When we talk about starships, we are obviously going to have to go to the sci-fi genre. Lucky for us, there have been many good titles in the past two or three decades in this area, and while it doesn’t matter if a game is a strategy, action, adventure, or RPG, it does matter to me that the Starship I choose was close to the story. Or, at least, the main actor of the game, if the storytelling was not in the game’s focus, like in Chicken Invaders for instance.
Okay, just joking. I’m not going to include a ship that went through the entire universe shooting chickens, and although we all played it at some point in time, it dies from a single egg hit. So, no way!
The ships I’ll be including were so memorable, that chances are you’d know their names even if somebody woke you up in the middle of the night and asked.
I won’t be including Starships that got famous in movies, which later got video game adaptations like the Millennium Falcon. But, I will include a ship from a Star Wars game. This one is an old fan favorite.
Without further ado, top 5 iconic Starships in video games are the Ebon Hawk (KOTOR), the Battlecruiser (Starcraft), Normandy SR-2 (Mass Effect), the Arwing (Star Fox), and Vic Viper (Gradius).
Other honorary mentions include the S.S. Dolphin from Pikmin, the Protoss Mothership and the Carrier from Starcraft, Kestrel from FTL, USG Ishimura from Dead Space, Triangle Ship from Asteroids (1979), and the Pillar of Autumn from Halo.
The Ebon Hawk (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)
Who doesn’t love Kotor!? This game is probably one of the best RPGs ever, and it was such a cool idea to set the story as far away from the movies as possible. Set in the days of the Old Republic, approximately 4 thousand years before the movies, KOTOR showed the players how the Galaxy looked and all the events which, during that long period after, helped shape it into what it became when the Emperor Palpatine rose to power.
The Ebon Hawk, a Dynamic-class freighter, was a smuggler ship which exchanged many hands and was already famous in the Jedi Civil War, before it was finally commandeered by (SPOILER ALERT) amnesiac Dark Lord of the Sith, Revan. The ship is instrumental during the entire game and has much more meaning to the story, than a mere transportation craft.
The interior was designed for a small crew, with ample cargo space. The best part about playing KOTOR was that as you progress through the game, every new member you recruit gets his own quarters in the ship, and you begin to associate that particular part of the ship with that character easily. Additionally, since the game is actually about you regaining your memory, the ship becomes like a sort of a mind palace for Revan. The game rocks, both Kotor 1 & 2, if you haven’t played them – shame on you!
The Battlecruiser (Starcraft)
“Battlecruiser operational” Ah, the joy we all must feel at the mention of this, what is definitely one of the most famous, iconic lines in video games ever. It is especially good to hear it during a competitive match against a good player when your battlecruisers start coming out from the Starports. Having a few of these babies in your army always meant you are a force to be reckoned with, but they always demanded a large investment of resources, time, and often a good diversion.
The Battlecruiser would be nothing without its Russian captain, who is voiced by Chris Metzen. He is the former Vice President of Creative Development at Blizzard Entertainment, and besides the Battlecruiser, he also voiced Terran Marine, original Ghost, Thrall, Ragnaros, and other characters.
Besides the voice lines on the Battlecruiser, its trademark is also the Yamato Cannon, which enabled the craft to charge up and fire a very strong single shot at the selected target. It dealt 250 damage in the original SC and Broodwar, but I’m not sure how much damage it deals now. The point is it obliterates things.
Normandy SR-2 (Mass Effect)
Mass Effect game series was a beacon of good storytelling, after years of games without any particular effort to give us a good plot. Even today, video games are primarily made with gameplay mechanics and the general atmosphere in focus, and storytelling is often left behind of completely forgotten. But, what can be better for a good atmosphere than a good narrative? What can lay a better path for a good gameplay other than an immersive story?
Drew Karpyshyn is a writer who also worked on Star Wars: Darth Bane trilogy books, The Old Republic also, Baldur’s Gate 2, and many other interesting projects. The story for Mass Effect only secured his place as a legend in the world of fantasy literature.
Normandy SR-2 is a starship delightful to behold, with each separate shot of it being an absolute pleasure to behold for every gamer who played Mass Effect, I’m sure. But, so much of the game’s story happens inside the ship, with the characters interacting with it that it actually feels like one of the characters in the plot. It is a successor to the SR-1, build by Cerberus especially for the newly revived Commander John Shepard and his team, to help them stop the Collectors from abducting humans all over the galaxy.
The Arwing (Star Fox)
“We need your help, Star Fox!” If you played the original Star Fox, you know that this sentence gets you battle-ready as nothing else could. These incredibly nimble Arwing crafts are probably the most agile and versatile ships in any video game flight sim ever.
The Arwing shoots from a single front laser, which also launches heavy ammo, smart bombs, and can even be upgraded to be a hyper laser, which will annihilate entire enemy fleets, in the right hands.
But, if you played this game, you probably got the most fun out of its Barrel roll capability.
The Arwing is used by the Star Fox Team, who utilize its speed, power, and performance to its fullest. The craft is developed by Space Dynamics Co, and throughout different titles of the franchise acquired different and innovative weaponry, while always keeping its main attributes, previously mentioned.
Vic Viper (Gradius)
Vic Viper is a craft with remarkable adaptability and unique twin-prolonged fuselage. Don’t worry, I don’t know what that means neither, but this ship is the protagonist of the Gradius game series for over ten titles, and has been the cause of players being addicted to this game and almost having heart attacks for over 3 decades.
The first Gradius game was developed and published by Konami, in 1985, for NES. The game was after adapted to various other platforms, and during its three-decade-long reign, it never once lost its appeal.
The game’s main allure being the adrenaline-spiked action, and the satisfaction every player gets once his ship gets pumped up with additional weaponry and you start obliterating aliens in your wake.
This game has even had an anime series spin-off. Its numerous, iconic upgrades probably make it one of the most powerful spaceships of all time, in video games. And, while this old school title may perhaps be a bit behind on the ship’s looks and the overall appearance, the ecstatic excitement of the game will still bring chills and thrills to even the most demanding players today.