashioned and moralistic, but is run by non-violent ascetics who seem to be genuinely concerned with the well-being of others.
  • Shout-Out: Tons. From 2001: A Space Odyssey to Monty Python to Star Trek to Spy Vs. Spy to the Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy.
    • Arona Daal is basically CMOT Dibbler. He even uses the 'cutting my own throat' line occasionally. His name comes from Arthur Daley, a similar character from the British TV series Minder.
    • "Scuzzers" are a pretty obvious play on "Scutters", the maintenance robots on Red Dwarf.
  • Single Biome Planet: The garden-like Biodeck can be set for a range of moisture and heat settings. Each race prefers a different one, though they all get along with the median state.
  • Small Annoying Creature: Vermin, looking like rats with big toothy grins, will pop up out of the deck if you have too much litter lying about. Visitors and residents who encounter them are disgusted, especially the snobby gem slugs. If a vermin gets within range of a security column, the column's guns will blast it to pieces, which can be fun but also freaks out anyone nearby.
  • Solid Gold Poop: Energy-rich turdite.
  • Speaking Simlish: A different-sounding form for each race.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Oroflex. A giant tentacled plant/animal hybrid that eats people, giving them strong feelings of love and happiness in the process, and spits them out.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Your station is equipped with a teleporter allowing you to either move non-organic items (such as furniture) around or store them indefinitely within the "Pattern Buffer". Alternatively, you can use it for litter picking.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: In-universe, Polvakian art and sculpture is only 'incomprehensible' if you're one of those classless poor people.
  • Universal Ammunition: Actually Universal Consumables; certain cargo can be used for significantly different purposes. Specifically, 'Food Supplies' can be used to feed your people, or used as raw materials for a simple 'general store'. Luxury Goods supply Leisure-related or music-related stores... and are harvested from plants.
    • Which veers into Fridge Brilliance when you realise that the universe has both highly advanced teleportation technology and the ability to turn matter into pure energy (via the recycler). It's not a massive leap to assume they're able to do it in reverse and recombine raw materials into whatever they want.
      • Well... yeah. If you don't have the requisite goods, a shop will have a small energy expenditure before completing the transaction, presumably from replicating whatever item the customer wants.
  • Your Head Asplode: Visitors and residents can become infected with a disease called "Blastycephalis". Without immediate and proper medical attention, the victim's head suddenly expands until the pressure causes it to pop leaving behind a large spatter of bone fragments.
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